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‘Girls’ Review: In ‘Painful Evacuation,’ Major Revelations Shake Up the Status Quo

In Season 6, Episode 4, everything's literally a matter of life or death.


Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: Lena Dunham and Matthew Rhys Battle Over Consent in ‘American Bitch’

[Spoilers follow for “Girls” Season 6, Episode 4, “Painful Evacuation.”]

Love Her or Hate Her

Hannah falls somewhere in between in this week’s installment, as her storyline was pretty run-of-the-mill up until the night’s final moments. Following a conversation about motherhood, writing and the inability to do both with an acclaimed author (Tracey Ullman), Hannah spent a good amount of subsequent screen time on the can (at one point while Elijah showered, continuing that freakishly open relationship). At first it seemed as though Lena Dunham was giving time to the other characters following last week’s bottle episode. But then her pain led her to the emergency room where she not only ran into the doctor she once spent a weekend with (returning guest star Patrick Wilson) but she also learned she was pregnant. That comes thanks to her fling with rapping surf instructor Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed), who also happened to have a girlfriend and may or may not be a Buddhist. That’s certainly one way to set up some heavy issues during the final season of a series.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Unexpected pregnancies never seem to come at a great time, and this one is no exception. Just as Hannah was beginning to get her life on track with her writing and let go of some of her toxic past, this potential (major) life change definitely threw her. For the show this plot twist brings up plenty of conversations about abortion, motherhood and pro-life versus pro-choice, issues that Dunham has spoken about personally in the past. For Hannah it’s like cold water in the face. Suddenly her issues with Adam and Jessa seem so small, while her current living situation lands on far from appropriate. It’s always taken major events to shake Hannah into changing for the better and making herself grow, but this could be the biggest life event yet to fall into that category.

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Something to Cringe About

If oxy was Desi’s drug of choice, it seems as though Desi is Marnie’s preferred pill. Not only is Marnie still seeing Desi (albeit in therapy), but she’s still lying to Ray about it. After faking an orgasm she proclaimed that she wanted them both to die inside of a lion’s mouth so that they could be together in death, she proceeded to tell him that she was so poetic she might as well have been Shakespeare. And here all the guy wanted was to take her to dinner and catch up. The entire scene was uncomfortable at best but rage-inducing at worst; Marnie’s treatment of Ray is beyond believable at this point and it’s slightly ridiculous that Shoshanna hasn’t intervened to tell her roommate and bestie about the Desi-ness of it all.

Death Becomes Him

Deep down Ray knows something is going on with Marnie and their relationship, which is perhaps why he was so focused on his life direction in the episode. Obviously those thoughts were exacerbated by his recurring customer’s death and his subsequent conversation with Hermie. The coffee shop owner called Ray out for his lack of focus thanks to women like Marnie in his life, which resulted in some heated words, as these things tend to do. But after talking it over with Shoshanna (or rather, talking at Shosh) Ray realized that Hermie was really looking out for him and he went to go talk to him about it. Unfortunately Ray was once again listening to the wrong conversation, since Hermie was lying there dead when Ray arrived, marking an end to Colin Quinn’s run on the series.

It was a sad but fitting end that played into the life and death TV trope we see far too often these days. Here it was somewhat new as we watched Hannah lay in Elijah’s lap, letting her head be stroked like a child’s, because we don’t actually know what Hannah is going to do with her pregnancy. That makes Hermie’s death reveal even sadder in the end.

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The Jessa and Adam Picture

It should be illegal for two souls like Adam and Jessa to be together, because when they get an idea in their heads it’s actually a little scary. Both characters are immature on their best of days (although Adam has showcased another side of himself as an uncle), and the thought of them running around trying to make a movie together is just plain ridiculous. Which is why it will also be a hoot if anything actually becomes of it. In the meantime, the way they approached Hannah for permission to make the film — as though she should be just as excited as they were about dredging up all of those emotions — was imperfectly timed but also expected. Of course they’d throw themselves in Hannah’s face within an hour or so of her learning she was pregnant.

Preparing For the End

With a pregnancy in the mix the entire tone of this season of “Girls” is about to shift in a pretty big way. No matter what Hannah decides to do, it’s going to mark the character for the rest of the episodes, which is pretty appropriate given where Dunham is in her own life right now. The actress and writer has spoken at length about her endometriosis and reflections about maybe wanting children in her own future, and this show has always been a cathartic sounding board of sorts for her to share her feelings and opinions with the world. Having Hannah experience an actual pregnancy seems like a no-brainer now that it’s actually happening, and it sets up lots of uncharted territory for the show, heading into its final stretch of episodes.

Grade: B

Next week: Hannah’s mother comes to town, Adam and Jessa start making their picture and Ray begins the grieving process.

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