Well, friends. It is a sad, sad day for the lovers of quirky HBO Sunday comedies. It looks like two of my favorite shows, Flight Of The Conchords and Eastbound & Down, almost assuredly ended their runs today. Bret and Jemaine have announced that they will not be returning for a third season unless we all clap really, really loud and long (no wait, that only works at concerts) and judging by its ratings, I doubt Eastbound & Down will be renewed.
It was sad for other reasons as well. It’s hard to believe it was just six short weeks ago that we as a nation were introduced to Kenny Powers, mullet enthusiast, fuck-up, ex-superstar and champion swearer. In that time we’ve come to root unabashedly for this foul-mouthed, drug-abusing misanthrope and corrupter of children. He’s the ignorant hillbilly who won our hearts and minds.
So I was strangely relieved when it looked like everything was going to work out Milhouse for good old Kenny P. A scout played by Party Down star Adam Scott (did anyone catch that show? I hear good things) played into Kenny’s vanity and greed by promising him a gaudy paycheck to come to Tampa Bay and say horrible things about minorities and homosexuals and maybe throw a little ball while he’s at it.
Kenny fucking Powers was back! With help from steroids he’d regained his fastball and his mojo. The episode began with a freeze-frame of April’s giant boobs (incidentally how awesome was that shot? On a creative, artistic level of course) and the promise that Kenny would be leaving the purgatory of elementary school and returning to the high life he so sorely missed, a world of weed on the reg, yachts on the reg, skanks on the reg and pretty much everything else unhealthy on the reg.
Scott was fucking hilarious as the sleazy fulfillment of all of Powers’ dreams. His every line was eminently quotable, especially his boast that while a gold card will get you tickets to see the Jonas Brothers a black card entailed its user to “all three of them sucking your dick”. Of course if something seems too good to be true it generally is. It should have raised all sorts of red flags that Scott’s glad-handling smoothie promised Kenny the moon without asking for a tryout or a pitching demonstration or a stint in the minor leagues or any kind of proof whatsoever that Powers’ eye-detaching speed was anything but a creepy, once-in-a-lifetime fluke. Scott was offering Kenny a fantasy and fantasies have a way of dissipating upon further inspection.
But I wanted to believe. I wanted to believe that Kenny would soon be yachting on the reg with his beloved April at his side. Alas, April rejected Kenny’s plea to move to Tampa with him, citing, among other factors, Terrence’s mysterious disappearance. Terrence reappeared loopy and half-crazed just long enough for Kenny to behave with uncharacteristic graciousness and acknowledge that April would never truly be his. It’s a damned good thing, too, since Terrence seemed willing to murder Kenny if he put up a fight.
Kenny’s preparations for his imminent departure were both funny and melancholy, especially his climactic speech to his students and his delusional yet infectious belief that he was their savior while they were the chinks in his armor, his beloved, beloved chinks.
Kenny wouldn’t be taking Stevie, who at this point has morphed unmistakably into Kenny Jr., with him but he gave him “one last gift” by empowering his spastic sidekick to brutalize all the fire alarms as a way of ensuring that the entire student body would be on hand to hear him say his farewells. The scene where Stevie ecstatically kicked and punched fire alarms in a trance of pure ecstasy echoed the final sequence of last week’s episode: mindless, anti-social destruction rendered somehow glorious and transcendent.
While saying goodbye to Jefferson Davis, Kenny learns that Terrence and April’s engagement is off. Finally it appears that Kenny will have everything he wants: money, fame, his career back and the woman of his dreams to share it with. April packs up her suitcase to join Kenny on his exodus to Tampa but all that hope turns out to be a cruel mirage.
Kenny’s “signing” was nothing more than the drugged-up lie of a scout spiraling out of control. There would be no happy ending for Kenny. In the most heartbreaking scene of the season Kenny sat in his tacky new SUV at a rest stop while April went in to buy some Skittles and some water.
Would Kenny take the chicken shit way out and dump April so he wouldn’t have to disappoint her later on? Or had he really grown and matured as a man? I don’t know that I would want to see McBride play MacBeth but he has fucking nailed Kenny Powers. An unbearable tension grew as Kenny stared down one of the defining moments of his life and took the asshole’s way out. Was it inevitable? I didn’t think so.
Yet the bleak ending felt both earned and true to life. During his time as a small-town loser Kenny learned to be slightly less of an asshole but a certain level of dickishness seems hard-wired into his DNA. He genuinely seemed to love April but the prospect of disappointing her all over again was too much for him.
The season-ending episode was funny and profane and heartbreaking and real and ridiculous. If this really is the end of Eastbound & Down it at least ended on a high note. It fucked us up with some truth when we were looking for a Hollywood happy ending. Godspeed, Kenny Powers. We will not forget you, you chickenshit motherfucker.
—Was this the first episode without at least a snippet of Kenny’s audio book?
—I’m guessing a body double was used during the opening burst of boobage
—“I’m just kidding. Your dad’s dead.”
—“Learned a lot of lessons and shit but yeah, that part is pretty much all the same.”
—“I’m ready to fucking butt-fuck this party.”
—“Fuck the kids.”
—“I’m going to set up pussy appointments for you all the time.”
—“Goodbye fucking shit school.”
—“Listen here you beautiful bitch. I am about to fuck you up with some truth.”
—“I did not mean to kiss on her pussy, your fiancé.”
—“Remember that class where I taught y’all how to make it rain? That’s what I’m going to be doing, every night.”
—“We’d all like to stand in the parking lot making crazy speeches.”
—“To be honest, there were times when I forgot you even existed.”
—“You fine piece of church ass.”
—It was one of those great Eastbound & Down touches that the stack of porn that’ll put calluses on the hands of Kenny’s nephew is stashed alongside his handgun and bag of weed.”
—I will leave the final words to a Twitter update from Little Brother’s Phonte (whose avatar, incidentally, is Eastbound & Down-derived): “Awwwwww Kenny Powers…..why you go out like that?!?!?” followed by “That was fucked up what you did to April, fam”. That was fucked up what you did to April, fam, indeed.