I’ve mentioned time and time again that I think the guys on Girls are the unsung heroes, and whenever the show starts to bring more characterization to someone that I’m generally intrigued by — and thus making the show more of a true ensemble — I’m all for it. Last season, we got a slow reveal of who the true Adam was as the weeks progressed, and now the show is starting to do the same with Ray.
A background player until a few weeks ago, Ray’s storyline got a little juice when we saw to peak inside his and Shoshanna’s relationship a few episodes back, and we got to know a little bit more the guy who previously was just used for snarky comments and observations: We now know that he’s 33 (significantly older than everyone else on the show and more than 10 years older than his girlfriend). We know that his life didn’t pan out the way he planned, and now he’s learning to not only live with that fact within himself but how to handle it within his fragile relationship. After getting that base characterization down a few weeks ago, the payoff in this episode not only feels well deserved, but it actually got an emotional response out of me from I character I couldn’t have cared less about at the start of the season.
Ray’s journey begins with a trip to Adam’s house to retrieve his copy of Little Women that Hannah had borrowed and left at Adam’s (where she used it as her toilet book). Upon his arrival, Adam discloses to Ray that he stole a dog from this jerk owner who tied him up at a coffeeshop in a fit of emotional rage (still reeling from the Hannah breakup, clearly). Ray isn’t pleased with this story, saying if someone stole his dog that he’d shoot them right in the face, and after Adam calms down a bit, the two agree to return the dog to his owner in Staten Island.
What started as a contentious dynamic between Ray and Adam becomes more friendly on the Staten Island Ferry. Ray begins to vent about Shosh and how young and naive she is and how much it gets under his skin — it’s hard to tell someone so young that things don’t always end up like you’d thought they’d be. Ray has been let down too many times before, and he doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses anymore. He may be far from perfect, but at least he’s able to be (somewhat) true to himself in acknowledging his failures, something most of the girls have a very difficult time doing. Adam agrees with some of what Ray is saying, adding that the only women worth trusting in a relationship are either young (because they are naive, vulnerable, not yet broken) or old (been through the ringer, lowered expectations). It’s the ones in the middle that you have to worry about the most because they have no idea what they want. Ray acknowledges this bonding moment, saying that there’s not much different between the two of them, that they are both honest men, which Adam replies with, “and we’re kind of weird looking.”
Adam opens up to Ray a little bit more once they arrive on Staten Island, talking about his relationship with Hannah and how it feels like a carnival game — you don’t want it in the first place, but it seems so simple, and after you start playing you feel like you can conquer it, but when you do, you’re just stuck with some oversized stuffed animal that you have no idea what to do with. Ray never understood Adam’s fascination with Hannah, which Adam takes offense to. She is fucked up, but so is he. And she accepted him for that. Ray further insinuates that Hannah is a bad person — something many of us have deemed for ourselves in recent weeks — and Adam won’t hear any more of it. He calls Ray out for his ridiculous relationship with Shosh, saying that he doesn’t know shit about love, that he just likes the comfort of having someone there for him.
This hits Ray especially hard because it’s 100 percent true. He feels more responsible for Shosh than anything else, kind of like how he now feels responsible for this dog he’s left with after Adam leaves. He finds the house where the dog lives, but the teenage girl that lives there won’t take it back, insisting that he wait for her dad to get home. When Ray questions her morals on this situation, she absolutely shits on him, calling him a nobody, degrading him, even calling him a kike (even though he’s Greek Orthodox). So Ray is left with this dog, looking out over Manhattan as the sun sets. And Ray realizes that he is the metaphorical Staten Island — looking out over what he aspires to be, which is so close yet still a world away.
While the boys were off on their journey of self discovery, Hannah has signed a e-book deal with a well-known Brooklyn publisher (which I guess further debunks my theory that Hannah isn’t actually a good writer). She is over the moon about this prospect, but she only has a month to write it and she is entirely uninspired. A lot of adjectives can be used to describe Hannah, and most of them are terrible, but it’s hard to ever imagine her without something to say. So why now? Maybe her escape last week with Joshua opened her eyes? Maybe now she knows exactly what she wants and she can no longer write about the uncertainties of living young and free? Whatever it is, Hannah is clearly feeling out of touch. Jessa is living with her, but those two just keep wallowing in each other’s sorrows so much that neither of them can figure out which one is more depressed. She tries to reignite her friendship with Marnie, but she’s beginning to realize that maybe their fight has broken their bond so badly that it is beyond repair.
As far Marnie, I praised her for being level-headed a few weeks ago — that she knew that her relationship with Booth Jonathan was ridiculous but she just needed to do something for herself for a change — but all that went out the window when she just assumes that Booth is her boyfriend, and then she breaks down and cries when she realizes that it’s not the case. It really bugged me that Marnie would revert back to her old dependent self after showing so much promise of growth. This is more than likely precisely the point, but the moment still felt kind of cheap to me for someone who’s supposed to be turning into a much stronger woman. Marnie may not be like Shosh, saying girly phrases and wearing pink and quoting Twilight, but, apparently, she’s still a girl who needs to be defined by whatever man is on her arm, which is a shame.
– Despite Shosh’s innate immaturity, she continues to show that she’s probably the most stable of the girls in terms of her handle on men, as shocking as that may sound. She feels like she deserves better than a four-dollar taco date from Ray, which she probably does.
– We get some extra Booth Jonathan characterization during his and Marnie’s break up scene: that he’s sick of everyone using him because they like the idea of him rather than the actual person and that he hates all of his friends because of this. It was a surprisingly touching moment for Jorma Taccone, but unlike Ray or Adam or even Elijah or Charlie, we really don’t care enough about Booth Jonathan for any of this sympathy to land.
– Hannah nervous/excited vomiting after the book meeting reminded me of 30 Rock‘s Jack Donaghy becoming so overwhelmed with joy when he was a kid that he’d throw up.