Midway through Season 1, Girls took a step up from good to great following the episode “The Return,” which pinned Hannah back in her hometown for a weekend causing her reflect on her struggling life and allowing the audience understand Hannah’s bizarre evolution considering her relatively warm upbringing. Just past the midway point of Season 2, the show gives us a similar origin-style story with Jessa, but it doesn’t hit with nearly the frequency I would have hoped for.
Much like a lot of Season 2, there was just something a little off about this episode, which took away from some of the genuinely great moments (which I’ll get to in a moment). My biggest issue with the installment is Hannah’s involvement in it. It’s not completely out of character for Jessa to want Hannah to come along with her on the trip, and the show even makes a few in-jokes about the uselessness of Hannah, but I feel like we rarely get to experience Jessa outside of her sister-like relationship with Hannah. Mostly all of Jessa’s interactions, included the majority of this Jessa-centric episode, happens in snarky exchanges with Hannah, as if she needs to tell Hannah how she is feeling so the audience knows. The show leans on Hannah so much that it feels like her presence is needed to justify its existence. Having Hannah tag along was far from a complete disaster — especially considering the beautiful scene we got at the end where she calls her parents while waiting at the train station, thanking them for being unconditionally supportive to her regardless of how much of a brat she can be — but apart of me wishes the show had the guts to give Jessa the episode all to herself (much like Enlightened did with Levi a few weeks back), because what Jessa had to deal with in regards to her dad was truly touching.
The two clearly have a special bond, but it has never gone past the friendly stage into the typical father-daughter relationship, which explains a lot about the way Jessa has turned out. Fresh off her divorce, she is looking for someone to connect with, and while she’ll always have Hannah, she can’t replace what Jessa’s father can potentially bring to the table.
It would be one thing if her dad was out of the picture entirely, but the fact that he’s about an hour train ride away and living a relatively normal life now with a new wife makes things even worse for Jessa. He had some problems in the past that he’s working hard to fix for Petula, but he’s still struggling with plenty of neurosis and paranoia, and dealing with Jessa probably resurfaces a lot of things that he’s buried down for so long. But of course, that’s no excuse for neglecting of his daughter, which she confronts him directly on during her great speech on the swings. For once, she just wants to accept her role as the child while an adult comes to her rescue.
After her dad leaves her and Hannah at the grocery store, Jessa is no longer upset. She accepts the fact that she can no longer rely on her father no matter how much she wishes she could, and she knows the only person she can truly count on is herself. So just like her dad, she abandons Hannah without warning, and even though we don’t know what is in store for Jessa or when or if we will see her again, it felt pretty good to see her take that sort of action.
In all, the good parts of the episode outweighed the things that bothered me, but it was just a stroke off being a truly great half hour of TV.
– A little weird that many of the “Previously on Girls” clips featured Marnie’s storyline, right?
– Hannah’s UTI is back with a vengeance, which brought some funny moments, mostly her squealing in pain.
– The storyline with Frank and his sexual identity was mostly a flop. It brought a few laugh out loud moments, mainly his reaction to Hannah’s comment on his turtleneck and his made up girlfriend Rihanna, but we will more than likely never see this person again, leaving his character development not only incredibly rushed, but inessential to the Girls canon.
– The episode title “Video Games” is in reference to Petula’s non-metaphoric belief that life is a video game that needs to be conquered one level at a time, which is basically the only way Jessa knows how to live.
– It says a lot about Hannah that she just assumed that her and Jessa were going on a sexcapade with the two 19 year olds.
– “Don’t talk about our parents like they are the same kind of parents.”
– “That wasn’t sex. You came in my thigh crease.”
– I love Hannah’s parents and can’t wait to see more of them. Her dad’s line reading of “Ohh there’s just no talking to you when you’re in a mood” was fantastic, as was her mom first accepting her daughters gratitude only to grow increasing suspicious of it as the call lingered on.