In Girls‘ last season’s finale, “She Did,” Jessa included the following prophetic statement in her wedding vows: “Your dreams are not what you thought they’d be.” It made sense then, because in the context of her wedding to Thomas John, we saw a bohemian malcontent settling for a 401K and high-rise apartment. Having spent the past few months taking in the second season, Jessa’s proclamation seems truer than ever. As a finale, “Together” shows us that finding love (or sex, either/or) didn’t make Shoshanna content, breaking up with Charlie and moving out of Hannah’s place didn’t emancipate or otherwise empower Marnie, and finally snagging that book deal didn’t make Hannah happy. In fact, Hannah’s book deal was a major catalyst for the breakdown we witness through “On All Fours” and “Together,” driving her OCD and keeping her isolated by expectations she just can’t meet. The fact that Jessa isn’t technically in this episode doesn’t matter—she foretold the entire season ten episodes ago.
It’s also not that simple—this isn’t a lesson about the dangers of being ambitious. If anything, by this season’s finale, the girls are doggedly pursuing new goals; it’s just that they happen to be the things they never anticipated. Shoshanna breaks up with Ray, first citing his lack of ambition but finally admitting that their breakup is because of his suffocating negativity (which he claims is just critical thinking). When we see Shosh making out with the tall blonde guy she swore to Ray she hypothetically had no interest in, we know that this is really what Shosh wanted; hell, maybe it’s what she needed! The girl is on what Jenna Maroney might call a “Sexual walkabout,” though Shosh herself calls it a “personal renaissance.” Marnie reconciles with Charlie (after freaking out because he initially bristles at the words “settling down”) in a cloying scene outside of Roberta’s. Marnie wants to have his brown babies—last season she wanted nothing more than to run free, specifically in the direction away from Charlie. On an emotional level, last season saw Marnie realize that her control issues were keeping her from growing. After last week’s unforgettable performance, I can wholeheartedly say that Marnie doesn’t seem to worry about losing control anymore. She let the spirit move her (to cover Kanye West in public) and now it seems like she’s found her bliss, brought around to it by letting the universe jerk her around. I really liked that maneuver on the show’s part.
Hannah’s situation is a bit more complicated—she has hit rock bottom (you can tell by the fact that she gives herself a haircut, a sure sign that any girl has truly and utterly lost it) and realizes that she’s alienated anyone she might have once gone to for support. Her father accuses her of manipulating him for money and Jessa’s phone goes straight to voicemail. David threatens to sue her for her advance if she doesn’t finish her draft in one day, making that book deal quite a heavy load to bear. All she’s written is, “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.” It’s definitely not an entire book, and it’s certainly not the humiliating and sexy manuscript that David wants. But it’s all Hannah can produce, besides questions for the Yahoo Answers vortex. Unlike the other girls, Hannah can’t quite figure out what it is she wants now that she’s gotten what she thought, but she knows that something has to change. I think subconsciously she’s wanted Adam back for a while, especially after running into him last week. When Adam “saves” Hannah at the end of “Together,” as beautiful as the scene was (I may have gotten some dust in my eye), I wasn’t totally on board with the idea that the thing that would “save” Hannah from herself was Adam.
I love Adam. He’s this season’s MVP. I think his performance made this season worth watching, and that his character is dark and horrible and sexy and sensitive. But liking him as a character doesn’t excuse the fact that he is the one who ends up playing the hero. His grand gesture (running shirtless to Hannah’s) is romantic and pleasurable to watch, but I still can’t get my mind around a Hannah that isn’t selfish and headstrong. Last season Adam called Hannah a monster, but now he recognizes her as broken, potentially just as broken as he is. Last season Hannah ended the finale by trekking out to Coney Island by herself to watch the sun rise. Those two things feel disparate when I describe them, but together they paint the portrait of a girl who is pretty confident and self-sufficient. She can handle life on her own, no matter how much she pretends to flounder. That girl puts up a front of fearlessness carelessness, and people hate her for it. So where is that girl now?
By subjecting Hannah to a season of suffering, she has been transformed into an object of pity—she is literally unraveling on screen. To play the final scene between her and Adam as a resolution, or even redemption, takes away any agency that Hannah might have had coming out of last season. She doesn’t finish her book, she doesn’t repair her relationships with her friends, and she doesn’t get a handle on her OCD symptoms; instead, she ends up in the arms of the boy she likes. I want to make sure that coming out of “Together” we collectively agree that this wasn’t a happy ending; rather, it was just an ending, no matter how beautiful it was, or how loud and gleeful that Fun. track sounded. The season is done, but the story is far from over.
Until next year…