jason kundrath counts to 8…
The title of this week’s episode is a reference to the return of Hannah’s rather serious battle with obsessive compulsive disorder. But – for those of you who’ve grown impatient with this season’s tendency for dramatic tangents – it can also be read as the series’ return to form, complete with great dialogue, awkward charm, and some genuine laughs to temper its serious moments. Yes, this episode is jam-packed with Girls goodness, and things seem to be building to a magnificent crash.
Let’s jump into the good stuff.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
In recent interviews, Lena Dunham has candidly discussed her personal history with OCD. Specifically, she mentioned her former obsession with the number eight. In an autobiographical crossover, we witness this very manifestation of the same disorder all over Hannah Horvath at the beginning of the episode.
Triggered perhaps by her looming e-book deadline and compounded by Adam’s persistent presence, Hannah is starting to bug out. She’s looking over her shoulder eight times. Opening and closing the door to her apartment eight times before entering. Laying out exactly eight potato chips on the table in a row. And then putting them all in her mouth at once and attempting to chew them in eight bites. We have a problem here.
To compound the issue, Jessa has apparently been MIA since her clandestine exit from her father’s country home last week. So Hannah has been left completely alone in the apartment with only her deadline and a list of creeping neuroses to keep her company. This book is going to suck.
HANNAH’S PARENTS DESERVE A MEDAL
Last week’s episode ended with a heartfelt call from Hannah to her folks, thanking them – in a general, nonspecific way – for making her feel loved and safe. But Hannah is only just barely scratching the surface. Her parents are exceptional, and this week, we witness another demonstration her parent’s steadfast dedication to her.
Sure, on the surface, it seems like every time Hannah and her folks get together, it’s a brutally awkward and semi-dysfunctional affair. And while that may be true in some respects, it certainly isn’t born from a lack of love or genuine concern for their daughter. Hannah has obviously been a difficult child, and she continues to be a difficult young adult.
Her folks come into town for a conference and a friendly visit, and they almost immediately identify that something is wrong with their daughter. Over drinks at the Cafe Carlyle, they calmly confront her about her symptoms which are readily apparent, and they offer to help her. But Hannah – being Hannah – cannot simply confide in her parents, admit the situation and accept their assistance. This, of course, goes back to Hannah’s dedication to an appearance of “togetherness,” at the expense of reality. Her denial here is pathetic and laughable. But her parents know her, and they must bite their lips and play along until things come to a head.
Hannah leaves the table in the middle of Judy Collin’s live performance, bumps into a fellow patron – eight very direct times – and retreats to the bathroom where she tells herself in the mirror, “you are good and nice.” Eight times. Scary shit.
Eventually, her parents manage to get her to see a specialist. You see, lesser folks could have easily thrown their hands up and left town, but Hannah’s parents see her through, despite her extremely childish and infuriating behavior.
Once in the office of the psychologist (played by Bob Balaban), Hannah goes into detail about her former struggles with the condition. Given Dunham’s very personal history with OCD, this scene burns with heavy intensity, as she discusses the mind-numbing behaviors and routines she was powerless to ignore. Hannah really is a bit of a head case after all. She admits to the doctor that a recent breakup has been a source of stress, but adds that she cannot determine if Adam is the best person in the world or the worst. She also mentions the book deal. The doctor can relate, as he himself has authored a book. A therapeutic volume, perhaps? A memoir? No. Rather, a series about a boy and his bionic dog who save the world – a structure that must seem so simple to Hannah who is falling down the rabbit hole of her own damaged psyche, looking for inspiration.
Though she begs the doctor to tell her folks that she’s okay, she clearly isn’t. And as Hannah and her parents ride the subway together in silence, the frustration on everyone’s faces is evident. But we also see Hannah holding a bag from the pharmacy. As difficult as Hannah is, her folks are making sure she gets the help she needs before they head home.
CHARLIE HITS THE BIG TIME.
During a walk through the park, Shosh and Ray casually reveal some big news to Marnie: Charlie is rich.
As Shosh tells it, Charlie designed an app. It was bought by a big company. And now he’s sitting pretty in the corner office of his own company in Chelsea with a staff of this own. This, of course, is big news. And it’s especially shocking when you consider that we’ve never known Charlie to have any techie sensibilities – let alone the business sense to run his own company. Charlie barely seemed to have enough common sense to run his own life. But regardless, I am personally happy to suspend my disbelief because A) it’s a cool twist and B) the pummeling effect this has on Marnie’s worldview is too good to pass up. Upon hearing the news, she excuses herself immediately in shock. In typical Marnie fashion, however, she makes a beeline for Charlie’s new office to show her face, lest he forget it.
Walking into the clean, hip, loft space, Marnie is in awe. She follows Charlie quietly for a minute, and then calls out to get his attention. Obviously changed by this transformative experience, Charlie seems almost annoyed at her presence. It’s kinda great. He seems to be genuinely over her. And he explains that his app – Forbid – which helps people to stop themselves from calling people they swear off (and charging them a $10 fee to “unforbid” someone) was actually inspired by her! He designed it after they first broke up. So not only is she humiliated by his success, she was inadvertently the key to his success.
“Do you need money?” he asks her honestly. “Is that why you’re here?” A new low point for Marnie!
RAY’S PEP TALK
Marnie returns to Shosh’s apartment after a night of hosting, bitter and exasperated about Charlie. From her fully self-absorbed position, this turn of events is pure injustice. Ray, uninterested in Marnie’s lament, cuts her off and challenges her to “turn this potential energy into kinetic energy” and take action to achieve her dreams. “What do you really want to do?” he asks her plainly.
When she proclaims she wants “to sing,” Ray is taken aback. But after she capably sings a few bars of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why,” he reluctantly encourages her, explaining how she’ll never look this good again. The time is now!
Given how unlikely it would be for Marnie to achieve success behind a microphone over the final two episodes of the season, I instead predict painful embarrassment.
SHOSH AND RAY: I’M AFRAID THIS ISN’T GOING TO WORK OUT
So it would seem – despite my hopes for the two of them – Shosh and Ray are doomed. He’s too old and immature. She’s too young and immature.
A chance encounter in the park with Shosh’s friend Radhika sets the stage for disaster. In less than a minute, Radhika is annoying, Ray is awkward, and Shosh is embarrassed. Ray refuses to go to her college party, and I can’t blame him. He’d be miserable there. But this leads to Shosh going to the party solo. Which leads to Shosh getting hit on by the handsome doorman. And that type of uncomplicated attraction and lavish attention leads to a hot, impromptu makeout session between the two of them.
Ray has merely opened the door to Shosh’s sexual potential. She’s just getting started, and I’m afraid she’s going to find deeper satisfaction with younger, less complicated characters then our lovable loser, Ray. Just saying.
ADAM GETS HIS GROOVE BACK
I was thrilled to spend some quality time with Adam again this episode. He remains my favorite character.
Attending an AA meeting, seemingly with the sole intent to vent about Hannah, Adam is noticed by an older woman, Cloris played by the famous Carol Kane. After the meeting wraps up, Cloris approaches Adam for what might be the funniest bit of the episode, and ultimately pushes him to go on a blind date with her daughter Natalia. Initially reluctant, Adam takes the number, makes the call, and waits in a dimly lit restaurant for his date to arrive.
When she gets there, she’s such a vision, he doesn’t even think it’s his date. “Holy shit,” he says, realizing his good fortune. They hit it off instantly. The socially-challenged Adam is right at home talking with her, interested and engaged.
Although I’m afraid Hannah will inevitably swoop back in and destroy Adam’s world again, I’m hoping against hope that Adam goes full speed ahead and never speaks to Hannah again. Yeah right.
Only two episodes left in the season! So many questions!
Will Hannah finish her book? Will Marnie jump off a bridge? Will Charlie care if she does? Will Adam get over Hannah?
Anyway – thanks for reading. Please repost!
And make sure to tell all your friends about “One Man’s Thoughts About Girls.”