If life really is a simulation, the Creator is one stone cold weirdo. The idea that reality is a simulation implies that there is intention or meaning in details as small and insignificant as Hannah‘s constant UTI, or that there is no meaning in anything at all. Either way, what an odd thing for an entity do. Who would build a video game reality and populate it with wieners in turtlenecks and familial drama and urethral diseases? What kind of mutant would set such a mess in motion?
That’s what I take as the lesson of this week’s “Video Games,” any way. After learning that Jessa‘s marriage is imploding, only to have her relegated to the background for a few weeks, it was nice to watch an episode devoted almost entirely to her emotional life. Ray basically got an episode, after all. This week, Jessa and Hannah journey upstate to visit Jessa’s father, a former addict with a new hippie girlfriend named Petula and a pension for sending cryptic gibberish text messages to his offspring. “Maybe he just sent you a butt text?” Hannah suggests. He might as well have, for he and his daughter are incapable of communicating. Jessa and her dad are virtually identical and both seem to know it; unfortunately this knowledge does not resolve a lifetime of instability and hurt feelings. “You know we’re not like other people,” Jessa’s dad concludes about the breakdown of her marriage. “I wonder if her name is still Lemon,” Jessa wonders about her 5-year-old half-sister with whom her father has no relationship. No wonder Jessa asked Hannah to come along.
Much like Hannah’s visit to her parent’s house, Jessa’s out-of-town trip poked some much-needed air holes in the show’s friend bubble. The lazy, empty country roads are the perfect backdrop for probing emotional wounds. Aside from all the wound-probing, tonight’s episode was also the one with the most one-liners! (Note: I am a terrible person who only cares about jokes.) “Are those really what computers used to look like? They look like dog houses,” Hannah marvels while peering at the tech heap in the back of Jessa’s dad’s car. “This towel is so small and thin, it’s like it’s for a Borrower,” she scoffs while getting ready for a shower. This is also the second episode where a character admitted to being molested, only to walk it back after being pressed for clarification (“Yes. No. Yes. Probably,” Jessa mumbles about her “weird sub”), but I doubt we’re going to be hearing about that connection anytime soon.
Once they reach their filthy, rambling house, rabbit butcher Petula advances that theory that we all might be a simulation. “Do you have any scientific evidence that life is just a video game?” Hannah asks. Does the existence of the perfection known as Frank offer an argument either way? Oh Petula’s man-child son Frank, with his camel toe (everyone knows it’s called moose knuckle on a guy! Everyone! Jessa would have known, at least) and his goony hair. “I really like the way you rolled down your turtleneck,” Hannah flirts. “It was a total accident that happened,” Frank replies enthusiastically. Because Frank is beyond tragic, his friend Tyler is almost certainly gay and they are all stuck out in the country, it kind of goes without saying that Hannah bones Frank in a cemetery. After a whippet-and-reckless-driving scene that nearly gave me stress diarrhea (another great line: “Whippets are what killed Demi Moore.”), Hannah storms off into the woods and takes Frank’s virginity. Well, probably. Frank claims to have had sex once before. Who with? “A girl . . . named Rihanna,” he stutters. Oh god, Frank. “I can never really tell if guys are attractive in a loser-way or just losers,” Hannah says, explaining a lot. If Frank was hoping for romance, he could not have picked a worse human being to seek it from. “First of all, that wasn’t sex. You came in my thigh crease,” Hannah informs him. Thank god! I thought she actually fucked him with a lingering UTI! No one is that insane.
While Hannah’s drama often overwhelms an episode, Season Two has wisely used her non-stop neurotic banter as the backdrop for other character’s development. “Hannah, grow up. It’s fucking food and it’s fantastic,” Jessa snaps when Hannah politely, awkwardly tries to avoid eating the family’s rabbit. “I thought this was fully a sexcapade. That was fully me trying to have continuity with you,” Hannah hisses after she learns Jessa didn’t sleep with Tyler, probably because she’s going through a divorce. Just as Petula said, Hannah was truly the perfect cushion between Jessa and her dad, the joker needed to diffuse the tension between two generations of hippie artist ex-addict.
Just not enough of one. “You think I can rely on you?” Jessa’s dad complains. “You shouldn’t have to!” Jessa cries in frustration. “I’m the child. I’m the child.” If Petula says she manifested Hannah to come be a cushion and we live in a simulation, does that mean our desires can influence the simulation? Can Jessa change her relationship with her restless father, or with her own restlessness, by abandoning Hannah and her family in the middle of the night? “I just feel like there’s a hammock under the earth that’s protecting me. It really means a lot,” Hannah tells her mother while waiting for the train to New York. In response, her mother shouts at her to knock it off. If we’re in a simulation and still get to see Hannah pee daggers by a lonely dusty train track, does it matter if this is all real or not?