One Man’s Thoughts About GIRLS: Episode 3, “Bad Friend”

jason kundrath gets by with a little help from his friends…

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I must admit, I was a bit skeptical about this episode. The teaser featured Hannah making a big pronouncement to her friends about her intention to score some cocaine and write an article exposing her vulnerabilities to the “entire internet.” Then it went on to show her dancing – completely uninhibited – at a club. And while it seemed potentially amusing to see Hannah get high and act a fool, I was preemptively disappointed by the perceived lack of drama. I was wrong.

Allow me to make my own pronouncement: Episode 3 is another big win for Girls.

The set up for this weeks episode comes during Hannah’s informal interview with Jame (Angela Featherstone) – an editor at a fictional website called “Jazzhate.” Jame’s advice to Hannah (and all of her writers) is to get out of the comfort zone because “that’s where the magic happens.” This is good advice. And I’ll be damned if this episode wasn’t magical.

Offering Hannah some direction for her first freelance piece, Jame suggests – as an example – that Hannah could do a bunch of cocaine and write about the experience. She’s sold!

Let’s get into it…

Loiter Squad: Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet, Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams. Photo: Jessica Miglio
Loiter Squad: Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet, Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams. Photo: Jessica Miglio

BUYING DRUGS: HANNAH STYLE!

Now, Hannah may be out of her mind, but that makes her a very interesting protagonist. There’s no telling what she’ll do at any given moment. And her actions are always guided by her conviction that she is the center of the entire universe. This drug deal? A perfect example.

Marnie suggests Hannah ask her downstairs neighbor to help her find some cocaine because he is – in her estimation – a junkie. Without a note of hesitation, Hannah knocks on his door for the first time. Ever. To buy drugs. THEY’VE NEVER SPOKEN BEFORE. And after some awkward conversation, Hannah asks him about the cocaine. And, while explaining herself, she calls him a “junkie” in a very nonchalant, matter-of-fact, non-confrontational way. Squirm!

Then, when he corrects her and explains that he’s “clean now,” she somehow doesn’t drop dead from embarrassment. To the contrary, in her sheltered ignorance, she is barely moved, and persists in her inquiry. He gets her the coke. Hannah! FTW!

 

HANNAH AND ELIJAH’S COKED-OUT ADVENTURE!

So I totally underestimated just how funny this was going to be. From the “power clashing” to the subway stairs to the dance floor, this was entertaining on so many levels. The vibe was real. The music was great. And the dialogue was brilliant. Rannells and Dunham sell their revved up high perfectly.

But as soon as Elijah started going on about honesty during their second set of lines on the toilet seat, we all knew things were about to go south. In revealing his secret sexual encounter with Marnie to Hannah, Elijah opens the floodgates on some vulnerabilities Hannah hadn’t counted on exploring. One moment, her world was perfect and blissful, and the next, she found herself in chaos. Buzzkill!

 

Her instantaneous change is striking. And when she pulls her head out from under the faucet and yells “I hate you!” at Elijah. It was a real moment. Sad and pathetic.

Elijah’s rant at Hannah in the aisle at the drug store is on point. Yes, she’s hopelessly self-centered. But the girl is rightfully hurt. And Laird – emerging as something like a guardian angel – is rightfully concerned for her safety. Hannah is innocent and reckless.

Although I did not see the logic of him essentially forcing them to take the heroin from him. And speaking of things in this episode that confused me…

MARNIE AND BOOTH JONATHAN: WTF?

Personally, I am disgusted by the character of Booth Jonathan portrayed with creepy perfection by the Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone. And everything that happened between him and Marnie in this episode baffled me.

After spotting her at her new job, he calls to her from across the room by the wrong name. Several times. She corrects him. He doesn’t bat an eye. He moves on to smugly insulting her. Then, he boldly comes on to her, and in the next moment she’s walking with him to his apartment. I get it. He is the polar opposite of her ultra-sensitive ex, Charlie. But what kind of spell has this slime cast on Marnie?

 

Once in his extravagantly large apartment, he convinces her to get inside his A Clockwork Orange-esque television chamber of madness and promptly locks her inside, exposing her to tons of disturbing imagery set to the bizarrely juxtaposed sound of Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing.” (Editor’s Note: Check out Pop-Break’s interview with Duncan Sheik on Wednesday.) I was horrified as I watched Booth calmly prepare an espresso, check his e-mail and attend to some other artwork while Marnie remained locked up. I expected her to come out of there and attack Booth through tears of rage. Much to my shock, she tells him how talented he is. I am still incredulous.

When we arrive at the inevitable sex scene, it is similarly horrifying. His bed frame is horrifying. The doll he demands she recognizes aloud during the sex is horrifying. Everything about it was just wrong. Then when he’s finished, Marnie just laughs! Ladies, what the fuck am I missing here? Yes, I was dumbfounded and a little annoyed at Marnie. But she takes a well-deserved verbal beatdown in the next scene…

HANNAH’S AMAZING, EMOTIONAL, COKE-FUELED CONFRONTATION WITH MARNIE:

Having learned of Marnie’s relations with Elijah, Hannah is on a mission. Remember, this is her universe. If you dare set it off balance, you will feel her wrath. And Hannah brings it.

In Marnie’s meager defense, she did want to come clean with her last episode before first being thwarted by Elijah’s stern warning and then by Hannah’s shitty behavior. But the fact of the matter remains, and Hannah is firmly planted on the high ground when she lets loose on Marnie who is rightfully stunned and ashamed.

 

Hannah’s rant is the undisputed emotional climax of the episode. And even though she’s still high and slightly given to tangents (i.e. “I definitely don’t want to go to Serendipity to drink frozen hot chocolates with your uncle and his girlfriend who is a stewardess named Elodie.” LOFL), her thoughts are lucid and her words cut to the core, as she forces Marnie to admit that Hannah is the good friend, and she, in fact, is the bad friend. My mouth was agape watching Marnie emotionally pummeled with absolutely nothing to say in her own defense. Somehow, Booth didn’t make her cry. But Hannah did.

And then, before the smoke even clears, she tells Elijah she’s kicking him out of the apartment. This is why I love this show. Wow. Just wow.

HANNAH BLOWS LAIRD’S MIND. ONE NIGHT ONLY! (FOR WORK)

Fresh from her exhilarating emotional victory, Hannah finds her way back to her apartment with Laird, and can’t resist making one extremely poor decision before the credits roll. Throwing herself at the shocked and extremely grateful Laird, they awkwardly kiss, and work out the details. In a laughable showing of foresight, Hannah has Laird agree that this is “only for tonight.” Earth to Hannah: THIS IS YOUR DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBOR, YOU FOOL!!!! Oh well.

The very end, however, shows how artistic and smart this production really is: Amidst Hannah and Laird’s frenzied kissing outside his apartment door, the screen goes black for the last ten seconds of the show, and we only hear Laird repeating “oh my god” with increasing excitement and amazement. Dramatic!

As a fan, I am also excited and amazed. Just not in a sexual way, of course. What I’m trying to say is this is shaping up to be quite a season.

Till next week.

All photos credit: Jessica Miglio/HBO

1 COMMENT

  1. Booth Jonathan is not a guy any woman in their right mind would be interested in – which is probably why Marnie was so attracted to him. Marnie is a really lost soul and it’s inevitable that a weirdo artist like Booth would be on her radar right now. It’s painful to watch but it’s the truth.

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