Californication Season Three Finale Review
What an incredible ending to arguably the best season in this show’s three-season run. Hank lets his family down yet again and absolutely crushes the soul of the one woman he will probably ever love. What’s sad, is that after this, she will probably never want anything to do with Hank Moody again. As the ad for season four following the finale said, “Hank, meet rock bottom.” Indeed.
Hank managed to philander his way into four separate trysts with a variety of muses this season, and Karen managed to forgive him. Unfortunately, it is his biggest transgression (one that was presumed forgotten) that rears its ugly head at the most inopportune of moments (the day before Hank and Karen are set to move back to New York with daughter Becca.)
Mia, the callous 16 year old that seduced Hank in season 1 and stole his novel, ultimately attaching her name to it and becoming famous as a result is exposed as a fraud. Her manager (and boyfriend) hatch a plan for a tell-all book about her affair with Moody while she was underage, and Moody does not like this idea one bit. He pleads with Mia to pull out of the deal with her manager for Becca and Karen’s sake (as Karen considers Mia a daughter, and Becca looks up to her as a big sister.)
As Hank confronts Mia at her home about dropping the tell-all book, her boyfriend (and manager) approaches and asks if “everything is alright.” Hank then asks him to “please fuck off for just five minutes”, which results in an insult from Mia’s boyfriend that pushes Hank over the edge, causing him to viciously attack and beat him into a bloody stupor. What follows, is perhaps one of the most painful scenes of television I have witnessed in quite some time:
Bravo, Californication writers, bravo.
Epilogue: I wanted to follow up this season-ending review with some thoughts and sentiments that I think a lot of the fans of this program share. The reason Hank Moody (David Duchovney) is so god damn appealing (despite his reprehensible philandering), is because he is a man broken. A prisoner to his own impulses and poor decisions. He pays for his transgressions, as all of us ultimately do. Anyone who has a skeleton in their closet (or perhaps a boneyard) can appeal to the Hank Moody character. He represents all that is wrong, vile, chauvinistic – and charming in men. As Dean Koons called him in season three, he’s a “[G]od damn girl whisperer.”
Every red-blooded male wishes he could seduce like Hank Moody, but that only makes the show appealing on a materialistic level. The sex, the nudity, the beautiful women.. that’s just a grand facade for the brilliant torment and self-loathing that goes on in the mind of this broken man. As we witnessed in the finale of season three, Moody has introspective nightmares that haunt him. He knows he has made poor decisions, he knows he leaves a trail of broken bridges and fire behind him like a civil war general. That’s what’s so heartbreaking about the character. Ultimately, the state of his life is no one’s fault but his own, and he will probably never find happiness. He is so incredibly flawed that I believe he is destined to live an empty life that embodies what the seven deadly sins warned against. Hank Moody is a glutton. Certainly we all are as well; or have the propensity to be. We see ourselves in the character. He’s so damn fictional, but also so real at the same time. That’s what makes enjoying this show so unsettling. We’re rooting for our dark urges. We’re rooting for Hank Moody.
ps) Excellent choice on “Rocket Man” to close out the season. A song about an astronaut bound for Mars who is struggling with the pain of leaving his family and possibly never seeing them again. Of course, you don’t have to literally interpret those lyrics – as the metaphors and parallels to the life of Hank Moody are endless. Wonderful decision by the writers there. One of only a few songs that could have embodied the intense and heart-breaking emotion of the situation.