In the first few moments of the season-three premiere of Eastbound & Down, Jody Hill et al.’s gritty, moving documentary series about life and love in the South, we learn that Kenny Powers’s boogie board is painted with an American flag and a pot leaf and we are not surprised. “Your base tan’s looking nice. I’m hoping to get there myself this season,” he tells a black couple on Myrtle Beach. They do not appear to know him.
It’ll be hard to top last season’s Hispanic adventure (as described by national treasure Stevie Janowski), especially since this one is the HBO comedy’s last. Then again, this is a show that featured a topless Jet Ski scene set to Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” in the pilot, so obviously they’re not afraid to run the risk of shooting their load. Also, if Louis CK watches 30 Rock and smells the writers’ room getting off, I watch this and smell Crown Fried Chicken and people who are nice to interns. I wish I was hiding under the table.
Since discovering that April was having his baby at the end of last season, Kenny appears to have gotten his shit in the vicinity of together. He pitches a winning game for the Myrtle Beach Mermen and has a teammate butt-buddy, Shane (Jason Sudeikis), to help him bust balls in the locker room. Shane is especially good at it. (e.g., “You so black … I mean, that’s fucked up, that situation, that’s gotta be not fun, except for the dancing and the big dick rumors, and like, being good at sports, and like, all that other positive shit, but other than that, that’s gotta suck”).
Shane and Kenny celebrate the Mermen’s win by picking up their ladies of the moment and hitting the beach. Kenny shows his lady the book he wrote in preparation for his Major League comeback:
“Do you understand about publishing?” he asks. “Publishing is how they make books.”
“Ha-ha, yes. I wanna do it in the dunes today,” she says.
“Well, I will be able to break it off a little bit. I’ll have time to slap it, but I won’t have time to flip it and rub it down. Translation: I don’t know if both of us are gonna come.”
“What the fuck, you promised!”
Unfortunately for her, Kenny has to go to his son Toby’s 1st birthday party. Despite the non-flippping and non-rubbing, he rolls up four hours late to a nice party and stressed-out April. Also present are his brother Dustin, Dustin’s wife Cassie, and their objectively hilarious-looking sons. Kenny is uncomfortable around his own kid, which is clear by the way he holds him (like a feral cat!) and the age-inappropriate birthday gift he gives him (a Playstation).
Cassie halfheartedly defends Kenny to April:
“What do they say? Eighty percent of success is just showing up?”
“And the other 20 is paying child support, being a good daddy, and not fucking everything with two tits.”
Kenny, brandishing his (what I feel in my heart should be) Evan Williams, makes a speech to the partygoers about how April never really gave them a chance to be a family in the first place. It seems that the two gave it a shot — “I didn’t have sex with anyone else for three months” — but he still wasn’t cutting it as a dad and she dumped him. She seems abashed as he tells everyone to raise their glasses. “To fuckin’ Toby. Not to fucking him. To, like, he’s cool.”
Sometime later, Kenny’s getting high and watching a CamiSecret infomercial (“Fuckin’ dumb”), and a teary April appears on his doorstep with Toby in tow. “I’m not sure what I’m doing here. Can you hold him?” April runs off to the bathroom to cry. Kenny convinces April to let him call Shane to babysit — she needs a night off.
On a party boat, Kenny tries to loosen April up. “I remember a girl who used to drink whiskey and smoke ten joints in the tenth grade and come watch me play baseball.” It works. They shotgun beers and wind up drunk on a putt-putt field. The family behind them instigates an argument. April explains that she and Kenny are parents as well, and the other woman mommy-shames April for partying: “I feel sorry for your child.” April lunges at the woman and attempts to scratch her eyes out, girl-fight-in-a-public-school-cafeteria-that-has-metal-detectors-in-the-entrance style.
After that, April and Kenny hit a carnival, play some games, do some cocaine, get airbrushed T-shirts of their faces that don’t really look like them, do some cocaine, and drink and do some cocaine. Finally, the two arrive home to relieve Shane of his babysitting duties. So April is in Kenny’s dojo now — right where he wants her — and as that disconcertingly dirty Ying Yang Twins “Whisper” song plays, he mentally and emotionally prepares to get it in. When he walks into the room, April is staring tenderly down at sleeping Toby.
“Who do you think he looks more like?” she asks.
“I dunno, April, I’m fucking wasted.”
“Just look at him.” She pulls him down to look.
“He looks like the dude from The Shield. Chiklis.” Then he says, “I know we’re both drunk, but I’ve been lost without you.” They kiss.
When Kenny wakes up, he is alone. There’s a note on the table: “Sorry, Kenny. I’m not myself. Last night only proved it. Be in touch. April.”
And then, Toby starts to cry! She left him with Kenny. Ahh!
It’s nice to see April bail for once. Except “bail” is more frequently used when men go MIA, whereas when women irresponsibly peace out, they are always going on a necessary journey to Get Their Eat Pray Love Back Under the Tuscan Help Me, because they’re finally ready to “exhale” after “waiting to” for way longer than is medically sound or generally conducive to healthy respiration. But there’s a kid involved here, so I think “bail” is appropriate.
Does Kenny’s dynamic with Toby remind anyone else of what they’d imagine Sudeikis is like with February Icewoman’s kid? Will this season turn into a racist-er, dick-jokesier Kramer vs. Kramer? I miss Stevie Janowski? That’s not a question?