“You’re gonna die poor, drunk… and alone.”
The season 3 finale of Californication was its best episode ever. If you’ve been following Californication since day one, then each moment was even more rewarding than the next. Mia’s (Madeline Zima) return could have been a simple gimmick, but it wasn’t. The drama tied up three seasons of push and pull between Karen (Natascha McElhone) and Hank (David Duchovny), with the love of Becca (Madeleine Martin) dangling in the middle. While everyone gasps over the season finale of Dexter, watching this Trinity unfold was just as satisfying.
We knew that Hank’s secret about Mia would be exposed at some point, but we never really had an episode that fully explored the mental impact of Hank’s sexual indiscretions. Taking a page from The Sopranos’ creator David Chase, Tom Kapinos created a semi-dream episode that revolved around Hank’s emotional abyss. While Hank floated around in a pool, the women in his life danced around him, exposing different facets of Hank’s spiritual poverty. The dream scenes were reminiscent of MacBeth in that Felicia, Jackie (Eva Amurri) and Jill (Diane Farr) played the parts of the Three Witches (or Weird Sisters), cutting short Hank’s own destitute life.
“You’re just chasing the dragon. We’re never going to live happily ever after.”
Sadly, it doesn’t look as though there will ever be a happy ending for Hank and Karen, but that is what lures us back to Californication week after week. James Frain (The Tudors) joined the Cali cast to do what he does best, add gas to the fire. Frain played the role of Mia’s boyfriend and manager, Paul. Much like Frain’s role as Cromwell, Paul tried to exploit her relationship with Hank in order to turn Mia into the next VH1 reality-show-joke-of-the-week. We’ve seen Hank end up in fistfights before, and he did it once again when taking down Mia’s boyfriend. This wasn’t a jealousy spat; Hank was playing the role of the knight in shining armor looking out for the interests of Mia, Karen and Becca. Unfortunately, “no matter how you slice it,” Hank’s actions caused the fight and not the conniving manager.
The coup de grâce fight was between Hank and Karen. Never before have we witnessed such an emotional scene on Californication. As the music played to sight of Karen’s inaudible cries, we watched the three seasons of infidelity and Hank’s callous disregard for the repercussions of his own actions unfold. Some things you can’t change, and the past is one of them.
Where does Becca end up in this relationship fiasco? After Becca reveals to Hank that she is no longer a virgin, she says to him, “I hope you know that I love you dad and I always will.” In the final scene we see Becca chasing after her father, as Karen tries to hold her back. Becca has undeniably chosen Hank in this lovers quarrel. Will that mean she’ll move on to New York with mommy dearest all the while hating Karen? That’s best left for Season 4. What we do know is that Hank won’t be taking that Casablanca flight to a better skyscraper filled world of loving bliss. He sacrificed that chance, and drowned in his own vomit because of it. The season 2 promo pictures of Hank drowning finally came to fruition.
As for Charlie Runkle, the divorce papers have been signed. Charlie and Marcy are no more. As Peppermint Patty would say, “Sorry Chuck.” You may have tried to kick the football, but it was taken out from under you when you were caught up in the moment of “what could have been.”
A hearty round of applause goes to Tom Kapinos for delivering an excellent end to season 3. The finale was well played and we all look forward to season 4.