GIRLS: Is Hannah Saying Goodbye to New York?

Girls recap

And so here we are at the end of the season. But has an ending ever felt so much like a beginning? (Whoa. Shitty sentences like that will not get me into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I am no Hannah Horvath.) The questions is a real one though. This season’s final episode was so much more about the promise of something new than it was about ending things or achieving closure. The past two seasons of Girls ended with a dramatic bang (Adam getting hit by a car after Jessa’s surprise wedding in the first season and Adam’s shirtless race across Brooklyn to embrace a desperate, spiraling Hannah in the second), but this one ended with a smile. And it felt good.

Speaking of new beginnings, Adam’s sister Caroline (she of the big, beautiful bush) is pregnant with Laird’s (he of the apartment below Hannah’s who is also, apparently, an “extremely integrated human being”) child. This means that Caroline now lives in Hannah’s building again and can do creepy, Caroline’y things like sneak up on Hannah while Hannah is checking her mail and call Hannah a “fawn” and then tell Hannah that she is pregnant. Now, Caroline doesn’t know what it is for sure, but she is pretty sure it’s a girl because she can already “feel the labia forming.” I’m sure we should all just be happy that the baby’s human.

Moving on, Hannah turns out to be the kind of person who actually opens her letters. (Does she also check voicemail? And does she look at how much money she has in her bank account when she takes money out of the ATM? Since when did Hannah Horvath become a more adult person than me?) And it turns out that Hannah is also the kind of person who applies to grad school, because she finds out that she got into Iowa’s MFA program, which, if you don’t know, is just about the hardest program to get into in the country. Go, Hannah! Or, you know, stay! But don’t make a decision about it before reading MFA vs NYC because that book will really help you, even if only to help you in a confirmation bias sort of a way. Or maybe it won’t help and will only confuse you. I don’t know. Read it anyway! It’s a good book.

Hannah doesn’t turn to a book for help though and instead calls her parents, who are thrilled for her and dismiss her doubts (“This is where I live, I have to find new friends, I have to find a new place to buy yoghurt. Besides I don’t even know if writing is something that can be taught.”) by promising her to help any way they can. They are so proud. And Hannah realizes that, and is proud of herself. It’s actually quite beautiful. Your parents are maybe the only people in your life around whom you can be unabashedly proud of your achievements, because no matter how good you feel, they feel about a million times more full of awe and wonder, and so you can’t feel like a dick for crowing about how happy you are. The other people around whom you can be truly proud are your best friends and a romantic partner, but, unfortunately, Hannah is lacking in that department. Her only available friends are Marnie (Jessa’s off killing an old woman, more on that later) who sucks and only cares about herself and Elijah (who reminds her that you can’t be bicoastal in Iowa because Iowa isn’t on a coast), and when Hannah tells Adam about her acceptance, he manages to make it all about him. But more on that later, because first let’s deal with everyone else.

So, Jessa. Jessa is working for the artist, B.D., whom we met last episode. It turns out, though, that B.D. wants Jessa to help her commit suicide. Jessa finally agrees to do it, and feeds B.D. an excess amount of pills and sits with her, stroking her hand in such a gentle manner that it made me think that Jessa might be a good doula for Caroline when the times comes. And maybe it’s this lovely human touch or maybe it’s just the bleak prospect of eternal nothingness, but B.D. suddenly does not want to die. So she has Jessa call 911 and that’s the last we see of Jessa. Where will this all lead? Prison? A trial? I certainly hope not! It didn’t really seem like there was any great plan of what to do with Jessa this season. She hit the bottom and just sort of stayed there. I guess we’ll see if she climbs back up next year. I hope she does. This sort of stagnation is not the desperate kind (see: Marnie), but it winds up feeling almost as tedious.

And so, tedious. By which I mean Marnie. Marnie has decided to tell Shoshanna about having slept with Ray. And because it’s Marnie, she goes over to Shoshanna’s all dressed up and even after finding out that Shosh is having a shitty, horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day (she just found out she can’t graduate because she flunked Glaciology), Marnie still goes into her clearly rehearsed speech about how bad she feels about sleeping with Ray, and how “it came from a deep place of insecurity” and she’s “not proud at all.” And then Shosh becomes fully awesome again and does what everyone watching this show has wanted to do at one point or another and jumps on Marnie and screams into her face, “I HATE YOU!” It was amazing.

Shosh is a mess. And when she sees Ray at Adam’s Broadway debut later, she grabs him and says, “You’re going to buy me some M&Ms and we’re going to have a fucking chat.” Which, great line! But it’s all sort of downhill from there. Shoshanna tries to get back together with Ray, telling him, “I want you back… You made me a more stable human, the best version of myself.” All of which is kind of undeniable. Shoshanna was fucking awful all season, and if it’s because of Ray’s absence? Then we too must beg for Ray to take her back. But Ray isn’t having it. He is clearly skeptical of Shoshanna wanting him back for reasons other than that he’d been hooking up with Marnie, and he also feels like he’s moved on. So Shosh goes home alone, and seems to be picking up some of the pieces of her shattered life (she’d, um, made quite the mess in her apartment when she found out she wouldn’t be graduating), she finds her Glaciology textbook at flings it at her window. Crack. But, you know, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, cracks are how the light gets in. Let the light in, Shoshanna.

Meanwhile, Marnie (being Marnie) decides to be a jerk and sneaks backstage to Desi’s dressing room before the show starts to give him a present. It’s one of James Taylor’s guitar picks and because Desi is the kind of guy who thinks his dressing room is full of “a lot of ghosts,” he’s also the kind of guy who is honored to receive such a present. And so he and Marnie kiss. Which, the kiss is bad. But so much worse is Marnie’s gloating after the fact, and the way she tells fucking everyone about it, and even though they’re all horrified, Marnie is oblivious. Because she’s the fucking worst. At least, though, she gets called out on being the worst by Desi’s girlfriend Clementine, who runs into her in the bathroom and tells Marnie to back the fuck off because Desi will see soon enough how sad and pathetic Marnie is. Which is probably true! Marnie seems cowed, and the last we see of her, she has an inscrutable look playing across her face as she watches Desi and Clementine have a fight. It’s hard to say from that look if Marnie is happy about the fight or feeling guilty, but it’s easy to say that Marnie is creeping on the couple and staring at them while hiding behind a fence. Marnie, you’re a fucking creep. Go away.

And so, going away. Hannah decides to tell Adam that she was accepted to grad school in Iowa right before he goes onstage. This will probably be seen as evidence of Hannah’s selfishness and lack of care about other people’s needs, but it didn’t really feel that way to me. Hannah really went backstage to tell Adam how proud she was of him, and how much she knew he’d earned this. And it’s because she’s so emotional about his success that she tells him about her own achievement, and how she knows that the right thing for her will be to go to Iowa because she wants to do what he’s done. She says that seeing Adam follow his dream has “made [her] want to find a hole in the world in the shape of [her] and just fill it up.” Adam seems to take it all in stride and performs quite well in the play. But then after it’s over, he’s clearly furious at Hannah, telling her, “This is exactly why I didn’t want to see you before the play… Why did you tell me that thing about Iowa before I went on stage. I fucking blew it.”

Hannah insists that he was fine, and tells him that she confided in him because she was happy and thought it would mean good things for them as a couple and that they’d manage to make it work. But Adam isn’t having any of it and snaps back, “I’m sick of trying to work it out. Can’t one thing ever be easy with you?” Which, whoa. Hannah might not be easy, but Adam isn’t exactly super-mellow either. He just spent several weeks apart from her to concentrate on his art, why wouldn’t he be at least a little willing to understand why she should be able to do the same thing? He’s being a dick. But Hannah doesn’t make it into anything dramatic, and just walks away. With a simple goodbye, she’s gone. And Adam is left attending what looks like a pretty lame cast party by himself, alone even though he’s surrounded by other people. But Hannah? She walks home and picks up her acceptance letter and holds it close while she smiles. It’s the happiest we’ve ever seen her. She owns this happiness. She earns it. And I really hope she goes to Iowa so we can settle this MFA vs NYC debate once and for all.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen



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