TV Recap: GIRLS, ‘Role-Play’

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Hello! And welcome once again to my weekly recap, “One Man’s Thoughts About Girls.”

I’m particularly jazzed to write the fuck out of this week’s edition, because I am determined to keep it short for the first time. Cool idea, right? Let’s see if i can deliver…

“Role-Play” is a satisfying watch, but it’s clearly a transitional episode. It wasn’t the funniest or the most affecting of the season, but it was significant, as the major players find themselves in new roles both literally and figuratively. Dunham is beginning to set the stage for what will likely be a dramatic end to season three. Let’s get into it.

HAPPY HOUR

The episode begins with a montage of scenes from a lively happy hour hang out with Hannah and her co-workers from GQ. We watch as Hannah downs shot after shot in quick succession, clearly ingesting a dangerous amount for someone who doesn’t drink regularly if at all. So as they exit the bar, Hannah vomits pathetically onto her dress. Apparently too incoherent to speak her own address, Hannah ends up at her coworker Joe’s apartment. He holds her hair back as she empties her guts into the toilet, hoses her down in his bathtub, and puts her in a nice pair of clean pajamas for the night.

The vibe was explicitly non-sexual; however, Hannah is nervous upon awakening the next morning. She never came home last night! And she spent it with a male co-worker! But when she gets home and immediately, apologetically confesses everything to Adam, she is disappointed by his flat response. Yes, he was curious as to her whereabouts, but he obviously wasn’t up all night, sick with worry. Rather, he is preoccupied with rehearsals for Major Barbara, which feeds directly into Hannah’s growing insecurities about losing her place at the center of Adam’s world. And if that weren’t enough, he later politely turns down Hannah’s sexual advances. Not because he’s suddenly no longer attracted to her, but because he has rehearsal in about an hour.

This, of course, is not a sign of the impending collapse of their relationship. Adam is simply stepping up to the plate to take advantage of a great opportunity. He’s taking it seriously, and could use some understanding and support from Hannah, but she is slipping back into that terribly self-centered worldview, and making it all about her and her feelings. Typical, but disappointing nonetheless.

WRITERS AND ACTORS

Since the series premiere, Hannah Horvath’s story has been about her obsession with establishing her identity as a writer. In her mind at least, her talent is her defining characteristic, and her ambition is paramount. Now, with his role in Major Barbara, Adam – whose only constant has been his devotion to Hannah – has committed himself to his own craft, and as he once said himself, when he commits to something, he does so 100 percent. Naturally, this is a big adjustment to the order of things. But every relationship experiences change; it’s only a matter of how you deal with it. Given Hannah’s relationship to her art, you might imagine she would be fully equipped to show Adam plenty of empathy. Then again, if you’ve been watching this show, you probably wouldn’t. Hannah is somehow blind to the parallels at work here. And this will inevitably lead to disaster.

A SURPRISE INTERVENTION

Outside of Hannah and Adam’s world, we catch up with Jessa and Jasper who are joyfully abusing drugs together and pretending they don’t have a problem. They’re dreaming out loud at Shosh’s apartment, talking a mile a minute, and affectively demonstrating how fucking annoying it would be to live with a couple of junkies. Shosh, however, has a surprise up her sleeve for them and for the audience.

Meeting Jessa and Jasper for dinner, Shosh drops a bombshell on the party, introducing Jasper’s estranged daughter who isn’t very much younger than Jessa. This, of course, creates a bit of chaos at the table. Jessa is unmoved and obnoxious, but Jasper – after resisting at first – begins to break down in the face of his loving daughter who reminds him (while informing the rest of us) of the great father he has been in the past and could be again. She is distressed, but she won’t back down, expressing her heartfelt commitment to helping him get back to health, effectively breaking the drug-induced spell he and Jessa concocted together. When it’s over, Jessa is alone, bitter and angry at Shosh who is righteously unrepentant.

It’s a cool move for Shosh who is just crazy and bold enough to plan something like this out, even if her primary motivation was most likely a quieter study environment.

AN UNEVEN PERFORMANCE

And lastly, in the titular event of the episode, Hannah puts together a wild plan to reignite the flame of passion she perceives as missing from her life with Adam. Cryptically instructing him to meet her at a bar after rehearsal, Hannah is waiting there in a sexy (?) disguise complete with a blonde wig, where she intends to seduce him while playing the character of a hedge fund manager’s desperate wife. It’s awkward and strange and kinda funny. Adam is initially put off, but then gets on board. Keeping in character, Hannah’s hijinks lead to Adam getting punched in the face by a concerned passerby (That Metal Show’s Jim Florentine). Remarkably, he’s unfazed and still game!

They return to Marnie’s apartment which Hannah secured in advance, and things get sexual, uncomfortably reminiscent of last season’s “On All Fours.” But Hannah’s incessant spoken narration eventually ruins the moment, after she lazily changes character mid-coitus. He’s angry and confused. She explains she just wants it to be weird and kinky like it used to be! (Remember the good ol’ days of Season One?) Adam, however, informs her she has an “old idea” of who he is. Those sexual hangups were symptoms of a troubled mind. But things changed for him because he FELL IN LOVE WITH HER.

At this point, her plan completely blows up in her face, as he realizes plainly that she is hung up on the past while he is desperately trying to focus on the future. So he takes the opportunity to drop a bomb of his own: He’s going to move in with Ray for awhile until rehearsals are over. He needs to be free of the drama. Hannah is crushed. Adam leaves. It’s a powerful performance from Dunham and Driver.

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What does this mean for Hannah and Adam??? Are they headed for splitsville? After all they’ve been through, will Hannah’s insecurities end up tearing them apart? I, for one, hate to imagine this series without them together. Season 2 was heartwrenching enough! But if Hannah refuses to grow alongside Adam, they are clearly doomed.

Tune back in next week for more expert analysis and commentary. Now a bit shorter!

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