Sunday, 6 October 2013

HBO's EASTBOUND & DOWN – season 4

Sunday, 6 October 2013

This HBO comedy ended its story in fine style by the end of season 3, so it's worrying to find it's been brought back for another run. But at least this will definitely mark the end of the road. That's not to say I don't like Eastbound & Down, because I do. More than I ever expected to during its spotty first season and clumsy second. I'm just anxious whenever something continues past its natural end-point, as it usually results in an unnecessary tail-end to a show that fans would prefer to forget. Fortunately, I really enjoyed the changes Eastbound & Down's premiere presents us with. Or, more accurately, the changes in lead character Kenny Powers (Danny McBride).

As of season 3's finale, Kenny faked his own death to win back his childhood sweetheart April (X) and turn his back on his quest for baseball fame. It was a perfecting ending in many ways, but now it's back for another eight episodes so things have moved on and drastically altered. Kenny's now married to April, they have two kids, live in the suburbs, and he's an employee in a rental car company. Life's sweet. But over the course of "Chapter 22" it becomes clear that Kenny's living a lie and can't placate his true nature for much longer.

Interestingly, this episode actually reminded me of Breaking Bad in many ways. Kenny's in a "Walter White" mode of being the agreeable husband, forced to accept that his wife's the bread-winner and talking point at their weekly soirées with neighbours. He's just some washed up has-been, whose fire inside has been extinguished by domesticity. The main difference between this episode and Breaking Bad's pilot is that we're already acquainted with Kenny's "Heisenberg"-like Id, and know he's itching to return. I loved how this episode foreshadowed Kenny getting his groove back, too: from April hearing him angrily smash a vase in the other room then claiming it had "fallen over", to him mushing up a box of donuts his boss had brought into the office.

There are only eight episodes, but a part of me wishes we could have had another half-hour of Kenny trying to quash his own boorish nature. It provided a lot of funny moments in this premiere. I also loved how you got flashes of his unacceptable behaviour (like doing a dinner table impression of a friend's adopted Chinese son, to realising he's let his young children watch The Human Centipede). But by the end of this episode, the old Kenny's back and hungrier for fame and fortune than ever before after getting a taste of the high-life with some old sporting buddies. I hope season 4 has a solid story to tell, because right now the set-up is almost exactly what season 1 was doing—albeit with the twist that Kenny's married with children this time.

Is there still something left to explore with this self-delusional oaf, or is this final season just going to be a remake of the first?

3 October 2013 | Fox UK