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EASTBOUND & DOWN Recap: Chapter 23

eastboundlogoAfter hinting last week that television could be a possible means for Kenny’s star to rise again, that brilliant notion was confirmed om this week’s Eastbound & Down,as Kenny is given a shot to impress the producers and audience of Sports Sesh – a panel-style talk show hosted by Guy Young (Ken Marino).  This, of course, is the next logical career move for the guy who faked his own death after quitting baseball (in the middle of a game!) to marry the love of his life and start a family.

Kenny, still high as a kite, continues to dig his own pool – his kids have tiny kid shovels – explaining to his wife April that his star was born to shine the brightest, and since he threw it all away to start a family with her, she now owes him support while he attempts to step back into the public spotlight. April wordlessly leaves to take the kids to school. In constant denial when things don’t go his way, Kenny calls after her, “Is that a walk away in support?”

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Later that day Kenny waits outside the TV studio for Guy to arrive. Over lunch, Kenny pleads his case for a shot on Guy’s show. Young is supportive, but also quick to distance himself from the notion that he told Kenny to quit his job. “It was in the subtext. You basically did tell me to quit my job,” Kenny insists. Semantics aside, Guy gives Kenny a shot on the show. He tanks. It’s bad. Basically, he chokes the moment he hits the stage, overwhelmed by the lights, the crowd, the cameras and one particularly brash, over-bearing, co-host –  the obnoxious Dontel Benjamin (Omar J. Dorsey), who dominates not just Kenny but the entire panel, even host Young.

Meanwhile, with an abbreviated season ahead, series creators Jody Hill, Danny McBride, and Ben Best waste no time in the twenty-third chapter of their Cervantes-inspired tale, reintroducing Kenny’s best friend and enabler, Steven “Stevie” Janowski (Stevie Little) in the show’s cold open. Surrounded by four obnoxious half-Mexican kids (who lovingly/awfully refer to their dad as “dicklicker”), Stevie’s marriage to Maria is not the blossoming bud of romance it once was. They’re broke, and Stevie, too ashamed to pay with food stamps, dashes out of the grocery store empty-handed after his credit card is declined.

Then his best friend appears on his lawn, Kenny Powers. They embrace. “Oh my gosh, I miss that smell,” muses Stevie. “Don’t smell, just hug,” replies a stoic Powers. The reunion is short-lived, devolving into an argument when Kenny demands Stevie abandon his family and rejoin him chasing windmills… er… chasing his dreams. Stevie refuses, citing the responsibilities of fathering four Mexican kids. Kenny fires back that his two white kids are worth more than the four Mexican kids. “Four Mexican kids is equal to two white kids,” screams Stevie before demanding Kenny leave. The two part as sworn enemies, each promising to kill the other the next time they meet.

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Kenny’s given a second chance at appearing on the show by a desperate Guy Young. It seems he’s fed up with Dontel taking control of his panel each week and had brought Kenny in hoping he would be a bigger, more obnoxious asshole and put Dontel in his place. When Kenny realizes he’s been brought in to assassinate the man who just publicly humiliated him on national TV, he’s all too eager to accept the job. He promises Young he’ll be back at the next taping ready to kill Dontel in front of a live studio audience. It’s kind of a shit move on Guy’s part; He’s not really helping Kenny out so much as bringing in someone else to push Dontel off the show, saving himself from having to take any potential heat. It also doesn’t bode well for Kenny’s future on the show — who’s to say Guy won’t grow tired of Powers eventually and hire another loudmouth to do to Kenny what he’s about to do to Dontel?

Before the second appearance on Sports Sesh, with April still on the fence about Kenny’s new career moves, a pensive Powers practices his weapon work in the backyard, talking mostly to himself, but also to his son, who sits a few feet away, probably wondering why his Dad says “fuck” so much. It’s not much of a surprise when Stevie steps into the backyard, and Kenny tells his son to run inside. Then these two morons, just like Quixote and Panza, fall right back into their old habit of feeding into each other’s delusions.  Stevie apologizes for denying Kenny’s earlier request. He explains that he’s half a man without Kenny in his life; his wife thinks he’s a pussy, and he can’t argue her point. He needs to help Kenny to help himself.

In a sharp suit and tie, Kenny returns to the TV studio, Stevie his personal assistant (something all good celebrities HAVE to have) by his side. Everything seems a go until… Kenny stares up at the bright lights, a sweat breaks out on his forehead. He’s nervous, a panic attack sets in, but why? As with seasons past he’s done everything right, along with his faithful sidekick he’s mounted the steed, ready to charge into battle but something is missing. It’s in this moment we see the first real signs of emotional growth this character’s shown in four season: The missing element is April.

But she shows up at the last minute. She admits to Kenny she’s been scared that she will lose the family man she’s grown to love to the celebrity she knows he’s destined to become. It’s a touching scene, as we realize how deep their love for each other really goes. Kenny assures her that no matter what happens, he is her forever. She encourages him as only April can: “Go fuck shit up!”

And fuck shit up he does. Kenny destroys Darnel in a dirty-dozens exchange of insults, the sports show briefly becoming a roast as Powers unleashes on Darnel, who storms off stage, quitting the show on the air. This leaves a victorious Kenny Powers to bask in the excited cheers of the audience, his best friend and most importantly, his wife.

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