Feb 7, 2014

TV Recap: Girls - "Only Child"

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.

It seems that Girls will continue to throw punches and never figure itself out. After David's death last week, we are met with the aftermath, which very well may throw Hannah's (Lena Dunham) life back into chaos and essentially result in more agony and a breakdown. I don't know that after season two's impressive arc that we are really wanting that to happen again. Success was finally coming her way and then to see it get snatched up from under her is quite tragic. Maybe this show will forever thrive on frustration, but at least it has yet to stop being interesting.
Upon the news of David's death, Hannah and Adam (Adam Driver) decide to attend his funeral, where a lot of well known contacts are mourning his death. Hannah decides to congregate with them and understand their pain. This specifically goes for his wife Annalise (Jennifer Westfeldt), who is really sad and mistakes Hannah for a different client of David's. It also confuses Hannah that David had a wife because he seemed to be flamboyantly gay. 
During this time, she learns that all of David's clients have been dropped from his publishing. This causes Hannah to panic and she decides to inquire further about details. When things grow uncomfortable, Hannah asks Annalise if she can give her information on someone else who could publish her, she does, but at a price. Hannah has to promise to leave and stop making the entire funeral feel like a business meeting.
Meanwhile, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) are hanging out together in their apartment. Shoshanna is busy studying to pass her tests. Jessa's philosophical ramblings become annoying and cause Shoshanna to interrupt and ask her to be quiet. As things progress, Jessa talks about how her friend faked her death so that they didn't have to hang out. Shoshanna is having none of this and tries to go back to studying while Jessa tries to get her life in order. While walking around, she decides to stop by a business with a Help Wanted sign in the window and demands that she gets the job.
At Hannah's apartment, Caroline (Gaby Hoffman) is arguing with Adam over her using his last few eggs. As the conversation begins to ramp up, Hannah interferes and demands that they talk things out. Since she has watched a lot of Dr. Phil, she decides to be the moderator as she allows the two siblings to talk it out. There is a hostile sense that they each feel the other isn't quite living up to their end of productivity and lack career goals. They don't see eye to eye, but they manage to antagonize each other. Hannah begins to wonder why they can't get along, especially since all she wanted was to have a sibling.
During the conversation, Marnie (Allison Williams) gives Hannah a call and talks about how she picked up the most adorable cat. Hannah refuses to come over and see the cat, as she is in the middle of the Spuckler family intervention that is spiraling out of control. As things come to some sense of a resolution, Hannah parts ways to attend a book meeting with the new publishers, who are bubbly and full of life. Their only catch is that they don't want to publish an e-book, but a hard copy book. 
This sends Hannah into ecstasy as she decides to call her father (Peter Scolari) to share the good news. He has recently been through a minor surgery, but the details are flushed out in order to focus on Hannah's great news. The only catch is that her father already knew about everything and had a lawyer cousin read the other contract in order to make sure the agreement was understood. It turns out that because David's company paid her to write the book, they legally own it for three years and Hannah will be unable to publish it with a new party.
Allison Williams
Marnie decides to talk to Ray (Alex Karpovsky) because she feels that he will be honest with her about her emotional problems. Ray lays it thick on her, claiming that Marnie is a good person, but she tends to be condescending at times for no good reason. The news comes as a shock, but is just what Marnie wanted to hear. Stopping Ray on the way to play basketball, she delays him even further by having a quick round of sex on a table. When finishing up, Ray demands that she doesn't publicize their relationship, to which Marnie insults him by claiming that she never would do such a thing.
While discussing the details of her book deal with Caroline, things begin to spiral out of control. Caroline tells a pointless story about auditioning for Independence Day that doesn't serve as a metaphor for Hannah's problem. The two begin getting into an argument that causes Hannah to ask Caroline to shut up. As things get more hostile, Caroline is eventually asked to leave the apartment and stop abusing the right of living there. Things don't go well when Adam shows up later that evening only to be concerned that his sister is gone. He leaves to go look for her.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Left to right: Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke
Sometimes I wonder exactly where this show is going. Even if it takes a random turn in the next episode, it does feel like the show has gotten better simply because continuity has been strong. We haven't had a standalone episode yet and for good reason. The story of Hannah's book deal has had an epic feel this season, as it went from putting the show on a great track to being the disaster point of her life. We have seen her work on this book since "Pilot," and there was some triumph that she was living the dream. She was turning 25 and likely to be a published author. Even with her new publisher, things were looking up.
Caroline was right in this episode when she said that there was a sense that Hannah was "projecting" onto her. Hannah's book deal has yet to fall apart, though her old contract has kept her from doing anything about it. I do wonder if she will out of desperation allow the new publisher to go through with it and not care what the old publication thinks, especially since they already stated that they own it for the next three years. She seems to be getting to that point, especially as she claims that her whole life was thrown into that book. There is no way that she isn't going to publish it in some capacity.
While I decry predicting future episodes, as I have been proven horribly wrong in the past, I do want to consider next week's title "Free Snacks." Consider for a moment that it has long been established that her memoir is called "Midnight Snacks." Even if the show isn't the most cryptic of episode title names, I do find the vague overlap to be somewhat relative at this moment. Consider the idea that out of desperation, she releases it essentially for free, thus bypassing both of her opposing publishers and managing to own it. It gets into a grey area beyond that, but I do feel like with the way that Hannah is growing into desperation that this isn't the most ridiculous thing that could happen.
As it stands, it does seem like the new publishers are a little daft. While one seems to have a strong literary batch of references, the one with control seems to be confused half the time. Their bubbly comments and chic attitudes are interesting, but it doesn't feel like there's much substance beyond their flashy design. Hypothetically, if she does go with them, they don't seem like the smart type who will defend her when things get nasty. I figure that the episodes will progress in one of two ways: she will release the book for free in heinous fashion, or she will get sued. I do believe that a lawsuit has been in the works for quite some time simply because Hannah has been riding the line for some time with a lax work ethic.
In a strange way, it does feel like Caroline is here to stay. She is essentially like Hannah in a regards that irked me early on. In season one, the feud between Adam and Hannah seemed to be incessant, yet they stuck together. Right as it got romantic, Caroline showed up. We were beginning to understand them as a couple and soon there was a new issue. Adam clearly does care, but not enough to keep his moods in check. With him running out of the apartment at the end of the episode, I do believe that while the episode revolved around the two fighting, there is a sense of care and sensitivity in Adam that is hidden by his brutish disregard for people he doesn't like.
I also feel like Caroline has quickly evolved into one of the show's more fascinating characters, or girls if you will. Where I feel like Marnie is practically being written off, Caroline has made her presence count in the few episodes of her existence. She has played the weird misfit to the emotional guru to the angry sister. She has shown range that is not being portrayed in the other characters that seem to meander. I can at least forgive Shoshanna's coasting, as her studying seems to make it seem like a noble cause.
Jessa on the other hand feels like she is back at where she was for season one with her babysitting job. Again, she is simply written into the episode for a brief moment, but makes it count. Her angle is that she wants to improve her life. She figures that working around kids is going to be the big fix. Maybe it is to capture some old spirit that she had last time she worked with kids. Maybe she will get married by the end of the season. Who knows? I feel like there isn't enough to really talk about in terms of her character in this particular episode, but I do feel like we're about to get back to the interesting Jessa who does stuff besides navel gaze at her life.
With all of this said, I do feel like the show's exploration of being thickheaded this week isn't quite as great as "Dead Inside," but it does continue to show the show's strengths. It works in finding the frustrations of being young and misunderstood. There is a desire for that one person to connect to, but often those communications fail. This episode pretty much ends every conversation with someone being told to shut up. It isn't always pleasant, but nerves are high and I can only hope that everything pays off somehow.

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