Drunken Masters, Misplaced Candy Bars and the Most Metal Moments From Last Night’s Californication
How does a show like Californication, whose current season has been steeped in the mythology of rock-and-roll hooliganism, recover from a less action-packed (though, at one point shocking) episode last week? In the case of last night’s episode, which bore the Joe Cocker–referencing title “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” its fictional rock star Atticus Fetch (played by Tim Minchin) upped the groupie gross-out ante the likes of which made Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones famous. The setting for such debauchery is the show’s agent character Charlie Runkle’s (Evan Handler) home, where the show’s antagonistic protagonist Hank Moody (David Duchovny) is staying, and it all begins with Fetch explaining why he has to crash there for a while. “The Mrs. caught me eating one of her chocolate bars, out of the cleaning lady’s vagina,” Fetch gushes. Then, he blames his actions on one of this season’s guest stars, “It was Marilyn Manson’s idea.” Although the Antichrist Superstar does not show up in this episode, former Sex Pistol Steve Jones and Jorge Garcia of Lost fame make guest appearances—and, best yet, Rob Lowe resumes his insane Eddie Nero character, in turn giving Hank a taste of his own medicine. After sifting through a lot of options, here are this episode’s most metal moments.
Eddie Nero, the Drunken Master
Beginning in season four, Rob Lowe assumed the role of Eddie Nero—a loose-cannon method actor who likes to live, breathe, and smell everything his character would—who, at the time, was meant to portray Moody in the Hollywood adaptation of Fucking and Punching, Moody’s account of being seduced by a 16-year-old. As soon as he made his entrance, flying through the air, in “Mad Dogs,” it’s clear he’s been through some shit recently. Dressed head-to-toe in white religious garb, Nero sings a round of “Oklahoma” and recounts the time “I took a man in my mouth once.” Despite that, he declared he’d have sex with a woman at the party Fetch has convinced Runkle to throw tonight. (Spoiler alert) The woman he had sex with, of course, was Moody’s ex, Karen (Natascha McElhone), prompting the ever-moody Hank to punch him. When Nero does his best noodle-armed “drunken master,” shit gets real and Hank broke a coffee table with him. The revelation comes out, at some point, that the man Nero fellated was actually Karen’s other ex, so maybe we’ll get some more drunken-master antics in the last few episodes of the season.
Charlie’s House and the Chocolate Factory
Fetch’s obsession in this episode was the ’60s legend that Mick Jagger had once eaten a candy bar from the vagina of his girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull. Although that legend is anything but true (even Keith Richards has wondered the source of the the “Mars Bar”), Fetch attempts to relive not just the time he mentioned earlier in the episode but once more. This time, though, the vagina in question belongs to Charlie Runkle’s ex Marcy (Pamela Adlon), who used her wiles to convince Fetch to dismiss a bed full of “tall, leggy blondes,” to use his term. But before he gets down to business, he describes his role in the whole thing as, “this gift, this opportunity to transcend your everyday suburban existence and have sex with a fucking rock star, thereby giving you a story to dine out on for years to come.” By including that line, I just wanted to underscore the rock-star solipsism Californication‘s writers lampoon so perfectly (though I can’t say I’ve heard anything that self-centered in my years of interviewing); I’m sure some rock stars think that way, though. In any case, when Fetch’s wife Natalie (Sarah Wynter) walks in on them, Fetch and Marcy are reenacting Jagger’s mythical moves—and the devil Fetch gets no sympathy.
“Rock Star Wives”
For as much as the show has dealt with the groupie mentality this season, Natalie offers up an idea of what it takes to be a “rock star wife”—or, more specifically, the wife of a constant adulterer. After she caught Fetch with Marcy, she took Hank and try to convince him to sleep with her. “Do you know what it takes to be a rock star’s wife Hank?” she says, alluringly. “I have certain skills. I know how to give the kind of sharp and focused head that cuts through the bullshit. Other women out there are like licking lollipops. They’re lazy. They’re entitled. They think just by putting it in their mouth that’s all they need to do. But you and I know that’s just the beginning. I know how to get shit done.” Luckily, for Fetch at least, she’s more virtuous, which suits the trope well. “Do you love your husband?” Hank asks. “Yeah, I do.” No harm, no foul.
The 37 Club
“Ladies and gentleman, I have an announcement to make,” Fetch says after bursting into the living room. “All my life, I have loved exactly one woman with all my heart. Have I fucked countless others? Yes. Does that make me a bad man? I don’t think so. But in the court of public opinion, I am a scoundrel, a rogue, a rake, perhaps even a rapscallion.” After that soliloquy, Fetch pulls out a golden pistol and puts it in his mouth, convinced he can’t live without his wife. “I created Atticus Fetch,” he says. “Now I have to kill him before he kills me.” (Spoiler) Although it’s revealed later that Fetch is in no way ready to join the list of dead rock stars (many of whom, like Kurt Cobain, died at age 27—Fetch actor Minchin is 37) because he didn’t put any bullets in the gun, there’s one great revelation: his character’s real name is Ollie. OLLIE!!
The episode ends, as Hank and Karen walk on the beach. More “metal,” though, is the acoustic folk cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” playing in the background. The woman behind the version is the freckle-faced, husky-voiced solo artist Lissie, and you can hear it in all its sullen glory below.
Production stills by Peter Iovino/SHOWTIME