After starting off the third season of Girls with such a solid bang, it was perhaps inevitable that Lena Dunham‘s series would have to stall out at some point, and the fifth episode of the season (“Only Child”) is that stall out. While things start off extremely promisingly – with Hannah (Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) attending the funeral of her recently departed weirdo editor, David Pressler-Goings (John Cameron Mitchell) – things go downhill extremely quickly. Bugged out both by the appearance of a Mrs. Pressler-Goings (the divine Jennifer Westfeldt) and the news that all of her editor’s books are now “dead,” Hannah reacts, well, like Hannah – by pressing the widow for publishing contacts. Despite the interest of a new publisher, things aren’t exactly coming up Hannah, and when she kicks Caroline (Gaby Hoffmann) out of the apartment, it looks like a fight with Adam is on the horizon.
Elsewhere, Marnie (Allison Williams) adopts a kitten, asks Ray (Alex Karpovsky) to detail her faults, and rewards him with some table-set loving. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) continue to swirl around on the far reaches of the Girls galaxy, though Jessa’s newly hatched idea to work in a kiddie store just might thrust her back into the fray. As ever, your faithful Girls servants – myself and Rob Hunter – are here to pull this thing to pieces, cute kittens not included.
Kate: Despite the fact that I found this to be one of the choppiest, most disjointed epsiodes ever, and certainly the most choppy and disjointed of this new season, it still opens with one hell of a set up: Hannah at a funeral. What could possibly be worse/better? As expected, she goes full Hannah on this one, from getting starstruck (Zadie!) to being wildly inappropriate in just about every way possible to David Pressler-Goings’ wife. And, per usual, the only thing that sticks to her is that her book is “dead” (what a terrible choice of words at a funeral, Hannah, just really aces here) – literally, the only thing that has anything to do with her.
Is Hannah ever going to feel real emotion for anyone but herself? Because, if you can’t summon up some salty ones at a funeral, that means you’re kind of fucked, right?
Rob: The whole funeral/wake scene really drives home my Curb Your Enthusiasm comparison from last week. Hannah’s selfishness and poor social skills seem so exaggerated for “comic” effect, and I’m finding it difficult to take these moments seriously. Once again Adam has to point out her insensitivity, and one hopes that he’ll eventually grow tired of trying to raise a 25-year-old. Someone elsewhere online wondered aloud if her behavior is excusable as a symptom of her OCD, but is that accurate? Granted, my knowledge on the illness is limited, but isn’t OCD more about being unable to avoid routines than it is being unable to avoid being an asshole?
Kate: It wouldn’t be that her OCD that is making her so unreceptive to human emotion and empathy, it would actually be her meds. While my knowledge on that subject is also limited, it seems that a possible side effect/reason for the medicine would be to sort of flatten or smooth out rough emotional edges. Basically, Hannah could be so callous because she can’t feel it because of the way her brain is firing (I hope this is right, and I encourage anyone who knows more about the subject to correct me), and that could be not only why she’s having these problems connecting, but also why Adam keeps pointing this stuff out.
However, Hannah has a track record of acting this way, even before her meds, and I would assume that Adam would do a more sensitive job of calling her on it if he knew it wasn’t her “true self.” Also, I’d hope Hannah would be aware this could happen and would be more attentive to emotional situations (anyone can think “yes, funeral, emotional, okay”) and also that her therapist would speak to her about it. She does it later, too, when her dad tries to tell her about his “small procedure” and she bulldozes right over him. It’s a mole! Removed! And we will never, ever know where!
Truly or just medically, Hannah is unable to reach outside of herself – and the fact that her biggest concern is a book ABOUT HERSELF can in no way be helping her.
Rob: Makes sense, but would the meds also explain that idiotically tiny tshirt she puts on to go tell Adam and his sister to shut the hell up in the kitchen?
Which brings me to the parts of the episode that do work. The Dr. Phil scene for example is pretty damn fantastic. Sharply written, funny as hell, and well acted by all three participants. The denouement featuring Caroline claiming Adam wants to sleep with her may just be the show’s most disturbing moment, but Adam’s fearful/disgusted reaction is brilliant. The scene also shows that Hannah is able to behave properly when she wants to, making the funeral/wake scene that much dumber. I’m still not on board the Caroline train, but I prefer interactions like this to that ridiculous cemetery romp.
Kate: I was more disturbed by the tiny little salamanders on that thing. Were they sewn-on toys? Disturbing, truly.
That whole section was aces – even if Hannah did still manage to make parts of it about her. Caroline continues to scare the shit out of me, but I am happy she is around to mix things up in new ways.
Is Hannah’s book ever going to happen? At this point, I’m guessing no.
Rob: If the book gets published I expect it’ll be confirmed/announced in the season finale. That way the next season can pick up past the point of its release so we can be dropped right into the middle of Hannah handling the lack of stardom it brought her. Either way, I just don’t see the remaining five episodes managing to deal with this legal roadblock and reaching the point where it gets published.
But enough about Hannah.
>My disinterest/dislike in Jessa took a blow this week with her line about smoking a “space cigarette invented by Stephen Dorff.” Biggest laugh I’ve had from the show, possibly ever, and it’s enough to make me give her another chance. I’m petty like that. Do we expect anything good to come out of her working at a kids store? Or will some little tyke catch her fellating the UPS driver…
Kate: The entire exchange between Shosh and Jessa about the Dorff cigarettes was incredible – some of the most purely comedic stuff the show has ever done. Still, that bit felt shoehorned in to push forward some Jessa-ness, another thing that adds to the sense that this was one hell of a sloppy episode.Jessa surely needs…something. Maybe kids is it! She did seem interested in picking up Season’s kid last week, maybe she really does like little whippersnappers. Even if she doesn’t learn anything at her new job, at least it’s a change and at least there is possibility there – that’s more than she’s had in months.
That said, will Shosh ever get a meaty storyline again? Or is she doomed to second fiddle it with Jessa?
Rob: Nah, I still stand by our recent assessment that the show belongs to Hannah and Marnie now with dashes of Adam and Ray. Shosh and Jessa are left to fight for leftovers, and I can’t say as I’m against that. The two are at their best when they get to squeeze in some laughs, but their “big” storylines have never been all that interesting or convincing. Jessa’s whirlwind marriage? Only worth it for Chris O’Dowd but otherwise a dud. Shosh’s relationship with Ray? Lopsided from the beginning with the only real heart on display coming from his side of the bed.
Speaking of Ray’s bedside manners…Marnie what?
I didn’t buy any of that – granted, I loved it, but I didn’t buy it. Why is Marnie now interested in finding out what is wrong with her? Because her kitten is her best friend? When did Marnie suddenly wise up that the problem is her? Sure, Ray is SPOT ON with his assessments, almost gloriously so, but this is a hammy way to deliver this stuff. And the, ahem, romance? Okay, fine, but I would like to think Girls is better and bigger than “random, violent sexual grabbing.” Now what?
Rob: I think Marnie’s been slowly, and I do mean slowly, coming to realize that maybe she’s not as perfect as she wants to believe. At the very least, and probably more accurate, she’s come to realize that other people don’t see her as perfect as she sees herself. It makes sense to ask Ray to lay it out for her, but I do agree the spontaneous table sex was a bit much. I’m happy for Ray of course, but I seriously doubt this is going anywhere close to an actual relationship. If anything, I see Ray becoming obsessed with her, falling in “love,” and then suffering the indignity of constant rebuffing from Marnie going forward.
But what happens when Shosh finds out about it?
Kate: I would be legitimately shocked if this dalliance turned into anything bigger, but who knows at this point.
I’d like to think Shosh will go bonkers, just full tilt nuttiness, but I am inclined to think she’ll try to brush this off as some kind f life experience. It happens! Let’s drink about it! But I think she will still be at least dismayed by it, even secretly. Shosh’s attitude towards Ray has surprised me this season – she doesn’t seem to be harboring some deep-seated pain about it, and that’s weird to me.
Would I like to see Shosh and Marnie go nuts on each other though? Yes. Full throwdown. Someone needs to start showing some big emotions soon.
Rob: “Someone needs to start showing some big emotions soon.” This is key.
Kate: What do we think about Caroline? Is she gone for good? I hope not! I also appreciated Adam’s reaction to Hannah kicking her out – that felt very real, and I wonder what the fallout of that will be, both with Caroline and Hannah.
Rob: Well, I’m fine if Caroline is gone for good, but we know that won’t happen. Adam’s reaction was spot on though in the way anyone with a questionable sibling can attest to. I can criticize my sister, but you better shut the hell up. It also continues the theme of him finding fault with Hannah’s absence of empathy for others. I can easily see him reaching a point where he decides he just can’t be with someone so selfish, regardless of how much he loves her. Perhaps the season will end with Hannah getting a good news/bad news info dump…her book is getting published and Adam is dropping her ass.
Kate: And then she can just write a new book about how wrong Adam was to dump her. Full circle.