Episode 3.12—“Two Plane Rides”
Hello readers! Well, we’ve reached the end of this fateful recapping road trip. I hope you had a good time on this ride (I told you we’d be fine despite my expired license!). I tried to give you enough pee breaks so you wouldn’t have an accident and I even let you play “Blurred Lines” once (although it must not have been all that enjoyable since I was uncontrollably shouting about feminism the entire time).
Did you see the finale? I’m hoping you did since reading this recap would spoil everything for you. I know this isn’t The Good Wife (I don’t know what happened a few days ago on the show, but apparently it was devastating), but I’d like to think Girls has some semblance of emotional suspense that can be ruined by peeking at recaps. Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you that for the most part, I loved this finale. For the past three months, I’ve been gushing about the subtle twists and turns these characters have taken into adulthood. To me, the finale was the perfect send off for the best season of Girls so far. Part of the Internet hated the characters more than ever after Sunday’s episode, however, with at least one reviewer calling Hannah “a ‘90s kid in every respect—a coddled woman-child whose choices in life are purely governed by self-interest.”
I’ve grown tired of lazy and hackneyed indictments of my generation, so my first thought in response to this review was “did that garbage taste good on the way in before you vomited it out onto your keyboard?”
Of course, that would be rude, so instead I’ll just say that opining that Dunham’s characters are one-dimensional is at best willingly myopic.
These characters have travelled very far from where they were in season one. Now mind you, where the group ended up by the end of this season might not be ideal or even remotely desirable, but the destination is a place viewers didn’t expect. This unpredictability, at the very least, has value. Girls has done more than just surprise, however. The show has portrayed growing up as a twenty-something in an unflinching, realistic way. Unlike other producers, Dunham and Apatow don’t allow the camera to pan away from characters’ humiliating, uncomfortable moments. They don’t shroud experiences in a tinge of pink because in real life, the camera never goes off. Sure, you can create a revisionist history of your growing pains, but deep down you’ll always remember the moments wherein you failed someone, when you embarrassed yourself, and when you were less than you should have been.
Along with Dunham, Apatow has helped created the second chapter in his experimental analysis of generational distress. Whether you like it or not, this is the Freaks and Geeks of the twenty something generation. This is Lindsay Weir and Neal Schweiber wearing skinny jeans instead of puffy vests. This is Kim Kelly and Daniel Desario trying coke instead of smoking pot.
Yes, these characters are sometimes cruel and self-involved—but they’re so much more than that. They’re an odd mixture of insecurity and pride. They’re loving friends and partners who are afraid of not being loved for their true selves. They’re smart and witty. They’re motivated by so much more than just selfishness.
The only thing that ignoring these subtleties does is tell me that you never gave this show a chance.
Now that I’ve sufficiently ranted, let’s get to the gif-cap, shall we?
The finale started off with Hannah wearing really unfortunate pants and finding out that Caroline was living in her building that ~*whole*~ time. Additionally, Caroline is with child. Whose child? LAIRD’s. YES. Caroline and Laird.
Firstly, I call bullshit on the fact that the two women were living in the same building for months without Hannah knowing. Secondly, I kind of dig Laird and Caroline. He wears a hat on his head, and she wears a similar covering on her chachi (as Cousin Frumpy Bitch would say). As we remember, Caroline likes a man who loves animals with “a haunting totality”. Laird, a man who mourned his turtle for several episodes, seems to be a perfect fit for Adam’s sister. I’m on board with this wacky couple.
After Caroline shares her sorcerer’s ability to detect forming sexual organs, Hannah picks up her mail and skedaddles upstairs. There, Hannah excitedly opens up a piece of mail that I thought at first was meant for Adam (thank god it wasn’t).
Hannah arrives at Marnie’s place, which is surprisingly NOT housing a kitten. What’s that? You don’t remember Marnie having a kitten? Fret not, as Elena is here to remind you of TV’s narrative inconsistencies! I’m like a superhero whose power is slight disappointment! In episode six of this season, Marnie got the “cutest fucking kitten you’ve ever seen”.
Look at this fucker:
Marnie even whispered that this bastard was her “best friend”. Where is Viscount Von Fluffington?? He wasn’t there in the role-play episode and he isn’t there now. It seems that the kitten has joined the ranks of other disappearing characters such as Donna’s sister from That 70s Show.
When Hannah enters the apartment, Marnie rants that she’s aware she needs to “have more respect for the emotional property of other women” (no shit) and that she needs to stop using sex for validation (double no shit). Marnie seems to be self-aware enough to know what she needs to work on, but not mature enough to actually exercise the skills it takes to enact any change.
The big news is that Hannah got into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (IWW). Apparently this is a big deal, despite the grad program being in the land of sheep. In a sweet moment that repeats itself throughout the episode, Hannah is encouraged to “go for it!”
Back at the Cum Parade Motel in episode two this season, Hannah told Shosh that “College is the best! Your only job is to be yourself! It’s why I apply to grad school every year.” This makes me deeply question Hannah’s motivations for toying with the idea of attending IWW. Does she think the program is a good move for her professionally? Does she think it will make her feel like a “real” writer? Does she think it will finally make her parents proud of her? Big questions for a little lady.
Somewhere downtown, Jessa is contemplating a career move from unaccountable store clerk to Sexy Dr. Kevorkian. Turns out that Beadie was looking for an archivist whose main resume skill was “compassionate enough to help an old woman kill herself”. This desire is not entirely unexpected, as last episode Beadie expressed deep sadness in becoming older and increasingly more overlooked. Jessa reluctantly agrees to the plan, despite there being other options to try before murder.
Shoshanna also has a bad day in the episode. After finding out that she won’t be able to graduate due to a failed course, she comes home and wreaks havoc on her room while wearing polka dot leggings. Such a shame—those were supposed to be happy polka dots.
Sensing that there is a situation she can make worse, Marnie descides to drop by Shosh’s. Upon hearing her friend’s bad graduation news, Marnie blathers on about how the event is similar to her and Charlie getting distracted from schoolwork by frozen waffles. Yes, because those two are equivalent. Somehow, hearing this nonsense is helpful to Shoshanna (are we not drinking the same hater-ade?).
In an apparent attempt to recreate a car crash, Marnie confesses that she slept with Ray—sometimes multiple times a night! Much like confessing her feelings for Tall Lumberjack, this was another exercise in horrendous timing. Instead of an apology, the confession came off entirely like attempt to absolve guilt.
Rightly, Shosh tackles Marnie and screams “I hate you” into her face. I hope she hadn’t brushed her teeth.
While primping for Adam’s premiere night, Hannah calls her parents to tell them about IWW. I really wish she hadn’t multi-tasked because that Olivia Wilde makeup necessitated all her attention.
Upon hearing the news, Hannah’s parents give their daughter advice that any young person should have framed somewhere in their home:
1) When opportunities arise, you say yes and you figure it out
2) Big chances are not small stakes
While I wanted to see this moment as an expression of pure elation, I couldn’t shake the feeling that people were encouraging Hannah because grad school is where they envisioned her. Not once through this episode did anyone ask Hannah why she wanted to go to Iowa or how the program would actually benefit her. When Hannah expressed hesitation about living outside of the creative Mecca of NYC without her friends (and impliedly, Adam), the Horvaths brushed off the concerns and plowed through with their support.
Unsurprisingly, Hannah is delighted by her parents’ reaction, giggling adorably and cooing “you sound like you’re really proud of me”. This moment made Hannah’s motivations for embarking upon the program even murkier.
Before the premiere of Major Barbara, Hannah sneaks into Adam’s dressing room to inform him that his perseverance, commitment and creativity have inspired her to embark upon a grad school adventure.
Now, most of us are wondering what the actual fuck Hannah was thinking. Why on earth would she choose this moment to tell Adam the big news? Is she just that selfish that she has to make Adam’s moment about her?
I’d like to think that Hannah, in her own messed up way, thought she was somehow fixing her relationship by sharing her news. This season Adam has repeatedly told Hannah that her frustration with him stems from the fact that she doesn’t have anything big going on, meaning that she can’t relate to him creatively. On some level, Hannah must think that accepting IWW will make her seem like a secure, artistic equal. Telling Adam is then a sweet gesture, as it lets him know that she doesn’t resent the space that he’s taken away from her. Of course objectively, Hannah is an idiot.
In another dressing room, Tall Lumberjack half-nakedly yells out about being half-naked. Marnie takes this to mean, “What’s that? You’d like me to come in, invade your personal space and rub my body all over yours? Don’t mind if I do!” Marnie then gives her crush an inappropriately thoughtful gift consisting of a pick belonging to James Taylor. Tall Lumberjack loves James Taylor for his music and for the “honest way that he lives his life”. This is hilarious, because Tall Lumberjack subsists on a diet entirely made up of clichés. At some point in the evening he probably quoted Catcher in the Rye while scowling about how everyone else is a phony.
Marnie then of course kisses another woman’s emotional property [because self-awareness gives her a pass to be an asshole and me a pass to write about men like pieces of hunky man meat! (dem pecs!)]. Elijah later tells Marnie what we’re all thinking: “I don’t see that ending well for you.” I’d like to note that Elijah gave this advice while wearing formal shorts:
During intermission, a floundering Shoshanna lays it all on the line for Ray; she states that her “whole year of freedom was a mistake” and that she wants him back. Ray thanks Shoshanna for her contributions to his life, but rebuffs her proposal. While this moment was very sad to watch (and beautifully acted by Zosia Mamet), it was little more than an example of someone trying to hold on to something that at one point felt real and concrete.
This season, Shoshanna has been a terror, lording her perfect plan for adulthood over others and smugly telling her friends that they’ve achieved little to nothing since they’ve graduated. I was delighted to finally see her get bitch slapped with the realization that life isn’t as easy as she insinuated. Surprise! Your actions have consequences. Graduating is difficult. Time can’t flawlessly be compartmentalized between penis play and studying. All tough lessons, I know. I’m crossing my fingers next season we’ll see a deep exploration of a more grounded Shoshanna.
During the play, Hannah adorably ensures that everyone’s cellphones are off and that no one speaks at any point. Lena Dunham also rivals Viscount Von Fluffington in cuteness, squeeing with delight at the sight of Adam on stage like a kid on Christmas.
In the bathroom, Marnie runs into her arch-nemesis: the legitimately pissed off girlfriend (aka Clementine).
Marnie tries to fake sweet-talk, but Clementine is having none of it:
“Can you cut the shit? I know what you’re up to. It’s written all over you. I don’t blame you, he’s fuckin’ sexy. If he hasn’t realized it yet, he’s going to soon—that you’re like a sad, pathetic mess… Seriously, shut the fuck up. Has anyone taught you when to speak?”
Marnie counters with “we’re recording an album”, as if that matters in any way. Oh Marnie. I hope next season you’ll actually be strong enough to work on your insecurities and not pine after douchecanoes.
Back at Beadie’s, Jessa gives Beadie pills (where did she get these??) and NOPE they’re NOT placebos. Jessa avoids committing murder when Beadie changes her mind about the euthanasia last minute. I know this scene was supposed to make me really appreciate the fact that Jessa is a special snowflake because she has a different moral compass than others, but the placement of this story at the end of the season was an odd choice, especially considering Jessa’s character arc (or lack of one). I’m hoping this incident sparks an unlikely mentorship in season four and more character development for Girls’ resident hippie.
After Major Barbara ends, Adam lashes out at Hannah for distracting him before the show with her IWW news. Adam is, of course, right to be upset about this. Despite acting well, the whole point of the exercise was for him to do the best he could possibly do, and Hannah made that very difficult for him. Adam lost my sympathy, however, when he criticized his girlfriend for leaving him, and whined, “I’m sick of trying to work it out. Can’t one thing ever be easy with you?”
Hi. Adam? Darling? Have you met you?
This season both Hannah and Adam asked more and more of each other. Hannah wanted Adam to try to get a job and make longer lasting friendships. Adam, on the other hand, wanted Hannah to be less emotionally needy and more understanding of his intense creative process. The final episode shows us that neither person is actually ready to interact with the person that they demanded their partner become.
For the first time in three seasons, we don’t end the episode with a scene between the main couple, but rather with a shot of Hannah clutching her IWW letter with a smile. No matter what you may think of this character, saying yes to IWW is brave. Hannah is a non-fiction confessional writer, meaning that her portfolio has depended upon filling a quota of Twitter-worthy experiences. By accepting IWW, she’s taking a chance on being a writer who can do more than just recount a tale of sexual humiliation and come up with a good pun. She’s betting that she can create in a city with fewer stimuli than New York. While her motivations are layered, complex, and I suspect not wholly concrete, in this moment, on this day, going to graduate school feels right.
Slow clap for Hannah, the burgeoning adult, everyone.
Overall opinion: As I stated at the start of this review, I very much enjoyed this episode and this season. Despite my repeated complaints about the treatment of Jessa and Shoshanna, the show had much more subtlety, humour, and emotional depth than in previous seasons. This episode in particular was a beautiful endnote that left me excited for more stories about the young women.
Favourite lines: Mostly go to Jessa, who despite her little screen time, had a lot of gems.
Hannah: “We’ll be bicoastal.” Elijah: “Iowa is not a coast.” Hannah: “It’s a figure of speech.”
Jessa, on Beadie’s repeated requests to help her commit suicide: “The first day I thought it was colourful and cute. Now it’s just getting bizarre.”
Jessa to Beadie, while feeding her pills: “It’s okay if you choke—it’s just a different route to the same thing.”
Beadie: “Don’t you take any of these pills after I’m gone.” Jessa: “Somehow they don’t look nearly as fun when they’re being used to murder someone.”
Episode rating: five adult children out of five.