Was anyone else surprised that the crack in this week’s episode title was crack cocaine, and not the crack of an ass? We’ve seen stunt penises, non-stunt pubic hair, and breasts of all ages; I figured that the crackcident would involve pants falling down somehow. And it did, sort of.
The “Welcome to Bushwick” part is easy: it’s the location of a big loft party where all of our main characters converge. The crack is cocaine, which Shoshanna, of all people, ends up accidentally smoking, thinking it’s pot. We don’t see that mistake being made, but I hope that scene makes it onto the DVD outtakes, because what we do see is brilliant. Shosh leads off with a rant about her kick-boxing class, picks compulsively at her ear, and points a lot at Jessa; then Jessa, minutes after reassuring Shoshanna that she’ll be Shoshanna’s “crack spirit guide,” reassigns that duty to Ray. Ray balks—”I’m not a fucking JAP daycare, absolutely not”—but Jessa says it’s no big deal, just make sure Shosh doesn’t jump off a roof “or get fingered by a beat-boxer.” Jessa swans off. (More on that in a sec.) Shoshanna strikes a thoughtful pose.
Shoshanna sprints off. Ray sprints after her. Niftily timed slapstick ensues: Ray runs one way, and Shoshanna runs past him the other way (waving her skirt over her head). Ray chases her down an alley while she dodges and weaves as if dodging gunfire. (Any other Archer fans here? “ZIG-ZAG, BABOU!”) Ray gets a cramp and slows down; Shoshanna runs back up to him (skirt now MIA), orders him to quit chasing her, and fells him with self-defense-class moves. Ray is piqued by her freakish strength, which she attributes to the crack, although it’s starting to wear off. Not entirely, though, as she’s still got enough aggression in her bloodstream to offer him a “non-sexual” massage. Of his groin, in which she just kneed him. Typically, she learned massage in a sports-therapy class she took to “meet jocks.” Shoshanna kneels beside Ray and massages his “area” as he eyes her speculatively. Has crack forged a love connection? If so, this is the show’s second couple brought together by bad-trip baby-sitting (see also: Charlie and Marnie).
Wait: don’t see them. It’s horribly awkward. Marnie is nervous because Charlie’s band is playing at the party —she’s not nervous to see him, mind you. She’s nervous that he’ll see her and feel sad. Marnie approaches Charlie after his band finishes playing and compliments him on the set, and happily comments that it’s mature and pleasant between them, but then of course a girl in a headband (referred to later by Marnie as “a tiny Navajo”) jumps right into Charlie’s arms and starts raving to him and Marnie about the band. It’s clear that “Audrey” is dating Charlie and that she has no idea who Marnie is, and Allison Williams makes Marnie’s face work (beautifully) through confusion, sadness, and rejected rage, but Marnie herself is totally unsympathetic when she calls Charlie a sociopath for dating another girl, just two weeks after their break-up.
The rest of the party is a trial for her. Oh, excuse me—for anyone who runs into her. Her obsession with Charlie’s two-weekrebound becomes an understandable, but obnoxious, refrain (I finally started calling Marnie “Money Pit”in my notes). First she bitches about it to a stranger, who punctuates her remarks by getting up and leaving while she’s talking. Then she spots Elijah slow-dancing with his boyfriend and runs up to him to say hello—if by “say hello,” you mean “complain about Charlie, and how selfish Hannah is.” Elijah rolls his eyes so hard, he nearly sprains his neck, then notes that if anyone’s selfish, it’s Marnie, because Marnie made out with him sophomore year while Hannah had mono. Marnie snorts that it doesn’t count because it was at Rent rehearsals, and besides, Elijah’s the one who dated Hannah for two years and secretly liked boys the whole time. Elijah’s like, not so much with the “secretly” part, sneering, ‘RENT rehearsals!” It’s not realistic to keep working this character into the scripts, but I don’t care, because Andrew Rannells is perfect. Marnie sneeringly asks him whose dick he sucked to get a part, because his voice “sounds like a bag of dying babies,” and I am so stealing that comment, even if it gets me slapped in the face like it does Marnie. (I don’t know why the blocking on that smack is so amateurish and fake, either, but I assume it’s intentional, and I know it’s hilarious.)
On top of everything else, Marnie’s now marooned at the party by herself, because Jessa has accidentally invited Lavoyt to the party and now has to deal with the inevitable ugliness. While explaining to Hannah why every party could be the best party ever, Jessa gets a text from an unknown number, asking what she’s up to. Hannah tells her to ask who it is, but Jessa puts adventure above common sense once again and invites the mystery texter to the best party ever. The mystery texter is, of course, Lavoyt; the wife and kids have gone out of town to visit family, and he stayed home to work. Jessa wonders why he bothered, when he doesn’t have a job. To try to get a leg over you, obviously, and as Lavoyt looks sadly down at the bottle of wine he brought to a Bushwick party with a reggae band playing, he has a realization: “Oh my God, I’m That Guy.”
It’s probably not a “realization,” given what we see later; it’s probably just another way of trying to get her to pity-fuck him. She tells him to “put a pin in [his] midlife crisis” and dance with her, but then she hurls the bottle of wine over the railing and hits someone, and that guy rolls up to them and punches Lavoyt in the face, and he and Jessa end up in the ER watching a junkie try to cadge Vicodin from the desk clerk. Lavoyt starts crying; what is he going to tell his wife? Jessa looks a little scared by the tears, and suggests telling Mrs. Lavoyt the truth. Lavoyt, facedown in her lap, wails through his bloody nose and (likely fake) tears, “Let’s spend the night together,” adding that they “won’t do anything,” and now it’s Jessa having the realization. Hers is about playing with fire: “I can’t do this kind of thing anymore.” Lavoyt is apparently used to the sad-sack routine working, because his face hardens instantly and he calls her a tease. Jessa parries with a line she’s clearly used to shut assholes down before: “I liked you better when you were being a good guy.” “Ain’t that the way,” he grunts, and gets up to leave. Why pretend his bloody nose needs medical attention if his dick isn’t going to get Jessa’s? Jessa suggests they can stay friends, but he grumbles, “We were never friends to begin with. You work for my kids.” Ouch: Lavoyt thinks he’s cutting Jessa down with that line, but Jessa isn’t the one trying to take it to the hoop with the nanny instead of finding a job or spending time with his own kids. Great job by James LeGros in shifting the character from “aimless and pathetic” to “entitled douche.”
Hannah, meanwhile, has spotted Adam in a dance circle of the “best dyke friends” he’s alluded to previously, doing a series of weird moves probably based in theoretical mathematics. Hannah complains to the others that, after the conversation in which he said he missed her, he hasn’t responded to a text in two weeks. She also observes that she’s never seen him outside his house: “I’ve never seen him with a shirt on.” I’m not going to take credit for the insight; I’m just going to feel grateful somebody on the show pointed it out.
She hides behind a wall unit and spies on him, then flees rather than talk to him, but at the bar, she’s approached by one of his “best dyke friends,” Tako. (Tako makes sure to note that it’s not spelled “Taco.” Snerk.) Tako offers Hannah a friendly drink, but Hannah notes that she doesn’t really drink after an incident with Brie and hurling on her cell phone. . . . Cute line, but it’s really just to set up the big reveal for Tako, wherein she asks if that’s how Hannah knows Adam—from Alcoholics Anonymous. Hannah is gobsmacked, and while Tako rambles on about how this is one of the things that defines Adam (the other, obviously, is his “love of books”—and that we’ve seen, at least), Hannah can’t decide how to feel. Should she feel hurt, again, some more, by the fact that this isn’t something Adam trusted her enough to share with her? Or should she feel even more attracted to what she sees as a new and tragic dimension of Adam?
Either way, it’s Hannah making a dimension of Adam about herself, so she settles for “both.” Adam invites her to join him on a dumpster-diving mission, to collect scrap for a boat he’s building that’s designed to fall apart as it goes along . . . in the Hudson. Instead of 1) notifying her friends that she’s leaving or 2) refusing on the grounds that this nautical “plan” is excessively Alexander-Supertrampy, Hannah hops aboard Adam’s bike handlebars, and off they go. But he’s pedaling too fast for her, and when she wails at Adam to stop the bike and let her walk, he stops suddenly, and she face-plants. I really hope for Lena Dunham’s sake that they got that on the first take . . .
…but I don’t think they did, because when we cut back to the pair, Hannah’s got a fat lip. She’s also got a chip on her shoulder, ordering Adam not to talk to her while she sends Marnie her coordinates, and she blows up at Adam for not telling her he was in AA. He responds, gently at first, that it’s been a big part of his life since he was 17, but when she won’t let it go, he blows up, yelling that she never asked: “You never ask me anything!” Well, she does—but only about herself, how she’s doing, does this feel good, does he like her skirt. Adam does have a great point: for a woman who wants to “rate” as his girlfriend, she hasn’t done much to earn the spot. Marnie pulls up in a cab and orders Adam to get away from Hannah. Finally, Adam rounds on Hannah: “Do you want me to be your boyfriend? Is that it? Do you want me to be your fucking boyfriend?”
And then, in an episode full of them, the best cut yet: Adam, Hannah, Marnie, and Adam’s bike all crammed into the back seat of the cab. Hannah is trying valiantly not to grin . . . and gloriously failing.
“Welcome to Bushwick” is the most sure-handed work we’ve seen yet from the show. The physical humor is edited flawlessly, including the credits sequence, a little send-up mash-up that includes Asian characters and rave-y touches.
The one-liners are confident and don’t over-explain themselves or veer into dorm-monologue territory (Ray snapping into the mic, “Don’t bring a baby to a party like this”; Shoshanna responding to the crack revelation with “Don’t tell my parents; don’t tell me!”; the throwaway “Age of Innocence fan club” exchange between Ray and Jessa, which this Wharton nerd adored). Marnie’s attempted kiss-off of Adam, “Enjoy going through life as . . . yourself,” encapsulates the ep really well, because it’s as though the show is doing that—enjoying itself, laughing with its characters, instead of trying to be capital-D definitive all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I like the show’s ambitions. But when it’s “just” doing this, it does it well.
Sarah D. Bunting co-founded TelevisionWithoutPity.com, and has written for Seventeen, New York Magazine, MSNBC.com, Salon, Yahoo!, and others. She’s the chief cook and bottle-washer at TomatoNation.com.