Here we are, counting down the final episodes, wondering if it’s all going to work out. We always knew it would come down to this, Hank and Karen standing alone, under the stars, questioning if they have a future. This close to the end, I expected Californication to build up to a dramatic finish. Now, with only two episodes left after tonight, I’m growing less optimistic that the fairytale ending that Hank never took his eyes off of will be satisfying, granted it happens at all.
Tonight’s episode, “Dinner With Friends,” had the chaos that hooked us on for seven seasons of Californication. It returned Rob Lowe to play the corky Eddie Nero for the final time. It had an indecent proposal from Stu and another hooker to ride Levon’s junk once more. With all the chaos we love, comes the wavering we loathe. Dinner between Hank and Karen turns into dinner with friends, but it’s the final minutes that again having us wondering if goodbye is ever really goodbye.
Hank has the ending written in his head already. He’s trying, he tells Karen. He’s always trying to do the right thing. Some road bumps were of his own choosing, some came out of nowhere, but he always saw the end of the road and Karen was the one standing there waiting. As lost as Hank is in his own narrative, Karen plays into it. Her psychoanalysis of Hank is spot on, he thrives on instability and madness, but in a brief moment of self-unawareness, she’s as guilty of it as he is. Hank’s pushiness was amplified tonight, but we can’t forget that Karen has left the door open for him, at times slightly cracked, and other times wide open. Less we forgot who jumped in the car after the wedding all those years ago. History makes it harder to let go someone you love, but when you never learn a lesson from your past you can’t stand there and be surprised that the person you want out of your life feels entitled enough to keep sticking his foot in the door.
There’s no reason to believe Karen is for real this time in saying she can’t be with him. We can’t justify Hank’s actions with Julia or Levon but we’d be lying to ourselves if we said this season housed some of Hank’s worst transgressions. It will take some sweeping romantic gesture for Hank to win Karen back even though it doesn’t need to and it will probably happen because that’s how these things go. If ties aren’t cut for good, there’s always a chance that feelings will flare up. It’s not going to take a miracle to get them back together because they were never really apart. Not Bill, nor Bates, nor New York nor California could get in the way of ending this story how Hank envisioned it.