Californication has largely shied away from the narrating technique known as the flashback. Not only do we catch-up by overusing it, we get the added benefit of the quintessential Seattle grunge soundtrack adding to the story. This left me largely with a “meh” feeling for the evening, but it does set-up the final two episodes quite nicely.
These Spoilers just want you to come as you are.
Previously… season two happened, ending with Karen finding a lump on Hank’s fun parts.
Hank is getting Man Land checked by a rather enthusiastic doctor. I think Karen wished he could be sedated for the process. The doc finds what he calls a grotesque lump, a swollen lymph node that he wants a biopsy on immediately. Hank is reluctant to have anyone cutting down there, although he summons the courage only after a stiff drink is offered.
April 8, 1994 was a dark day in the music world. On a rainy New York afternoon in the life of Hank and Karen, it was noteworthy for a different reason as the two discover that condoms might actually be a good thing. A flannel-clad Karen has already confirmed twice that she is with child, but Hank begs for a third test. Juno this isn’t, because they’re choosing to keep the kid, even though both of them are cheating on their respective partners. Good to know Los Angeles isn’t the only hotbed for infidelity.
Back and forth between flashbacks, Hank and Karen discuss life-altering scenarios. In the here and now, the doctor goes over a laundry list of what might be ailing our favorite writer, all while Karen is trying to keep him from going off the reservation. Back in the day, they debate the finer points of abortion. Even with her seemingly ultra-liberal ways, Karen was on a semi anti-abortion kick. Hank says he’s not ready for a child because he’s still essentially one. Speaking of children, Becca walks into their bedroom sensing something’s amiss. She calls shenanigans on their flat-out denials, hoping they’ll come clean, but alas, not so much.
Later on that rainy New York afternoon, Karen and Hank come to an understanding that they can’t have the kid, but they also can’t see each other anymore, what with the cheating and all. To nobody’s surprise, Hank tries to have his cake and eat it, too. Moving to the present, Karen sympathizes with what Hank is going through to the point of offering her body if it takes his mind off waiting for the diagnosis. This just gives him the opportunity to shift thought from health issues to Lew Ashby issues: namely, the kiss he shared with Karen. She goes as far as to call Ashby a child, much like the man she had a child with. All Hank wants is the truth, but Karen doesn’t believe he can handle, much less deserve, the truth. This sequence mercifully ends with yet another flashback to Hank, this time pounding away on his Mad Men typewriter.
At the bar, Charlie does his best to make Hank feel better. He turns down Charlie’s attempt to hook him up. He laments what he’s done to Karen over the years, but especially over the past few months. I’ve seen “reformed” Hank, and I don’t think it’ll last. He gets a hopeful look on his face when his phone rings, but returns to his morose state when he finds it’s only Ashby.
With her pink strips of hair, 90s Karen reads what Hank recently typed, smiling after only have read a sentence or two. A worried Ashby shows up on her doorstep looking for Hank. After inviting himself in, he asks Karen what is going on between the two of them. She reveals that she was seeing a guy like Ashby when she first met Hank. Hank arrives and they make like a Benny Hill chase sequence throughout the apartment, throwing candles and whatnot at each other in the process. Just as the two are about to consummate their bromance once again, the doctor calls with Hank failing to pick up in time.
Charlie is on the phone accepting the twelve-step mandated apology from Marcy when Daisy walks in the bar. She tells Charlie that not only has she found a place to live in Santa Monica, she also wants to exit the porn business. Seems Vaginatown will always hold a special place in her heart, but she’s ready to be a mainstream actress. Lest she forget to stroke his ego once more by saying she’d like the last person to have on-screen sex with to be Charlie. He wants to still be her manager, if only as an excuse to see her. He also takes the opportunity to invite himself over to her place. Daisy has no problem with both, sealing the deal with a most sensual kiss.
After the controlled chaos, Hank apologizes to Ashby. Bros before hoes, they kiss and make up. Once Ashby leaves, Hanks apologizes to Karen. He wants to stick with her for their remaining time on God’s green earth. She says he can’t figure out who he wants to be… as it stands, his indecision is killing any chance of their revival. Karen doesn’t know what “I Love You” means to him, yet another roadblock on the road to happiness. The phone rings with the doc on the other end revealing syphilis. They hug and kiss, Hank ready for his mercy sex now.
Hank and a very pregnant Karen are walking down a Manhattan street, about to go their own way. He reluctantly drops a letter in the mailbox when she calls out to him. Karen invites him to the Cobain vigil she’s attending, Hank pointing out his love for a good vigil now and then. Voiceover Hank reads the letter he mailed to Karen. The letter, (which she had already glanced at earlier), reveals that he met someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with… that someone being Karen, except he doesn’t know how to be with her at that time.
Next time on Californication, seems Hank and Mia’s little secret is about to come out. Meanwhile, Charlie lets slip his love for Daisy… with Marcy standing right next to him.
Which of Hank’s romances is currently stronger: Karen’s or Ashby’s? Does the Daisy/Charlie hookup spell the end of the Runkles as we know them? What does I Love You mean to you?