One Man’s Thoughts About GIRLS: ‘One Man’s Trash’

jason kundrath takes out the trash…

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I am perplexed. This week’s episode is so boldly and beautifully different from the Girls we’ve come to know, I felt as if I needed to learn a new language to write about it. Whereas last week’s episode dipped into formulaic territory, “One Man’s Trash” – guest starring Patrick Wilson – plays like an art-house film, strange, intoxicating, unnerving, and wholly unconcerned about my expectations. For that reason, I liked it a lot.

And despite its change in tone, this episode reveals some deep insight into the damaged mind of Hannah Horvath.

Let’s dive in…

RAY IS KIND OF A GRUMPY ASSHOLE

So here’s the setup: Joshua (Patrick Wilson) lives a few blocks away from Grumpy’s. After repeatedly finding trash bags from Grumpy’s in his garbage cans, he comes down to the coffee house to confront the manager about it.

In Ray’s defense, the accusation seems ridiculous. Why would any of his employees go out of their way to put their garbage in some random trash can a few blocks away, when they have their own dumpster? But Ray doesn’t waste a minute feigning concern, and instead jumps down the guy’s throat almost immediately. It’s a bit over the top.

(Question: Did the owner of the place name the shop in honor of Ray’s ornery disposition, or was Ray hired because he fit the bill so well?)

HANNAH EXPERIENCES GUILT!

As it turns out, Hannah is the one responsible for the mysterious trash bags. And despite how strange it may seem, it’s not surprising. Hannah does strange things. But what’s really significant here is that after witnessing the stressful situation she caused for Joshua at Grumpy’s, Hannah actually feels guilty. She senses a pang of responsibility! This is progress. And she actually rings Joshua’s doorbell to come clean with him about it. But when she can’t quite find the words as she’s standing on the stairs to his brownstone, he invites her inside. And after a few seconds of thoughtful consideration, she ignores her initial reservations and takes the offer. The moment she walks under his arm and through the door to his home, the episode truly takes off and Hannah’s strange adventure begins.

HANNAH IS ADDICTED TO ILLEGAL TRASH DROPS

Once inside Joshua’s immaculate, elegant brownstone, Hannah is ready to come clean. Hysterically, she could have easily given Josh the truth and left out the crazy parts. She lost her dumpster key, and because Ray is a douche, she resolved to drop the trash elsewhere rather than admit she lost it. Understandable. Sorry, it won’t happen again. But we love Hannah because she’s unabashedly nuts. So she goes on to reveal that this act gave way to an addiction: Putting trash where it doesn’t belong. She loves the feeling of dropping the bag in the can. She loves the feeling when she runs away. It’s her “vice.” Sure thing, Hannah! You cray.

HANNAH TAKES A RISK AND WINS A WEEKEND VACATION

In the semi-awkward silence before she nearly leaves Joshua’s home, Hannah shocks us all when she suddenly leans forward and kisses him on the mouth. For a moment afterwards, she begins to freak out a bit, realizing how completely inappropriate it was. But to her relief, he kisses her. And their affair begins. They don’t even know each other’s names at this point. Sexy!

HANNAH MAKES HIM BEG

So after sex, he invites her to stay for dinner. And after dinner and a tour of the house, she announces her intention to leave, but he asks her to stay. This, however, is not enough for Hannah. She wants to know he really wants her to stay. Then – in a classic moment of her patented self-consciousness – she asks him to beg her to stay. It’s a funny scene. But it’s as if she can never truly live in the moment. Rather, she is constantly analyzing the moments as they happen and – when given the opportunity – modeling them to her liking. This time, it works.

TOPLESS TABLE TENNIS

She stays the night and wakes the next morning into a dream of privileged, domestic bliss. He asks her to call in sick from work so they can continue enjoying themselves together. She does, and soon it’s time for topless table tennis. And more sex. And more tennis. And I’m no prude, but this episode is testing my capacity for Dunham’s nude scenes. Just saying’.

STEAM SHOWER SURPRISE

Everything is going so well. So you should know that the end is near.

After a day full of sex, table tennis, and luxury living, Hannah steps into the steam shower to freshen up before bed. Unfamiliar with the complicated electronic controls, however, Hannah steams herself unconscious! After Joshua finds her, he takes her upstairs to comfort her, rubbing her head as she lies in his lap. But in this moment, Hannah starts to break down and soon begins an epic descent into madness. This is one of Hannah’s trademarks. She gets comfortable, and then she gets too comfortable.

At first, overcome by her own happiness and comfort in Joshua’s home, she begins to cry. He’s confused. So she admits a secret: she wants to be happy. This begs a little explanation. So she reveals what has been her life’s goal: To experience everything – without regard for her happiness – in order to write about it and hopefully save someone else. This is very interesting. It suggests there is a method behind the madness of Hannah Horvath! A bit vague, yes. But vaguely selfless, no? Anyway, now she’s realized what she really wants is to be happy like everyone else. Okay! Are we good here? Nope. There’s more.

She goes on to tell him how she once asked someone to punch her in the chest and then cum on that spot. Yikes. Things are officially getting weird now. Then she delves waaaay back into her childhood to recall when she was three years old and told her mother that the babysitter touched her vagina in the bath. At this point, Joshua jumps in, revealing he let another boy give him a hand job when he was nine. Undoubtedly, that’s a complicated memory. But Hannah doesn’t merely ignore it, she dismisses it, explaining it’s not the same thing because he asked for it. She, however, is “broken inside.” Eeesh. This is another unique element to Hannah’s neurosis: when she details her vulnerabilities, she never actually becomes vulnerable. She becomes obnoxious.

“You must think I’m some crazy girl,” she says. And although the truth of that is all over his face, he denies it. Partially, to be polite, and partially because he’s merely trying to escape with his life by this point. The descent continues, and she goes on to say that she feels this way not because she’s crazy, but because she’s too smart and too sensitive. Of course! That must be it.

He’s heard quite enough at this point, and attempts to end the conversation because he has to go to bed and wake up early. She senses him becoming distant and actually gets frustrated with him. She accuses him “practically begging” her to reveal her innermost feelings. This, however, is purely imagined, and another flag to Joshua that he’s dealing with someone… special. She motions to leave, but he asks her to stay. This time, however, he’s likely trying to avoid becoming the object of a fatal attraction. Whatever the reason, there will be no begging tonight. The affair is over.

TAKING OUT THE TRASH

Without question, this is the most artistically filmed episode of Girls to date. Directed by Richard Shepard, there are so many gorgeous shots throughout, it’s impossible to ignore. This, along with Michael Penn’s brilliant score, makes for an immersive experience. We’ve seen Hannah dig herself into a hole before, but it’s never been so heavy, so serious, and so beautiful to behold. (Besides the topless table tennis.)

The final sequence is particularly lovely. The following morning Hannah wakes up alone in Joshua’s apartment. Knowing that she’ll never return, she quietly relishes the atmosphere one last time. She makes breakfast. She makes the bed. She sits on the patio. She walks the halls, her hands lightly brushing a rack of Joshua’s suits.

Back in her old clothes, she looks around and remembers one last thing: she collects the trash. Leaving the house, she drops the bag in its proper receptacle and walks away down the street. Fin.

It seems all bets are off. Who knows what next week will be? Maybe it’ll be in the style of an action movie! With explosions! Really awkward explosions.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got lots of opinions about this week’s episode, and I want to hear them. So please, comment away!

See you next week!

1 COMMENT

  1. I thought we were witnessing a true moment of lucidity for our dear Hanna when she started on the “I just want to be happy…” tip. But, alas, everything she said after those initial remarks was classic Horvath solipsism (including, as you pointed out, her dismissal of Joshua’s well-meaning interjection about his own childhood sexual experience). I wholly dug the lovely cinematography, though.

  2. I’m kind of on the wall with this episode. I couldn’t believe Hannah’s boldness in going for the kiss, but it was such a good moment. I felt awkward watching, but probably because I’ve been there on some level. I think in the end though she does realize that she is a little out there, and as you pointed out, takes out the trash… Hmm. I like Hannah, but she can be too much sometimes. I don’t mind her nudity (gay here, so it does nothing for me), but it’s become a little too much sometimes. It’s funny how she’s so insecure about herself, yet so free with her body and sexuality… Like a paradox. I get it though. =)

    P.S: Nice review/thoughts.

  3. I actually wasn’t a fan of this episode initially because of the difference in tone and the fact that the antics of the other girls was missing. But after I read this review and a few other ones that made similar points, I watched it again and gained a new perspective.