jason kundrath is a bit skeeved…
I can’t. I just can’t.
While last week’s episode boasted a masterful mix of the dramatic, the comedic, and the awkward, “On All Fours” feels like a relentless series of disquieting, uncomfortable events. No one escapes. Make no mistake: if you saw them on screen this week, you saw them squirming. Hard.
And I squirmed along as well. It got so bad at times I could barely look at the screen. With the exception of a few mildly humorous moments, the episode was a full-on downer. In the end, the characters each find themselves in a personal hell of their own creation. Making matters worse, I could barely muster an ounce of sympathy for anyone. Overall, It was intense and well-acted, and I was glad when it was over.
A lot happened this week. Allow me to attempt a concise recap.
HANNAH IS ROLLING IN THE DEEP
To be perfectly honest, I’m not 100% sure what Adele means when she sings it. But what I mean here is that Hannah is teetering on the edge of insanity. When we first see her in the elevator up to her publisher’s office, she is clearly not well. Her meds (if she’s even taking them) are not working. She is worse than ever.
If stress is intensifying her disorder, it doesn’t help that her editor (John Cameron Mitchell) casually, coldly, and completely dismisses the sample pages she submitted from her e-book. To be fair, they probably sucked. But so does this douche bag. Telling her she’s missed the mark and lost her voice, he suggests instead that she taps back into her well of pathetic, debauched sexual misadventures. (You recently had sex with a teenager? That’s exactly the type of material we need!) And furthermore, if she’s not currently getting fucked, she should just make it up. Oh dear.
This may be Dunham’s sly criticism of the same vapid, trash culture she is sometimes erroneously lumped together with. Either way, Mr. Publisher man sounds like a piece of shit, and his influence upon Hannah is destructive at this point.
NOTHING SMALLER THAN AN ELBOW!
So back at her apartment, the increasingly disturbed Hannah is back on her laptop, sitting on the floor in shorty-shorts and typing away… when she suddenly gets an enormous splinter lodged in her ass. But wait! There’s more…
In the bathroom, attempting to remove the splinter, she finds herself holding a cotton swab. Forgetting about her splinter for the moment, she puts the swab in her ear and begins to dig around recklessly. At this point, my skin begins to crawl. And it crawls again as I recollect this scene right now. The digging grows in intensity until we watch as she suddenly breaches her canal and lets out a painful scream.
This is my fucking NIGHTMARE. I literally could barely watch. Goddamnit Hannah, you fool!
So she calls her parents in a panic, lying on her side on the floor, the q-tip still lodged in her ear. “Nothing smaller than an elbow!” her mother hollers through the phone, hopelessly too late with the advice. But on her parents orders, she eventually makes it to the hospital to have it removed. Before she leaves, however, she asks the doctor if she can keep the q-tip. Seriously cray.
SHOCK TO THE HEART
Walking home from the hospital, Hannah bumps into Adam. And she is instantly smiling, happy, and relieved. It seems that seeing him temporary brings back the former, less-insane version of Hannah we used to know. Adam, however, is very ambivalent. One the one hand, he obviously still has feelings for her, and on the other, he is still deeply and understandably hurt from her callous rejection.
He steps back upon seeing her. She goes in for the hug, and he shuts it down. She reluctantly respects his wish. But when she asks him what brings him to the neighborhood, Adam takes the opportunity to drop a few bombs on her bad day, telling her how he’s at a party with his new “girlfriend” Natalia. She is clearly surprised and troubled by this news. She then tells Adam about her q-tip accident and subsequent trip to the ER, prompting a genuine, “Jesus Fuckin’ Christ, Kid! You gotta be more careful!” from Adam. And hearing Adam call her “kid” evokes lots of emotions for Hannah. She begins to explain this to him, her eyes welling up with tears, but he shuts her down early and returns to the party, leaving her on the sidewalk in broken-hearted disbelief. This is the most affecting scene of the episode by a mile.
Hanna returns to her apartment, sitting in her bathroom in a stupor, when she finders her souvenir q-tip and begins toe explore her other ear.
NATALIA IS NOT RIGHT FOR ADAM
But all is not well in Adam’s world either. As I had feared, the honeymoon between he and Natalia ends rather quickly. While Adam’s uncompromising approach to his relationship with Hannah wasn’t exactly healthy or sustainable, there’s something weird about seeing him return from the movies with Natalia, as she presses him to discuss a film he clearly didn’t enjoy. He’s actively suppressing his honest, unfiltered nature! Not a very “Adam” thing to do.
On the contrary, Natalia is very clear and direct, first telling him she’s “ready to have sex” and then – before things get started – laying out her very specific ground rules. He says he likes it, but I’m not sure. At this point, hope is still alive.
Later in the episode she takes him to her friends engagement party, and try as he might, Adam is out of his element, surrounded by phonies. Upon introducing herself, Natalia’s friend feigns some painfully commonplace niceties, before insulting Adam under her breath. Breaking outside for some air, he runs into Hannah. But their meeting (described earlier) sets Adam off and leads him to make two extremely poor decisions:
1. Back inside, Adam decides to put aside his commitment to sobriety and join Natalia for a few drinks, allowing himself to get very loose.
2. Later still, back at Adam’s apartment, Adam decides to take a commanding sexual attitude with Natalia, ordering her to get on all fours, like he used to do with Hannah.
But from the get-go, you can tell that Natalia is slightly reluctant. And crawling to the bedroom down Adam’s filthy hallway floor doesn’t enhance the mood. He eventually scoops her up and dominates her in an extremely uncomfortable and awkward way that when it’s over, Adam is asking her if the relationship is over. She does not offer an answer. Yikes. (Did I mention he ejaculates on her chest while she more or less screams in protest? Eek.)
MARNIE AND CHARLIE: LET IT DIE ALREADY!!!
So it seems Marnie has taken Ray’s advice, as we see her following her dream of becoming a singer, writing a song, and then asking Ray to help lay it down in Garageband. That part’s good. Then we see her inching her way back into Charlie’s life, assumably on her own advice to herself. This part is bad.
So charlie accidentally forgot about your “solid” lunch date. But why the hell are these two hanging out? Last episode, it seemed Charlie had really moved on. This week, not so much.
Anyway, to make it up to her, Charlie invites her to his company’s party later that evening. And after confirming with Ray that he voice is, indeed, nice, Marnie moves on with her plan. Killing the DJ’s set mid-song, and hooking up her own ipod, Marnie takes the mic and begins addressing the crowd, congratulating Charlie and everyone on their “premature success” before treating them to a quiet rendition of Kanye West’s “Stronger” which would have been hilarious, if it weren’t so dreadfully embarrassing to watch. Charlie is mortified. Marnie, however, is blissfully ignorant of how ridiculous her plan was from planning to execution.
Dragging her by her arm back to a private computer room, Charlie attempts to talk some sense into her, admonishing her to “get her shit together.” Then, they have sex on the computer desk. Damn it. DAMN IT. Though crazy-ass Marnie may see this as a “win,” there are no winners here at all.
And speaking of losers…
RAY AND ‘SHANA: LET IT DIE ALREADY!!!!! (part II)
So last week, Shosh cheated on Ray, making out with the doorman at Radikha’s building. This week, we’re seeing Shosh act more manic and strange than ever towards Ray, as she overcompensates for her guilt. Ray notices, but he can’t put it together.And showing up to Charlie’s party, Ray and Shosh continue to fray.
Shosh is on a roll. As I proposed in last week’s recap, I believe Shosh is only beginning to become aware of her sexual potential. And at the party, she’s off on her own, talking to strange men, and telling Charlie that he looks amazing and could have sex with any woman in the room – including her! Shosh looks surprised at her own words here. Pretty funny.
But when Ray has had enough and confronts Shosh about her strange behavior, she breaks down, and offers this bullshit confession:
“I held the doorman’s hand.”
But the only thing more unbelievable than her offering this confession is the fact that he accepts it without any clarification whatsoever. Instead, he asks her if she still wants to be with him, and then professes his love for her profusely, his head on her shoulder. But while this confession was affecting on the subway, it’s merely pathetic now, as the visible panic in Shosh’s eyes call out for help.
To conclude, this episode was difficult to watch, and it was intended to be exactly that. The gang is all out of whack, and I’m very curious to see where it all goes. But as for now, I’m exhausted, and I’m looking forward to this season coming to a close. I think I need a break. Or at least a good night’s sleep…
What the heck did you guys think? Ingenious or Insufferable? Looking forward to the last episodes? Or looking forward to a break from the action?
Holler at me. Please respond, repost, and tell all your friends about “A Man’s Thoughts About Girls.”