Eastbound and Down Ep. 4.04 “Chapter 25” sets the stage for season four’s big showdown

eastbound and down 4.4

Eastbound and Down Season 4, Episode 4 “Chapter 25”
Written by Jody Hill, Danny McBride & Justin Nowell
Directed by David Gordon Green
Airs Sunday nights at 10pm ET on HBO

“Losers always forget.”

As it often does, “Chapter 25” hides its message in between the dick jokes and the obnoxious voice overs, bouncing between workplace and suburban unrest to quietly explore the existential angst that’s defined the first half of Eastbound and Down‘s final season. Although it sees Kenny “win” in just about every realm of his life, “Chapter 25” is more interested in the moments in between, when he’s running over other families and adversaries in pursuit of immortality – deep down, there’s a part of Kenny just waiting for it to all fall apart: and in  few scenes, a Kenny that almost wants it to all go to shit one last time.

It seems a ridiculous notion on the surface: why would Kenny want things to go to shit? The answer isn’t quite clear yet (after all, he’s just starting to dig out his pool, an extension of the symbolic closing scene of the premiere), but it’s clear he still identifies with being a loser, watching Dontel, Gene, and Forney struggle to attain the same things he holds in his very palm: a cushy job, a supportive wife, and success in anything, respectively. But Kenny can’t just leave them be: he antagonizes them all, pushing them out of the way to chase the one thing he’s always wanted: the fame and the glory. But as they come in second place to him, Kenny watches on, almost in pity, as if he’s remembering what it feels like to be them.

And who makes Kenny still feel like a loser more than anybody? Kenny’s explosive temper over having a better charity to support than Guy shows just what “team players” they both are: Kenny’s not going to play second fiddle to anyone, even if it destroys his entire life. Don’t let Kenny’s talk about “best friends” fool you: Kenny wearing his traditional black while Guy dressed in an all-white suit (“he looks like fuckin’ Neo”) is a big ol’ neon sign as to where this season is headed, at least in terms of his professional career. Until Guy’s out of his way, Kenny’s still going to feel the pings of defeat every time Guy talks about his fame or Guy’s AIDS (“every celebrity with a butt hole wants AIDS! But it’s not the 80’s anymore, you can’t get that shit from sitting on a toilet”): he thinks he is the alpha male on the leash, ignorant to the fact that this is clearly not the case.

Kenny’s frustrations with Guy and himself predictably come to light in trademark passive-aggressive fashion: he shits all over Gene and Dixie’s marriage by making up lies about what happened the evening of the water park. This isn’t just Eastbound and Down having “unprotected oral sex” with monotonous suburban types: this is Kenny throwing gas on something just to watch it burn. Kenny hasn’t changed: his only pleasures in life come from unpleasantness, be it other’s marriages, his own life falling apart, or laughing uncomfortably at Stevie’s dick issues (which, by the way: Dune reference!). And a Kenny who cannot change will fail, something Eastbound and Down‘s reminded us time and time again. He’s got to let go: but “Chapter 25” reminds us in hilarious, subtly poignant fashion that he can’t, even if it’s a faded memory of a drunken evening last week or the long-burning jealousy of a “best friend’s” fame. And if he can’t, he’ll lose an increasingly-unhappy April forever. The alpha male may eventually become king, yes: but without a queen, it is an empty kingdom to rule.


Other thoughts/observations:

– great visual gags in this episode: Stevie’s sunglasses, the waiter “showing brain”, Kenny cradling a robot, Stevie’s blue eyes.

– Jillian Ball has been fantastic as Dixie: “For now, I will let it go.”; “I went potty!”; “1….2…. two and a half….”; “Cocaine IS DRUGS!!!”; “one person talks at a time in this house!”

– “What charity you got, Kenny?” “Oh, just little black kids.”

– “Let the dick guide you.”

– Kenny, upon arriving at the broken down baseball field: “what is this, the set of City of God?”

– Stevie’s highlight of the night: “Fuckin’ George Washington didn’t do shit. He can suck my fuckin’ dick. I hate that faggot!” a close second: “Sorry about my kids. I just realized I can’t control them.”

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