Eastbound & Down
Even in the real, non-Eastbound world, water parks are a site of bleak-ass human comedy: Sunburnt parents in safari hats and Tommy Bahama swimsuits, spoiled kids clamoring for Dippin’ Dots, damp-floored and unsanitary public bathrooms. It’s enough to make you want to get sterilized. This episode — which sees Kenny and the gang taking a trip to the fictional Congo Canyon Resort — suggests that these parks offer something very different, but equally messed up, after dark. Specifically, a guy who keeps nunchakus tucked in his bathing suit sing-songing “Co-CAIIIINE!” before fastballing a baggie of it at you. (Later, we are treated to multiple shots of his flaccid penis while he is running at high speed. Don’t say Jody Hill never gave you anything.)
The newly high-flying Kenny, resplendent in an updated version of his classic all-black ensemble — good-bye, Western shirt — is getting used to the perks of his regular gig on Sports Sesh. So is Stevie, who lauds Kenny for capturing that elusive “Hunger Games demo. That John Carter from Mars demo.” Regarding Kenny slamming Dontel on-camera last week, Stevie asks April: “Did your pussy get wet in there? If I had a pussy, I’d be squirting everywhere.”
April, as ever, is somewhat more skeptical of Kenny’s decadence: When he gifts the family with a fair-trade candle, a Louis Vuitton backpack, and a snarling wolf chained up in the garage (“I got him from a Craigslist Indian”), she tells him that she’s not so sure about their sudden status upgrade. Also, her hair looks flatter than normal this week, which is generally a good gauge of how she’s feeling.
Kenny slips a copy of his autobiographical screenplay into Guy Young’s gift basket. Guy makes some patronizing comment about the Moroccan hair oil Kenny also included, even though it can’t possibly be that much grosser than the Drakkar-and-bull-semen bath you know Guy takes every other day to stay virile. He also meets Stevie for the first time, and asks: “Who’s this handsome pumpkin here, your fuckbuddy?” Stevie: [Completely earnest.] “I wish!”
Guy tosses Kenny some tickets to Charlotte water park Congo Canyon Resort, which he attempts to share with estranged brother (and past seasons’ regular) Dustin, his wife, and their kids. Kenny insists that despite his comeback, he’s still a suburban family man and not the whirling crank dervish he used to be — “I listen to fuckin’ Terry Gross now. And motherfuckin’ ‘This American Life.’” — but Dustin voices the same concerns that April has, albeit more bluntly: “Not for long … You’re gonna burn it all to the ground.” So they take Stevie, Maria, the Stevie-Maria brood, and those amazing White People™ to Congo Canyon Resort instead. (I was informed by commenter rockyhadadi last week that the amazing White Lady of White People is Jillian Belk from Workaholics, which I need to stop confusing with The League if I want to earn the respect of you people.)
As grown-ups are wont to do when their children are otherwise occupied, the entire Powers outer circle gets fucked up on multiple shots at the water park — especially April, who manages to be completely adorable while chugging from a frat funnel. (Katy Mixon, marry me.) Bad tidings begin to approach when Kenny, listlessly floating on an inner tube and smoking a J, starts noticing other — younger — string-bikini-ed women and pops a boner. For all the fucked-up things Kenny says about women — for instance, pointing out that Maria is “shaped like mashed potatoes” (oof), the advice he gives to Stevie regarding his impotence is actually pretty good: Hide your failings by tending to her sexual needs. Not to harp on the comparison, but Kenny Powers and women is like Walter White and meth: He’s so good at it that even when he says he’s out, you know he can’t stay out for long.
Sure enough, after he puts a shitfaced April to bed and sets the kids up with G.I. Joe: Retaliation on an endless loop, he begins the second half of his night. First, downstairs at the resort bar with Stevie and the White Guy, who drone on about their password-protected laptops as Kenny stares into the distance, as if fixated on his own version of the green light. The green light turns out to be nunchakus dude. He and his sister, the Hot Girl Kenny sprung one for that afternoon, are fans.
They and various other revelers — the siblings’ uncle, a random fiftysomething-year-old woman, some other local dimepieces — do an impossible amount of coke, and the Hot Girl tells her brother to tell Kenny that she wants to put his balls in her mouth. Like you do. Kenny shows impressive (for Kenny, at least) resistance to a free-and-clear blow jay from a Hot Girl who is not his wife. Multiple times, in fact.
“There’ll be no dick sucks tonight.”
“Like, I can’t just lick it or— ?”
“Like, it can’t be in your mouth, ever.”
But that night, in bed with passed-out April, Kenny lies awake suffering paroxysms of indecision. He listened to “good” “This American Life” fan Kenny, but “bad” oxycontin-and-Malibu-and–Neil Diamond–karaoke fan Kenny really, really wanted that beej. He stares at the ceiling, and says out loud, “Dear God: Should I go get my dick sucked?” Next to him, Toby lies awake, eyes open, listening and recalibrating his expectations from God.
Whether or not the Good Lord provides the answer, Kenny makes the choice you’d expect, but is rebuffed by Hot Girl, who has changed her mind since he’s a family man and all (and also to stick it to him for first rejecting her). The next morning, he wakes up next to April, empty and dissatisfied, as she admits that she was wrong to give him shit about pampering the family and taking the vacation. As a woozy, melancholy theremin plays, she kisses him and croons, “I had a fuckin’ blast.” Oh, my poor April.
Despite his best efforts, Kenny is veering steadily back toward his old ways: tomcatting, abandoning the people who depend on him, belittling April’s feelings, and generally being a scrub (also known as a buster). At one point during a montage of idyllic water park frolicking, Kenny ruminates that his fame is like a many-headed hydra — when one is cut off, like the baseball one, another, like the Sports Sesh one, grows in its place: “One head might be selfish and mean, but that doesn’t mean the next head that replaces it can’t be thoughtful and nice.” We’ll see about that. I’m Ira Glass.