TV RECAP: ‘Eastbound & Down: Episode 8′

TV RECAP: ‘Eastbound & Down: Episode 8′

Thanks to Eastbound for coming up with the most disturbing opening imaginable: Stevie having sex. He’s been on Kenny’s trail and hired a prostitute (one, presumably, among many) to, ha ha, pump her for information.

Kenny’s back to pitching fastballs with his new Mexican team (the Charros).  He’s contacted by a mysterious man (whom Kenny believes to be the only rich man in Mexico, as well as the only Asian), and the two discuss buying a Mexican team. I’m guessing that since not much is made of this for the rest of the episode, it’s a setup for some of the subsequent episodes.

Anyway, Kenny returns home to find (in one of the funniest, darkest moments of the show) Stevie. I’m not going to describe all that occurs, but the sheer awkwardness, morbidity, then jarring tenderness of the sequence once again demonstrates why Eastbound & Down is one of the finest shows on television.

Stevie moves in with Kenny, who takes the opportunity to rob him blind and go through his grotesque cell phone photo album (warning: Newcomers to the show may find some of the pictures traumatizing). Stevie also fills Kenny in about the situation back home (“Your brother says I can’t come by and play with the boys when he’s not there anymore”), dealing the blow that after Kenny left, April got back together with Cutler, and the two are now married.

Though shaken, Kenny takes Stevie out for a night on the town (“This is me every night: staring at buttholes and gettin’ my buzz on”). Stevie gets beyond drunk, which was Kenny’s plan, and the next morning Stevie awakes in the back of dingy bandito-esque truck, bond for the States (or at least away from Kenny).

The news of April’s new life puts Kenny into a depression and he loses his inspiration to pitch. But after a quick Coach/star-player heart-to-heart, Kenny, like April, decides to move on and finally returns to the ballfield in all his ostentatious glory and ends up throwing a no-hitter.

Stevie finds his way back just as Kenny finishes up the game, and the two have a bit of a reconciliation that Stevie naturally takes too far, begging on his knees and screaming his loyalty even after they’ve made their peace.

I wrote last week about how Eastbound works best when the misanthropy of Kenny plays off the more normal supporting characters, but, with the return of Stevie, I think that statement may need some modification. One of Eastbound’s many achievements, even moreso than Kenny, is Stevie: the one character who draws out the best in Kenny and yet, by comparison, makes him look normal.

In many ways, Stevie is the polar opposite of Kenny: kind, naïve, and loyal; he also embodies everything Kenny lacks, but Hill and his crew take those qualities to a dark extreme. They’re good things to be, but even goodness needs moderation. Steve Little deserves a lot of credit for his performance as well (and for being more than a good sport when it comes to revealing the more distasteful parts of his anatomy).

In all, fantastic episode. The only flaw is that I don’t feel the storyline of Kenny’s return to baseball has taken off. The characters don’t offer much and the scenes drag, but they’re so infrequent that it’s nothing major. And when that storyline will become more prevalent, they have the talent to make it work.