GIRLS, “It’s Back” Episode Recap
After a couple hyper-focused episodes filled the mid-season slate, Girls is back to its typical formula of getting everyone a little bit involved, but as has been the theme of many of these Season 2 episodes, there was a clunkiness about this half hour that distracted me from some really great material.
Let’s start with Hannah, since the “It’s Back” episode title is in reference to her OCD. Since viewing the episode, it’s come to my attention that there have been subtle hints throughout the show’s run that Hannah may have struggled with OCD, most notably in her big fight with Marnie last season when she mentioned something about having to masturbate eight times before she fell asleep. But I can’t take credit for remembering that, and thus this whole storyline came out of nowhere to me, and I follow the show on a weekly and detailed basis, so I can only imagine that most of you found the reemergence of Hannah’s disorder to be a little jarring. Now, clearly, I am not a medical professional, and I presume that it is not out of the ordinary for a condition like this to reappropriate itself without much warning under high levels of stress. But hasn’t Hannah been under pressure since the very first episode of the show? This could have been an interesting character trait to track over the life of the first 18 episodes, but instead it hits us full-throttle all at once and leaves us trying to catch up. This is one example of how sometimes just because something is true in real life doesn’t mean it makes for good fiction.
All that said, I thought the show did some great things with Hannah in this episode, and most of my doubts were washed away the second I saw Mr. and Mrs. Horvath appear on my screen. The dynamic between Lena Dunham, Peter Scolari, and Becky Ann Baker is so much fun to watch. We’ve seen in the past that all The Hovaths want to do is what is best for their daughter, and while deep down Hannah knows that she has amazing and incredibly supportive parents (as she acknowledged in the phone call last week), she still takes them for granted more times than not, believing that there is no way they can understand her. That’s no defense for Hannah, since that’s something more akin for a 17-year-old to say than a 24-year-old, but with her OCD back with a vengeance, she feels everything piling on top of her and won’t allow anyone else in. She makes some small steps while being evaluated by a shrink (in a scene also used to get the audience up to speed with Hannah’s OCD past, how she had it bad in high school, felt insecure, took meds but stopped because they made her tired, etc.). The therapist doesn’t seem to be helping much, especially when he shared with Hannah that he can commiserate with the stress behind a book deal because he wrote a children’s book that solid about 2.5 million copies. The episode ends with Hannah and her parents on the subway with Hannah looking miserable with her new prescription in hand. I think it’s an incredibly interesting character detail for Hannah to see how she copes with this illness. I just wish we had known more about it sooner, it could have informed us a lot more about some of her poor decisions in the past.
Speaking of things that came up out of nowhere — Charlie invented and sold an app and now he has a baller corner office space in Chelsea. Uh, OK. If we are giving Girls the benefit of the doubt here, it has shown in the past with the Hannah-Adam relationship that the POV is often skewed towards the girl, so we don’t really know what is going on with the guys’ lives. But still, last I checked Charlie was a pretty good woodworker and played in a band, so his leap into IT stardom is a little bit of a head-scratcher. (Although his app, which allows users to block numbers they don’t want to call anymore but charges $10 to unlock them, is a pretty great idea for a TV-show-created thing.) Charlie’s success is mostly used to highlight how shitty Marnie feels about her life now, and at times, how desperate she is (wrong move, showing up to his work like that, Marnie). Surprisingly, this all leads to a nice emotional scene between her and Ray, of all people. He tells her to stop wallowing and wandering and just do what you want to do — turn this potential energy into kinetic energy. So Marnie tells Ray that what she wants to do is sing, and after Ray does everything but laugh at her, we find out that she can, but she’s pretty freaking good too (kudos, Alison Williams).
My favorite storyline of the night was easily Adam’s, as he continues to be an (arguably more) interesting character without Hannah. Adam goes to an AA meeting, because like Hannah he is starting to feel a little overwhelmed of late, and even though he hasn’t had a drink since he was 17, he decided to channel his bad feelings into going back to meetings to try and curb the problem, which is an amazingly adult move by him. He pours his soul to the group on the first day, which catches the eye of an eccentric older lady. The two have a hilarious bonding session after the meeting where she insists that Adam call her daughter to take her out. What happens next is rather simple stuff — Adam works up the nerve to call Natalia, arranges a hang out, doubts himself, they meet up and hit it off — but even a story told a million times can have new life when injected with a character as strong as Adam. His quirks and sayings and bluntness and even his facial expressions make his scenes enjoyably unpredictable.
– Shoshanna is feeling disconnected with Ray of late, since he doesn’t see himself fitting in with her younger person lifestyle, but Shosh soon finds out at Radeeka’s party that maybe she’s feeling disconnecting with everyone in her life, especially since hearing the dreaded “So that’s where you’ve been all summer” in reference to all the time she’s spent with Ray. So naturally, she gets seduced by a cute and charming doorman and they do it in the mail room. I’m not sure I believe Shosh would do something like that, but it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
– Shosh, Marnie and Ray all have different opinions on how Jessa is handling herself, wherever she is, but Marnie gets one thing right by coining the phrase “Classic Jessa.”
– Hannah’s dad with some great zingers. He always gives a 15-45 minutes “Hannah buffer” in regards to her lateness, and “You’re not anorexic. That’s ridiculous. I’ve seen you in a bathing suit.”