Californication Review: "Exile on Main St." (Episode 4.01)
After being delayed from its usual fall premiere, Season Four of Californication has finally arrived, picking up right where Hank Moody hit rock bottom in last season’s finale. As Season Three concluded, Hank, Karen and Becca’s planned move to New York became derailed at the last possible minute by Mia’s unannounced return. After Hank unsuccessfully pleaded with Mia to keep their taboo sexual history a secret anymore, the tragically flawed protagonist felt no choice but to come clean with Karen about his relationship with Mia. Hank fails to console Karen as cops show up to their home, and the season concluded with Hank getting arrested upon hitting a cop in the fiasco of a finale.
After Hank’s mighty fall occurred with the promised land in sight, the novelist now faces the aftermath of past mistakes. So where does he stand as Season 4 kicks off? Hank’s agent and good friend Charlie Runkle picks him up from jail armed with a pack of cigarettes, a fifth of whiskey and specific orders not to bring Hank home to fix things with Karen.
In just the short time Hank spent in jail, however, the story behind Fucking and Punching has now become public knowledge, leading Hank to come home and attempt to explain everything to Karen. But she can’t stand the sight of him, nor does she want Hank there to break their daughter’s heart. “Get the fuck out of here before Becca comes home,” Karen yells at Hank. “Do you want to have to look her in the eye and tell her that you put your dick in a girl that’s the same age as she is right now?”
After his disastrous return home, Hank and Charlie meet with some of the new additions to Californication’s cast this season. First, the dynamic duo meets with Hank’s new lawyer (Carla Gugino)—a no-nonsense professional who seems impervious to Hank’s ‘charming’ ways. After ineloquently groveling to retain the services of his new lawyer, Hank follows Charlie to a meeting where he gets offered an opportunity to rewrite the screenplay for the Fucking and Punching movie. There, he meets Sasha Bingham (Addison Timlin)—America’s sweetheart actress who’s ready to prove otherwise in a potential role as Mia.
Charlie gets a chance to return to his old agency—provided that he gets Hank to sign on for the gig. With a big opportunity at stake, Hank reluctantly agrees to give it a shot. Both recognized their homelessness in a sense, as they are each exiled from their respective abodes. This gig not only provides Hank and Charlie with a chance to get back on their feet, but to “fight the good fight” for the first time in recent memory. Charlie confides to Hank, “You may be my worst client, but you’ve always been my best friend,” before sending him off to meet with Sasha.
Just as Charlie leaves, Sasha greets Hank at her door wearing only pink panties and a Foreigner 4 t-shirt. While at first Hank and Sasha meet about the writing gig, their encounter quickly moves away from business, as she seduces her despondent visitor. On cue, Hank falls to the actress, allowing her to “fuck and punch” the writer himself—recreating the incident that got Hank into the firestorm he currently traverses this season.
But where Hank found a temporary place to rest his head, he continues to face an uncertain future. He dreams of peacefully going back to his family the next morning, but instead finds an irate Karen, a destructive Becca and a broken home. After waking up to the sounds of Charlie hustling him out of bed to attend his arraignment, his lawyer informs him that his assault charges have been dropped, but that he will go to jail on charges of statutory rape.
Overall, Season Four of Californication wastes no time getting into the thick of things. Hank has already found himself in a serious whirlwind of new crises from the household to the courtroom. But if there’s something constant found in this episode, it’s the return of Californication’s combination of clever writing, intriguing character development and an overdose of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. There’s a lot at stake in Season Four. Mixed the current plot with some old themes and new cast members—and Californication appears primed for another irresistable train wreck ahead.