Episode Title: "The Trial"
Writer: Tom Kapinos
Director: Seith Mann
Previously on "Californication":
Abby (Carla Gugino) prepared Hank Moody (David Duchovny) for his statutory rape trial, but he found himself locked out of his hotel room thanks to his excessive hotel bill. Finding brief sanctuary at the home of his former girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) and their daughter Becca (Madeleline Martin), who seemed to enjoy his company despite the circumstances. Hank even agreed to watch Becca and Zoe while Karen and Ben (Michael Ealy) went on a date, but he passed out and the girls took the opportunity to sneak out in Hank's car... which they promptly crashed into a tree.
When Hank and Karen heard about the accident, they raced to the scene. Ben blamed Hank for not watching the girls more closely, but Karen defended him. However, Karen later berated Hank for putting their family in their current situation. Elsewhere, Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) learned that his soon to be ex-wife Marcy (Pamela Adlon) was pregnant by her new boyfriend, Stu Beggs (Stephen Tobolowsky). But in reality (and unknown to Charlie), the baby is actually his.
At Karen's home during the morning of his trial, Hank puts on a suit that he says makes him look like an FBI agent. He tries to cover his nervousness, but he pukes in the toilet before leaving. Karen isn't very openly supportive, but Becca draws her and Hank into one last family hug before they go. Outside the courthouse, a sizable group of anti-Hank demonstrators are waiting for them. Karen drops off Hank around the back, where he runs into Mia's father, Bill Lewis (Damian Young). Bil takes some satisfaction in telling Hank that he will use the truth to make him pay for he did to his daughter and for breaking up his relationship with Karen.
Abby delivers a fine opening statement that addresses Hank's shortcomings as a person while pointing out that Mia manipulated the situation. The prosecution calls Charlie to the stand and his testimony is incredibly damaging to Hank's character. There are almost no words as this colossal moron helps the prosecution establish that Hank used sex as revenge on a director who ruined one of his novels and that Hank took a dump on Bill's car (shown far too graphically). He even defines his friendship with Hank in the terms of Hank's willingness to have a threesome just to get Charlie laid.
Karen is up next and the prosecution also uses her to disparage Hank's character. In response, Abby throws Karen and Hank's convoluted history back in her face, which makes her seem foolish or crazy when put together like that. And then Bill takes the stand and true to his word, Bill destroys Hank with a simple bombshell: Hank briefly met Mia (Madeline Zima) while he was semi-passed out and drunk near Bill's house, severely damaging Hank's claim to have never met her before their initial hook up. Abby is furious with Hank over the revelation, which he himself doesn't seem to remember.
When Mia takes the stand, she says that Hank was too drunk to recognize her. She also expands upon her relationship with Karen, who was her soon-to-be step mother at the time. Mia states that she wishes that she had taken Karen's advice, but instead she went out looking for trouble and found it in Hank. After court gets out for the day, Karen angrily brushes off Hank for knowing Mia beforehand. And Abby yells at him too, insisting that the seed of doubt has now been placed into the minds of jurors. As Hank leaves by himself, he ponders what the outcome of his trial might be...
First off, let me just say... Charlie Runkle needs to die. Horribly, if possible.
Seriously, screw this guy. I can't remember a character on any show as blindingly useless as Charlie Runkle. In a grand total of one episode this season, Charlie has seemed like decent human being who could be expanded upon. Every other time he has been a detestable maggot of a man. Even the stupidest moron wouldn't have said half the things that Charlie said about Hank... UNDER OATH! A large part of the prosecutor's case was handed to them right there.
And no, it's not necessarily good writing when a show causes you to truly despise a character. Sometimes hate is just hate.
It was a bit more clever to reveal that Hank had met Mia and forgotten it. I didn't watch "Californication" during the first season, so I wasn't sure if all of the flashbacks came from previously aired episodes or if they were new scenes created for this one. Hank's dump on Bill's car was way too over the top. Did we really need to see the crap fall out of his a**, Tom Kapinos?
Damian Young was really entertaining as Bill, a man with real reasons to hate Hank. And it is kind of a satisfying way to get back at your greatest foe just by telling the truth in court. Aside from Bill, it was kind of amazing that Charlie and Karen were the prosecution's two most damaging witnesses. Was that really the best they could do to protect him?
Because of the way events played out in this episode, it seems kind of inevitable that Hank is going to do some time... Barring some badly written miracle out of nowhere. This could have worked on its own merits based on Bill's testimony alone, without Charlie's tales of debauchery. Again, how the hell would the prosecution know that Hank said “Revenge is a dish best served by my dick” unless some idiot told them?
"Californication" can be a really fun show. But the humor has vanished so quickly, it's almost like it's an episode of "Entourage." The one joke I really liked was Hank's FBI crack, which harkened back to David Duchovny's days as Fox Mulder.
God, I miss those days.
Crave Online Rating: 6 out of 10.