Californication Review: "Monkey Business" (Episode 4.04)
As much of Californication’s appeal on the surface comes from the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll it portrays, the show’s strong suit has always been its characters. Once you got beyond all the careless debauchery and self-destruction by Hank and company, there has been a certain authenticity exuded throughout the show’s storyline. Throughout Season 4, however, the writing has started to turn away from the formula Californication was so successful at. The character depth is still present on some levels, but in “Monkey Business,” a noticeable void emerges.
At the beginning of “Monkey Business,” we find Hank sitting in his hotel room smoking a cigarette as Charlie exuberantly jumps off the toilet yelling “Brilliant! Pure unadulterated brilliance!” Hank has finally completed his first written work in a long time. It’s undoubtedly ironic, given that he’s adapting a book in which he originally wrote (and later had stolen), but it’s a step in the right direction for Hank as he shows some signs of stability in his life.
While the guys are out taking care of business, Marcy and Karen are back at home chaperoning band practice for Becca’s new group Queens of Dogtown. As the girls get together to play some rock ‘n’ roll, the two women have their plates filled with their respective issues. For Karen, it’s still the age-old Hank debate as she sorts out if Hank as she knows him is “the one I loved or the one who fucked Mia?” Marcy, on the other hand, is showing all the signs of a potential pregnancy.
Charlie drags Hank to a meeting with Zig Samitur, Fucking and Punching’s principal financier. While the billionaire moneyman discusses some business regarding the movie, he ultimately ends up being a quirky, semi-amusing novelty for the majority of the episode. While his outbursts at Charlie are downright hilarious (“SILENCE AGENT!”), he comes across as off-putting and overcompensating in his attempts to relate with Hank. Armed with his two blonde sister-wives, he curiously inquires into Hank’s life in the weirdest of manners.
Zig insists on bringing the entire Fucking and Punching staff over to his house, where he has Hank and his sister-wives read the script to him. Zig’s creepiness and attempts at humor are just plain-old weird. Combine that with Charlie having a Monkey bite and throw feces at him and Zig’s accidental death—killing via auto-erotic asphyxiation—and “Monkey Business” has taken Californication into a questionable area. No longer is the show relying on the strength of its characters, instead becoming over-the-top in its sexual innuendos, crass humor and shock value. Californication has always had these elements, but they were included in each episode in doses, rather than cheap tricks taking center stage.
After the bizarre events that take place at the Zig household, including an exit whereby Charlie gets tasered and Hank punches a rent-a-cop in “self-defense,” Hank and Charlie return home. While they were out, Marcy’s pregnancy test comes back positive and she doesn’t have an idea who the father may be. Karen takes a liking to Ben, the father of Becca’s bandmate. Hank catches glimpse of the two together, but in an unusual move does not choose to intercede. Hank may be turning the corner, but Californication has done otherwise.
• “I’m just overjoyed that my tales of melancholy and the infinite sadness can induce a reaction in you like that” – Hank on Charlie’s love for the screenplay
• “Do you ever notice when they do the editing for the hotel room pornography, that they take out all the penetration and it’s just pumping sweaty man-ass that looks like just about any Matthew Mcconaughey picture ever made.” – Hank on hotel room pornography
• “Of course I haven’t had an erection in the past decade but that doesn’t stop me from giving face rides to my sister wives! Right ladies?” – Zig
• “Are you gals really sisters or is this kind of like the White Stripes deal?” – Hank questioning Zig’s sister-wives
• “You smell like cigarettes and champagne, and Cool Ranch Doritos. It makes me strangely hard.” – Jonathan on the sister-wives
• “That monkey was a deviant and a cock-blocker.” – Charlie
• “sensible and trusting—that’s me in a nutshell.” – Hank’s self-description to Abby