He’s back, you beautiful bitches! In a surprising turn of events, HBO and series creators Ben Best, Jody Hill, and Danny McBride announced last year that Eastbound & Down would return for a final final season, after seemingly ending the series with the wrap of season three. Last night saw the return of Kenny Powers, a former baseball player who struggled to reclaim his fame and fortune only to throw it all away and fake his own death in order to marry his beloved April.
With his story apparently over, we catch up with Kenny some years later, now a father of two, a loving husband and a car rental service employee. At first it seems the old Kenny Powers has stayed dead, with family-man Kenny attending couples dinners, showing up for work on time and with a smile (forced as it may be), and even making an appearance at a small gathering of his wife’s co-workers to honor her as a saleswoman. At one point, when challenged that the old Kenny Powers can’t really be gone, he remarks, “The only drugs I get fucked up on is my wife and kids. I get fucked up on them all the time. Every day.”
However, it becomes clear rather quickly that Kenny (Ken, as his new manager calls him) is restless. This episode might as well been subtitled “The Impotent Rage of Kenny Powers” because we’re treated to several scenes of him slowly coming apart at the seams. Kenny has always been a deeply flawed figure, unable to find happiness with success or failure, and this is what makes the series so compelling. He has, at one time or another, had everything his heart desires, and yet cannot settle into a peaceful existence. We’re shown glimpses of the old Kenny Powers as he slips an occasional racist joke into a friendly conversation, but underneath the cool exterior, a violent anger builds. In one moment he’s swallowing his pride and letting his wife win an argument, only to smash a vase in the next room moments later. At work he mashes his fists into donuts brought in by his condescending manager. All these small passive-agressive moments build until he has a meltdown in the parking lot outside of a dinner honoring April.
These small humiliations push Kenny past his limit, and so when he’s sent to deliver a rental car to Guy Young (Ken Marino), a former ballplayer turned TV host, it seems pretty clear the old Kenny Powers is just waiting for the right moment to make his reappearance. That moment comes in the form of an invitation from Guy to join him for a night on the town.
That night out sees a return to form for Kenny, making him miss his old life even more. The following morning, hungover and unhappy to be back in his daily grind, Kenny finally snaps when he discovers he’s been denied a loan to have a pool installed. On his way to work, he’s challenged at a stop light by some punk and his obnoxious girlfriend to a street race. Unable to quell the beast inside any longer, Kenny puts pedal to metal and races past the punk, smashing up a work car before skidding to a stop at his job. He delivers a classic Kenny Powers speech about not taking anymore shit, punches his boss in the face, and quits his job.
With nothing left to lose, Kenny returns home, heading for his garage where he has a stash of drugs inside of a tackle box that would make Hunter S. Thompson blush. After taking a few hits of weed, snorting some coke and eating four tabs of acid, Kenny proceeds to his backyard and starts digging his own damn pool.
We’re back, folks, and it feels so damn good!
What did you think of the episode? Are you happy Kenny’s back? Will this season finally see him come to peace with his own existence? How many episodes before Stevie (Sancho Panza to Kenny’s Don Quixote) returns? Let us know in the comments below or find Shawn on Twitter and tell him yourself!