'Eastbound and Down' recap: Kenny Powers and the circle of life
As a famous North Carolinian once wrote, "You can't go home again," though nobody ever listens and, boy, are they ever sorry about that later. Anyway, that was the title of a book by Thomas Wolfe - not to be confused with Tom Wolfe, also a Southerner writerly type famous for white suits and the books "The Right Stuff," "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," and "The Bonfire of the Vanities" - all titles, which in a way tell us something about our Tar Heel hero Kenny (you know what word belongs here) Powers!
The Season Two finale is now over and Kenny's circle of life is complete. This season has been about death (Big Red the cockfighter, Kenny's black outlaw self, his debilitating father anger) marriage (Stevie and Maria literally, Kenny and Stevie figuratively) and birth (Kenny's La Flama Blanca persona). But tonight added another beginning and it's growing in April's belly! Holy smokes, how did that get there?!
Kenny you can go home again, but if you do, you better be ready for a big surprise. Not only is April married to an African American, which turns Kenny's red neck a couple shades darker, but she's preggers! Circle of life indeed.
The episode started in triumph, too - as Kenny and Stevie reached the border of Los Estados Unidos with illegal Maria tucked under a blanket in the back seat. A border cop orders a vehicle search, but that cop forgot one thing - he's dealing with Kenny Powers who quickly flashed his celebrity credentials and that's all it took to put the trio back on the road to Shelby, North Carolina, (but not before Maria's flashed her chest out of the speeding car's window).
Soon, La Flama Blanca is burning white-hot as he struts back onto the campus of his former school. In a crowded lunchroom with young kids, he hops up on the cafeteria tables and declares his love for April in very colorful non-kid friendly language. But April is not there and he apologizes for interrupting the children advising them "don't do drugs - unless you're doing it with me."
Kenny finds April has turned her back on the noble profession of teaching and gone into real estate. She's showing a house to a couple of prospective buyers when he bursts in and shouts that her champion has returned. Her back is to him, then, three, two, one - she's pregnant! (Not just a little either.)
April is not happy to see Kenny and in one of the few semi-real moments in the entire season, April tells Kenny to "Get out. Because I never, ever want to see your face again." As usual, Kenny takes rejection like a man saying before he leaves: "Attention home buyers, I hope you know there were a lot of rapes that happened in this house."
Needless to say, Kenny without April is like Rocky without Adrian or Paris Hilton without her BFF. Crushing emotions like that aren't something you can just shake off in an instant. So Kenny wisely takes some time to collect his head and lets loose his trusty steed (his jet ski "The Panty Dropper") for a soul-searching spin around the lake. He's got to get his head together before reporting to his new minor league baseball team in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Later, Kenny caps off his meditation on the waters with several lines of cocaine.)
Kenny barges in on a romantic dinner between his brother and sister-in-law and, without provocation, shares where his head is. April (and her multi-cultural baby, as he calls it) should apologize to him for treating him so badly. (Sometimes, cocaine can cloud your judgment.) Boo hoo, Kenny feels unloved. His brother quickly reminds him that he abandoned April at a gas station, not the other way around. And, he goes on to advise, if Kenny wants to do "right by her," he should leave her alone and let her get on with her life, and he with his. Wow, real wisdom, which of course goes unused.
Instead, Kenny dispatches Stevie to give April the audio tapes of his "manuscript." For some reason, April listens and finds the material so compelling she rolls up on Kenny just as he was leaving for his new baseball job. She tells him that the baby is his! Holy circle of life again - Kenny Powers is going to be a father!
Kenny delays his departure for the semi-big leagues and asks April to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. She accepts, but let's Kenny know she's not interested in "being in love with" him anymore. Hmmm. It sure looked that way, but we'll have to wait until Season 3 to see how Kenny screws this one up.
Good-bye for now, Kenny (you know what word belongs here) Powers.
- Martin Miller
Photo credit: HBO/Fred Norris