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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Eastbound & Down: "Chapter 9"

Illustration for article titled Eastbound & Down: "Chapter 9"
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Welcome to the resistance. Let us pledge eternal allegiance to our fearless leader Kenny Fucking Powers AKA the White Flame AKA Negro Hombre. Last night we learned that Kenny Powers has a black pit in the soul of his being that can only be filled with the reverence and awe of strangers. Powers doesn’t just want to be liked; he wants to be worshiped and adored.

So he couldn’t understand why Mexican crowds didn’t prostrate themselves before him in gratitude when he pitched a hell of a ballgame during his first outing with his new team. In Kenny’s mind he had made the mother of all comebacks (think Elvis in ’68 multiplied by Nixon in '68) yet the crowd yawned, packed up their peanuts and went home. The least they could do is carry him off the field on their shoulders.


This, obviously, will not do, so Kenny sets about winning the hearts and minds of the Mexican people. Kenny fancies himself a one-man cultural invasion, an occupying force. So he sets out to build the Kenny Powers brand by giving himself a new nickname/persona (the man in black) that unfortunately completely negates his other new nickname/persona (The White Flame).

Powers obviously felt he’d be greeted with the proverbial flowers and chocolate upon kicking ass in a new country, but he’s been greeted with something infinitely worse than hatred or even the occasional roadside suicide bombing (way to abuse that metaphor, buddy!): complete indifference. Kenny thrives on inciting strong emotions, positive and negative. Kenny wants to be loved but he also gets off on being hated. But being ignored; that’s something he truly cannot stand.

So Kenny decides to court his new demographic by showing up at a promotional autograph signing wearing what he imagines is their traditional garb; the kitschy costume of the low-rent Mariachi. It is to no avail, however; the crowd ignores his line to concentrate on more popular and presumably less arrogant soccer players.

Kenny has finally arrived at the horrifying realization that the crowd won’t elevate him to God-like status no matter how well he pitches or how shamelessly he promotes himself, so he decides to seek attention and validation elsewhere. Kenny has established, in no uncertain terms, that he is in no shape for a proper adult relationship that entails anything more than tequila-addled canoodling and vague shame.


Kenny is damaged goods yet he was able to recognize that he has a good thing going with Ana de la Reguera, a sexy local singer with an ass that qualifies as conclusive proof of God’s eternal benevolence.

De la Reguera’s insanely bountiful posterior reduced Kenny to a state of cartoon-like horniness. In a gloriously cartoonish slow-motion sequence, Kenny devolved, or evolved, into Tex Avery’s leering Big Bad Wolf and de la Reguera into a cross between Red Hot Riding Hood and a flesh and blood Jessica Rabbit. It was pure Looney Tunes, an R-rated live-action Merrie Melody with a hard-on and overcharged libido.


Powers is so mesmerized by de la Reguera’s ass of gold that he decides to commit to her even after meeting her suspiciously old son, an awkward adolescent first spotted sitting on a couch playing Magic cards. If Kenny can’t have his old identity as a fireball-slinging, badass super-stud back then he’ll reinvent himself as a loving family man.

But our mulleted anti-hero overplays his card; de la Reguera views him as an amusing distraction, good for a laugh and a good time and nothing more. Even more ominously, the owner of Powers’ team seems intent on pulling what the gentleman of the Jersey Shore would refer to as a “robbery”—stealing Powers’ woman in a sort of double whammy of personal and professional humiliation.


Meanwhile, Kenny’s former sidekicks show up with news about a mysterious figure who might just hold the key to Kenny’s Hispanic adventures or who might just be another red herring. Is it any wonder Kenny gets so goddamned frustrated he hurls a fastball into an opposing dugout and starts a good old fashioned baseball rumble?

My only problem with tonight’s episode was that it didn’t let DMX’s “Party Up” play longer. Seriously. That song should have played until the episode was over. Otherwise, “Chapter 9” had a funky, ramshackle rhythm all its own. It’s really starting to make good on its creators’ vow that this season will represent a long-awaited cross between Amores Perros and Michael Ritchie’s The Bad News Bears.


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