“But a true champion, face to face with his darkest hour, will do whatever it takes to rise above. A man fights, and fights, and then fights some more. Because surrender is death, and death is for p-ssies.” – Kenny Powers
Are big changes ahead for the great American anti-hero Kenny Powers (Danny McBride)?
When season two of HBO’s cult comedy ‘Eastbound and Down’ premieres Sunday night (10:30 pm), Kenny is at the center of a Mexican cockfight. Gone is his greasy mullet from season one. In its place are cornrows. Kenny is no longer letting Little Stevie (Steve Little) take the blame for DUI’s or making everyone uncomfortable at his brother’s dinner table. He now rolls with a crew of petty thieves; the most violent one is barely 3 feet tall. He wants to forget everything – and everyone – from his destructive return to North Carolina last season. He’s even working on a “motivational novel about people dealing with grief and depression.” This is a whole new Kenny in a whole new world. Or is it?
In last season’s finale, Kenny escaped his life as a drug-addled middle school gym teacher with a quiet bang. He was able to win back the heart of his squeaky-voiced high school sweetheart April (Katy Mixon), only to abandon her on the side of the road early into their trip to start a new life.
McBride, the show’s co-creator and star, told The AV Club of this season’s changes, “Honestly, it was just the only way we would have continued the story, because this story, at the end of the day, is about Kenny’s fall from fame. We just really wanted to strap the saddle on Kenny and see where he would take this even further. But all the people who were involved in Kenny’s life, they all still hold weight. The characters aren’t just forgotten about. It’s all part of an ongoing story. It’s not like this is a spin-off show or something like that. It’s still working with things that were building last year, and just taking it into a new area.”
Watch the season two promo:
Will season two turn our favorite depressed, substance-abusing miscreant into a self-reflective softie? Let’s take a look of at five of his most lovable traits from last season and compare them with this season’s premiere to make sure Kenny isn’t losing his touch.
Season One: Kenny uses his pitching skills to send a cinder block through the window of car on the lot of Ashley Schaffers BMW.
Season Two: The opening minutes of the premiere features a Scorsese-eque montage of Kenny and his new gang firing their guns at will on the streets of Mexico.
Verdict: Maybe the cornrows are too tight because not only is he angry, he’s armed. This matches up just fine with season one.
Drug Abuse and Alcohol:
Season One: Kenny shows up to chaperone a school dance on ecstasy. He finds himself in a local watering hole in North Carolina early into season one. His first question when he sees the bartender: “Do you have any coke?”
Season Two: Kenny has traded his leopard print jet-ski for a dusty moped, but he only seems to be driving the streets of Mexico under the influence of alcohol.
Verdict: Kenny still has it. Don’t forget the steroids. His new apartment has needles strewn about like old newspapers. We are 2-2.
His Way With Women:
Season One: His attempts to woo April are hapless and misguided, but they eventually work in his favor. Ultimately Kenny leaves her in the dust of his Denali.
Season Two: He refers to his new neighbor breastfeeding on the porch as “Something out of National Georgraphic.”
Verdict: Kenny is still a clueless misogynist. He seems right on the mark.
His Love Of Baseball:
Season One: His arm is tired and his mind is warped. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Kenny still loves the game that made him rich and famous. As he says in his motivational tapes: “I’m the man who has the ball. I’m the man who can throw it faster than f–k. So that is why I am better than everyone in the world.”
Season Two: Kenny is approached by a minor-league coach when he’s spotted urinating outside their stadium after a game in Mexico. He’s resistant to return to the mound but cant deny the allure of the crowd chanting his name again.
Verdict: The guy still believes he can play, and nothing is going to stop him from chasing the dream. He’s still the same overconfident athlete he was in season one.
Maintaining Healthy Friendships:
Season One: Little Stevie, one of the most memorable characters from season one, is so obsessed with Kenny that he will do anything to be his friend. He eventually becomes his “assistant” and is relentlessly manipulated. He might have been affected by Kenny’s sudden departure more than April.
Season Two: Kenny gets double-crossed by a midget in the season premiere, who was supposed to be his partner in crime.
Verdict: Little Stevie would never turn his back on his best friend.
That’s about 4.5 out of 5. Kenny hasn’t changed a bit. He just lives in a new place and has a new group of people to disgust. Kenny Powers is back.
The second season of ‘Eastbound and Down’ premieres Sunday night at 10:30 pm on HBO.