Californication has become a polarizing show over the past few seasons. Some fans have stuck with it, despite the never-ending teasing show creator Tom Kapinos has done with Hank Moody’s future, and some have simply given up. Every season for quite some time has tested viewers; Hank keeps fucking up, and we keep wondering whether it’s worth it to care anymore. But just when I thought the whole journey may have been for naught, Hank and his crew threw everyone for a loop with an ending that’s actually happy. What a warmly surprising series finale.
Let’s talk about what we saw in the finale. In this final installment, Hank complained to Karen about their daughter’s impending wedding, to which Karen rebuffed the tragic writer. After this, Hank had to bail Levon out of jail for yet another prostitute, and finally smartened the dumb kid up a bit, teaching him how to talk to a girl in a bar (Tara’s back). Then, he pulled a stunt with Julia, finally setting her up with Rath. Marcy and Runkle couldn’t go through with their respective sexings, confirming their love and leaving Stu a shell of a man in love with a sex doll. And finally, Hank wrote his final literary creation, a letter to Karen read aloud on a plane to New York. The End.
Well, not quite. Before the curtain call we saw where our characters kinda ended up. Levon and Tara took a selfie, which is a present day affirmation of love. Julia and Rath kissed, which was funzies. Marcy and Charlie were seen moving into Hank and Karen’s old apartment maybe? Stu and his sex doll shared a poolside breakfast. And Hank and Karen kissed on a plane. Which left the final shot, a fadeout of Hank’s black Porsche, without its owner at last, a vestige of L.A. left behind while Hank succeeded in a final escape. This entire montage of character wraps was set to “Rocket Man,” so beyond being sweetly satisfying, there was musical, thematic justice for all.
Fans will probably be up in arms about the happy ending, possibly seeing it as a cop out for a show that’s prided itself on being darkly satirical and able to dump on characters that don’t always deserve the abuse. Having such a storybook ending, albeit open-ended but with heavy implications toward lives of promise, is not the brutal, chaotic finish fans may have hoped for. But what’s the problem with these characters finally having some success? This isn’t Game of Thrones or Dexter, it’s a show about a writer fighting for his muse. It seems just that, instead of having that plane explode – or Stu killing and eating Marcy – Hank, Karen, Charlie, and Marcy ultimately find their happiness, or at least get on the right path.
Hank’s letter was also a gorgeous example of the character’s depth and hope in the face of his fuck ups. He realized that the ending was not written, and the endless love story, no matter how tragic and difficult, was a “thing of absolute fucking beauty” (Moody does have a way with words) that should be pursued forever. After all this time, Hank’s pining for Karen paid off, and all the people who cared about their seemingly failed union got a glimmer of romantic hopefulness.
Overall, the series finale of Californication was not some epic episode to be remembered for years to come, but it was proof that characters we’ve all been exasperated with for so many seasons had at least a little redemption waiting for them. Hank never quit, and for those viewers who truly believed in our favorite “mothafucka,” it was, in some small way, all worth it. After all that, he won’t be “Burnin’ out his fuse up here alone” (Elton John’s lyrics are the best). Au revoir, Henry James Moody, and don’t fuck it up again.