What a difference a week makes. Last week's episode of Girls was a balls-to-the-wall, t**s-out (literally), drug-fueled comedic knockout. This week's episode, on the other hand, titled "It's A Shame About Ray" packed two of the show's biggest emotional wallops yet. And I don't just mean the departure of Andrew Rannells' Elijah.
Yes, it's true, Elijah is gone. For now. After he revealed that he slept with (or pumped with, really) Marnie, Hannah understandably kicked him out. But not before the two former lovers/friends/roommates got in some final, deliciously funny barbs at each other, which ended in Elijah saying he wouldn't pay his final month of rent because, "I basically paid for all your burritos junior year." (Not only did Hannah and Elijah fights always feel real to me, but Lena Dunham and Rannells sold every minute of it.) As sad as I would be to never see the tremendous Rannells or his semi-tragic character again, there would be something infinitely hilarious about his parting words being: "Butt. Plug."
Later, Hannah threw a dinner party to celebrate her first story on JazzHate going up, inviting Shoshanna, Ray, Charlie, terrible pixie person Audrey, and — out of "courtesy" — Marnie. Now, I have never completely been on the "Hannah is horrible, I hate Hannah" train of Girls fandom. While I can understand finding a lot of her qualities repulsive (they are), I always sympathized with Hannah. Anybody who has been in a dysfunctional relationship like hers with Adam no doubt does. But at her dinner party, I finally started to get it: Hannah is too childish. Why invite Marnie at all? To start trouble? To publicly humiliate her in front of her friends and ex? Hannah may be an "adult" for cooking, but a real adult would have never invited Marnie in the first place. You sever the ties, not dangle them around for added drama.
But, I digress. The dinner went on as awkward as one would imagine. Marnie and Audrey traded passive aggressive glances (Marnie rolled her eyes at Aubrey's entrepreneural endeavor as a mustard maker) and statements (Audrey belittled Marnie's job as a hostess, Marnie asked her where she got her headbands) until it just became downright aggressive. After Hannah threw Marnie under the bus for showing up at the party despite the fact that she was invited, Audrey called her a "f**ing Stepford psycho" for also showing up (definitely uninvited) to Charlie's door one night.
When Hannah left the decision up to Charlie of who should stay or leave the party, Marnie wisely took it upon herself to leave. To make matters even more cringe-inducing, Charlie took off after Marnie where they had a heart-to-heart on the roof gone so god awful awry, in only the way that exes who still love each other but can't help but hurt each other can. After Charlie kisses Marnie she tells him she's dating Booth (which, after his "performance" last week, can't possibly be true) and he assures her she'll never have him sexually, or any other way again, which can't possibly be true. While I could certainly empathize with Marnie's complaint that "I don't know what the next week of my life is gonna be like, I don't even know what I want" (what twenty-something couldn't?) I still wish I cared more about the outcome of these two attractive, but rather boring lost souls.
Shoshanna and Ray, on the other hand, had a much more productive and sweet outcome of their fight. After showing up late to the party (they had sex!) it dawned on Shoshanna that Ray has been sneakily living with her. After losing his place that he'd been sharing with his Godmother, Ray said he'd been bouncing around, but Shosh is no fool and did the math. He'd been with her for weeks on end.
Later, in the depths of the New York City subway system, a disgraced Ray tells Shoshanna he's been "counting down the days" until she discovered that he was a loser, that he was unworthy of her and all of her beauty and young wisdom. I've never been the biggest fan of Ray, he reminded me too much of every hipster jerk I've met at a party who gives you a condescending, mean-spirited remark to a sincere question, but I admit my opinion and image of Ray changed completely here. Ray revealing his most prized possession is a signed Andy Kaufman picture and he's living part-time in a car, told me everything I've ever needed to know about him. He's condescending and mean-spirited because he's terrified someone's going to figure out him. Of course, that's even more terrifying when you fall in love.
When Shoshanna (the absolutely delightful Zosia Mamet), in all her sincerity and surprising bravery tells a downtrodden Ray that he's worth caring about and dating because she is falling in love with him. Ray, slumps over, telling her it's a crazy thing to say and too early in their relationship, only to follow up with telling her, simply, "I love you so f**king much." There isn't much that makes your heart swell with joy on Girls, so this was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
As expected, from the minute they wed in the Season 1 finale, Jessa and Thomas John did not endure the same fate after spilling their guts to each other. In fact, it's nothing short of shocking that actual guts weren't spilled during their long-overdue blowup. Jessa finally met Thomas John's very straight-laced parents (and if that doesn't tell you everything about their marriage, that she didn't even know her husband's mother and father, nothing will) for a doomed-from-the-start dinner.
Jessa was completely herself, telling tales of heroin addiction, unemployment, making wild statements about religion ("I wish there was a Lord, but I know there isn't!"), and being a college dropout (Thomas John found out, for the first time, that his bride only attended Oberlin College for seven months, while she discovered he once dates someone named Fern), much to the horror of Thomas John — who said "this is why we didn't invite you to the wedding" — and Thomas John's mother who implied Jessa found a free ride in her son. Thomas John's father, on the other hand, was too enamored with Jessa to have any negative feelings towards her.
By the time they got back to their absurdly expensive high-rise apartment in Brooklyn (which Jessa had apparently once hilariously referred to as "the set of gay Entourage") they were having a full-fledged, no-turning-back fight. He said terrible things he'd been holding in ("[You're] a f**king dumb hipster who's munching my hay"), she said terrible things she'd been holding in ("You're just some scared guy who didn't get laid until they were 16. No one liked you in high school and no one likes you now.") They both cut each other to the core, Thomas John pointing out how reckless Jessa is with other people's lives, and Jessa calling out what an utterly ridiculous person he is. It was an expected brawl, but an ugly one nonetheless and Chris O'Dowd (who, like Andrew Rannells, sadly likely won't appear on Girls for quite some time, if at all) and Jemima Kirke completely went for.
But it all went to hell when Thomas John, who wondered out loud what he was going to do and told her she was "the worst mistake I've ever made," called her a "whore with no work ethic." This coming from the guy who, only moments later, said he likes hookers because they "respect" him. After Jessa landed a mean punch and broke his award, she still accepted his money to "go away." I so wish she hadn't, even if he had made her do stuff she didn't want to do in the bedroom. That money is tainted. At the very least, maybe she'll start over with it. Plus, that money probably would have gone to something, or someone, truly despicable anyway.
A destroyed Jessa, who only a few months ago wondered out loud with the father of the children she babysits when she was going to stop toying with men, found herself at Hannah's apartment, where she found Hannah in the tub singing Oasis. Now, I have no doubt that this final scene will be a polarizing one. Rather than wait until Hannah gets out, Jessa gets in. Out of character for these two? Not especially. Out of character for most women who watch the show to get in a tub with your friend no matter how close or comfortable you are with them? More than likely. Still, it worked, if only for the symbolism of it all.
In the bath, Jessa begins to cry. A jerking, terrible, shamed cry. Hannah doesn't ask her what's wrong, she already knows. Anyone who went to that wedding knew. While Kirke's sob was Emmy-worthy in and of itself, Dunham's unspoken knowledge and sadness for her friend was her best moment since her confrontation with Adam in his doorway. In these moment's there's nothing to say, only hold their hand and let them cry it out. Unless, of course, they do something disgusting like blow a snot rocket in your tub, in which case you can totally kill the moment to tell them just how disgusting they are. That's what friends are for. (Maybe I can't stay mad at Hannah for long, after all.)
I've watched this episode twice now, and loved it much more on the second go-round. Maybe I was just high (get it?) off last week's full-on comedy episode to truly appreciate how much weight there was to this episode, which took the focus away on Hannah (in a Dunham-penned episode, no less) and made Shoshanna and Jessa — who are both now at major, incredibly fascinating crossroads worth tuning in for alone — the characters we've been waiting to get reacquainted with. Welcome back, ladies, you have been missed.
Some other key moments and lines from the latest episode of Girls, "It's A Shame About Ray":
- Elijah's disgust and confusion that Hannah used to order spinach, guac, and pecans on her burritos.
- Hannah's disgust and confusion as to why Elijah wouldn't want to "liven up your meal."
- Jessa picking out her "good" boob.
- Shoshanna, upon seeing Hannah's Elijah-free apartment, telling her, "I think the best years of your life are totally gonna happen here." God, I wish I had her optimism, don't you?
- "That's the principle behind not raping people." - Hannah, after Marnie brought up unwanted sex acts.
- "He's a brilliant artist and he's average height!"- Marnie's defense of Booth.
- "I have 3 or 4 really great folk albums in me"- Hannah's out-of-nowhere declaration.
- Hannah, holding a bundt cake, finding time for a pun as Charlie freaked out about his Marnie and Aubrey dilemma: "Nothing bundt trouble?"
- The helpful reminder that "Wonderwall" by Oasis is just a damn great song.
[Photo credit: HBO]