CALIFORNICATION 4.05 ‘Freeze-Frame’

Hank adjusts to life without Karen and gets caught in yet another bad situation.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

CALIFORNICATION 4.05 'Freeze-Frame'

Episode Title: "Freeze-Frame"

Writer: Tom Kapinos

Director: Beth McCarthy Miller

Previously on "Californication":

Hank Moody (David Duchovny) finally finished the screenplay for "F***ing and Punching" before his agent Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) dragged him to a meeting with the film’s primary investor, Zig (Fisher Stevens) and his two "sister wives." During a crazy script reading at Zig’s mansion, Hank got high with one of the producers while Charlie got it on with one of Zig’s sister wives. Unfortunately, Charlie then killed Zig’s pet monkey after it attacked him. And then Zig himself turned up dead from an auto-erotic asphyxiation attempt.

Hank and Charlie eventually got out of the tricky situation thanks to the efforts of Hank’s lawyer, Abby (Carla Gugino). Later, Hank went home with Charlie and noticed that his daughter Becca (Madeleline Martin) was there with her new band. When Hank stepped inside, he also saw his estranged girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) flirting with Ben (Michael Ealy), the father of the band’s lead singer. Rather than confront them, Hank simply left without a word.

Story:

Later, Hank briefly stops by Karen’s house to pick up his one and only suit and tease her about her burgeoning relationship with Ben. Moving on to his meeting with Abby, Hank watches Mia’s (Madeline Zima) deposition for his statutory rape case. Abby is convinced that the prosecutors will have to drop their case following Mia’s account. To celebrate, Hank invites Abby to dinner while verbally sparring with her. Eventually, she agrees to meet him. That afternoon, Charlie drops his pants in front of Hank to get his opinion on whether he should shave his balls. Hank’s opinion is largely inconclusive.

Convinced that “mandscaping” will make him look bigger, Charlie bursts into the home of his soon to be ex-wife Marcy (Pamela Adlon) to boast about his big date. In the bathroom, Charlie gets naked and shaves his balls before accidentally cutting his penis. He pleads with Karen and Marcy to examine him to see how severe the cut is, which sends Karen out in fright with no one but Marcy to do the deed. Elsewhere, Hank runs into Mia and Sasha Bingham (Addison Timlin), who are hanging out at the bar and on Hank just when Karen arrives.

At dinner, Hank and Karen verbally joust again as they analyze each other and start getting even more interested in a romance together. Hank is eventually interrupted by a text from Karen that tells him that Becca is playing with her band across town and Hank runs out to see her. At the hospital, Marcy learns that Charlie’s vasectomy was botched, which may mean that he is the father of her baby. Back to Hank, he catches the end of Becca’s last song and he is formally introduced to Ben moments after he steals Ben’s beer. But Ben is surprisingly cool about it and willing to be friendly with Hank.

Wisely leaving an awkward situation before it gets worse, Hank kisses his daughter goodbye and returns to his hotel. Sasha then meets him at his room and says that Mia needs his help. Hank finds her sitting on the hotel ledge seemingly considering suicide. He talks her off the ledge but begins feeling dizzy. After lying him down, both Sasha and Mia unzip his pants and put their hands on his junk. Hank eventually gets them to stop, but one of Mia’s friend’s has already taken a photo of the incident and is about to e-mail it out to everyone.

Breakdown:

To reiterate from last week, I’ve seen Evan Handler naked far too many times for this or any other lifetime. Seriously, writers of “Californication,” Stop. Doing. It. Otherwise I’m just going to fast forward through all of Charlie’s solo scenes from now on.

I’m sure the reason we’ve never seen a man shave his junk on TV is because it’s disgusting. I mean really, who wants to see that? And Charlie has become such a joke this season that it stopped being funny around 3 episodes ago. I used to really like his character, but now I want this clown off my TV.

Fortunately, this isn’t “The Charlie Show” — though someone still needs to remind Tom Kapinos about that. While the Charlie subplots have been dead ends creatively and comically, everything with Hank has been interesting and compelling. Particularly his pursuit of Abby.

In retrospect, it’s been a smart move to keep Abby and Hank from hooking up too early in their relationship. Now that they’re past the point of liking each other, it’s been fun watching them deconstruct each other’s lives through dialog. I also appreciate any opportunity to see Carla Gugino on TV and she’s got a good character to play here.

Surprisingly, I also really liked Michael Ealy’s Ben. The way he handled Hank was incredibly classy and I’d love to see Hank hang out with someone who won’t let him get under his skin. The rest of the band plotline is pretty atrocious. I don’t really care about Becca’s teenage angst. She’s more interesting when she’s playing off of Hank. And there was a nice father/daughter moment in there between them at the club.

I don’t have as firm of a grip on Mia and Sasha’s respective characters at this point. It’s kind of unclear if that incident at the end was a set up for Hank to make him look bad. Of course, Hank’s latest scandal is going to blow up out of one of the more noble things that he’s done as a character.

The scene on the hotel balcony between Mia and Hank was really strongly performed by Duchovny and had the best writing of the episode. That’s the Hank Moody that I want to follow. The self-aware screwup who has a way with words.

I’m curious to see where the latest scandal will take Hank, but enough Charlie, please. I kind of wish I could cut “Californication” in a half, with all of the Hank stories on one show and all of Charlie’s Skin-A-Max BS on a separate show I can ignore.

Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.