The presence of Judd Apatow has never been more present than it was during last night’s Season 2 finale of Girls. The executive producer of the HBO series that everyone loves to hate to talk about penned “Together” along with star Lena Dunham (who also, impressively directed the episode) and the whole thing felt very Apatow-esque. No, there were no gross-out moments per se (at least not on par with the Q-tip heard scene heard ’round the world) but there was enough conveniently wrapped-up sentimentality to counteract that whole sex montage. For a season that’s been as dark and bleak and daring (ahem, “One Man’s Trash”) as this one, “Together” played it awfully safe.
That’s not to say it was a bad episode, it just ended on a note so wildly different from the rest of this divisive, albeit brilliant Golden Globe-winning season. Even its opening sequence, a depressed, unraveling Hannah differed substantially from its movie magic ending. Maybe the opener felt more on par with me not only with Girls, but in real life. Who, like Hannah (who was still suffering from her OCD symptoms), hasn’t nervously Googled everything from a medical diagnosis to asking “At what age does your body start to meltdown?” I mean I once self-diagnosed a stomach ache as a ruptured appendix. Stay away from the Internet if you’re a hypochonriac, kids.
Even worse, Hannah got a phone call from her editor wondering where her work was. Her ear issue (and let’s be honest, her depression-induced procrastination) had stopped her from writing so much as a single word. Look, I’m not judging Hannah. My ill-advised Googling is only matched by my procrastination, so I could relate. When she panics because they have already cut her an advance (“It’s hard for me to tell if I spent that check or a different check, so I’m gonna have to check”) and goes into a tailspin because she has “a day to write a book” (not true, she just needed to turn in some pages) is when it all really turns to s**t.
It’s a good thing Hannah didn’t know what her friends were up to, because honestly, it would bum her out even more. While she was busy have an existential mid-life crisis, Marnie was getting busy with her ex Charlie (and it was pretty hot at that) and her ex Adam was getting busy with his new girlfriend Natalia, who was letting it be known that she doesn’t like to be degraded during sex. Go figure. Apparently for the guys on Girls, no amount of horrifically embarassing rapping or borderline raping will stop the objects of their affection from allowing them back for more.
Shoshanna, on the other hand, was not having as good a time during the sex sequence. Clearly still wracked with guilt and ready to break up with Ray, the two were not in sync in (or out of) the bedroom. You know it’s bad when someone asks you to “get out” of them. Of course, with the doomed Shoshanna and Ray, that has a double meaning. Shoshanna finally tells Ray that his lack of ambition is wearing on her and that it’s a real issue he must fix.
And so he did… or he attempted to anyway. Ray went to his boss (played by Colin Quinn, who I hope returns if only to hear him make more jokes about Shoshanna’s bread-themed purses) and told him he was going to quit to go back to school to get a PhD in Latin Studies. His boss told him that’s a ridiculous idea (it is) and offered him the position of manager at a new Grumpy’s location in Brooklyn Heights. Ray wisely obliged and started putting the pieces in place to be the man Shoshanna needed him to be. (Side note: I love how Ray corrected his boss about Shoshanna’s bag actually being a clutch. It was a nice added touch to show that Ray is not only listening to the motormouth Shosh, but that he actually does care).
But, sadly for Ray, it wouldn’t be enough. Shoshanna was too exhausted by his “dark soul” and his hatred of everything from dinner to children’s laughter to stay with him. She thought he needed therapy and that her love for him was only matched by her utter pity for him. She said he would need to change, and maybe when time would make her appreciate him, could they actually be together. Ray — who accused Shoshanna of having another man on the back burner — snapped that maybe she was the one who should change, took his Andy Kaufman with him, and slammed the door on her and possibly their relationship forever. I don’t know who I felt worse for in this scene, but I do know that Zosia Mamet bursting into tears made me ache for Shoshanna and the pain of watching her first real love fall apart.
Things transpired a little bit better for Marnie and Charlie. During brunch Marnie talked wistfully about how they were back together, settled, much to the surprise of Charlie. In true Marnie fashion she whined (“Do you really not want to date me?”) and stomped off (while literally folding her arms like a child). Only this time, she got her way. Charlie chased after her and the two confessed their lingering love towards one another. Now, I’m not Marnie fan (hell, I’m hardly even a Charlie fan) but when she told him she wants to have his babies and watch him die, I actually started to like her. That was quickly erased when, after having a genuine, heartfelt moment with him that she wasn’t with him for his money. You almost make me miss Jessa, Marnie. Almost.
Speaking of, Hannah called Jessa in full meltdown mode. Not to check up on her really, but to scold her for just taking off and leaving her behind. While I agree with Hannah on that (I actually think Jessa is the most self-absorbed of the bunch, hell, even her voicemail message makes it loud and clear that she doesn’t give a s**t about anyone but herself) her screeching into the phone that she has no friends was simply the cry of someone who needed someone to tell her she’s great.
She does have friends and family that care for her (in fact, Marnie went to check on her and her father, who always has her back, just finally stood up for himself with her) she just was in a hole too deep to notice or care. What exactly has Marnie done to Hannah lately that would garner her whining that she’s “anorexic”? And all poor Shoshanna was called was “f**king Shoshanna,” but I’d venture to guess that girl would be over to hold her hand with one phone call.
Hell, it’s bad when her weird neighbor Laird — the very same guy who helped finish your absolutely terrible homemade haircut (I admit, that disaster-before-your-eyes scene made me laugh almost as hard as the scene on Louie when he tried to fix his daughter’s doll at Christmas) — tells you you’re self-absorbed and that your “insides are rotten.” He’s not wrong, in a sense. While I don’t think Hannah is, at the core, a bad person, she is a selfish one. (Even worse, she suggested she had to fight him off when they hooked up, when she’s the one who went after him).
While anyone in their twenties can relate to the feeling she referred to — the idea that when you were a kid, your dad would clean up broken glass so you wouldn’t get hurt, but as an adult, no one cares — is immediately counteracted by the feeling of: Hey, Hannah, you’re a grown-up. You break a glass, you clean it up, that’s the way it works. And until you start caring about other people’s broken glass, or trying to make sure they don’t get hurt, everyone will abandon you.
But the worst thing Hannah could have done, after coming up empty trying to bargain with her father or the vain hope that Jessa would actually pick up, was call Adam. Which is exactly what she does. Adam, who is already in the midst of his own scary meltdown, talks to her over video phone, sees the she needs “rescuing,” and like something out of a Apatow romantic comedy, he runs to her rescue.
The only problem with the sequence of a romantic reunion between Adam and Hannah (spliced in with a shot of a beaming Charlie and Marnie and Shoshanna, free of Ray, laughing and making out with “an adult male blond”) is that these two haven’t actually matured, if anything they’ve gotten worse, and the image of her being scooped up in his arms while swelling music plays isn’t a sweet one, it’s a scary one. These two need saving, but not from each other, so much as themselves.
I would have felt overjoyed if, instead, Hannah sat at her computer and actually wrote anything (she seemed to eke out one sentence about college friendships) or took her medication, but she backpedaled…right back to Adam. I don’t see Adam as this romantic the show seems to want to frame him as, especially not after last week’s horrific sex debacle with Natalia. I think Adam loves the idea of Hannah being the weaker one (see: his sexual preferences) and literally ran to the opportunity to be part of that power shift. Marnie, Shoshanna, and Hannah all technically got what they wanted at the end of the episodes, but there’s something darker under the surface, something that Season 2 had been going for all along and something, hopefully, Season 3 and the risk-taking Dunham will get back to exploring.
[Photo credit: HBO]