Another season of Eastbound & Down wrapped up, and this week we leave Mexico. Kenny, Stevie and his new wife Maria are headed back to North Carolina so Kenny can reclaim April, but a lot has changed since he’s been gone. April’s moved on, giving up her teaching job to become a real estate salesman with her partner, referred to by Kenny as simply “the black man.” And she’s pregnant.
Sensibly, April wants nothing to do with Kenny since he abandoned her at a random gas station last season. So Kenny does the only thing left: coke and pool, followed up by crashing Dustin and Cassie’s date night (white wine and Grace Slick—nice) for a little advice, which is pretty much leave her to live her life. And like many of the hard truths Kenny’s had to face this season, he accepts it, but as a last act of good will, gives the tapes of his book to April, so she can try to understand his reasons for leaving her.
And in a final grand gesture, she shows up just as Kenny’s about to leave for Myrtle Beach to make some kind of amends…and reveal that the baby’s his.
All I can say is, “Wow.” And, after a few seconds in awe of this show and its season, I’d go further and say that Season 2 is superior to EB&D’s powerhouse first. Kenny went from vulgar curiosity to halfway decent human being—and all without the aid of the first-season cast (save, of course, Stevie).
That was a bold choice; a lot of fans, myself included, were disappointed that Season 2 was going to feature an all-new cast because hey, the old one was so damn good, and it would take the show in a different direction than the one we’d gotten used to. It also showed a lot of faith in the character of Kenny and McBride’s performance, because he’d have to carry it almost all the way.
And they did it, magnificently. I’ve said a lot about the strength of the show’s characters and how Hill and co. are never afraid to take them seriously and explore the realistic consequences of their outlandish hi-jinx, but it deserves repeating because it’s one of the major strengths of all their work, along with writing brilliant lines for anti-heroes whose mouths have a direct link to their brains.
That’s what Chapter 13 has in spades. For a pretty serious episode, this may have had the most and best lines of the season (Chapter 11 comes very close), and seeing how everyone from Season 1 has fared in the past several months worked better than seeing them immediately after Kenny’s departure. April’s bombshells held it all together, and her relationship with Kenny was treated not darkly but just as someone who was in her situation would react.
The only thing that didn’t work was Kenny’s continuously cruel treatment of Dustin—especially after his heartfelt goodbye and thanks with Stevie. I’m convinced Kenny’s a better man and actually has some respect for others—so why not have some for his own brother?
No matter—EB&D had a lot to live up to this season, and it *ahem* knocked it out of the…
I can’t leave on a lame line like that, so I’ll let Chapter 13 speak for itself:
“Probably looking for some Al Quedas or something.”
“Let me know when you catch bin Laden, I got some champagne on ice”
“My little mule”
“You got some sort of ‘Reverse Benjamin Button’ thing going on?”
“Old Sweet Tits”
“Say no to drugs—unless you’re doing them with me.”
“Ever since my hysterectomy, I swore I’d never get a place with stairs.”
“I hope you know there were a lot of rapes that happened in this house.”
“Last time I saw you I think I had a yeast infection. All cleared up now.”
“Love. Is. The. Best. Gift. Ever.”
“Oddly enough, Mexicans aren’t too different from us once you get past the lack of interest in real sports and need to have yellow rice at every fuckin’ meal.”
“It’s not the black guy’s kid, it’s mine.”