SPOILERS AWAIT YOU
Last season, the creators of Californication, a show notorious for leaving audiences with either a redemptive finale or a brutally sad one, gave fans a sweet little cliffhanger that only made us ask one question: what would happen when Karen opened the door to find Hank? Narratively simple and, when the entire plot of the show is taken into consideration, rather elegant. After a few seasons that were just ok (which for Californication was a real disappointment week in and week out), a cliffhanger as such was warranted and built story expectation.
And, finally, after all that, the one lady Hank has ever cared about wasn’t even at home, but on a date with a guy she met in a yoga class (Californication, you’ve out-cliched the entire city of L.A., and I love it). Although it was ultimately predictable, that Karen and Hank would not be reuniting their passion at the start of this season, it was a down to earth way of continuing to shatter Hank’s ongoing romanticism, the yoga guy detail not unnoticed by folks who agree with me in saying L.A. is the social death of humanity (but that’s for another day). So Hank, broken, tired, and at the end of his forced youth, declared at the beginning of this season that it’s finally time to grow up.
But we’ll get to Hank in a moment. Let’s focus, for a moment, on the tragedy that is Charlie Runkle. The premiere showed Runks back in the domestic saddle with Marcy, but completely unable to get hard for the woman for whom he’s adventured six seasons. This led to a few of Charlie’s most tragic moments, most notably sobbing uncontrollably whilst trying to go down his wife, made even better by Marcy’s need to distract herself with an iPad the whole time. The Charlie Runkle story has never been a literary masterpiece, and this season it’s nice to see the show going back to basics, and Evan Handler plays the washed up producer with an unwieldy wang better than anyone in the business.
But back to Moody. In the past few seasons, we’ve seen Hank take epic dumps on everything from writing gigs to relationships, and to be honest, it was getting a little old (like the aging writer himself, loath he would be to admit it). The writing and performances have remained pretty solid, but nothing has been the same since that beautiful finale to the third season. Since that moment, it’s seemed that Hank has learned absolutely nothing, the show truckin on with new obstacles for Hank to screw over or literally screw, and no matter how badass, a show needs a bit more. So seeing Hank finally admit that it’s time to shake off the “poor man’s Bukowski” ways was refreshing, but I really hope it’s an honest desire.
I am optimistic that this season, purportedly the last in a seven season run, will outdo the previous three, mostly because there finally feels like something is at stake more than Hank’s undying love for Karen or Becca. Season seven, if I’m not mistaken, may focus on one thing Hank has never worried about as an artist, and that’s his legacy. In the episode, Hank is followed around by a high school journalist, who calls Moody a writer of books and that’s about it (alluding to the many failures we’ve witnessed), and we can see the poor guy realizing the time he’s wasted and how he’s fallen from infamous novelist to a writer scrambling for any ol’ work. Also, that journalist, a young buck by the name of Levon (played by the Oliver Cooper, who portrayed a highly annoying teenager in that film Project X), suggests that he’s Hank’s son (also a cliffhanger that hasn’t been proven true yet).
If television has any justice left, this final season will see Hank face problems he can’t drunkenly bumble his way out of. He’s made it out alive after being poisoned by an ex, nearly gotten shot by a rapper, and somehow beaten the law on multiple occasions, but it may be time for the shenanigans to end, especially seeing as there is now Levon to be responsible for and Karen may actually be a viable mate after all (he’s just got to get his shit together). Runkle and Marcy will carry the comedy, the horrifying media world of L.A. will carry the obstacles, but the character of Hank Moody will, with any luck, finally transform at least a little bit, giving audiences a higher stakes reason to watch a show that has seemed at times to go the way of Moody’s writing soul. Here’s hoping for a riveting season, with a series finale to rival season three. If not, there’s always Mad Men.