If you thought Hank Moody driving off into the sunset during the closing moments of Californication's fourth season felt like a series finale, you weren't the only one.
"This could have functioned as a series ending if we needed it to be," creator and executive producer Tom Kapinos tells TVGuide.com. "It was a nice little bookend to the opening of the pilot in a sense. So, I was fine with it sort of feeling like some closure, but at the same time, it was open for a new adventure."
Indeed, now that Hank (David Duchovny) has been convicted (and sentenced to three years' probation) for a statutory rape that was committed in the show's pilot, Kapinos says he feels free to take the story in a completely new direction. As such, Season 5 will be set three years in the future.
"Hank is living in New York," Kapinos says of the new season, which he's writing now. "He's written a successful book about his dirty life and times in L.A., and he ends up going back to L.A. on business for what he thinks is going to be a very quick trip. And he ends up staying a lot longer than he would like.
"I feel like the engine is Hank and he's a character that I'm still interested in following," Kapinos continues. "[The new season, ] resets things in a way that establishes new dynamics between all of our characters."
Notably, Kapinos says Hank and Karen (Natascha McElhone) will have remained mostly separated during the time jump. "We're trying to put that relationship to rest for a while and take a break from that," he says. "You do this kind of thing for four seasons — the back and forth, the will they or won't they. You try every variation on that and it gets exhausting. So at some point, we have to figure out different ways to go. ... I wanted these characters to have time to sort of grow up and grow away from each other."
Kapinos notes that Hank perhaps hasn't forgotten about Abby (guest star Carla Gugino), the lawyer who this season became the first woman besides Karen to hold Hank's attention. The same can't be said for Ben (guest star Michael Ealy), who ended the season by announcing that he was taking Karen and Becca (Madeleine Martin) on a road trip. "He was never supposed to be the be-all, end-all for Karen," Kapinos says.
The time jump also helps Becca, who's always been a precocious teen, come into her own, Kapinos says. "She'll probably seem like a much more normal, grounded 19-year-old or so, because she'll be in college," Kapinos says. "One of the things that Hank is going to discover when he comes back to L.A. is that she's got this boyfriend who may or may not be like a young Hank Moody. That is really a thorn in Hank's side."
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Meanwhile, Charlie (Evan Handler), Hank's best friend and agent, will remain separated from Marcy (Pamela Adlon), even though she revealed in the finale that she's carrying Charlie's baby. Kapinos plans to have Marcy settle down with Stu (Stephen Tobolowsky).
"I think you'll be seeing Marcy now married ... and Charlie, of course, still being in the picture because they share this child," Kapinos says. "There's tons of dysfunction there, with the key word being fun."
And when does Kapinos, who says he ends every season as if it could be the last, think the show will actually say goodbye? "I really feel like it's either going to be Season 5 or the end of season 6," he says. "That feels like the right amount of time for this premise. I feel like we've gotten a great run out of it. That said, if people still want to see the show, and if the network still wants to do the show, I'll figure out a way to do it."
What did you think of the Californication finale? Are you excited for the time jump in Season 5?