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TV Review: Californication Season Finale Leaves A Little Death In Your Heart

Hank completes his biography of Lew Ashby. Mia departs LA for her cross-country book tour. Sonja gives birth to a baby who is decidedly not Hank’s. Fortunately, Julian steps up to the plate.
By  · Published on December 17th, 2008

Californication, Showtime, Airs Sundays 10pm E/P

Episode: “La Petite Mort” (Season Two, Episode Twelve)

Synopsis: Hank completes his biography of Lew Ashby. Mia departs LA for her cross-country book tour. Sonja gives birth to a baby who is decidedly not Hank’s. Fortunately, Julian steps up to the plate. Charlie is reduced to working at a BMW dealership in the valley. After Daisy reveals that she slept with another guy, Charlie expresses his regret to an unsympathetic Marcy. Karen decides to take a job in New York City — the family can finally relocate back home. Hank and a heartsick Becca are thrilled. But when Becca and Damien patch things up and she decides she wants to remain in LA, Hank decides to stay behind for his daughter.

Review: Fuck you Tom Kapinos.

Ashby’s dead.  Just kidding, Ashby’s alive.  No really, Ashby’s dead.

So I say again, fuck you Mr. Kapinos.

Okay, I’ll lay off the show’s creator/lead writer for now, and focus on the what didn’t suck ass about the season finale.  Which was basically everything else.  Californication has been the funniest and most believably heartfelt show on TV for the past three months, and aside from the Ashby fiasco it ends it’s second season with those same high standards.  Everyone’s story line gets a conclusion, and some characters get an actual send-off.  Ashby shuffled off his mortal coil permanently, Mia heads on a cross-country book tour with her stolen tome, Runkle gets the boot from Marcy and Daisy, and Karen leaves for New York sans family.  Hank and Becca are left alone in LA which is fitting in a sense as his daughter has always been the most important person in his life.  He fought for Karen, repeatedly, but inevitably accepted defeat on more than one occasion.  He’s never given up on Becca though, and like he tells Karen before she leaves for the East coast, “At the end of the day it’s all about her. It’s always been about her.  What happens between us I can’t control… But what I can do is be the absolute best I can be for her.”

Hank and Karen were handled much better in this finale than last.  Much more believable as well.  It’s clear they love each other, but sometimes that isn’t enough.  They, as well as Kapinos, have learned that ignoring reality, jumping into the back seat of a car, and driving off into the moonlight isn’t always the best answer.  So this time, Karen flies off into the sunset by herself.  Runkle’s chances for a reunion with Marcy look non-existent, which is fine.  She’s not entertaining and he’s still a disgusting pig.  Jerking off on the living room couch… did he even have a clean-up plan?  And how does Hank stand to share breathing space with Mia?  She stole his best work in years, blackmailed him with it, acts like a bitch, and has become less and less attractive since the she first punched him post orgasm last season.

The writing in this episode featured some of the sharpest and smartest dialogue of the season.  Hank’s argument against Sonja’s unborn child being his was classic Moody.  “I’m not entirely convinced it’s mine.  I never came inside her, I don’t think I did, unless when she bronco-ed me I spasmed out a little dog water.  I’m still holding out hope she banged some dude in the PF Chang’s parking lot while she was looking for Mr. Goodbar.  I think that’s an entirely plausible scenario.”  He describes Daisy and her new-found interest in acting classes as a “deep-throating Lucille Ball.”  And Damien’s defense of his moment of infidelity from last week was pretty convincing too, “If a beautiful girl is kind enough to kiss you, you kiss her right back.  Because who knows where that kiss is going to take you.”  Maybe ‘convincing’ is a bit of a stretch, but it definitely has a certain charm and wisdom to it.

So… Ashby.  It’s not worth bitching and moaning over his death.  It’s a done deal, and an irreversible and asinine decision on the part of Kapinos.  Some may attempt to argue that Ashby, who was often compared to Hank, represented the unchecked id that Hank always threatened to become.  While Hank fought for Karen and Becca, Ashby lived a life where he had given up on love and familial trappings.  Killing off Ashby could be seen as a metaphorical necessity to show that Hank made the right choice, and that his fight for his family, while ongoing, will be worth it in the end.  Or it could be an incredibly lame attempt at provoking an immediate emotional response from a show that has only done that one other time in it’s history… and yes I’m referring to the final ten seconds of last season. But there was one good thing to come of Ashby’s passing, and it was on display early in the episode.  The bronze statue of a golfing, kilt-wearing Ashby, complete with metallic cock dangling to his knees, was a perfect memorial to the man.

I haven’t heard yet if Showtime has picked Californication up for a third season, but I think it’s pretty much a given.  It’s a been a big hit for the pay network as well as a source of much critical acclaim.  As far as where they could go with the show, your guess is as good as mine.  Here are couple suggestions though… I’d like Mia to try to write her own book, and have it fail miserably.  And I’d like a crossover episode between Californication and HBO’s Entourage.  Hank can visit Karen in NYC… the Chase boys and their friends are already hanging in Queens… Hank’s a screenwriter and Vinnie’s an actor in search of a solid script… what’s not to love about this idea?

Read More: Californication Recaps

What did you think of the finale?  Of the season?  Are you looking forward to season three?

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.