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'Eastbound and Down' recap: 'I love you, Dad'

October 25, 2010 |  6:30 am

Eastbound10_01 
Kenny (you know what word belongs here) Powers is getting serious.

For those keeping score at home (I'm guessing about 90% of "Eastbound and Down" viewers), this episode contained nary a topless woman -- only men; most notably, Stevie. Of course, as far as Kenny's father, one Eduardo Sanchez (Don Johnson), is concerned, he's not sure on which side of the gender line Stevie falls.

Stevie topless is nothing we haven't seen before, but the lack of breasts otherwise -- in perhaps one of television's most magnificiently low-brow and sophomoric shows ever -- is shocking and stands out as a sign of uncharacteristic soberness. (Or maybe Danny McBride wept as he cut the frames of female full-frontal -- or back -- nudity from this episode, who knows.)

"Chapter 11" was not about anyone's chest, but about what's inside the heads of the father and son. So, naturally, like all such relationships, the half-hour focused on competitiveness, conflict, reconciliation and cannibas -- more on the hemp-inspired portion later. Last week, the awesome reveal in the final moments was that DoJo was KePo's daddy. They had no time to talk, but this week they did. Mostly, at first, about what a high opinion each one held of himself.

Who has more money? Kenny. Who has the better car? Kenny (a Lamborghini; it's stolen, but Pops doesn't know that yet). Who has a plane and a boat in "remote storage" next to his grottoes? Daddy. Who is the bigger self-aggrandizing liar? Hard to say. DoJo is who we thought he was -- Kenny, just louder, dumber and less talented. In short, he's a brilliant addition to the show.

Kenny has always maintained that his father would have answers, and right away we discover a doozy -- KePo has a half-brother who has a name that I hope is soon one of the most common given to newborn males, Casper. (Yes, like the ghost.) Kenny, who desperately wants his father's approval, takes the news about his unexpected rival for daddy's attention pretty well. Later that night, he sneaks into his father's house and urinates on Casper's computer keyboard.

But even Casper's annoying existence can't dampen Kenny's out-of-control father worship. For much of the episode, it's like Kenny has died and gone to Kenny heaven. His father, it seems, runs an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) business for tourists called Dirt Diablos. (If you can't name your son "Casper," this is an acceptable alternative.) DoJo tells his drooling son that he owns the largest fleet of non-occupational ATVs in a non-resort area in south Mexico. Wow!

Kenny tells his dad that he's still fond of the jet ski. "Have you ever climbed to the top of a mountain on a jet ski?" replies DoJo. You got me there, admits Kenny.

With desperation for love oozing from all pores, Kenny surrenders psychologically to his father and confesses his life is not as great as he originally has led him to believe. The car is stolen. He's out of American baseball. His woman is gone. "I'm family," DoJo says. "I will not judge you."

Over beers, Kenny asks for help from the one person we are sure won't give him any. He needs some fatherly advice: Did he do the wrong thing by running away from his problems in the United States only to embark on a drinking-drugging-whoring binge in Mexico? Dear ol' Dad tells Kenny not to worry about all the bridges he's burned and to look out for No. 1. (I believe this part was lifted from Robert Bly's "Iron John.")

Despite being forced by DoJo to sleep out in the barn with Stevie, Kenny daydreams about being a boomerang kid and living under his dad's roof. As they smoke a joint together, which for Kenny represents the height of the father-son bonding moment, the ex-major leaguer speaks from the heart: "I love you, Dad."

Next thing you know, the cops are on Kenny like flies at a barbecue. It seems that Daddy narced on Kenny to the cops for "reward money," which actually never existed anyway. Betrayed and then thrown into jail with his trusty manservant, Stevie -- oh, the shame of it!

The fun isn't quite over yet. There's some fun with the Oedipal story, but instead of killing his dad and taking the mother, Kenny is grabbed in the crotch by his stepmother, who bails him out of jail and tells him his father is a lazy, shiftless loser.

That snaps Kenny out of the Daddy spell he's under. "I don't think I want to be like you anymore," says Kenny, echoing something Stevie may soon be saying to him. And as is often the case when manservants are running around in a story, Stevie is the bringer of light and truth. It seems, a few episodes back, when Stevie said April was married, well, she's not!

Kenny punches Stevie for the fabrication, an act that probably goes without saying. But in the episode's final moments, he calls April's message machine and says, "I'm coming for you."

Next stop, Estados Unidos?

-- Martin Miller

Photo: Fred Norris / HBO

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