‘Girls’ Season Finale Review: ‘Home Birth’
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.
As the title suggests, there is indeed a home birth — or at least an attempt at one — in the finale, serving as a hinge around which Hannah, Adam and Jessa’s stories all swivel to their conclusions for this season. Caroline’s “birth plan” is ill-advised, of course, not because home births are anything to scoff at, but because she and Laird are kind of ignorant about the lifestyle they embrace. Caroline in particular has always been stubborn, and Gaby Hoffmann’s effortless ability to pivot from calm new-ager to Adam’s belligerent sister is always entertaining.
Caroline’s home birth serves as the comedic focal point, as Laird has a meltdown and Jessa can’t help but duck her head into the bathwater to see exactly what’s happening down there and a typically steadfast Adam keels over from the stress of it all. The exchanges in Caroline and Laird’s apartment highlight the sharp, rhythmic writing of Girls, while the details of the location are impeccably dingy.
The comedy is a welcome distraction from the drama, primarily with Marnie and Desi. After an insanely amazing interaction in which Ray completely dismantles Desi’s whole persona, the latter fails to show up for a high profile gig (set up by guest star Spike Jonze), leaving Marnie to take the stage alone. The scenario pushes Marnie not out of her comfort zone, but right into it, as her talent and presence are the main attraction, though she seemingly remains somewhat oblivious (perhaps willfully) to Ray’s motives.
It seemed inevitable after last week’s episode that Adam would come crawling back to Hannah with his tail between his legs, and in “Home Birth,” he does just that. In an episode filled with incredible, perfect exchanges, this one tops them all as Adam explains that he was removed from his “center” and “confused,” but Hannah simply cannot accept the overture for fear of having her heart pulverized all over again. Fran’s renewed interest in the form of comforting her during a panic attack at school is also a factor in her decision, and we can see the cogs turning and clicking in Hannah’s eyes as she tries to prevent the tears from spilling over. Her quick, half-head-shakes are like nervous tics or emotional tells, and we know before she even has the chance to speak that she won’t be taking Adam back.
As sad as I am that Adam and Hannah won’t be getting back together (only because I adore him so much), this is probably the first genuine act of progression on Hannah’s part in a long time — the recognition that she should avoid engaging in potentially hurtful scenarios, no matter how much it pains her to do so. That pain will fade, in time, as she finds happiness within herself and elsewhere. When Adam explains how he never really “knew” Mimi-Rose, it’s a solemn callback to last season, when he told Marnie and Hannah the story of how he once dated a girl, but when they broke up, he realized they were essentially strangers. Hannah rightfully calls him on it in “Home Birth,” assuring him that in a few months, he’ll feel okay about the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Shoshanna finally gets the confidence she needs to renew her job search after helping Ray with his campaign, and her first interview yields an amazing job offer tailored to her talents…with one catch: she’ll have to move to Japan. There’s something suspect about the job offer, particularly in how her interviewer (Aidy Bryant, y’all!) tries to play up the appeal of moving abroad — almost as if she’s desperate to find people willing to make the move. Maybe it’s not that Shosh is so well-suited to the position, but that they need someone with her personality and naiveté to take it.
The finale concludes as most have in the past: declarations of intent, life changes, people being pushed away and pulled apart and drawn closer together. Shoshanna deciding to move to Tokyo and put a pin in her new relationship is reminiscent of Hannah’s decision to leave for Iowa in last year’s finale, which doesn’t bode well for Shosh’s immediate future. Jessa wants to be a therapist. Marnie is going to dive into this whole music thing on her own, as she originally intended. Adam and Hannah are apart, again.
Hannah ends things on the phone with her mother, whose disillusionment with her marriage and general sadness adds color to the preceding conversation with Adam — at least Hannah didn’t tie herself down to a man who would always hold her back in some way, and waste decades of her life in comfortable ease, avoiding heartbreak just to end up heartbroken. Tad is to Adam as Loreen is to Hannah, and all season long this analogy has been quietly percolating.
It’s too bad that the episode doesn’t end when Loreen hands the phone to Tad and Hannah squeaks out a “Hi.” Instead, it ends six months later with Hannah and Fran walking the snowy streets, as in love and happy as can be. We’ve seen this before. It doesn’t end well. As with all things Girls, maybe this time will be different — it’s all they, and we, can hope for.
- Japanese is just four sounds you put together.
- “I don’t think this is legal. To self-doula.”
- Of course Desi uses words like “simpatico.” Ugh.
- “You know how you feel when you watch Imagine Dragons play? That’s how we feel about you.” Ray loses me when he says Imagine Dragons is great, though. Surely you jest, Old Man Ray.
- Shosh’s boyfriend tells her “I’m gonna be in love with you soon,” as if that’s a solid reason to stick around. What a weird, awful promise.
- For further information on home births, please watch the Ricki Lake documentary The Business of Being Born, or an episode of Tom and Jerry that Laird watched that one time.
- Jessa-Hannah Bluebell Poem Schlesser-Sackler. I already felt uneasy enough about this kid’s future.
- I am happy about Hannah’s decision to not get back together with Adam, in a way, but the fangirl in me is very upset about it.