Mar 6, 2015

TV Recap: Girls - "Ask Me My Name"

Left to right: Gillian Jacobs and Lena Dunham
Welcome back to another round of Girls TV Recap. Following the amazing third season, this series will focus on season four and the perils that Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends face as she goes to Iowa. What new experiences will she face? What will everyone else do while they wait for her inevitable return? Come back every Friday for the latest recap including thoughts and predictions for each episode. Will it remain one of the best comedies on TV? You'll have to read to find out.

So this is how season four will decide to play out. With everyone starting to lose faith in their lives, Girls has become a series dedicated to finding the next step. With Adam (Adam Driver) starting to find an aimless path with Mimi-Rose (Gillian Jacobs), the dynamics are starting to become more confusing. For the middling aspects of last week's episode, this one manages to put everything into practice, adding an implicit and more uncomfortable level of commentary on the characters who likely aren't going to end up too hot by the end of the season.
Hannah is now a substitute teacher at a high school where she teaches a literature class. She is doing well and meets Fran (Jake Lacy) in the teachers lounge. The two hit it off and decide to go on a date. It is going well until Hannah decides to go to Mimi-Rose's art show where her friends Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Marnie (Allison Williams) are. It causes problems with Adam, who doesn't want her there. Mimi-Rose's ex-boyfriend Ace (Zachary Quinto) wants to go somewhere and forces Adam to ride in a taxicab with him. By this point Fran has left due to awkwardness.

This means that Mimi-Rose and Hannah are stuck in a cab together. There's concern about Hannah's feelings for Adam, which she denies having any at this point. When the taxicab hits someone and stalls their journey, they stop off in a convenience store to buy food and continue their conversation. Hannah talks about being frustrated with her life and leaving Iowa because she doesn't feel like she could make it.
Meanwhile Mimi-Rose opens up to Hannah at a nearby launderette after the convenience store won't let Hannah use their bathroom. She reveals that she wants to do something purposeful and doesn't even know why. She fears that everyone will hate her. The two bond over being artists who are at the brink of their potential. The only difference is that Mimi-Rose still has a chance to make it with a book that she's writing. Hannah apologizes to Adam for her behavior and takes off.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Left to right: Dunham and Adam Driver
While I had a prediction that this is where Girls would be at this point in the season, I didn't suspect that it would be going in nearly the route that it has. What's more impressive is that over the course of the past three episodes, there has been an arc with Mimi-Rose's character that hasn't always been immediately clear. She is an artist who looks better and has more success than Hannah with every reason in the world to be jealous of. However, this is the surface level of what's been going on and what's deeper is a lot more complicated.
Where "Sit In" focused on the falling out of the central Girls couple, it also allowed for the typical response to come of the new girl being pure evil. She simply enters a scene long enough to establish her faults. The next episode dives into the more shallow and bizarre expectations that Adam has for her and that they may not be a great couple. In "Ask Me My Name," things move surprisingly fast and where it's easy to assault Mimi-Rose for taking away Adam, things take a different path when the two are forced to approach each other.
Despite both of their images as creative types, they are both as flawed and insecure with their personalities. Where Hannah is confident that she has given up on her dreams, Mimi-Rose has a momentary future that could pan out into something far, far greater. In the three episodes, we see Mimi-Rose do much more than Hannah really did over the first three seasons. It looks glamorous by comparison to go to art shows. To have these two women on the same platform for most of the episode allows for a conversation to develop that feels like it means something.
It also shows growth on Hannah's part. She is maturing and taking a job as a substitute teacher. She seems to be able to handle the curriculum with ease. Is this going to stick. Better yet, is Mimi-Rose going to become a mentor of sorts to Hannah and get her back into writing? It also seems like Adam is going to be sticking around after all despite my initial belief that the break-up happened early on because he needed to duck out to do bigger movies. It is nice to see him having to deal with a "normal" life, which he doesn't seem to be all that comfortable with.
Overall, this episode was a personal moment in which things managed to come to a maturity. With Mimi-Rose addressing a moment in which she sees a photo of a child called "Girl," it almost feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy on the series. The child was unknown much like Hannah hasn't necessarily taken the world by storm or that this "Girl" could be indicative of Girls in general. The idea that somebody needs to know their names seems important and profound in a way that makes me believe that this is going to be some moment for Hannah to bounce back and be a productive human being.
The only real question is why Elijah (Andrew Rannels) has been such a frequent guest star this season. He seemed to serve as the poisonous cause of Hannah's departure from school and even serves as the force that drives Marnie to keep doing music. He makes no sense and almost always seems to be there for the sake of being there. I don't know if it is building to something greater or if this is coincidence. 
However, in an episode all about identity and coming to understand people better, the show gets to the heart of the themes it is exploring this season. Maybe it hasn't been as smooth as last year, but it at least is continuing in a fascinating direction. Maybe the series will end this season not with the separation that I am suspecting, but with a maturity and understanding of identity. While I doubt the series will settle for a happy ending idea, it does seem likely with how things are going that there's going to be a call for a second chance in life, whatever that will be.

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