Jan 26, 2014

TV Recap: Girls - "She Said OK"

Left to right: Allison Williams and Lena Dunham
Welcome back to the TV Recap column for the Golden Globe-winning HBO series Girls. Join me as I capture the exploits of the Lena Dunham-penned series as it ventures through another season of scandal, accidents, and life in general. Will it be another great season for the Tiny Furniture director and her growing cast of friends? Tune back every Friday to find out more.

In the midst of an already solid season, we attend our annual party. Where the past few seasons have found reasons more impersonal, this one revolves around Hannah's (Lena Dunham) turning 25. Much like the show's attempt at exploring the aimless lives of 20-somethings, it feels like turning 25 should be the midway act. It feels like things need to start shaping up and prepare for the 30's. To a large extent, that is what "She Said OK" is about, or at least realizing that things aren't fair in this life and you'll just have to deal with them.
The episode begins with Hannah giving Adam (Adam Driver) a haircut. They are discussing mundane details to their life when suddenly a phone call arrives. It is Caroline (Gaby Hoffman); Adam's sister. As she pleads for a place to stay, she states that she got abandoned by an abusive boyfriend who threw her out of the car at the guardrail. She doesn't really want to be there, but has no choice. Her career as a teacher is going nowhere and Adam refuses to feel any real sympathy for her.  Hannah, unaware of the past relationship, lets her stay the night as well as to come to her birthday party.
Meanwhile, Marnie (Allison Williams) is in the midst of getting a party planned. She is also trying to get a video off of Youtube of her performing Edie Brickell's "What I Am" in a highly stylized video. It was released on Charlie's webpage and she is embarrassed by it. Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is also in the midst of a transition as he is hiring new people for the new Grumpy's location. He is also talking to Hermie (Colin Quinn) about his unknown illness and how he is dying. As a whole, Ray is feeling a lot more positive about his career trajectory, though he is scared of becoming the boss and taking on a lot of responsibilities.
Gaby Hoffman
Jumping to Hannah's party, everyone meets up. This includes her parents (Becky Ann Baker and Peter Scolari), who are introduced to Caroline. She seems pretty normal at the moment. However, things quickly change as she wanders off towards the band who is playing. Ray is standing there watching when Caroline begins trying to flirt with him and demands for him to dance with her. She spouts how she disassociates from herself during sex before proceeding to bite Ray's shoulder. This rightfully scares Ray off.
Hannah meets up with Marnie, Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) momentarily to catch up. They're excited to see her and reminiscing on how her 21st birthday was "just yesterday." They even talk about the rude comments posted on Marnie's video, including how she is some dumb Disney princess. There is also talk that Marnie wants to drag Hannah onstage and sing "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent like they did when they were younger. During this time, David (John Cameron Mitchell) shows up to meet her friends, all of whom seem to be heavy influences on her writing.
Ray gets a drink from the bar and ends up talking to a patron who is currently seeing Shoshanna. Supposedly he was walking the street when suddenly she leans out of a limo and asks where she and her friends can find some "dank weed." It was like a Cirac advertisement. This gets Ray flustered and decides to tell Shoshanna that he wants nothing to do with her, not even as friends. As he parts, he goes to ask the DJ to play Smashing Pumpkins' "Today."
Marnie decides to take the stage during this time to wish Hannah a happy birthday and spout praise on how she is the greatest person ever. This is quickly followed by Hannah being dragged onstage to perform the song from Rent. Things are going well, even though Hannah is not at all interested in singing. Suddenly, a fight breaks out and the crowd quickly disperses.
This comes in light of Ray's decision to pick a fight with David. Ray is upset that midway through "Today," the song changes to LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." He hates the song and decides to give David a lecture on the queue, or the order of music played based upon requests. David doesn't hear it and just goes about dancing and thinking that Ray is high on cocaine. Ray decides to push him and ends up getting bloodied. Everyone is kicked out and the party ends.
As Adam and Hannah walk home, Adam springs a gift upon her: a tooth necklace. She loves it and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get home. They don't know where Caroline went, but nothing can ruin their mood. They are going to have sex, and that's all that matters. Before starting, Hannah decides to go to the bathroom, where she runs into Caroline without pants on, squeezing a cup and beginning to bleed everywhere. This throws Adam out of the mood and leaves Hannah wondering what she did by having Caroline stay.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Left to right: Alex Karpovsky and Hoffman
There is so much to discuss in this episode that it will be easy to get the smallest one out of the way first. Marnie is still grieving over her break-up with Charlie. This week, it comes to fruition with a Youtube video, which isn't all that bad in consideration. True, the symbolism of her being unable to let go of the past is nice, but it does feel like Marnie has become a rather pointless character. That is unfortunate, as she was a strong proponent of making season one so interesting. I just hope something comes of it because her choice to distract from the break-up by throwing the party is fine and all, but she hasn't even had a decent plot established this season. Even Jessa, who is equally pointless in this episode, has at least had a memorable moment.
Maybe that is the point of Marnie now. She is too nostalgic and dreams of better days, which just happened to involve Charlie. The desire to sing Rent is probably the most recognizable. No matter what happens, she wants to relive the moment, even if she is being ignored in order for people to go watch a fight happening in the other room. She also seems kind of desperate for people to like her. I don't know if that will be explored at all, but the Rent song definitely implies some sort of tonal shift.
Then there is Shoshanna, who may have subtly become one of the more interesting characters on the show. Where she started off as the clueless ditz in season one, she is currently living a double life. While her relationship with Ray lead to some interesting growth, she seems to be in an area of disarray. She wants to go dating people and having sex with whomever she wants. She is also on the hunt for dank weed and seems to be dressing more provocative. She doesn't discuss it all that much, but she seems like an innocent person that is entering a dangerous zone of drugs and sex that will likely see her fall apart at some point. There just needs to be an episode exploring her "other life" more. What we have seen hasn't been that bad, but someone in search of dank weed is probably not the same character that we were introduced to in "Pilot."
I also feel like David is becoming an interesting character for different reasons. I have long believed that Hannah's choice to use her friends as inspiration for her writing would backfire. It would become public and her friends would disown her in some way. That hasn't happened yet, but David's introduction at the party does suggest that we are on the verge of something. The way that he talks about Adam suggests something dark and personal. As shown later on, David is somewhat of an arrogant psychopath who wants things his way. He is likely to become even more arrogant as the season progresses and asks more of Hannah. In fact, I predict that he is more likely to cause tension shifts among Hannah and her friends more than Hannah herself. 
Ray is also in transition and seems to be doing pretty well for himself. When we saw him last season, his life was a mess. He was living a menial, homeless life. Now he is the manager of a coffee shop and hiring who he wants. He has power and that must be getting to him. At very least, it is suggestive that his choice to disown any connection to Shoshanna is based on his desire to appear more powerful. He cannot have someone looking for dank weed being closely associated with him.
This could mean that Ray is going to become arrogant and not care about people that he considers below him. While there has been a sense that Ray has been that way for awhile now, it hasn't felt overbearing. Even his decision to pick a fight with David implies that he is not going to take change well. While Ray was correct about his decisions to be mad over the queue situation, it may seem like this is only the beginning of his shift into desire to have things his way. Either that or being beaten up by a gay 40-year-old may result in a reconsideration. He hasn't had power long and may reconsider his life track.
Of every character in the episode, it seems like Hannah and Adam are the least problematic in terms of story. Their drama hasn't been prominent in this season at all. They almost seem to be the responsible source. It is a nice change from the dark, scary realms of which season two ended. The only thing is that it suggests that Hannah is in need of a change of atmosphere. Much like Ray is now a manager, she is turning 25 and needs to be taken more seriously. She has a writing job and a boss who is kind of crazy. She is living her dream of life that was mapped out in "Pilot." Meanwhile, everyone else seems to have regressed, which is interesting.
Then again, the big issue comes with the introduction of the episode: Caroline. We don't know much about Adam's history. The only thing that we know about his sister is that he once asked if she was "getting that pussy pounded" back in season one. Of course, Adam is a different character now. He seems responsible. Much like Ray's disowning of Shoshanna, it does feel like Adam is trying to disown Caroline as to protect Hannah. Things are starting to go well and then she comes along with a bruised leg and strange sensibilities. Unlike Ray, Adam cannot totally get rid of Caroline because she is family.
I do hope that things are explored in more detail in the next few episodes because Caroline is a fascinatingly weird character. She seems unstable and has some killer dance moves, which must run in the Sackler family lineage. She also seems a little shady and dishonest. She plays the victim, but at the same time, she doesn't seem to be living the purest path to avoid such situations. She almost seems to exist to be overbearing for Adam and now Hannah. The only question is how aggressive will Adam be in kicking her out. He clearly doesn't want to get involved, but he also seems to care enough about her to clean up her mess upon breaking a glass in her hand.
Where do things go from here? While it was great that the show did small callbacks throughout the episode, specifically Tako (Roberta Colindrez) for some reason, it seems like the party was mostly a chance to look back while looking forward. Hannah isn't the disaster in her life anymore. Everyone else is. Maybe she will follow the girl code too much and not let these friendships go. However, it does open up a lot of gates for the future. Will we ever see Elijah come back and is Caroline a long term character? I do want to know more about these characters' back stories, but that is not always evident on this show. I also just hope that Marnie gets a better story line soon. 

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