At its heart, Eastbound & Down is about the redemption of Kenny Powers. On the surface he’s vulgar, crude, and clearly delusional. But deep down there is kind of a decent person Kenny can drag out when he needs to. And even though he can screw over others without looking back, he still deserves some sympathy—after all, he did used to be Kenny Powers!
Following last week’s first-rate (and my personal favorite of the series so far) episode, Chapter 12 has a lot to live up to…and it does, right in the first few minutes, which bring back Pat (guest star Adam Scott), the agent who screwed Kenny over in last season’s finale. Pat’s finishing up a 12-step program and is on whatever step has you make amends to all the people you’ve wronged (the most egregiously wronged being Pat’s sponsor, whose wife Pat slept with…while his sister watched).
Pat heads down to Mexico to seek out Kenny, the second-most-wronged on the list, who’s in the process of packing up his gear in preparation for his departure. But Pat’s arranged for a Mexican talent scout to stop by one of the Charros games and see if Kenny still has his stuff.
Meanwhile Kenny’s tying up loose ends, which includes severing ties with Vida (Kenny is, after all, a tit man, not an ass man), settling the score with Aaron, and apologizing to the Charros for his grandstanding antics. It’s heavily backhanded and full of rather strange expressions (George Washington is never gonna cut down that beanstalk), but, like the rest of the episode, there’s sweet sincerity to it. You can’t help but smile when Stevie asks Kenny’s permission to marry Maria.
The actual game plays like a tamer retread of last season’s pitch-off, which seemed appropriate, and Stevie’s leading the applause was another nice payoff.
And when he does meet with the talent scout (played surprisingly well by guest star Matthew McConaughey), things actually look to be, well, looking up. This time there is a scout. He tells Kenny that he’s not ready for the majors yet, but he can give him a training camp in Myrtle Beach, then maybe the minors, and after that, who knows?
Not sure whether it’s another false lead-up, as we have one more episode left, andEB&D’s been renewed for another season. I’ll save final thoughts on this one until next time. As for this episode, I liked it a lot. Typically when a comedy takes itself seriously, it gets cloying and tiresome, but, even when EB’s serious, there’s a lot of great moments—Scott and McConaughey are the standouts here, and EB has always made fantastic use of its guest stars.
The goodbyes were nice touches, too. I thought Kenny’s farewell speech from the first season dragged on a bit, but not so here. There’s still some work he needs to become a good human being, but he’s had more of a character arc this season—I’m going to be very sad to see him go after next week.