Eastbound & Down
“We think of Kenny Powers as sort of a weird southern James Bond,” Danny McBride explained in February, and Kenny’s certainly been emanating a 007-ish ennui in these last few episodes. Even as Bond bangs Septuptopussy on top of a pile of diamonds in a Serbian underground lair that is about to explode, he’s… over it, and after 23 movies, twelve novels, three radio shows and two comic-book adaptations, who could blame him? Similarly, chasing the comeback is wearing thin on our hero, who has seen family betray him, women leave, friends die, and semi-retarded friends shave their eyebrows off. As the season (ostensibly the show’s last) draws to a close, Kenny just doesn’t seem to be filling up his cut-out shirts with his usual puffed-up delusion.
On the bright side, this week in Myrtle is Black Biker Week and sees the return of one-eyed Black Biker Week biker Reg Macworthy, leader of a gang fantastically named the Grim Creepers. He is in a public urinal taking a piss while wearing a horrific skeleton mask. He turns to a stranger at the next urinal and says, “That’s a tight dick, playa.” Might be the most solid cold open of the season.
Kenny returns to the Mermen with a new pitch and a new outlook on the motherfucker that is Toby: “Look at my son, who I’m now proud of. Look at him, faggots.” After taking some heat from his manager for the hiatus, Kenny’s accosted by a newly flat-ironed Ashley Shaffer in the parking lot, who seems to have apparated to Myrtle with one-eyed Reg to reap revenge for losing his partnership with Kia. This is actually the second car dealership that Shaffer has lost to the racist, ‘roid-addled, cut-off-shirted force of nature. As you may recall, the first was in Season 1, when Kenny took Reg’s eye out with the Power of Baseball.
Kenny’s regular beachside standoff with Dochenko carries extra weight this episode: The sassy Russian pitcher is sure that he’ll make it to the majors, especially since Kenny’s been cut from this week’s game. Am I having a seizure, or is Ike Barinholtz-as-Ivan-Dochenko kind of sexy? (I just Googled this and Mindy Kaling apparently agrees with me.)
Meanwhile, Stevie pastes the words “First Fornication” on a piece of construction paper. He is painstakingly scrapbooking his memories of Maria, who is now selling oranges on the highway and will have nothing to do with him. Because they could use another set of hands to help with the baby, Kenny advises him to find some hair and get her back. The result? Stevie, with Toby waiting in the car, storms up to the orange stand wearing a toupee that makes him look like Dustin Hoffman’s Down Syndrome–afflicted brother in All The President’s Men and begs Maria to take him back. When she won’t go gently, there’s a scuffle between Stevie and her fruit-hawking co-worker, during which his wig is ripped off to reveal his horrific bald dome smeared with toupee glue. Stevie flees in shame, to discover that Toby has been stolen from the car.
Back at the condo, Stevie throws himself at Kenny’s mercy for leaving Toby unsupervised: “I’ll buy you shrimp for the rest of your life, and you can eat it out of my butt hole!” Unsurprisingly, Macworthy has stolen the kid at Schaffer’s request, and, after some psyching-up, Stevie and Kenny square off against the Grim Creeper gang. Location? In front of a giant papier-mâché swordfish. Ashley is kind enough to clarify: “Kenny Powers, today you seek retribution in front of this nautical-themed gift shop featuring original art constructed by none other than Bob Duato.” (Close-up on swordfish, signed by one Bob Duato.)
Naturally, despite Stevie’s Freddy Krueger claws and Kenny’s sweatband and nunchucks, our heroes lose, and Macworthy hovers over a pinned-down Kenny with a bat, ready to break his pitching arm. “An arm for an eye, motherfucker.” Fortunately, there is only one person in the commonwealth of Florida who is more racist than Kenny, and it’s Ashley. Tip #448: Don’t infer to a black biker gang that you “own them.” As Ashley is viciously beaten and set on fire, Kenny and Reg make peace with a civil conversation, and Reg helps Kenny get to the game on time.
It goes without saying that Dochenko is not doing well on the field, and Kenny makes it in the nick of time to introduce his new pitch — one for Toby, one for Shane, and one for Dochenko’s defeat — which strikes the other player out. Success!
Maria appears at the game, face aglow, and she and Stevie reunite and it feels so good.
“What happened to your head?” she asks.
“This is what I am without you,” says Stevie. “A gross weirdo.” They kiss! Gross weirdo + Mexican Grimace 4 lyfe!
However, the victory isn’t as satisfying as Kenny had hoped, and while boogie-boarding he reflects on the comeback’s fruition, a.k.a. “dealing your opponent the death blow and having people falling all over each other to get a taste of your Eros’ jism. The mature man, however, celebrates not these adulations … because the most fucked-up test is yet to come.”
Speaking of which, absentee mom April stands on shore, waiting for him. She’s returned from her sister’s house after a much-needed break, and wants to get Toby out of Kenny’s (epic) hair. Kenny, being Kenny, plays it off like a boon, mumbling defensively like a seventh-grader that he “can’t wait to rip down all this baby sh*t and make this my dojo again,” even though beneath its protective layer of fried steroids, his heart is mad breaking. And yet, he refuses to display his vulnerability to the woman who’s already disappointed him.
As April hugs the baby, preparing to leave, he adds, “What’s there to miss? Dookie diapers? His chubby little cheek face? His gross baby breath he breathes on your neck as he falls asleep gently on your chest? Fuck that noise. I’m good.” April takes Toby away and Kenny is left staring at a toy he made for the baby, a plastic dinosaur with a dildo shoved up its ass. Pathos.
There’s one episode left in the series, and while the baseball end is seemingly resolved (though the drug-addled sports agent played by Adam Scott, surprisingly, didn’t appear out of the woodwork like the rest of Eastbound’s former cast this season), it looks like Kenny has some final words for Toby. And by words, I mean … possible kidnapping. Any predictions about what’ll go down?
By the way, I called all of this in the season premiere:
Who runs this shit?