A Girl on “Girls”: Save Your Strength, We’re in it for the Long Haul (S1/E10 “She Did”)

Getting to know Girls has been a long, strange journey.  Tonight’s episode, “She Did,” marks the series’ tenth episode and season finale.  It’s no secret that I have had problems with Girls in the past, but tonight’s installment only served to underline a growing fear I’ve had throughout: I like this show, and I identify with Hannah Horvath and Lena Dunham.  With a sizable supporting cast, it is easy to forget that we are essentially gaining entry into the rich internal life of a young woman whose contempt for the world is only outdone by the contempt she holds for herself.  If “She Did” was anything, it was a reminder that Hannah is her own worst enemy.

We begin by watching Marnie move out of the apartment she shares with Hannah.  She admittedly doesn’t have a plan, but wisely says “I think maybe that’s a good thing for me.”  Indeed, we’ve been waiting for Marnie to verbalize this all season—that her issues with control are keeping her from growing—and here we have confirmation that she’s finally beginning to understand what we’ve known all along.  It is especially satisfying, even as she is locking lips with guest star Bobby Moynihan (he totally nails the type of guy who would yell “Ladles and gentlebeans!”) at the end of the episode as a defeated Charlie looks on in horror.

Jessa’s surprise wedding (does being on TV make this an okay thing?  Because I think it is A Thing) is a great way to get everyone in one place contemplating their position in life.  I know that on paper, weddings are supposed to be celebrations of love; however, anyone that has ever been to a wedding knows that it is usually a grueling emotional audit.   How can you sit back and watch another couple profess their love for each other without comparing your own relationship (or lack thereof) to the one on display?  Blending in with a crowd of revelers is difficult enough without adding in the stress of partnership and commitment.

While Jessa and Thomas John (the fabulous Chris O’Dowd) are tying the knot at The Foundry in Long Island City, Adam is overwhelmed, babbling, “I am very moved…people finding each other…taking shelter…I’m very moved.  Time is a rubber band.”  Even Jessa’s BHLDN-ish dress and floral wreath can’t distract us from the fact that Adam is crumbling under the weight of his feelings for Hannah.  When he offers to move in earlier in the episode, Hannah shrugs it off as a friendly offer made to help assuage her fears about not finding a roommate, but he is a sensitive soul and he genuinely wants to cohabitate.  When Hannah says, “You don’t have to worry, I’ve found someone” to Adam, she means that he won’t have to move in because Elijah will take the room off her hands.  But all Adam hears is “I’ve found someone.”

Adam Driver is such a nuanced actor that we can all but hear his heart breaking when he later tries to process Hannah’s actions, “Is this the game?  You chase me like I’m the fucking Beatles and I finally get comfortable and then you fucking shrug?”  I am with Adam here—especially the line, “You love yourself so much.  Why is it so crazy that someone else would too?”  Hannah’s response to Adam’s confusion is somehow both tortured and glib, and we know that when Adam tells the EMT not to let her into the ambulance because “She’s a monster,” that he really means it.  Hannah, not Adam, is responsible for this fight and for ultimately keeping him at a distance.  This is definitely Hannah’s fault.

Jessa is no better, having taken her ex-boss’ advice to heart and multiplied it by 1000 by hosting a surprise wedding to a guy she barely knows and obviously can’t stand.  She keeps saying that Thomas John makes her happy, but when she dreamily includes “Your dreams are not what you thought they’d be” in her wedding vows it is hard not to hear something simultaneously true and terrible.  Can we blame Jessa for trying to locate her position in the world by tethering her life to the nearest anchor?  Thomas John utters, “Free the bird” when he finally marries Jessa, but the reality is the opposite: Jessa’s marriage is her attempt to roost.  When Hannah asks, “Do you feel like a real adult now?” in the ladies room, we know that Jessa so wishes that she could answer yes.

But these milestones in life, the ones that are supposed to make us actual grown ups, so rarely do leave us feeling like “real adults.”  Ray and Shoshanna are finally together again in this episode, and it doesn’t take long for Ray to say he has feelings for Shoshanna, who is “just so raw and open.”  Ray says, “You vibrate on a very strange frequency,” and it is supposed to be a compliment; instead, an already irate Shoshanna (she wore white to a wedding, the ultimate faux pas) asks if she’s being punk’d.  But Ray prevails in the end and when we see the two in bed together, after Shoshanna has released a string of self-hating “You totally lied about liking me” type statements, it is clear that the moment is devoid of the meaning that Shoshanna has always anticipated.  Ray knows that taking Shoshanna’s virginity is supposed to be a big deal, and that it is “a lot of power I don’t know if I deserve,” yet it takes him but a pause to say, “But I probably do.”  But like Jessa’s marriage, there’s little here to signify that having sex will make Shoshanna feel any more grown up.  These girls are playing at growing up, but they really haven’t changed at all.

There was a lot to love in this episode, like the banter between Hannah and Elijah (“Let’s just consider it water under my vagina.”), but the best thing about it was the sequence at the end of the episode where Hannah falls asleep on the F train.  She wakes up stranded in Coney Island without her purse, and walks around all night until finally settling to eat cake on the beach at dawn.  These scenes are gorgeous, but more importantly, they capture the earnestness that made Tiny Furniture so strangely accessible.  When we are finally given a moment with Hannah alone, without the weight of an entire cast, it is as if we are alongside her trying to keep from being carried out to sea.  If the season’s end is any indication of where we will begin when Girls returns, we will need to heed Adam’s advice to save our strength, because we’re in it for the long haul.

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