jason kundrath wipes away the tears …
For all of it’s ups and downs — and all of my intermittent complaining — I’ll be damned if Girls didn’t end its second season on a brilliant, soaring high note. It wasn’t all sweetness and light, but “Together” did tug at the heartstrings several times and offered our bruised and battered expectations some deeply satisfying moments to carry us until next season.
Just about everyone in the gang experiences a significant change in direction. It went something like this …
MARNIE AND CHARLIE:
Just when you thought Marnie’s erratic behavior was going to push Charlie away for good, they reunited in dramatic fashion.
After causing a bit of a scene at brunch, Marnie storms off, but not before loudly offering Charlie one last chance to date her. It’s embarrassing. But Charlie follows her. The speech she then gives about wanting him, wanting to see him every morning, have his children, etc., sounded a little desperate and crazy to me. But it turns out it was exactly what Charlie needed to hear.
Let’s face it: Charlie’s steadfast love for Marnie has been steadily unrequited since the beginning of the first season. Perhaps Marnie needed to lose him for awhile to realize how much she actually needs him. Or maybe she’s just terrified of being alone and being a failure, and she thinks Charlie — the new, very successful Charlie — is her best shot at happiness. Personally, I’m feeling more than a little cynical about Marnie at this point. That said, I was happy enough for Charlie to put it aside and enjoy this tender moment.
ADAM AND NATALIA (AWKWARD SEX SCENE #1)
So apparently Natalia was able to recover from Adam’s unwanted pearl necklace. Because they’re back in bed together. And this time they’re sober. What better way to demonstrate how wrong they are for each other!
It’s pretty damn clear. Adam is somewhat of a maniacal, dominating, dirty caveman in bed. Natalia is straight-laced, assertive, and has way too much self respect to allow Adam to call her a whore for the sake of his twisted fantasies. This does not make her a bad person. It just makes her bad for Adam.
RAY AND SHOSHANA (AWKWARD SEX SCENE #2)
The completely disengaged and disturbed look on Shana’s face as Ray softly takes her from behind is one I will not soon forget. Thanks guys. (How the hell did they even get to this point? She has a sweatshirt on, for crying out loud!)
Anyway, these two get my vote for least compelling storyline. As I predicted, Shosh’s sexuality has been awakened, and Ray is on borrowed time. The breakup has been inevitable for what seems like awhile now. And it finally comes. But first, Shosh does Ray a favor. Sort of.
By prolonging the issue and harping on Ray’s legitimate lack of ambition rather than simply breaking up with him, a determined Ray goes to speak to Hermie (Colin Quinn), the owner of Grumpy’s. He’s going to make a change and prove to Shosh once and for all that he has plenty of ambition, damnit!
After Hermie wisely dissuades him from going back to school to get his Ph.D in Latin Studies, he instead offers him the head position at a brand new Grumpy’s location opening in Brooklyn Heights. After working out an impressive title, he takes it, and he’s off to tell Shoshana about his ambitious new position. She, of course, is not appeased and is forced to proceed with the painful breakup. She does love him a lot, she explains, but compares her love for him with the pity she feels for a monkey in a ugly cage. Ouch.
Ray is pissed, and suggests that perhaps it is she who needs to change. (“Maybe then you’ll appreciate the difference between negativity and critical thinking!”) But her change cannot be compelled. Shoshana simply has some growing up to do. And in order to do that, she needs to break up with Ray. Although he would prefer she simply act like a grownup, he is only stifling her in this way. She needs to get there naturally.
So Ray may lose in love, but on the bright side, he makes an ambitious decision. Thanks Shana!
HANNAH AND ADAM:
The episode begins by bringing us into Hannah’s crumbling psyche. She’s in the throws of her OCD. She hears ringing in her ears. She’s Googling crazy, paranoid queries like, “Do millions of microbes really live on our skin?” She’s falling apart.
Her publisher calls, looking for her e-book. He’s extremely irritated with her. She has nothing to show him. Since they’ve already paid her an advance, he explains, they can sue her if she doesn’t deliver the book. Things are looking bleak.
After a failed attempt to ask her dad for a loan to pay back the advance, Hannah falls further down the rabbit hole. Rather than work on her book, she merely eats cool whip out of the container and flips through fashion magazines. One such magazine inspires her to cut her hair. She does a shitty job, and ends up in Laird’s apartment downstairs for help. He finishes the job for her (poorly), and takes a opportunity to call Hannah out for being “rotten on the inside” and also “the most self-involved, presumptuous person he’s ever met.” I feel you, Laird. I do. But she really has no idea.
The walls are closing in now. Hannah puts in a call to Jessa, only to reach her voicemail. Jessa has apparently been completely out of touch for a long while at this point, and Hannah’s desperate, impassioned message to her is one of my favorite scenes of the season, perfectly nailing the balance between hysterical and heartbreaking.
Meanwhile, at Adam’s apartment, he’s losing his shit as well. Shortly after exploding into a rampage and destroying his woodwork, his phone rings. It’s Hannah with a FaceTime call. Suddenly he’s seeing Hannah, all strange and pathetic with her hacked-off hair. He’s suspicious at first, but when he recognizes her OCD and she confesses her fear to him, he doesn’t waste a second. “Stay right where you are. I”m coming to you,” he tells her, immediately leaving his apartment without a shirt, and running to her in the middle of the night, FaceTiming her all the while for assurance.The music swells, and this scene is simply epic.
Arriving at her door, she is scared and hesitant, and retreats under the covers. Adam kicks the door in, like the hero he is, and pulls the covers off. “You’re here,” she says. “I was always here,” he responds. And he picks her up out of her bed into his arms. They kiss. I cry. The end.
I believe in you Ms. Dunham. I really do. Sure, I had my problems with this season, but overall, season 2 gave us more. It went deeper. Deep like a q-tip through an ear drum. She challenged us. And those of us who rose to the occasion were rewarded with characters and storylines that made us feel something. Sometimes they made us feel a little sick. Other times, they made us feel contempt. But there was some empathy lurking in there, too. Even if we didn’t want to admit it.
Dunham is a pioneer. She is redefining comedy for a new generation. And sometimes it isn’t funny. But I’m okay with that. She is fearless. Her writing is razor sharp. And the drama connects. As for me, I’m already looking forward to next season.
all photos credit: hbo