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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Californication Can't Shake the "Monsters"

Article first published as Californication Can't Shake the "Monsters" on TheTVKing.

Showtime's sixth season finale of Californication, entitled "I'll Lay My Monsters Down," is a joyous celebration, as well as a time for introspection. Charlie (Evan Handler) and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) are getting remarried. Now Hank (David Duchovny) has to decide whether to hit the road with a rock tour, or try to win back the heart of his lady love once again.

The wedding is super sweet. Marcy and Charlie have been through many a rough patch, but they always belong together. The longer that they are apart, the harder it gets to watch them suffer. Once Marcy agrees to remarry Charlie, there is little doubt in my mind that, not only will she go through with it, but this time it's forever.

How can it not be? They've both had their chance to sow their wild oats, and find out what else is out there. Yet, they come back to each other. This is why Californication is the story of love, even if the characters must overcome the effects of the West Coast to find their true happiness.

Marcy's urging Hank and Karen (Natascha McElhone) to get back together can be chalked up to projecting her own feelings onto them. She has realized that she belongs back with her man, and so assumes the path to her best friends' happiness is the same as her own, even though this is not necessarily the case. Given it is her wedding day, she can be forgiven, and surely won't hold it against them if they ignore her.

Yet, Hank's story has always been about Karen. He may take detours along the way, most recently with Faith (Maggie Grace). But not matter who he shares his bed with, he always comes back to Karen. Even in his dreams, she's the one.

It's interesting that Hank's subconscious takes the form of Lew Ashby (Callum Keith Rennie) at this point. The departed musician was striving for love when he died, just as Hank always is. Is Hank worried that he will wait too long and die before he can get back with Karen? I think so, considering that Hank literally appears in Lew's position behind the bar in his second dream. Though, it really doesn't matter why Hank imagines Lew, so long as we get a glimpse of that great character again, highly appropriate in a season chock full of rock 'n' roll.

The question is, is Hank Karen's destiny? We don't see as much of her, so it's not always clear. She definitely cares about him, but she may not want to spend her life with him anymore. Shortly before "I'll Lay My Monsters Down," Karen ponders if they only remain in one another's lives at this point because of their shared daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin). It's sad, but it could also be true, as much as Hank and his fans won't want to admit it.

Which is why it's probably good that Californication is pulling a fast one on the audience when Hank drops to bended knee on the stage at the rock concert. It is heart breaking to realize that Hank won't lie it all out on the line right then and there. But, Karen knows how he feels. He makes it clear constantly. And her words say that she's not ready to commit to him, so he is liable to be disappointed if he tries for this now. She must sort out her own feelings first.

On the other hand, she could be on the fence, and the things she says may be just to test him. After all, Hank may say one thing, but may not mean it, even if he wants to. Perhaps she needs the grand romantic gesture to make up her mind.

I truly love when Becca, high, calls her father and tells him she just wants him to be happy. At first, Hank thinks that may be traveling with Faith. Then, he realizes that it's being with Karen, of course. This is a moment where Hank is forced to consider what will make him happy, and it's fitting that his wise daughter comes through once more, even if she isn't as smart with her own decisions.

It's also great that the moment includes Hank asking Becca to text Marilyn Manson (himself) a lude picture. How very fitting for the tone of the show!

"I'll Lay My Monsters Down" bids a fond adieu to Faith and Atticus (Tim Minchin). I will greatly miss these characters, and am sad to see them go. They both truly connect with Hank in a way that only a handful do, they are two of his soul mates, and are worthy of being recurring characters along the lines of Stu (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Bates (Jason Beghe) because they just fit into Californication so well. I hope they return often, as they, far more than most recent guest stars, deserve to do so.

Also, Krull's (Steve Jones) goodbye to Hank is a wonderful moment in an episode packed with wonderful moments.

Californication will return for a seventh season next year on Showtime.

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