October 7, 2013

TV Review: EASTBOUND & DOWN 4.2 — “Chapter 23″

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 8.05.05 AM

Click here for Tim’s review of last week’s “Chapter 22.”

The continued journey of Kenny Powers brought about some noteworthy developments this week that, when you stop to think about it, are sincerely perfect for this character.

Truth be told, “Chapter 23” may be one of my favorite episodes of Eastbound’s entire run. I thought it was a particularly nice bit of symbolism to find Kenny (Danny McBride) digging a hole for himself at the beginning of this ep. Kenny’s always been his own worst enemy and it’s clear at the beginning that April (Katy Mixon) isn’t feeling her husband’s newfound career aspirations and spiraling drug use. It’s quite a turnaround from where we left Mr. Powers last season as it’s clear he’s not in the Cameron Crowe movie he thought he was at the time. The draw of fame has and always will be Kenny Powers’ Achilles Heel.

stevieMy biggest complaint about the season opener was its lack of series regular Steve Little. That was rectified here in a big way. Stevie and Maria seem to have had an endless amount of kids in the time since we left them. I’m amazed at how Eastbound continually skirts offensiveness while still managing to be one of the most politically incorrect shows on television. I’m not proud of the fact that Stevie’s “Four Mexican kids is equal to two white kids,” line had me in stitches. In the world of Eastbound & Down, ignorance is indeed bliss.

Sports Sesh. Dontell. This episode had all the makings of a big fight feel setting up Kenny’s showdown with sports commentator Dontell Benjamin. Mega props to Omar J. Dorsey for his obnoxious talking head here – an odd combo of Steve Harvey and Deion Sanders mixed with a dash of Skip Bayless for good measure. Sports Sesh has all the trappings of the very worst of sports recap shows – all cologne, gaudy suits and big personalities fighting for TV time. It’s a perfect setting for Kenny to thrive and fuck shit up.

“Chapter 23” was all about Kenny’s perception that his two biggest supporters had turned his back on him. What we learned is that it’s Kenny’s self-doubt that’s completely out of whack. Stevie and April are still still firmly in the corner of Kenny “Fuckin’” Powers. Stevie and Kenny’s training montage leading up to Kenny’s second round at Sports Sesh is among Eastbound’s finest moments. Kenny’s analogy that Stevie is his hands seems apt when you consider how little he’s accomplished without his weird buddy in step.

And if Stevie is his hands, April is clearly his heart. “You can have all the Kenny’s there are Kenny’s of,” was my favorite line in an episode filled with great zingers. As a fan of these characters, I find myself sort of holding my breath and hoping April and Kenny are in a good place by season’s end, though I have no doubt Jody Hill and Danny McBride plan to throw a wrench or two into the relationship along the way. Kenny Powers now finds himself back in the spotlight he so desperately craves. Is this a good thing for the relationships he’s cultivated along the way?

Some random thoughts:

-This was a subdued turn for Ken Marino this week. I still see his character coming into conflict with Kenny at somepoint this season.

-I love the high-stakes drama that occurs only in the minds of Kenny and Stevie. The scene where they end their friendship is brilliant, especially considering they hadn’t been in each others’ lives all that much these past few years. This episode had a few classic Stevie Janowski moments, but my favorite has to be when he throws a plate and immediately winces at the realization it’s about to hit the ground and break. Stevie’s own shadow could kick his ass.

-On that note: “I surrender unto you!”

-Was that a “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” reference on Eastbound & Down? I believe it was.

-Kenny’s second go with Dontell had all the triumph and pagentry as Rocky’s rematch with Clubber Lang. Except Rocky never called Lang “the Black Destro.”