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‘Girls’ Talk: “Beach House”

Girls Talk Beach House
HBO

Welcome back to ‘Girls‘ Talk, where we here at ScreenCrush are joined each week by critics to discuss the latest episode. In this week’s outing, the ladies head to the beach for a “healing weekend” (Marnie’s words), but when they encounter an old friend and no one wants to adhere to Marnie’s tight schedule, tensions quickly mount and it’s not long before a weekend of healing becomes one of picking (or stabbing) at wounds. 

ScreenCrush editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by Allison Loring to discuss the latest episode, titled “Beach House” (full review). Allison is a contributor for Film School Rejects and Fan Voice, and you can tweet her @allisonloring. You can tweet Britt @missbritthayes.

Britt: I think this might be my favorite episode of the season! It has everything! A beach house that looks like it’s from a catalog of Sofia Coppola’s dreams, all the girls in one place at the same time (for the first time this season), Elijah, a dance routine, and that big fight. But first things first, let’s talk about Marnie, okay?

Allie: This was also one of my favorite episodes of the season! But yes — Marnie. Poor Marnie. I have always suspected that there was a reason under all Marnie’s odd and condescending behavior lately that wasn’t really tied to the fact that Charlie broke up with her. Marnie has definitely been abandoned, but not by him — by her close circle of friends. This episode proved how desperate she is to make things right again between the four of them, but really, she wants them to go back to being the friends they were in college. While it seems to come from a genuine place, it is a feat I am not sure will ever be possible considering how much the girls have all changed over the past few seasons.

Britt: Of course Marnie would be trying so hard to carefully and meticulously plan every moment of fun down to the hour, but you can’t force special moments — it’s unnatural. Her whole attempt to manufacture this weekend of healing that will result in moments she can post to Instagram to prove to everyone (and herself, most importantly) that they’re still friends after everything they’ve been through is just Marnie in a nutshell. It’s also incredibly sad to me. That it should take so much effort to get them all in one place is evidence enough of how far apart they’ve spread, but that Marnie feels the need to force them to create magic memories is even more depressing. It’s like a mom trying to hold all the pieces of her marriage together that have been falling apart and using a family vacation as a last-ditch effort to save it.

Allie: I completely agree — it was like watching the beginning of a horror movie as Marnie meticulously arranged flowers and placed personal name cards on everyone’s “designated” bed. It seemed sweet in theory, but you knew it was leading up to major trouble. I appreciate that Marnie wants to try and reestablish the friendships between the core four, but it is also incredibly sad to watch because it is clear these relationships are not going to come back together thanks to one weekend. Especially one they are all forced into with a “healing” agenda!

Britt: I am so glad Elijah is back, though! I didn’t realize how much his presence was missed until he reappeared, and it is quite the coincidence that he’d show up just as Marnie is seeking to heal the damage he participated in creating. What’s interesting to me is the way Hannah so easily and readily forgives Elijah and they quickly move on as if nothing ever happened, but there’s still this aching, grating, underlying thing between her and Marnie (and all of them). Even though they aren’t spending as much time together, they’re still in each other’s orbits, while Elijah had the sense to completely remove himself for a period of time, which seemed to do the trick. I do wonder if Hannah and the others took a real, clean break from each other for a few months if it would allow them the distance they need to heal the way Marnie’s trying to force them to.

Allie: Elijah! My absolute favorite character on this show. I also forgot how much I love his addition to the show’s dynamic until he was right back in the mix. I think you bring up an interesting idea — time and distance definitely seemed to help Hannah and Elijah forgive each other and move on and I wonder if time away from each other would do the same for the girls. But I also wonder if the reason the girls have a more difficult time moving past their issues with each other stems from this constant sense of competition between them — whether they admit to it or not. Shoshanna has outright said she doesn’t want to graduate and become one of them and Marnie clearly prefers her relationship with Hannah when she feels like she is in control and helping poor, messed up Hannah. The four of them are always trying to get the upper hand over the others and I think that is what is truly at the root of their rift and I don’t know if distance and/or time can fix that issue.

Britt: The fight scene was super intense, and I loved that for once this season, Shosh seemed like a real person with real feelings and real things to say, even if she is a cruel drunk and was saying some pretty horrible things. The thing is — they were all right about each other, even if perhaps they were being a bit harsh. Hannah is a narcissist (as many writers tend to be), Marnie is driven by fear and insecurity, and Shosh can come off as shallow and not very intellectual. And Jessa seems to just be pretending to be better. I’m not sure that any of them are going to change from this, but I do think that like any relationship, you can only let these frustrations build up for so long before you have to release that valve and let the pressure go all at once. And the next morning they seem sort of calmly hungover and relieved now that they’ve gotten it all out there in the open.

Allie: That fight scene was WAY more intense than I was expecting — especially with Shosh leading the charge! The things the girls said to each other were definitely harsh, but also very true, and things that clearly needed to be said. Maybe not in that way, but at least they got everything out there. There definitely seemed to be an air of relief the next morning and I do agree with you that the next step should probably be to stay away from each other for a while before they try to come back together and rebuild. It is hard to truly be there for other people when you are using them as yardsticks to measure yourself against and until these girls can feel comfortable with where they are in their respective lives, they are going to continue to poke at one another’s insecurities (whether they mean to or not) to make themselves feel better.

Britt: With Shosh declaring that she wants to find people who are more like her and who share her interests, it does make you wonder why they’re even friends anymore — is it because they’ve just been friends for so long? Is friendship (or any relationship) built on commonality, or on something deeper and more intangible? Do friends break up? It seems pretty clear the next morning when they’re waiting for the bus and rehearsing the little dance routine they learned that they’re definitely sticking together, and I can’t help but be happy. I think Hannah was right: you shouldn’t expect anything from your friends, although I’m not sure she exactly meant it the way she should have.

Allie: Friends definitely break up, but I also think a lot of friendships last simply because people have “always been friends,” even if they no longer have anything in common. I think doing the dance routine at the bus stop (and the fact that no one bailed in the middle of the night – which I half expected *coughJessacough*) proves these girls are going to keep trying to make their friendship work. And when it comes to the construct of the show, I’m definitely happy to see them continue to try because it is much more compelling and interesting to watch all four girls together than when they are split apart. You shouldn’t expect anything from your friends, but when it comes to Hannah, she seems to expect ALL her relationships to give her story fodder for her writing, and she tends to prefer to mix things up when things settle into “normal” patterns.

Britt: Any last thoughts on this week’s episode? Like Jessa, I too only go in open waters when menstruating.

Allie: Ha ha! I think the other thing that completely struck me in this episode was finally hearing Marnie explain what exactly happened with her breakup with Charlie. We’ve heard her talk about how she didn’t understand what happened and something about making homemade pizza, but the full story she reveals to Elijah was heartbreaking. Charlie said he wanted to propose to her and then came home with a friend to pack up his things and tell her he never truly loved her? That may be Marnie’s exaggerated interpretation of what happened, but if that is even close to the truth, that’s pretty harsh.

Britt: I love how natural that moment felt. I think Marnie explaining the break-up at any other point this season might have felt like forced exposition, but here it’s just her telling someone who’s curious about it, and it feels like the natural time for us to learn what really happened. It is so, so sad, and I think it definitely makes her, as Ray called her before, a more “sympathetic character.” It definitely also plays into the abandonment issues she relays to Hannah during their drunken, glorified faux-honesty “healing” scene in the bedroom. I almost forgot about that moment! I love when people get drunk and do that melodramatic, self-important declaration of honesty thing.

Allie: Yes! It was a sweet moment between Marnie and Hannah, but one you knew would blow up five seconds later as they got more drunk, the other girls got involved, or the two simply didn’t have the booze to fuel their feel-good feelings. Marnie definitely feels abandoned, and that does make her a more sympathetic character, but with all of the girls dealing with different issues, I’m not sure reestablishing their friendships is going to help Marnie feel any more secure, but I do understand her desire to try.

Britt: My final thought of this week: I love how Elijah calls Ray “Old Man Ray.”

Allie: SO spot on. I also love Marnie calling Elijah and all his friends the “cast of ‘Magic Mike.’”

Britt: I’d like to thank Allie for joining us again this week, and be sure to check back with us next week for another edition of ‘Girls’ Talk when we discuss the all-new episode, “Incidentals.”

 

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