Monday, April 2, 2012

Californication goes to Hell and back

Showtime's Californication ends its fifth season with "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be." Hank (David Duchovny) envisions himself in Hell, which is a bar where his deceased pal, Lew Ashby (Callum Keith Rennie), is the bartender. Waking up, Hank spends his day fixing everyone's problems, as, for once, he is the one who has his life together. And by helping others, Hank begins to be right with them, these people he is preparing to leave in the previous episode. Unfortunately, before Hank can get to his happy ending with Karen (Natascha McElhone), Carrie (Natalie Zea) shows up and drugs him.

Why is Lew the bartender in Hank's vision of Hell? Does Hank really think he's destined to go to the place below, considering how good he's been lately? Or does Hank still see himself as that bad boy that hangs out with Lew, a time in his life where Hank is near rock bottom? It's an interesting and cryptic look inside of Hank's head.

Luckily, Hank's life is not so chaotic anymore. He is back together with Karen, the love of his life, now that she is splitting from her husband, Bates (Jason Beghe), who gives his blessing to the reunion. Hank's daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin), no longer hates him. What's more, Hank might have even gotten through to Tyler (Scott Michael Foster), Becca's loser fiancé. And Charlie (Evan Handler), Hank's best friend, who is on the outs with Hank, takes a bullet for him. So it looks like life can't get any better for wayward protagonist.

The thing is, how will Carrie screw this up for him? For once, any trouble Hank is in is not his fault. Sure, one can argue that Hank shouldn't have hooked up with Carrie in the first place. But Hank has done more than enough to make up for that mistake. Any actions that Carrie takes now are her own fault, not to be blamed on Hank.

Will Karen forgive Hank for a drugged indiscretion with Carrie? It truly will not be Hank's decision to do anything. In fact, Hank sees Heaven in that moment, and his Heaven includes Karen. Surely Karen will understand this and view Hank as a victim. Right?

Things look good for Charlie in the end, too. His son is talking, and considering who the parents are, "blow job" is an acceptable first word. Marcy (Pamela Adlon) is leaving Stu (Stephen Tobolowsky), and is by Charlie's side at the end of "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be." So hopefully Hank and Karen won't be the only reunited couple.

Season five of Californication is depressing because things are so screwed up for all of the characters through most of the episodes, instead of just for Hank, the usual formula. In fact, Hank has his best year yet, in terms of staying on the right path. But with a sixth season ordered, and the finale ending in a bright place (save the Carrie drama), could next year finally bring a happy ending? Can't wait to find out!

Californication airs on Showtime.

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