CALIFORNICATION 6.04 “Hell Bent for Leather”

Charlie is forced to come out of the closet and Karen gets some good advice from Marcy's self-help guru.

Hilary Rothingby Hilary Rothing

Episode Title: "Hell Bent for Leather"

Writer: Tom Kapinos

Director: David Von Ancken

Previously on "Californication:"

Episode 6.03 "Dead Rock Stars"


"Californication" can be a tease. The show’s been building up to the inevitable moment where Charlie’s (Evan Handler) repulsion at the thought of having to have some form of gay sexual contact with his client, Robbie would manifest itself in a career-damaging confession that he prefers casting couch surfing starlets to leather daddies in assless chaps.

That moment comes in "Hell Bent for Leather" when Robbie insists on "thanking " Charlie for all he’s done with a blow job. We’ve seen Charlie in some pretty depraved situations, but as much as he wants to see his client in a remake of "Cruising" he can’t go through with it. It’s kind of funny, considering the times when Charlie’s received sexual favors from women in hopes of advancing their careers.

But Charlie’s not the only one sabotaging the remake of the Al Pacino gay serial killer flick. When he brings Hank (David Duchovny) to a pitch meeting for "Cruising," he’s reunited with the producer who wrote him out of his own movie. Hank decides a little "hate f***ing" is in order since he rebuffed the women’s advances the last time they met. However, they’re interrupted by Charlie, who’s reeling from the fact that he’s not only been fired by Robbie, but came very close to performing oral sex on the movie star.

While Hank and Charlie find new and exceedingly absurd ways to mess up their careers, Karen (Natascha McElhone) spends time with Marcy (Pamela Adlon) and man-hating self-help author, Ophelia who tells Mary she gets off on books and hummus. Ophelia recommends Karen give up chasing "boys" and embrace her "she-ness," but Karen’s not buying it. Still, when Hank shows up outside her house, promising to "John Woo" her back into his arms, she appears skeptical. I mentioned "teasing" before and we know the "Karen and Hank" happy ending can’t happen just yet, but it’s staring to drag on a bit.

Interestingly, it’s Ophelia who tells Karen she needs to give up her dreams of a fairy tale romance and it’s probably the best advice she’s ever given anyone. Karen and Hank’s relationship isn’t necessarily codependent, but if Karen stopped entertaining Hank’s late night promises to get his s*** together, he might actually do it.

In other developments, Becca’s (Madeleine Martin) gone from Joan Jett wannabe to coffee house memoirist. Though he was reluctant at first, Hank offers his support after Bates tells him about Becca reaching out to him for advice. As for the Atticus Fetch subplot, it was missing in this episode leaving us left to wonder if the rocker will try again to get Hank to write a musical with him. Karen’s still working for his wife, as far as we know.

Thus far, this sixth season of "Californication" seems somewhat directionless. The characters are as sharply written as they’ve ever been, but it feels like we’re going over ground already well covered. Karen’s keeping Hank at arm’s length as he screws up again and again, Charlie’s trying to push Hank to work with clients who personify various Hollywood clichés while making himself sexually vulnerable and Becca’s into something else daddy hypocritically doesn’t approve of.

The storytelling is well executed and the dialogue alone makes "Californication" worth watching. But it’s also a story we’ve seen play out again and again. We know how it’s going to end but getting there needs to be a little more interesting.