Of every Girls season finale, “Home Birth” feels the most final — major changes and life plans happen in the blink of an eye; new lives enter this world and familiar faces fade; and perhaps what makes this episode feel so final is the “six months later” coda, which feels just as unnecessary here as it does in just about any other film or television show. That’s not to say that the conclusion doesn’t have its charms, but it might have been best saved for next season, given the powerful sequence that preceded it.
There are certain things we learn how to do as we become more adult: we learn what to share and what not to share and when to share it, and we learn how to fake smiling and being supportive to our friends and loved ones even when it kills us. There are good boundaries and bad boundaries, just as there’s good faking it and bad faking it — navigating these nebulous borders is tricky business, and no one does it gracefully, especially not Hannah (or Tad…or Loreen…).
Tonight’s episode of Girls is a lot to take in, with a long title to match. “Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz” offers up some real anxiety-inducing bombshells, and although these moments punctuate the half-hour with shock and awe, it’s the dialogue exchanges between various character pairings that provide the most telling aspects.
Manipulation, resentment and deceit are the central conceits at the heart of this week’s Girls. Hannah attempts to be friends with Adam, and this overture is both genuine and disingenuous at the same time, highlighting the conflicting emotions that go into such well-meaning and painful post-break-up trials. And while Lena Dunham’s anxiety-ridden performance captures the vast array of emotions during this period, it’s Gillian Jacobs’ exceptionally complex performance as Mimi-Rose that ultimately steals the show, proving the hinge around which Adam and Hannah pivot.
Over the course of the last few seasons, the twentysomething girls of Girls have hardly changed at all, which makes them more empathetic, if a little frustrating — but only because, if you’ve ever been in your early 20s, you can see some of yourself in each of them. If insanity is repeating the same behaviors/actions over and over and expecting different results, then you might consider these women (and yes, the men, too) insane. But tonight’s episode brings some real signifiers of change, even if we remain skeptical.
At one point during this week’s episode of Girls, Hannah off-handedly describes the only way to solve a Rubik’s Cube: by taking the stickers off and re-sticking them in the proper arrangement. It’s such a casual comment, but one that easily defines the way Hannah — and her friends, and so many of us coming of age in our 20s — approaches problem-solving: by forcing things into the shape she’d like rather than doing the imperative work and navigation.
“How do you know if you’ve made the right decision?” That’s the question at the heart of this week’s ‘Girls,’ which sees Hannah struggling to figure out if she belongs in Iowa, while Shoshanna has a hard time finding the perfect job back in New York. All we want to know is if we’ve made the right choice, but it’s impossible to know until the choice has been made.
There’s something vaguely gnawing and anxiety-inducing about this week’s episode of ‘Girls,’ which splits its time between Hannah in Iowa and her friends back in New York, and finally gives us a clue about what Adam’s been up to while Hannah’s away. By now we’ve become very familiar with the willfully regressive nature of these characters, who function in juvenile, narcissistic cycles, with each revolution back around only bringing them the tiniest baby step further in their maturation. Two steps forward, one step back.
Some of the best episodes of ‘Girls’ have taken Hannah out of her comfort zone and away from New York, whether that’s back home to visit her parents or going with Jessa to visit her absentee father. Moving Hannah to Iowa to attend the renowned Writers’ Workshop is an incredibly wise decision, not just for its potential to shift dynamics between characters or create new plot paths, but also because it immerses Hannah in a new world where she doesn’t know anyone—here we see Hannah differently, not surrounded by anyone or any places she knows; we see her the way others might see her.
In tonight’s season 4 premiere of ‘Girls,’ it’s all relative(s), with appearances from Hannah’s parents, Marnie’s mom, and the introduction of Shoshanna’s parents, and it’s these relationships that help us understand who our girls are and why. As Hannah prepares to head off to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Marnie continues to pursue her dreams of being a successful singer, paths diverge and neuroses are reinforced. Hannah appears to be more calm and collected, but we’ve seen this from her before, and how long will (can) it last?