If last week’s episode dealt with body horror (ass
splinters! lodged Q-tips!), this week’s episode deals with the horror of finishing
things. Hannah struggles — but not too hard — with wrapping up her barely
inchoate manuscript, while “Girls” struggles with capping off its second season
in a coherent, consistent fashion. It fails.
Some combination of Hannah’s OCD and her innate laziness has
caused her ebook deal to crash and burn. She’s written practically nothing, and
Pumpt Magazine editor David (John Cameron Mitchell), reminding Hannah of her
already-received advance hanging in the balance, threatens to sue her if she
doesn’t produce a manuscript by the day’s end. Hannah, disconnected from
reality, opts to spend her make-or-break moment tending to her ruptured
eardrum, flipping through glossies and giving herself a “short n’ gorgeous”
haircut that goes awry. Neighbor Laird (Jon Glaser) cleans it up for her, and
also gives her the wake-up call that most “Girls” viewers have been waiting
for: “You know what, Hannah? You are the most self-involved, presumptuous
person I have ever met. Ever.”
This would be a more relish-worthy retort if it didn’t come
crammed in the middle of one of the worst episodes in the series’ history.
After her slow and soulful rendition of Kanye West’s “Stronger” followed by desk sex
with Charlie in his office, Marnie is still in Crazy Town, and for some reason
Charlie is willing to be her escort. Marnie almost has a Booth Jonathan repeat
incident, thinking Charlie is sleeping with her casually. But after she shouts
at him over brunch, berating him for not wanting to “settle down” at the tender
age of 25, he blandly admits his love for her.
This episode suffered from a distinct pressure to wrap up
storylines, or at least to have a Big Event occur in each storyline (except for dear Jessa, who is still MIA and only present via her coolly dismissive
voicemail greeting). I was intrigued to see Adam and Natalia giving it the old
college try after their highly uncomfortable sexual encounter from last week’s
episode. Here, Natalia seems willing to work on things with Adam, particularly
his romantic/sexual control issues that have come to the fore. “I can like your
cock and not be a whore,” she asserts, while he pumps away on top of her.
But, deep down, Adam wants someone to like his cock and accept his male-narrated slut-calling.
This is an interesting thread to be gleaned from his ultimate return to Hannah,
who as we remember from the first season had (mostly) no problem playing along
with his sexual preferences. (She also “acted like [he] was teaching her everything,” as Adam admitted during his
AA meeting.) Yet Hannah and Adam’s reunion at this episode’s end plays more like
a Ross-and-Rachel sitcom moment, with a dewy and shirtless Adam hightailing it
through the streets and subways of Brooklyn to sadsack Hannah, breaking down her door and
then cradling her in his arms. What could have been a shrewd comment on Adam
and Hannah’s power dynamic instead turns into a forced, glossed-over denouement
to a fairly strong season.
In an attempt to end on a positive note, I will commend Ray
and Shoshanna’s scenes. Former SNL alum Colin Quinn makes a funny cameo as the
Grumpy’s Café owner who talks Ray down from his Latin Studies PhD cliff and
instead convinces him to become the manager at a new Brooklyn Heights location.
Alas, this promotion doesn’t impress Shosh, because really it’s Ray’s dark and
dismal (or “critical,” take your pick) view of the world that’s not working for
her. Their ten-year age gap is showing fatal signs of stress: Ray enjoys being
jaded, and Shoshanna, somewhat wisely, realizes she will have plenty of time
later on for bitterness, and that her early twenties are about retaining
positivity and kissing Adult Male Blonds.
And so the one couple I like from the series breaks up,
while two other couples awkwardly and phonily get back together. It will be interesting
to see how these developments progress (or devolve) in Season Three. The
problem with the series’ recent focus on its strong male characters — the guys
of “Girls” — is that a narrative obligation arises to keep them in the picture.
If only that obligation didn’t manifest in such woefully typical ways.
Bits and pieces:
- This episode is directed by Lena Dunham, and co-written by
Dunham and Judd Apatow.
- “Sight of the Sun” by fun. plays over the end credits.
(fun.’s lead guitarist, Jack Antonoff, is Dunham’s real-life boyfriend.)
- Best line goes to David, quoting e.e. cummings: “Chloe
Sevigny… not even the rain has such small hands.”