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TV Review: Californication 2.2 – The Great Ashby

Hank finds himself in jail after assaulting a mouthy police officer. Karen, still upset at Hank for his accident at the party, refuses to bail him out.
By  · Published on October 5th, 2008

Californication, Showtime, Airs Sundays 10pm E/P

Episode: “The Great Ashby” (Season Two, Episode Two)

Synopsis: Hank finds himself in jail after assaulting a mouthy police officer. Karen, still upset at Hank for his accident at the party, refuses to bail him out. In prison, Hank is reintroduced to fellow inmate Lew Ashby, who proposes that Hank write Ashby’s long-awaited biography. When Hank refuses, Ashby bails them both out and tells Hank a story of the girl he loved and lost. Meanwhile, Charlie gets fired after his former assistant, Dani, plays the agency president a montage of Charlie’s self-pleasuring office sessions.

Review: After last week’s realization of all my Season Two fears, I wasn’t expecting much from tonight’s episode.  I was hopeful though, and I’m happy to say my hopes won out this week resulting in a smartly written and interesting episode.   Talk of moving to New York seems to be over as Hank accepts a writing gig and Karen entertains a new business opportunity.  This was inevitable and the writers dealt with it in a believable way.  Lew Ashby is an interesting character, and Callum Keith Rennie (from Battlestar Galactica) plays him with a perfect balance of attitude, fun, and yearning.  I expect to be entertained by Hank and Lew in the future, but I also predict more opportunities for Hank to stray from Karen because of it.  In the less interesting but usually entertaining department, we have the continued downward spiral of Charlie and Marcy.

In a series with its share of disturbingly hilarious images, this episode sets a new standard… at least in the disturbing category.  A sweaty, half-naked Charlie Runkle wearing a plastic lobster bib and yelling until his veins pop is not a pleasant sight.  “Cokie-Smurf”, aka Marcy, prancing around in her lingerie adds to the absurdity.  (And am I the only one who sees an overdose/addiction plot line coming soon for Marcy?)  Their scenes did present some good dialogue though, as well as a potential future story arc for Charlie.  He visits Marcy at work while a porn actress is getting waxed, and they discuss the perils of branching out from your safety zone at work.  The actress is looking for a change because “One wrong move and you end up the ass-licker, tonguing the guy’s balloon knot… on chocolate starfish duty.”  Good stuff, and I’ve learned a new term for sphincter which should come in handy during daily conversation.  Who knew Californication could be so educational?  The heart of the show, so prominent last season and one of the reasons the show is so strong, returns in the final few minutes.  Rebecca, as usual the voice of reason, defends Hank to her mother with an astute observation.  “He is who he is mom. You knew that when you jumped into the car with us. If you’re worried you made a mistake, that’s not his fault. You have to love him for who he is, not his potential.”  So wise, even if it is spoken with Madeleine Martin’s patented flat delivery.  After Karen forgives Hank and welcomes him back into bed, he tells her he loves her.  “I love you too,” she responds.  “But what if that’s not enough?”  Let’s hope the show can explore that realistically adult question slowly and believably throughout the season without anymore Three’s Company-like escapades involving mistaken identity.

Up Next Week: On Hank’s first day as biographer to Lew Ashby, he’s re-introduced to Trixie, the hooker with a heart of gold, who stirs up trouble by claiming that Hank is better in bed than Ashby. When Karen and Sonja meet to discuss a renovation project, Julian interrupts to work his guru magic on Karen. Becca grudgingly starts her first day at Mia’s private school, where she meets an unexpected friend, Damien. Meanwhile, Charlie spots one of Marcy’s clients, a porn actress named Daisy. While pitching himself as her agent, Charlie hops a ride with Daisy only to realize that he’s in the middle of an impromptu porn shoot.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.