On any other show, Hannah would have gotten a sweet, hot monologue after Adam finally broke up with her. She would have eviscerated him with a Dixie Carter-style diatribe, or begged him to stay Carrie-style, offering her heart to the pile of unworn t-shirts that occupy his vacant chest space. Instead, Hannah stands in the doorway and watches him rub one out. “Do you want to stay until I finish?,” Adam sneers. “You know… for the story?” Man, relationships are hard! Awful and nihilistic and hard!
While the men in last week ‘s episode were pretty much one-dimensional perv goblins (That ain’t Reiki, girl! Doesn’t your desktop have Google?), this week it’s the ladies’ turn to wreak havoc (or at least utter confusion) on the men around them. Other than Shoshanna, of course, who appeared only briefly, trembling inside a closet while Jessa has her way with a visiting ex in their living room. “You’re a batshit little perv!,” Jessa screams with delight after she spots her cowering cousin. While there’s a very delicate, pleasurable awkwardness to Jessa’s easy-going relationship with her boss Jeff, accompanied as it is by a flicker of discomfort from his wife, Katherine, the girl can’t help but sleep with her fedora-wearing ex from out of town despite his allegedly rock-solid relationship back home. “That was me showing that I cannot be smoted,” Jessa proudly proclaims to Shoshanna after her conquest scurries out. “I am unsmotable.” Ah, but can a character ever make such a statement without subsequently being… smote? And should Shoshanna go into therapy now, or wait until she explodes in a white-hot geyser of psychosexual despair?
Speaking of psychosexual despair, things are not looking good at Hannah’s workplace, and not just because the color scheme is vomit brown and green. Hannah tells Jessa about her Reiki-loving coworker Rich, and his tendency to pat the butts of his female coworkers. “Be honest,” Jessa smirks. “You’re sort of flattered.” Ah yes, the exotic, fun-filled world of sexual harassment. How interesting, how bizarre! Inspired by Jessa’s blasé attitude, Hannah decides to seduce Rich… for material for her book? Right? “I’m letting you know that it’s okay for you to act on your fantasy, because I am gross and so are you,” Hannah explains, placing his hand on her breast. Wasn’t this one of the nuttiest scenes you have ever seen? My brain was scrambling to interpret what exactly was even going on: “Okay, Hannah is pretend-seducing him in order to catch him out… oh no, wait, she’s serious… is Rich laughing at the idea of having sex with her? Or at the fact she’s trying to point out his inappropriateness? WHY IS NO ONE MENTIONING THE BUTT TOUCHING DIRECTLY?” After threatening to sue him for harassment and trying to extort him, Hannah quits. What a whirlwind of complete confusion, guys! This is where I would normally lament about Hannah now has no way to make money, but so far that is not a concern that exists in this realm. That just had better be one hell of an essay, girl.
I don’t mean to give short shrift to the Charlie/Marnie drama from last week, especially since we’re treated to a flashback of how they met. Picture it! The Galactic Safe Sex Ball! Oberlin College! 2007! Marnie and Charlie meet cute, paired up by Hannah’s gay boyfriend during Marnie’s drug-fueled freak out (“Do you feel like your heart is just going to fall out of your vagina?,” Jessa quizzes her. “I have to try one of those!”), though what we’re supposed to glean from seeing their beginnings is lost on me. Back in 2012, while Charlie pulled a complete diva move in composing a song from Hannah’s journal (and, uh, making Hannah read the same passage out loud in person), he seems profoundly level-headed and kind about his disintegrating relationship. Count down to Charlie getting his heart ripped out of his butt in 5,4,3…. “We’re not grown-ups. We don’t have kids. We don’t share a house,” he sighs. “There’s nothing keeping us together except the fact that we’ve been together so long.” Oh god, that is the deepest, most reasonable deep cut. Marnie, panicked at the idea of losing him, tries to satiate the gaping emotional maw in her chest by cramming it full of the familiar despair of a loveless relationship. That’s what I assume is going on, seeing as how Marnie is remarkably opaque this entire episode. Both of them are shockingly tear-free, in fact. “I’ll answer your sister’s IMs,” Marnie tells him as she asks him to stay. “Do you want blow jobs?”
Eventually Charlie agrees to stay with her and they start to have tender, heartfelt make-up sex. Cue the total emotional devastation! “Don’t abandon me,” he whispers. OH GOD, CHARLIE. NO. WHY. Having been seduced by the quickest end to her immediate suffering, Marnie realizes she’s right back where she was 24 hours ago. So, she breaks up with Charlie. While he is still inside her. Yup, no matter how many drug-filled hugs start a relationship, there’s always some unavoidably cruel blow at the end. Not this cruel, though. The whole “still inside her” thing is like a master class in brutality
Speaking of segues and brutality, Hannah’s good-bye with Adam is even more inscrutable then her encounter with Rich, but intentionally so and in a way that made me deeply uncomfortable, which means that the show is on to something. After bolting from work, Hannah pays a visit to His Perpetual Shirtlessness, who informs her that, despite what she interpreted from his consoling kiss last week, they are not “basically together now.” As Adam explains matter-of-factly, “These things have an expiration date. Six months or until someone stops having fun.” Hannah goes and sits on his toilet and focuses her distressed face into the middle distance and if this was any other show, she would just storm or slink out and we’d reset her character back to Single. Since it’s not, Hannah instead verbally berates Adam until he climaxes. Maybe Shoshanna should just go ahead and stay in her closet and never come out? It’s extremely safe in that closet! She probably has a lot of great clothes to hide forever in!
I want to say that Hannah went off the deep end in this moment, but the truth is she’s always been paddling around in there. “If you had read the essay and it hadn’t been about you, would you have liked it?,” Hannah asks her best friend as Marnie’s relationship crumbles around her. “It’s not yours to write about, Hannah,” Marnie shouts back. Hannah tells a baffled Adam about her attempted tryst with Rich. When a panting Adam asks her to, you know, step on his balls, Hannah screams, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Still, she ain’t leaving. On one hand, revealing that Hannah is down for whatever as long as it provides creative fodder suggests a new, more poignant level of removal from her own life, obscure even to her. On the other hand, it also suggests an abyss of existential despair that I’m interested to see the writers try to punch up with one-liners. This entire episode seems to ask the question: are these characters inscrutable to us? And to themselves? Personally, I would like to scrute them. Alternatively, maybe I can just join Shoshanna in this closet here. It’s so roomy! Let’s make a little nest out of your Tory Burch flats and avoid the nightmare loneliness that comes with trying to connect with other people for just a little while longer.