Commentary, TV

Farewell, Season Five of Californication

April 3, 2012

Despite Californication‘s blur of themes in its fifth season finale, it’s wound me up for a somber season six.  I was entertained, amused, moved, and for the most part, quite pleased with this run’s story arc.  An arc just strong enough to overshadow any of my meandering misgivings.

Now, while I’ve been doing write ups combining both House of Lies and Californication into a delectable tamale of commentary examining the modern male ego, I’ve decided to split them up this time around — which is, I’d venture to say, actually a good thing.  I was proved wrong. The two shows are different.  Different enough to warrant their own existence, at least from my purview.  But let’s not dwell on the fork in the road.  I have a few things to note about the finale.

First off, there are the colorful shenanigans. A commonplace trend for the entire season.  Let’s be honest: For the full brunt of the series, thus far. And though it’s sometimes funny, and sometimes entertaining, it isn’t my favorite part of the show.  At one point in the finale (and pardon if this is not chronological), Samurai Apocalypse apologizes to Hank for almost shooting him. Almost shooting him. He says, “My head’s all fucked up. Pussy do that to a mufuckah. No more love. No more. Just ass and grass.”

O … kay?

Then, after this brief, eloquent show of remorse is past, Kali comes to him, apparently aroused by Samurai’s pseudo-psycho attempt to shoot his friend, whom she had previously slept with. I don’t think that fit very well with how her character had previously been written.   But… hey, it’s Chinatown, Jack.  Err, California.  We’ll leave that be.  It’s par for the course with what we know Californication to be, right?

There were, of course, all sorts of kink this season. Bates going bonkers in all sorts of ways (mangina notwithstanding, need I mention his sponsor’s random BJ), Tyler’s two moms. Runkle and Liz hiding naked while Marcy and Stu role-played about him. Crazy movie director wanting to urinate on a prostitute… All very odd.

Like I said, it’s always bizarre, many times funny and/or entertaining, but sometimes it just feels out of place.  These moments, however, provide an impressive contrast to the show’s more profound themes.

One of these happens to be Becca’s relationship with Tyler. It has been frustrating to witness her fall into Karen’s role as the damsel in distress due to her partner’s indiscretions.

But there seems to be a real difference between Karen and Becca. Hank has never technically cheated on Karen. He has been noncommittal and indiscrete, but he has often been chivalrous.

He has made mistakes, but he’s never a prick. Tyler, on the other hand, is a jackass. Sorry Becca, but you can do better.

I’m glad to see Charlie and Marcy on their tiny isle of reconciliation, if at the expense of Stu and Lizzie’s indiscretion (two times).

Turning Charlie from a somewhat depraved, porn-starved middle-aged man into an “adult” who’s fallen upon a new level of empathy for betraying his friend, as well as protecting Marcy by not telling her about the aforementioned indiscretions.

That was a noble move. I look forward in seeing what happens in their relationship; and it’s always good to see a certain degree of transformation in a character, lest they become static caricatures of themselves.

And lastly, there is the series arc between Hank and Karen, which seemed like it was nearly resolved, up until the last five minutes or so of Sunday’s episode.   This is never unexpected in Californication, but it’s never any less painful to watch, right?  With Hank and Karen nearly reconciled and determined to live out the essence of Carpe Diem, Hank happens to run into Carrie, the psycho who burned his apartment back in New York.  She drugs him.  He fades.  Credits.

Aw, fuck.

While the series has benefitted from exploiting Hank’s infinitesimal sexual faux pas — and the consequences that arise therein — this time, he is wholly (and truly) the victim.  And what’s worse, there is no certainty as to what Hank will find when he wakes up.  There’s little certainty as to what we will see when season six premieres.   It’s anyone’s educated (albeit lewd) guess.

Perhaps it’s a tired trope to keep Hank and Karen on an emotional seesaw, always unresolved and hanging by a frayed string.  One can’t be sure, but I expect we’ll see some form of a happy ending.  I’m fairly sure I’ll be there to see it to its end.

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  • Reply juliacastorp April 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    all the writers from this blog love Californication i see :))

  • Reply Mario Munoz April 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    yeah… hard to say why… i didnt think i’d like this season as much as i did, but there’s something about watching a general screw-up with a tender side get mixed up in all sorts of stuff… looking forward to season 6…

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