After last week’s disappointing and choppy entry into the world of Girls lore, the venerable(ish?) HBO series returned with some bite – well, some snack-sized bites, at the very least. In “Free Snacks,” Hannah (Lena Dunham) finally lands a writing gig that allows her to quit her latte-slinging at Ray’s, though she’s soon taken down a peg or two, and all the free Sun Chips in the world can’t ease that pain. Installed at GQ, Hannah initially has some illusions about both the coolness and the value of her work at the magazine, until she is systemically alleviated of them – from Ray’s unpacking of what her job really is (let’s face it – the girl is penning an advertorial section about dudes for Nieman Marcus) to the revelation that all her cool new coworkers were once burgeoning writers just like her. Blame the snack room! Blame the cushy environment! Blame the cubicles! But don’t blame Hannah, because maybe she really is in over her head this time – or, at the very least, maybe she’s finally realizing some hard truths about grown up life.
Elsewhere, Marnie (Allison Williams) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) embark on a tempestuous friendship that, yes, involves sex (and also dumplings!); Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) finally admits that she’s put out by Ray’s new success (but is that jealousy or desire?); and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) uses her new job at a baby clothing store to bully full grown women. Oh, and Adam (Adam Driver) poked an acting job! Because Adam is acting now? Ahead, Rob Hunter and I unwrap the latest episode of Girls, hungry for Sun Chips the entire time.
Kate: After the disappointment that was last week’s episode, “Free Snacks” gave me so, so much enjoyment. A tremendous amount of stuff happened – and hey, it was stuff that happened to just about every character! – but the biggest chunk of the episode was dedicated to Hannah’s new corporate job. It’s funny how good Hannah actually is at the type of things that makes someone a good office worker, from coming up with ideas, mingling with coworkers, and (I guess) raiding the snack room. Sure, she was a little abrasive and I am fairly certain she never turned her computer on, but socially speaking, she was right on the money. Were you surprised how well Hannah slipped into office life (at least for a bit)?
Rob: Agreed that it was great to see her competent and in an element that she excelled within, but I’m not all that surprised. For all her antics, Hannah has never been a dumb person. It’s for that reason that I actually hated her snack room shenanigans here as they felt unnecessarily broadly comedic and made her look like an idiot. That’s not a foreign concept for her I realize, but usually she looks like a moron because of decisions she makes as opposed to simply acting like a gibbering chimp. For all the laughs here, successful and otherwise, the sadness is that Hannah could actually make a career in a place like this, slowly rising through the ranks until she became an editor able to shape other young authors’ lives. Unfortunately she ‘s destined and determined to get in her own damn way.
Kate: For as good as Hannah was in her new role, I absolutely reeled at most of her snack room antics. She worked at a coffee shop, for chrissakes, the concept of free food should not floor her this much. Hannah could absolutely succeed at that place — she was a star on day one! — but her pride and stubbornness are getting in her own way. I understand Hannah’s desire to stay a “writer” and to be “literary,” and I got her big talking heave-ho in Janice’s office and even her tears a little bit, but if she really cares that much, she can do both. This episode was the first time I actually felt Hannah’s passion for her work, but her desires are already overwhelming any lingering pragmatism. She’s not long for the GQ world, and I don’t know what that means for her future. Back to Ray’s?
Rob: I love Ray’s breakdown of her “advertorial” job. It’s an accurate representation of sponsors and all that jazz and had me laughing in recognition. To your point I don’t know if Ray will take her back, but I hope he doesn’t both for Hannah’s sake and because he has enough going on story-wise that it’s not necessary to only see him at work with her. His interactions with Marnie are priceless, and while I don’t want to see him get mired down in her issues I’m happy to see him with a fun distraction. But what’s the deal with Shosh stalking him? She having regrets?
Kate: As essential as all of Hannah’s plot was this week, when it came to pure entertainment and engagement, anything and everything Ray scored with me (AND ONE). I will admit, when I first saw Shosh outside Ray’s and then they had that wacky little nod at the basketball courts, I initially thought that the pair had been dabbling in some side action with each other, and that Shosh was somehow signaling him and we were all about to be clued into it. I’m glad that’s not the case, but I admit to being a little mystified that we are just now learning that Shosh is still keeping tabs on Ray – her stalking and possible regrets are something I expected to see much earlier this season. While I think she’s having sorta-regrets, I really think that Shosh’s information gathering and quantifying is just standard Shosh behavior, especially now that she is wising up that her wild oats-sowing has repercussions and she’s attempting to get back on the straight and narrow. I don’t think she necessarily wants Ray back, but she wants to be the one who came out on top in their break up. As of now, Ray is the big winner (complete with on-court basketball respect!).
Rob: Agree on Shosh’s regrets being more self-centered than simply wanting Ray back, but I worry she’ll make that part of her plan only to turn around and dump his ass again. I don’t know as she has it in her, but it would give her the power boost she’s craving. But enough about the girls… Adam got an acting gig! Will this be a disappointment for him or will he find success when he’s spotted by Spielberg and offered a role in Lincoln II: The Return of Honest Abe? I don’t see Hannah handling it well if he blows up and she’s left writing advertorials.
Kate: Though Adam’s potential acting debut sounds like it could be disastrous, simply because he seems so damn dedicated to acting like he doesn’t care about it, I actually have a bit of hope here – remember how good Adam’s one man show was back in season one? He was amazing, and I think that threatened Hannah even then, that sort of obvious talent that she been unable to match. Adam can succeed at this, but he needs to decide that’s what he wants. Otherwise, he’s going to sabotage the hell out of this.
Rob: Any success he has will fit in well with my expectation that he and Hannah will be breaking up by the end of the season. Between his recent outbursts at her behavior and this potential for success I won’t be surprised if he decides enough is enough, but at the same time he does find a certain stability from her that no one else provides. Either way, I really hope he doesn’t sabotage his new endeavor anytime soon.
Kate: Adam seems both more volatile than ever and best perched for some kind of success. This pairing is toast.
Speaking of toast, how do you think Jessa’s new job is panning out? She’s biffing it big time – black christening dress? Obese babies? – and yet she remains employed.
Rob: Nothing concerning Jessa can be taken seriously, and this retail job is no different. She’s here for comedic value, and once in a while she succeeds. Because seriously. Obese babies.
Kate: And that woman bought that dress.
Rob: Inexplicably! I still don’t get it, but whatever, I know nothing about baby fashion.
Kate: And I think maybe Jessa does.
Rob: No, you don’t. She’s a steamroller who simply forces her way into and through situations and people until she’s accomplished her goal through sheer will power. That’s a valuable commodity, obviously, but in Jessa’s case it’s a trait seemingly used only for laughs or ridiculous drama.
Kate: And also terrifying retail sales?