The uneven third season of Girls concluded last night with cliffhangers, some earned and some not.
We start out with Hannah getting her mail, and who should wander into the hallway but Adam’s crazy sister Caroline. Hannah asks, where are your shoes? She says why do I need shoes? I’m in my hallway. Laird opens his door and is like sweetie, “do you know where the iced tea is?” So there’s that. Oh, and she’s pregnant.
Upstairs in her apartment Hannah opens her mail and finds a letter that makes her makes her jump for joy. She goes to Marnie’s apartment, and Marnie immediately starts in that she knows she has to tell Shoshana what happened with Ray, and she knows she needs to have more respect for other people’s emotional property, and yes, she uses sex for validation… Hannah interupts her: “I got into Iowa.” She’s referring to Iowa Writer’s Workship, the country’s best MFA program. Marnie says “you’re going to live in Iowa.” Hannah says she doesn’t know if she’s going on not. Marnie’s like, of course you are.
Meanwhile, Jessa is with BD, the older woman artist from last episode. Remember she hired Jessa to work with her archives? So apparently, that’s not the only reason she hired her: BD is begging her for drugs so she can kill herself. Jessa is like, no way. BD says she wakes up every day disappointed that she didn’t die during the night. “I don’t blame you,” says Jessa. BD makes an emotional plea, saying she thought Jessa was a person who would see how how necessary this was. “I’m tired. My body is gone. I’m in so much pain.”
Shosh goes to pick up her cap and gown for graduation, but apparently her “name has been flagged.” Turns out, she failed a class. She is three credits short of graduating. Back at her apartment, she flips out and starts throwing things. Marnie shows up at this inopportune moment to ‘fess up about sleeping with Ray. Before she can say anything, Shosh tells her about the graduation crisis. Still, Marnie doesn’t think twice about delivering yet more bad news, and plows ahead with her confession. Shosh does not take the news well. She leaps onto Marnie screaming “I hate you!” This is just the first of several moments in the episode in which Marnie and Hannah are tone deaf to the emotional needs of others in a given moment.
Hannah calls her parents to tell them the news about Iowa. “What? I didn’t even know you were applying,” says her mother. (That makes two of us, because this was never mentioned once in the eleven previous episodes this season.) It’s clear Hannah’s still ambivalent, “But this is where I live. I’d have to find new friends. I’d have to find a new place to buy yogurt. Plus, I don’t know if writing is something that can really be taught.” But her mother makes it clear that there’s no decision to be made. Of course she is going. “You sound like you’re really proud of me,” Hannah says.
It’s opening night of Adam’s play. Hannah knocks on his dressing room door, and he answers in character. She walks in and he’s wary — he’s trying to stay in the right headspace. She says the security guard tried to stop her but Desi let her in. She tells him that she’s proud of him, and that he’s taught her so much about “perserverence and committment and creativity.” “I love you,” he says. “I love you too. and before I go I wanted to tell you that I got into grad school in Iowa.” It’s always about her!
Not to be outdone in the selfish department, Marnie barges into Desi’s dressing room. He’s shirtless. He’s like I’m sorry, I’m half in the play, half here… She says she’ll leave she just wants to give him an opening night gift. She gives him a gift — James Taylor’s guitar pick. “I know he’s a hero of yours both in his music and the honest way he lives his life.” Desi hugs her and there’s obvious sexual tension. They kiss, tentatively at fist and then he slams her against the wall in passion. It looks like they’re about to bang right then and there but Marnie says, “I’m going to go.”
In the theater seats, Hannah asks Marnie, “What are you so cheerful about? Because it does not look like it went so well with Shoshana.” cut to Sosh in the seat next to Hannah, staring straight ahead in misery. Marnie tells Hannah that Desi kissed her. “Are you f-ing serious? Marnie, that’s another person with a girlfriend!”
During intermission, Elijah says the play is not going to get good notices. Marnie tells him that Desi kissed her. “I have to say, I don’t see that ending well for you,” he says.
Shosh pulls Ray aside. He apologizes about Marnie, but says, “Thought if memory serves, you’re the one who jettisoned me — a while ago.” And he adds that she wasn’t very discreet about all her hook-ups following that. “So I’m not that sorry at the end of the day.” She says, “I want you back. I miss you. I made a mistake.” Ray is surprised. He asks her if this is about Marnie, and she says no, “It’s because you make me a more stable human. I love you.” She starts to cry. He tells her he’s eternally grateful to her, because she motivated him to get his life together. “I have my first credit card. I have a credenda. I have a cactus plant.” But he says they are in different places, and have different goals. She begs him. The bell rings signalling the end of intermission. “We should go upstairs.” He walks away.
Adam is on stage. Hannah watches him with pride and delight.
Marnie, still glowing from her kiss with Desi, goes to the bathroom. She’s washing her hands when an irritated-looking Clementine appears at the sink next to her.
Marnie: Clementine! I thought you were travelling!
Clementine: I’m back.
Marnie: Desi is going to be so excited that you could be here.
Clementine tells her to cut the crap.
Clementine: I know what you’re up to. It’s written all over you. I don’t blame you — he’s f-ing sexy. But if he doesn’t realize it yet he’s going to soon: You’re a pathetic mess.
Marnie tells her, We’re recording an album.
Clementine: Not anymore you’re not. Nice dress.
Jessa is with BD, feeding her pills. She holds her hand, and we can see her trying to be strong for her new friend. BD thanks her for doing this, and warns her not to take any of those pills after she’s gone. BD says, “I am so moved that you would do this for me.” Jessa says she didn’t want to do it. BD, “You didn’t want to. But you did.” So it’s the first unselfish thing Jessa has ever done, no doubt. But then even that goes wrong when BD panics and says,” I don’t want to die! Call 911!” Jessa reaches for the phone.
Back at the theater, Elijah and Hannah are waiting outside the door for Adam. When Adam walks out they congratulation him. “You were amazing!” says Hannah. “No I wasn’t. I was f-ing terrible.” “Are you kidding me? I had full-body chills,” says Hannah.
Adam: Why did you tell me that thing about Iowa right before I went on stage? I blew it.
Hannah: Do you live in a parallel universe? Everyone loved it.
Adam: I don’t care about everyone else. I know whether I’m good or not. This is exactly what I thought would happen. This is exactly why I didn’t want to see you.
Elijah excuses himself.
Hannah: I told you that thing about grad school because I thought it was really good news for us as a couple.
Adam: So now you’re leaving me?
Hannah: Leaving you? You’re the one who moved out of our apartment!
Adam: I moved a few blocks away, for a few weeks.
Hannah: I know that this is complicated, but I also know that we can work it out.
Adam: Well I’m sick of trying to work it out. Can’t one thing ever be easy with you?
Hannah: Congratulations on a beautiful opening night.
She walks away, and he watches her.
Outside the bar where the cast party is underway, Marnie sees Desi and Clementine arguing. Inside, a cast photo is being taken, and one of the actresses leans into Adam and kisses him on the cheek.
Hannah walks into her apartment, picks up the acceptance letter from Iowa, and hugs it to her chest, smiling.
The first line of the song playing over the opening credits is, “You can’t keep a good girl down.” The problem is, nothing about this show makes me thing of Hannah as a “good” girl I should be rooting for. She’s selfish (dropping the bomb on Adam right before his big moment), she’s judgemental (Marnie and Ray), she’s lazy (the book she could barely finish on time), and she thinks she’s special (too good to work at GQ). If anything, I think Adam is lucky to be rid of her. As for the other “girls,” Marnie is completely myopic and just as selfish. Jessa is trying to do something good for once, but as usual shows terrible judgement and makes us cringe. And Shosh is regressing. With Ray, she recognized her own ambitions and what she needed in a partner. Now, she’s clinging to him because she can’t figure things out on her own. And yes, there are funny moments. And yes, there is smart irony and great dialogue and some glimpses of romance. But if you’re going to close a season with the lyrics, “Can’t keep a good girl down,” you’d better give me one girl I can root for to get back up.