Despite some minor complaints, “Only Child” is easily Season 3’s most satisfying episode yet, complete with horrifying narcissism, explosive passion, and truly excellent performances from all involved. Let’s get into it.
The episode begins with Adam escorting Hannah to the funeral service for her late editor David Goings. From the first shot of Hannah entering the church, it’s clear she is hardly in a state of mourning, and she’s doing a pretty bad job of pretending otherwise, scanning the crowd for familiar faces.
When Hannah meets Annalise who turns out to be the widow of David – a man whom by all appearances was openly gay – she is as shocked as the rest of us. Reading the blatant incredulity all over Hannah’s face, Annalise generously gives her an easy out, acknowledging that many people thought he was gay. (And, for that matter, he sometimes was!) Hannah – awkwardly refuses to admit her mistake, hysterically insisting she never questioned his sexuality, as if to save herself from an imagined embarrassment, while simultaneously and unconsciously looking like a fool anyway. But this, however, only serves as a lighthearted warm-up to their second interaction where Hannah’s insensitivity reaches new, unexplored heights.
When Annalise mentions that all of David’s projects have been dropped by Millstreet, Hannah’s panic sets in immediately. “So my book is dead?” Hannah asks, choosing her words very poorly. Without missing a beat, Hannah then asks Annalise if she could possibly offer her a contact at another publisher, in case she’d like to keep her book “alive”, demonstrating an astounding level of disregard for the coffin in the room. As the quiet grief on her face quickly changes to smoldering anger, Annalise poses this to Hannah: “If I do give you another name, will you get the fuck out of here?” Of course, Instead of realizing her disgusting behavior, bursting into tears, and falling at her feet for forgiveness (who am I kidding?), Hannah, unfazed, simply responds “yes,” and somehow leaves victorious. This is impressive, even for Hannah. Her relentless narcissism drives the bulk of this episode. But before we get to all of that, let’s catch up with the rest of the crew.
ADAM & CAROLINE BRING THE INTENSITY
As expected, Caroline’s presence in the house is creating drama. We learn that Adam and Caroline are at each others throats, as we watch them viciously fight over the last of the eggs in the fridge. We’ve seen previously seen Adam fight and get loud, but with Adam and Caroline together (as it is with most siblings), the fighting gets raw. And they nail it. The dynamic between Driver and Hoffman is riveting in its realness. And obviously, things are headed for disaster. But it’s great to watch, and I unrealistically hope Dunham has managed to work Hoffman into the show as a regular.
A FATEFUL KNOCK ON RAY’S DOOR
When Marnie shows up unexpectedly at Ray’s apartment in Brooklyn, I had no idea what we were in for. But I think we can all agree that what we got was truly amaze.
After first reminding us of her ugly tendencies with a couple of digs at Ray and his neighborhood (as if we’d forget!), she calmly states her reason for visiting: she wants Ray – the most brutally honest, and unafraid character on the show – to tell her “what’s wrong” with her. I am surprised at her humility, but immediately giddy with anticipation. And Ray let’s her have it: She’s judgmental. She’s a manipulator. She comes off as insincere. But, he adds, he still likes her and believes she’s a good person behind it all.
Marnie – in her weakness – is moved by Ray’s honesty, and a goodbye hug all of a sudden turns into a passionate, sexual romp on Ray’s table. It seems the growing tension between the two characters ran deeper than it seemed.
In the awkwardness that follows, Ray walks Marnie to the door and suggests they keep it on the “DL” for now. “Fuck you,” she says with contempt. “Like I would advertise this.” Burned, he immediately realizes he should have left it alone. Oops. Terrible as she is, Marnie is a beauty, and undoubtedly the best-looking girl Ray has ever slept with. The chances of a repeat performance are likely slim-to-none.
SHOSHANNA AND JESSA ARE IN THE EPISODE, TOO!
But they really don’t add anything of significance to the affair. Not even a chuckle. So let’s get back Hannah.
HANNAH HAS A REALLY BAD DAY
And it started out so well, too! Annalise’s contact quickly leads to a meeting with another publisher, and things go even better than Hannah’s overconfident ego imagined. The two executives really like her work and believe in her talent, but there is one caveat: they don’t publish e-books… only the old fashioned, physical kind. Hannah suddenly finds herself in heaven, literally squealing with delight. Her dream of literary legitimacy is only a contract away. Alas, her former contract with Millstreet steals the prize away nearly as fast, as her father explains her book is legally the property of Millstreet for the next three years. As Hannah tells her father, perhaps accurately, “Three years might as well be a million years!”
If you’ve been paying the least bit attention for the last two seasons, you’ve probably realized now – as I have – that you can’t really judge Hannah by typical human standards. She is – as she’d probably say herself – exceptional. She is guided by a nearly maniacal sense of grand destiny and a singular, self-serving purpose. A legitimate book deal would have snuffed out the slightest hint of compassion Hannah might have felt for those who’ve suffered in the wake of her dreams. And it was right there in front of her. So to classify this as a “bad day” for Hannah is a gross understatement. For Hannah, this was heart-breaking, soul-crushing, personal tragedy. If she had instead learned her parents had both been killed in a car accident, I wager Ms. Horvath’s grief would have been about equal at best.
HANNAH MAKES A GIANT MISTAKE
As we’ve seen on the show many times before, Hannah’s shitty, selfish behavior has led her to make some bad decisions. But as this bad news sends her into a spiral of self-pity, she may have made her worst mistake yet.
In shock and disbelief, Hannah arrives home to find herself in the unwelcome company of Adam’s sister Caroline whom is eager to give Hannah an earful of unwanted perspective. And in case it was unclear about how long Caroline has been staying at Hannah’s apartment, Hannah’s response is indicative of weeks of bottled-up frustration and anger, as she quickly explodes at Caroline, telling to “get the fuck out.” (Note: This makes for two epic GTFO’s in one episode.)
When Adam arrives back at the apartment later into the evening, he finds Hannah lying motionless on the couch, intensely depressed. Noticing the silence, he asks Hannah where Caroline is. Hannah coldly and matter-of-factly tells him that she has kicked her out, and furthermore she has no idea where she is. Adam is stunned, aghast. Hannah, the episode’s titular only child, has no sense of the sibling bond and its sometimes erratic dynamic. In her defense, she is truly ignorant of her crime. This, of course, makes it no less of an offensive, unnecessary emergency for Adam to deal with presently. In the series’ first legitimate cliffhanger, we must wait and see what consequences Hannah’s decision could bring to their relationship. I predict a blowout fight. Followed by awkward make-up sex.
Come back again next week for more expert analysis and snarky commentary on the delightfully frustrating, one-of-a-kind comedy Girls.