Review: ‘Girls’ – ‘Cubbies’: Honk if you’re horny

alan-sepinwall
Senior Television Writer
02.08.15 30 Comments

HBO

A review of tonight's “Girls” coming up just as soon as we get back to my story about a robot horse…

There are some predictable components of “Cubbies,” like Hannah making an early departure from Iowa, since she is the central character on a show whose other characters all live in Brooklyn. And there are some surprising parts of the episode, like Hannah returning to her apartment to discover Adam with his new girlfriend Mimi Rose (played by Gillian Jacobs from “Community”). But the part that's going to stick with me most is a smaller one that comes before either of those.

Look, we all knew Hannah wasn't going to stay in Iowa. It's how TV shows – even relatively unconventional ones like this – function, and so long as Lena Dunham wasn't going to lay off a bunch of her co-stars in one fell swoop, it wasn't viable to have Hannah living 1000 miles away from the other characters. So it was only a question of how long she would stay and the manner of her exit. And in many ways, that exit played out about how you might expect, given the way we've seen Hannah sabotage so many other promising situations in her life in the past, often for reasons even she can't articulate. So we went through many of the usual motions here, with her struggling to adjust to a new environment, doing a poor job of reading the room and how it in turn would read her work, and only finding any kind of relief while partying with Elijah. And the letter she writes to the workshop – one of several apologies in this episode that are insincere, half-assed, and/or completely counter-productive – seems destined to blow up this situation but good.

But then her faculty adviser asks her to stay after the workshop, assuring Hannah that they would like to make this work for her if they can, while acknowledging that the program isn't for everyone, and assuring her that she can't get kicked out short of resorting to violent extremes. And the wave of emotions that pass over Hannah's face as she listens to this – the sense of happiness at the thought of being kicked out of a place where she's not fitting in, and then the sadness at realizing that that won't happen – is really lovely, and among the better acting moments Lena Dunham's had on the show so far.

It would be easy for Hannah if she got kicked out, because then she could focus all the blame outward. But if she decides on her own to walk away from one of the country's most prestigious writing programs, after investing so many years and so much passion and pain and sense of self-worth into the belief that she's a great writer, then what does that make her? Leaving Iowa doesn't dash Hannah's writing dreams, but it does close off yet another avenue for them. Not everyone can fit in there, as the adviser notes, but Hannah has yet to find anywhere where she totally fits.

Or, rather, she thought she had in her relationship with Adam, which makes her discovery of Mimi Rose and that relationship an even bigger kick in the teeth. If nothing else, she thought that leaving Iowa would allow her to return to the man she loved and instead… fiascoes all around!

The abrupt nature of that revelation at the episode's end means we'll be dealing a lot more with it next week, so I want to loop back to one other aspect of Hannah's Iowa exit: what's going on with her father?

There have been a couple of throwaway references over the years to Mr. Horvath maybe having health probems, but nothing has come of it so far. Still, something was very different about Peter Scolari's performance this week. It could just be that Scolari had a sore throat during production(*), but at minimum, there's an intensity to how he's acting, and his desire for Hannah to not be suffering in this place if it's not where she wants to be, that's unlike anything we've seen from him before.

(*) If we want to start overthinking this in a “Wait, why was Mike Ehrmantraut coughing?” sort of way, Rochester (home of the Mayo Clinic) is closer to Iowa City than Minneapolis (his alleged destination). Both are long hauls from East Lansing, though.

It may be nothing, or there may be something going on in her dad's life that's going to give Hannah one more thing to realize she can't quite guarantee about her own.

Some other thoughts:

* Apology #2 this week, and probably the most sincere that we get, goes from Shosh to Ray, in the midst of rescuing him from turning into Michael Douglas in “Falling Down” over the new traffic light on his block. Shosh gets pummeled but good in her job interview – karmic justice for the stunt she pulled with the last interview we saw her go on – and it seems like she's actually taken some of those criticisms to heart as she tries to reconnect with Ray on a friend level. Also, I was amused that they both ultimately realized how terrible the more expensive shirt was.

* Apology #3, and not real in the slightest, is Desi apologizing to Marnie for stringing her along. I like that Marnie's savvy enough to immediately suspect that Desi may not have been the one to end the relationship with Clementine, but also that she's ultimately self-obsessed enough to not care, because the end result is that she gets the man that she wants.

* The Mimi Rose thing doesn't come completely out of the blue, by the way. It gets upstaged by Jessa's arrest for public urination (as I'm sure was the plan), but earlier in that scene, she makes a vague reference to a woman Adam has been spending a lot of time with.

* Speaking of that scene, you must go read this comment on it from the previous review. (If the direct link doesn't work on mobile, scroll down for Steven-K.) Possibly the greatest comment in the history of Internet “Girls” discussion. Possibly.

What did everybody else think?

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