Commentary, TV

Californication and House of Lies: Penultimate Moments Before the Storm ('Cause You Know It's Coming)

March 26, 2012

One more episode till both Californication and House of Lies are in the rear view. The former is ending its fifth season, while the latter is a mere babe in its first. And if it were a competition, I’d say it were Hank and not Marty who’s captivated my interest, tugging at my heartstrings like a marionette.

Of course, it’s not a competition.  It seems like an unfair match up to begin with, right?

The reason I started writing about both of these shows at the start of the season is because initially, they seemed to offer a very similar premise to a very similar audience, and I wondered if they’d be able to differentiate themselves enough to warrant their own existence.

Even though some of the thematic overtones of the self-confident, but vulnerable alpha male permeate through each of the shows, the catharsis that each series offers differs in a few respects.

House of Lies has been all over the place, frolicking in whimsy, and suddenly shifting to a serious dance. It’s been hard for me to maintain an emotional attachment when certain lines are crossed, blurred, and then erased.  Yet, the last two episodes have managed to focus more on weightier matters. At home, Marty’s (Don Cheadle) relationship with Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.) has been strained after kicking out his stripper girlfriend April (Megalyn Echikunwoke).

One thing that bugged me about that whole incident, however, is April’s reaction to Marty’s indecency.  OK.  I get it.  She’s mad that he boned his ex-wife. But she’s a stripper. As much as they tried to domesticate her in previous episodes, it was a little bit too unbelievable.

Regardless, the whole situation was climactic, especially when Marty refused to beg her to stay, and instead pushed her out obstinately.  All that trauma in the home is in the backdrop of the business world he lives in. The merger that’s been teased all season finally happens, and it looks like he was fucked by the rainmaker.  I guess it wasn’t just Jeannie who’s getting it from behind.

Last night’s episode left us with Marty in an empty street, out of gas and with nary a smartphone.  But I suspect next week’s episode will disregard that and start from some other random starting point.  That is something that bugged me with this series. The continuity was always broken, never really resolving or dealing with the issues that were introduced. It’s alright to leave things to the imagination, but not if the gaps are too large.

In spite of all this, I am, however, looking forward to the season finale. There’s so many things they have yet to deal with. I’m sure there will be some stones left unturned, but that’s alright.

Certainly, the writers will leave us hungry, sex-crazed viewers with a rather large boner of a cliffhanger for the inevitable season two.  But that’s par for the course, concerning a show of this naughty breed.  Honestly, I am much more interested in Californication’s finale. I do believe that season six may be the last one for the series, and I think I would be OK with that. I’ve enjoyed this season more than I thought I would, but there are only a few places left to go at this point.

As usual, things have gone badly for Hank. Last week’s episode saw him messing up a good opportunity to work with a famous filmmaker, all because he was trying to be chivalrous.  In seasons past, I have always been sympathetic to Hank, even when he makes mistakes, or oftentimes because he makes mistakes. He’s almost always been on the verge of reconciliation with the ones he loves, but ends up messing things up further.  Last night, it was again evident that the writers enjoy replicating that trope. Except… things seem different this time. Everyone else is messing up around Hank, and he’s struggling to keep things together.

He is ruled by emotion, and he acts hastily, but his faults are nowhere near as alarming as they once were. Becca is making the mistake of trusting a total douche. Karen is holding on to fragile hope that Bates (Jason Beghe) is what she needs, but the man is clearly off kilter. Charlie (Evan Handler) threw him under the bus last week, and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) is starting to face the repercussions of being with Stu (as an aside: I want to continue lauding over Stephen Tobolowsky‘s role. He’s brought such a great performance to a role that could have been throwaway if given to the wrong actor. Great casting!)

So now, we’re at the end of the season and we’re left wondering if Hank will receive at least a little bit of vindication. Beating the crap out of Tyler (played to pitch-perfect douchey perfection by Scott Michael Foster) may not have been the best way to deal with the situation.  Tyler getting it on with Kali (sultrily played by the ever-sexy Meagan Good) in the bathroom — then insulting Hank during the confrontation that followed — was justifiably enough to warrant a second ass-kicking.  But have you seen Kali?  Man was it ever so right.

And yet, so very, very wrong.

But that’s how it goes for Moody. Will his rash decision(s) be vindicated, at least to the ones he loves the most?  I’m very interested to see where the final 30 minute stretch will take us.  Stay tuned, Californicators.

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