Episode Title: "The Unforgiven"
Writer: Tom Kapinos
Director: David Duchovny
Previously on "Californication:"
Hank Moody’s broken plenty of hearts in the past but this time it’s for real. When last we saw David Duchovy’s literary lothario, he was succumbing to the roofie given to him by bitter ex-girlfriend, Carrie (Natalie Zea). And of course, the timing couldn’t be worse as the ever-forgiving love of his love, Karen (Natascha McElhone) was waiting for him with dinner on the table.
"Californication" is largely about Hank Moody screwing up his life through an endless exercise in ill-advised sexual encounters, messy business relationships and unrepentant alcoholism. And we see he’s still very much in the game in this season six opener.
The difference is this time somebody’s dead. No, it’s not actually his fault that spurned ex, Carrie decided to off herself with a drug overdose, but according to her friend, Melissa, err Sarah ("we’re all interchangeable" she quips to the dazed and confused Hank) it was her break-up with Hank that did her in. Instead of letting her down easy, Carrie’s friend accuses Hank of messing with her head and ultimately driving her to suicide. This is way heavier than a drink in the face, a knee to the balls or even book stealing and statutory rape. A woman presumably killed herself over Hank. S*** just got real, as the accused might put it.
So where does all this put the world weary Hank as heads into a sixth round of "f***ing and punching?" Well, based on the premiere this season is about redemption or at least the umpteenth attempt at it. Reeling from the thought that he could have driven a woman to suicide, Hank tries to drink and sleep it all away, but to no avail. And so with some nudging from Charlie, Karen, Marcy and Becca, Hank finds himself at a place called "Happy Endings."
Will Hank become the resident booze-smuggling sobriety saboteur in rehab or will he actually get his "s*** together" in between sleeping with at least three different women during his stay? I’m hoping for the latter. We’ve seen Hank make a sexual playground out of every gig/legal bind/medical procedure he’s had over the past five seasons. So why should this be any different?
Well, because watching Karen and Becca (Madeleine Martin) chuckle and eye-roll away their constant disappointment in Hank is almost as frustrating as watching Hank push away the two people he cares about most. In a way, watching Hank screw up and his two girls come around to clean up the mess feels like a kind of voyeuristic enabling, even though this is a fictional TV show we’re talking about. Even listening to Hank pick apart and dismiss Attitcus Fetch, a heightened parody of a washed-up, offensively excessive rock star, who it’s hard not to believe Hank doesn’t see a lot of himself in, is kind of frustrating.
As for the rest of the Californicators, Marcy’s (Pamela Adlon) living with Karen, though pining away for Stu and even more so for his big house in the hills, Becca’s done with Tyler and making plans to drop out of college to pursue a career as a hard partying writer like her Dad. Meanwhile, Charlie’s (Evan Handler) still face-palming over Hank’s behavior and regularly getting punched in the face.
Though it didn’t pull any time-travel tricks like last season’s premiere, "The Unforgiven" did have an important message; Hank’s carefree fun with the ladies can have some very serious repercussions. And after all the damage he’s done over this years, all of the broken hearts, busted headlights and bad break-ups, it’s about time Hank starts to realize it’s not just his life he’s screwing up. But can "Californication" still be "Californication" with a sober Hank? Probably not. But how about a slightly less drunk one? We'll see.