Californication: Party Boy

By
Photo: Courtesy of Showtime
Episode Title
Verities & Balderdash
Season
3
Episode
3

Magic mushrooms “take a while to kick in,” we learn — just like this season. As in a French farce, Hank is finding a woman behind every door, but not yet the woman he’s looking for. Or is that just the excuse he uses to keep moving on?

We start with Prof. Moody in a faculty meeting, daydreaming about one of his students topless and working a stripper pole. (This is Eva Amurri, Susan Sarandon’s daughter, and she inherited both her mother’s soulful eyes and her rack circa The Rocky Horror Picture Show.) Called on for an opinion about something related to higher education, Hank deflects the question to a tweedy, bow-tied table mate whom he dubs “Ezra Pound.” That’s cable’s appeal in a nutshell: pole-dancing and obscure ex-pat intellectual references.

Ordered to attend a faculty and grad students fall mixer, Hank decides to make it a night with Becca instead. His new parenting plan boils down to Guitar Hero and “If we never leave the house, nothing bad can ever happen.” She calls her mom in New York: “This man is ruining my life!” she bleats. Defeated, he drives her to her friend’s house, also the site of the faculty fête. “Don’t get too hammered,” she begs. “Don’t put daddy in a corner!” he replies, and then spends the rest of the night cornered by women who want something from him.

The core of the ep — indeed, the season so far — is Hank’s speech to the dean’s wife, Felicia. She says she’d like to fix him up. “That’s a fool’s errand,” he answers, master of understatement. He doesn’t need help to find lovers: “That’s my purgatory, really ... All women are (beautiful) in one way or another. There’s something about every damn one of you — a smile, a curve, a secret. You ladies really are the most amazing creatures. My life’s work.” So what’s so bad about that? The morning after, he explains, he’s hit by “the hangover and the realization that I’m not quite as available as I thought I was the night before.”

Felicia’s so moved by this eloquent “tragic philanderer” argument that she ends up in his arms — only to be interrupted by Jackie, who tells him later that he could have done better, with her. If this wasn’t enough activity for one dull faculty cocktail party, Hank also has sex with his flustered teaching assistant on the dean’s desk. And Becca secretly tries ‘shrooms.

Elsewhere in Hollywood, Rick Springfield, in a guest-star turn, lunches with Sue and Charlie. He’s looking pretty good for age 60. He and Sue talk about their history of sex and doing coke off each other’s asses. Turning profane on Californication is actually a good career move for Springfield, who’s been doing cruise-ship excursions with soap stars and his mother. Charlie lands him as a client with a strategy that consists of finding his The Wrestler. “Get an Oscar nom for playing an addict, a cripple, a retard, whatever,” he pitches, and a deal is struck. Charlie calls Marcy to celebrate, but she declines, then heads to his office anyway with champagne. Behind another door she finds Sue, mid-coitus with an unseen man. “Charlie Runkle, are you inside that woman?!” she cries. It is not a happy reunion.

So, for all the beautiful women in his life, Hank ends the night (adorably) in a Yale-blue snuggie, alone with Charlie, bemoaning the mistakes they’ve made and the two women they miss terribly. “Next year, my Hebrew brother,” he tells Charlie, “next year in Jerusalem.”