Ah, back to the safety of a narrative! As much as everyone except me seemed to enjoy the self-contained sadness of last week’s One Man’s Trash, I’m happy to announce that tonight’s Girls picks up almost all stray plot lines from earlier this season. It’s all so connected, so gratifying. That how I prefer my Girls.
The excellent cameo by John Cameron Mitchell didn’t hurt either. I haven’t heard that guy’s dry, laser-like delivery since Hedwig. As the editor of the late, great Pumped Mag, Mitchell tells Hannah about the nature of writing, from the high-low (“It’s Toni Morrison doing Target. It’s Tom Wolfe writing about his colostomy bag.”) to the low-high (A nobody writing as the voice of their generation, Girl, that’s you!) After praising her essays (“They’re very complex, they’re very naive.”), Mitchell charges Hannah with writing him an ebook in a month. She agrees, and then vomits on the sidewalk in terror.
“Usually when people say they want to be a writer, they really don’t want to do anything but eat and masturbate,” Ray points out, so vomit aside, this is definitely a win for Hannah. Marnie is also pleased with herself, waking up next to Booth Jonathan, who provides this week’s dose of white butt. “Taking a bite of someone’s ice cream is psychotic,” she reassures him after he fires his assistant Sooj for a grocery-related indiscretion. With his assistant gone, Booth asks Marnie to host the swank-ass party he’s throwing at his place.
In the meantime, across town, Ray and Adam share an adventure in Staten Island. Pairing together characters that have yet to have a significant amount of interaction always serves this show well. For a moment, I thought the episode was about to do the same with Marnie and Shoshanna, but it was not to be. Searching for his copy of Little Women, Ray is forced to enter Adam’s dark, feral abode. As insane as it was, Hannah’s decision to call 911 on him apparently had the desired deterrent effect. “She got me thrown in jail,” Adam snarls in a rage. “I had to spend the night in a cell with a yoga teacher.” Finally! An emotion about their relationship that makes sense!
Horrified at first by Adam’s “masculine, primal” apartment (I could watch Adam Driver frantically kick that random piece of wood all day) and the snarling German Shepard locked in the bathroom (“Well, I put baking soda on it,” Adam says of his pustulating bite), Ray is seduced into traveling with Adam to Staten Island to return the dog. “Like, extra muscle in case shit gets real?” Ray asks, won over by the chance to feel useful. Not that he isn’t going to Ray it up the entire time. “I was offered a three-way once and turned it down because the girls were in Staten Island. These were attractive girls, nice girls,” Ray complains endlessly as they board the ferry. “Look at this stupid fucking boat. Look at these people. Hopeless. They know where they’re going.”
It’s beyond obvious to say that tonight’s episode was about friendship, but what a satisfyingly subdued exploration of the topic it was! Ray and Adam clashed and attracted each other as two extremely similar weirdos would. “We’re actually not that different. Maybe it’s because we’re both honest men,” Ray says after they agree that “young girls” and “older ladies” are the only women fit for dating. Muses Adam, “Maybe it’s because we’re both kind of weird-looking.” But while Adam maintains a kind of hopeful romantic fury, despite realizing Hannah was merely “a giant Tweety doll I would have been stuck carrying around the carnival all night,” Ray is slowly realizing the limitations of his stunted life. “Shoshanna is my longest relationship,” he admits, to which I say GIRL, GET OUT NOW. Sure, the Donald Trump entrepreneur class was a dumb idea, but jeez. After they argue about Hannah and Adam ambles away, Ray finds himself at the purse-end of a furious Staten Island teen. “Go back to Yogurt Town, kike,” she shouts. “I’m Greek Orthodox! And I’m from Brooklyn!” he says in protest. Stuck with a stranger’s dog at dusk on Staten Island, Ray finally succumbs to the utter dumb lameness of his life. “You think I’m a kike?” Ray asks the dog, head in his hands. “Well, I’m not even that. I’m nothing.” Yeesh. And with one episode, Ray becomes my new favorite character.
While Hannah barfing on the sidewalk is, for my money, the second best visual of this week’s episode, the first would be all the pointless, nervous raincoat fumbling she does outside Marnie and Booth’s party. Just that one gesture conveys a multitude of unspoken embarrassment and anxiety, as does Marnie’s decision to hide Hannah’s lame coat under the other, much cooler coats. While Hannah ditches the party almost immediately (a pity, as Sketch probably would have had a lot of great advice about the ebook biz), Marnie sticks around long enough to find out that Booth doesn’t actually care about her or consider her his girlfriend. While we knew Booth was a monster as soon as we saw him talking about his Marina Abromovic experience in front of a giant photo of himself crying, it turns out Marnie kind of is too. “I fell in love with the idea of you,” she admits. Guys, guys, you’re both right! You’re both terrible people who will never find love at the rate you’re going!
Hannah ends her night lying unproductively in bed while a weeping Marnie trundles home on the subway, holding aloft her absurd rubber gown. They talk on the phone, but neither can admit their failure to the other. Such is the price of being young and/or ambitious and/or living in New York: the lonely pressure of not letting on how desperately isolated and emotionally inadequate you are without buddies. If the show can turn out storylines this subtle and lovely, I feel justified in my decision to reject all stand-alone episodes. I reject them now and forever! Full-frontal nudity, however, will continue to be welcome.