Californication's Hank Moody (David Duchovny) has really done it this time.
The charming lothario was already in deep: He's bedded both his teaching assistant (Diane Farr) and a student (Eva Amurri), and he's got the prim-and-proper dean's wife (Embeth Davidtz) all hot and bothered. But now, Hank's soulmate and mother of his child, Karen (Natascha McElhone), has returned from New York, sending Professor Moody into female frenzy.
In Sunday's episode (10/9c, Showtime), Hank will try to do right by Karen and end things with the other women. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Fortunately for us, though, the results are quite hilarious. We chatted up all of Hank's ladies to see just how much worse things are going to get for him before they get better.
Karen, the Soulmate
Hank has never made it a secret that Karen is the one he wants to spend his life with. So it's no surprise that Karen's sudden desire to move Hank and their daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin), back to New York would set Hank into action. "The only way he's going to get Karen back is if he cleans the slate and makes himself available," McElhone tells us. "At the moment, his life is so complicated. He's got to downsize a bit and actually give it a go again with her."
But how much will Karen tolerate? "I think sometimes she sort of gives him a little bit of space to do his thing, and he realizes he's not actually missing out on that much after all," McElhone says. "I suppose that's quite wise, even though she might catch some terrible contagious disease in the meantime. I think also she probably does make decisions [that] this is the ultimatum, and then the minute she sees him, that resolve falls apart and she ends up back in his arms."
That may not always be the case, however. Before the season ends, all of the women will come together in what McElhone describes as Hank's "nightmare... or a perfect dream." But surviving that meeting will prove nothing compared to the other speed bumps ahead. Is there anything he and Karen can't overcome? "When you see the end of the season, that question will be answered," McElhone teases.
Jackie, the Student/Stripper
Hank may be initially drawn to Jackie for her writing talent, but the way she works a stripper pole is what probably lands him in her bed. Or maybe it's all just a parenting technique? "Hank has this new adolescent daughter, and part of his journey this season is figuring out through these women what's in store for [Becca]," Amurri says. "His fascination is about this girl that's so smart and interesting but she's also stripping. As a father, it's interesting to him. It's a sexual thing, but it's also kind of intellectual. [He's saying], 'Let me figure out this person because pretty soon I'm going to have a daughter this age, and I'm going to need to figure it out with her.'"
Amurri (Saved!) says Jackie and Hank's fling is mostly pure fun for her character, but she doesn't just let Hank off the hook that easily. "Jackie doesn't take no for an answer," Amurri says. "It's just a fun game. [She has] a little bit of leverage in that game... because all of a sudden he has stakes and she doesn't."
So will it all end terribly for Hank? "It's up to Hank," Amurri teases. "He's the kid in the candy store, and the candy doesn't have to go anywhere. He just has to decide not to eat it anymore."
Felicia, the Dean's Wife
Even though she's the least likely suspect, Felicia may be the one woman throwing herself at Hank the hardest. "He doesn't really have to do anything," Davditz says. "In fact, the more he says no, the more she has to have him. [She] becomes this ravenous cougar whereas before she was just this uptight English lady."
Though she's clearly using Hank to grind (heh) an ax with her adulterous husband (Peter Gallagher), Davditz (Schindler's List, In Treatment) says Felicia also views Hank as an exploration of a life she's never known. "She kind of can't help but be attracted to the dirty and the steamy underbelly, because he's so different from the Dean," Davidtz says. She sort of finds herself wanting to have this delayed adolescence that she never had. She wants to be wild and crazy."
Spoiler alert: Hank finally gives into Felicia's come-ons, but you'll be slightly surprised at the circumstances. Their romp will do some damage to Felicia and the Dean's marriage, as they temporarily split. But be on the lookout for a happy ending. "It sort of awakens this thing in her," Davidtz says. "They're not together for a while, but then he makes a drunken return to the house, and there's a drunken Civil War battle on the lawn. Somehow, his tight pantaloons just reignite her for him. You see her falling in lust with her husband and having a shot of recreating it all again."
Jill, the Teaching Assistant
Jill plays hard to get, but ultimately, her desire to have a baby is what draws her back to Hank, even though he kicked off Season 2 by getting a vasectomy. "I think what Jill sees in Hank mostly is sperm," Farr says. "She's got that quiet sense of desperation that I think many [women] fall prey to in their 30s. You're looking down the road and you know you're three steps out from having a kid. And sadly, too much attention from anyone might just make you bond with them."
That motherly desire, however, stands to make Jill the woman with the most to lose. "Jill hits rock bottom, and by the end of the season I'm very angry with Hank," Farr says. "I think everyone has their own feelings of 'Oh, maybe it worked, maybe it didn't,' but Jill is one year further away from having a baby. He's wasted my time."
Farr (Numb3rs, Rescue Me) likens the Jill-Hank bond to the one that exists between Hank and Karen. But she's not afraid to admit that Jackie is her character's biggest threat. "She definitely feels a certain jealousy about Jackie because Jackie is the only other real possible contender for what Jill's trying to do. She wasn't trying to just have dungeon love like Embeth's character and she's not trying to make a life-long union. The only person that can get in my way is the younger, bigger-boobied version [of Jill]. So that's the one that cuts to the quick."