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TV Review: Californication – “The Recused”

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Why does Hank (David Duchovny) have to be such a womanizing screw up? Things take a much darker turn this season on Showtime’s Californication when Hank faces both assault and underage sex allegations, the latter of which leads to Karen (Natascha McElhone) finding out about Hank’s one night stand with step-daughter Mia (Madeline Zima), which happened all the way back in the first episode. Hank’s teenage daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin), who usually stands by her father and overlooks his flaws, doesn’t even want anything to do with him. Losing his family and facing jail time, one would think that Hank has been given a much needed wake up call. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.

The newest flub? Hank is now sleeping with his lawyer, Abby (Carla Gugino, Watchmen, Entourage). She attempts to recuse herself by passing Hank off on her boss, Lloyd (Alan Dale, Ugly Betty, Lost), but of course, Hank can’t mind his manners for one day on the golf course with Lloyd. They erupt into fisticuffs, only to laugh and bond as soon as Abby agrees to take back Hank’s case. Later, she has sex him one last time before telling him he is cut off from that pleasure until after the trial. Not only that, but by the end of the day, Hank has Karen smiling at him, too. How long does anyone seriously believe either women will stay out of his pants this time?

What charm does Hank have to allow him to get away with all of this? I mean, I get it, having watched the show. Hank is just such an open, honest, likable guy. He may sleep with lots of women, but he’d happily commit to one, especially if that one was Karen. He has proven he can be faithful. Hank’s ability to win Lloyd over post-fight is a little more confusing, both of them being dudes, but I think the same things that women find attractive in Hank, men find endearing in a different way. Hank doesn’t hold grudges, his emotions are out there for all to see, and once Hank and another man get into it, they have taken out their anger and can move on from it. Even Karen’s new love interest, Ben (Michael Ealy, The Good Wife, FlashForward), despite Hank’s rotten behavior towards him upon their first meeting, is willing to befriend him.

However, some things are above even Hank’s charms. Despite his unknowingly bedding Mia, and Karen knowing that it was ignorance, neither she nor Becca can bring themselves to move past it. I think this is a case of both of them trying to bridge a disconnect between the Hank that they know and the man who can sleep with an underage girl, who was Karen’s then-boyfriend’s daughter, to boot. Yes, the facts support Hank, but it is still such a depraved act that it’s hard to reconcile it with the Hank who would never knowingly do such a thing. Which he didn’t knowingly do. They will eventually wrap their heads around it, but I don’t think that might be such a good thing for Hank, in the long run. He has been forgiven a lot, and while I’d like to see him have a happily ever after with his family, he needs to make a few changes first.

In the B plot, I am hoping that Charlie (Evan Handler) and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) are finally coming back together. Sure, Charlie is still continuing his conquest to bed one hundred women (he’s up to twenty one), and Marcy is dating Stu (Stephen Tobolowsky, Glee, Heroes), but they make a great team, as evidenced by their pitch to Showtime this week. I wonder that they can’t bring themselves to move past the past yet, as they clearly both see each other in that old, rosy light during the pitch meeting. Once Marcy admits to him that she is pregnant with his baby, which looks likely, I think it will come together. I guess some things just have to run their course, and Charlie and Marcy haven’t finished the current track yet.

Californication airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com