jason kundrath isn’t too happy with Girls this week…
All photos courtesy of HBO/Jessica Miglio
So the hot streak is over.
While the the first three episodes were essentially perfect, episode four – “It’s A Shame About Ray” – stumbles hard in a few places. Of course, in any series, certain episodes serve as a “set up” for future episodes, tying up loose ends, and introducing new ideas. The problem here is that some of the loose ends are a bit too neatly tied up, certain major developments are suspect, and frankly, some of the writing is lackluster. Yes, at this point, my expectations are high. And to its credit, it has some bright spots. I laughed, I squirmed, I got a little teary-eyed. I’m not so much disappointed, as I am ready for the next episode.
But as for now, let’s dive in…
HANNAH SHOWS ELIJAH THE DOOR
In the episode’s opening scene, we observe the final moments of Hannah and Elijah’s short-lived cohabitation. It’s very much over, as the two of them calmly volley jabs at one another, barely maintaining civility.
I have several problems with this scene.
Despite Hannah’s feelings of betrayal here, the two of them have a long history. And before Elijah revealed the story of those errant “few pumps” with Marnie, they were having an amazing night, professing their love for one another, and reveling in the “so many memories” they share. Yes, Dunham needs to move things along here, but it seems unrealistic for them to be splitting up, still feeling as raw and unresolved as they appear to be. Wouldn’t they have talked it out a bit?
And while they do mention the matter of the rent, Hannah seems relatively unconcerned about the financial implications of losing a roommate. But this topic – while front and center in season one – has been glossed over. Are we really to believe she’s making enough money at Grumpy’s to afford an apartment in Manhattan? Is mom helping her out again? Whatever the case, let’s hear about it soon.
The most damnable element here, however, is the weak dialogue. The line about Hannah’s burritos? With the pecans? Someone cue the cricket noise. And the mention of the butt plug? Also, not very funny. Even if it’s only a set up for more talk about butt plugs at Hannah’s dinner party, it’s important to mention that the joke doesn’t get too much better there. Sorry.
HANNAH’S DINNER PARTY DRAMA
On the surface, this scene is designed for Girls glory. Hannah unintentionally creates an awkward situation, by inviting Charlie, Audrey and Marnie to her dinner party. The tension and passive-aggression bubbles up and eventually boils over. But while these elements usually deliver satisfaction, here they merely annoy.
As Hannah holds the chef’s knife in her hand, insisting that neither Marnie nor Charlie and Audrey leave, the symbolism is clear: Hannah is a bit of a psycho. But by the end of the scene, I’m getting the sense that everyone here is mildly insane.
AUDREY VS. MARNIE
Audrey’s verbal assault on Marnie is a minor highlight in an otherwise dismal scene. But getting there is torture.
First, there’s the bit about the butt plug again. Shoshanna’s ignorance here is less than hysterical. But it’s merely a set up. (Again.) This gives us an opportunity to learn about Marnie’s repulsion with the word “butthole.” Ray then lights the fuse, suggesting Marnie still thinks of Charlie’s butthole, which despite his casual delivery, is really too inappropriate – and simply too fucking weird – to believe. But he gets us there, and Audrey snaps, calling Marnie out for being a “stepford psycho.” And while she’s not totally right, she’s not totally wrong either. Hannah – in typical fashion – shows no remorse for creating this situation, and is more concerned with keeping her big girl party going.
In the awkward conversation following Marnie’s abrupt exit, Audrey’s eyes bounce around the room as her body sinks into her chair, frozen with embarrassment and anger. It’s funny to see, but it’s also cartoonish and unfortunately fitting for this draft-quality episode.
CHARLIE IS A JERK
Charlie follows Marnie to the roof to find her in an existential crisis. (In case you haven’t picked up on it, this is her ongoing theme this season.) Charlie is understandably ambivalent here. Marnie treated him like shit, but they have a long history and no one knows him better than her. Audrey is apparently walking all over him in her own way, but hey, they’ve only been dating for a few months. So Charlie lays it out for poor Marnie. He flatters her. He starts to look kind of cool and confident too. He goes in for the kiss! Go Charlie! (Grabbing her boob was a little much though, IMO.) Either way, she stops him to let him know she’s dating Booth Jonathan. Ouch! Major points go to Charlie for referring to him as an “Ewok in capri pants.” But I must issue a penalty for his dramatic exit, as he points to his crotch and lets Marnie know she’s not getting any more of his goodies ever again. This is pathetic, but I think that’s the point.
Then, returning to the party, he’s initially surprised to learn Audrey has left. (Dumb-dumb!) And in his ensuing panic, he refers to Marnie as a “cunt.” Calling Charlie a jerk here is the only intelligent thing Hannah says all episode.
SHOSHANA MAKES SOME IMPORTANT REALIZATIONS
So I love Shosh and her adorable, quirky, and dopey behavior. But the scene where she – ever so slowly – puts it together that Ray has moved in with her? That’s a tough sell.
But I’ll accept it. And here’s why: the scene between Ray and Shosh in the subway station is far and away my favorite part of the episode. The writing, the acting and the production is just fantastic. And when Ray says “I fucking love you so much,” those words have never sounded so sincere. I was moved, okay? Leave me alone.
JESSA AND THOMAS-JOHN: IT’S TOTALLY OVER!!! (WAIT… REALLY?)
Seriously though, in an episode rife with gripes, this is my biggest one of all. From their surprise wedding, through the first three episodes, and all the way through this episode up until their dinner with Thomas-John’s parents, we haven’t been given the slightest whiff of a hint of discord between Jessa and TJ. To the contrary, we’ve only seen them fully connected, comfortable and blissful. Yet, we are somehow supposed to believe that over the course of one dinner with TJ’s folks – however horrendous it may have been – their relationship has fully exploded to its end, in a bloody, awful, miserable mess. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. So I’m leaving it alone. Sorry, Lena. This is fucking ridiculous. I feel cheated.
Then Jessa and Hannah take a bath together. The end.
So maybe I liked this episode less than I thought. Disagree? Leave a comment.
See you next week!