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Californication: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner — and Dessert

Breaking up is hard to do. Especially when you’re sleeping with four different people. Hank Moody has decided to change his ways. “It’s time for me to grow up … the gods have seen fit to give me another shot with the soulmate,” he announces to Charlie, as they run along the beach panting, then stop for a cigarette. If so, suggests Charlie, maybe it’s also time to stop banging the entire college campus. Easy, says Hank, since he has nothing serious going on with the three university types. “I can get this done in one day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and home in time for cybersex with the soulmate,” he predicts.

In Greek tragedy, students, that’s called “foreshadowing.”

Hank’s life soon turns into an episode of The Bachelor without the roses, but with all the uneasy moments. To each woman, he seems to have implied more than he intended, and started things he suddenly doesn’t want to finish. It sets up an interesting Mars/Venus dynamic: Did he lie or did they just hear what they wanted to? (Much like Sex and the City, the story’s fungible. The first time you watch the series, Big’s a cad; in reruns, Carrie’s a nag.) The evidence against Moody: Connection-hungry Jill urged him earlier this season not to hit on her unless he was serious. He did anyway. To Felicia he said “It’s hard to forget the kiss of a very beautiful woman,” and them there are courting words. And, Jackie, who’s truly stunned and hurt by being dumped, well, he had let her sleep over. ‘Nuff said. Certainly, if four women feel they have a future with you, maybe you’re doing something wrong — if not morally, then at least when it comes to time management.

Enter Becca fed up and messed up, doing increasingly self-destructive things. A lot of this episode is about growing up and aging badly. “Look at us Runkle — L.A. has made us soft … we used to be able to run for the Lexington Avenue express with the best of them,” says Hank.

Sue’s best client is worried about aging, too. Peter Fonda plays a hippie burnout Hollywood-type who’s leaving her for another agency. “It’s about my legacy … they could put my face on a salad-dressing bottle!” he cries. Charlie counters, going all sixties on us: “What they want to do is turn you into a corporate brand, man.” The Paul Newman pitch is the one that agents give to all “baby boomers,” knowing they’re saps for change-the-world charity, he says, eventually keeping the client from breaking up with Collini.

And by the end of this episode, Hank is, if anything, more entangled than ever. He’s even finally consummated his long-simmering fling with Felicia, furious to discover she was about to sleep with someone he considers a lesser writer. The disappointed author’s parting shot to Hank: “When was the last time you wrote anything?”

Photo: Jordin Althaus/Showtime