A review of tonight’s Girls coming up just as soon as I air quote at you…
“There’s too much history. There’s too much good stuff here not to try.” -Adam
Girls isn’t a traditional romantic comedy, but Hannah and Adam’s relationship has been such a core part of the whole series that it seemed unlikely the show would end without revisiting the subject one more time. Between Adam’s movie and his conversation with Hannah after learning about her pregnancy, it quickly became less an issue of if the final season would do it than when — and whether it might work out, for real.
The title of “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” hangs a lamp on the inevitability of it all, even as the episode pretty brilliantly subverts any expectations we might have had for it by racing through another reconciliation and breakup within the span of a single day. There’s no adjustment period, just two unbridled ids doing what seems so natural and easy. Within minutes of Adam offering to raise the baby with Hannah, they’ve fallen back into bed together, and soon after are making grandiose plans about building their own baby furniture, moving in together, and more.
It all seems so easy, because — as we’ve seen in the past — when Hannah and Adam are in the first blushes of a relationship (a real relationship, and not the weird sex games they were playing when the series began), everything seems perfect. Adam is the most enthusiastic, eager-to-please big puppy you’ve ever met, Hannah is open to whatever he suggests, and they fit together in a way we’ve never seen them do with any of their other partners in the series. But we also know that it doesn’t work, and can likely never work, because their respective forms of damage just aren’t compatible over the long haul. A healthier relationship wouldn’t have fallen apart as easily as it’s done several times before, and as much as we might fantasize about them making it work because Dunham and Driver are just that good together, it’s never going to…
…which the episode’s stunning climax captures in such beautiful, unexpected fashion, when Adam, in the midst of another stream-of-consciousness ramble about all the things they’re going to do together now that he’s found his way back to her, casually suggests getting married as an easier way to get an apartment, then moves on to another subject. In that moment, the play-acting they’ve been doing all day comes into real and painful focus for Hannah, and she understands instantly just how badly they’re fooling themselves, and begins to cry. And, because she and Adam are still simpatico on so many levels — albeit not enough to last over the long haul — he understands instantly why she’s reacted that way, and that she’s right, and he reacts with one of the loveliest and most romantic gestures of the entire series: he not only doesn’t try to talk her out of her decision, but doesn’t make her discusses it at all, and simply switches into small talk about her plans for the rest of her night. They both knows what’s going on, and both know there’s no point in rehashing things except to feel worse about it all, and he spares her that and gives her the dignity of going home without one last big scene between them, while he heads off to patch things up with Jessa. It’s such a small, simple moment, but so well played by the actors, and so beautifully set up by Dunham and Apatow’s script and the direction by Jesse Peretz. It’s not the ending many Girls fans might have hoped for, but it’s the one that makes sense for who these two have been all along, and it gives us one more heightened moment between them that doesn’t undermine or try to deny all that we’ve seen before. Fantastic.
Jessa’s response to Adam’s sexual walkabout — which she understood instantly, even if he tried to sell it to her as something else — was another effective full-circle moment in a season that’s featured a lot of them. After hanging out with Laird so she can be physically close to her boyfriend and ex-friend, she heads to a bar not to fall off the wagon alcohol-wise, but to see if one more men’s room quickie — like the one she had way back in season one when she was late to her abortion — can make her feel better about the high probability that Adam and Hannah are hooking up again. Instead, she breaks down sobbing (for someone who’s often expressed great reluctance about being an actress, Jemima Kirke can be awfully good at it) in the middle of it as she realizes just how badly she doesn’t want to go back to being the person she was before she and Adam started dating. Under that circumstance, of course she lets him back into the apartment, and her life, when he comes home without his keys, or Hannah. Like the diner scene, they look at each other and just know what’s up, and get on with their lives. Very effective.
Compared to the two main plots, Ray surprising himself — and Shosh — by hitting it off so well with Aidy Bryant’s Abigail felt amusing but a bit beside the point, in the same way that a lot of this season’s subplots featuring Marnie, Elijah, et al have. Girls has waxed and waned over the years between being Hannah’s story and being more of an ensemble about this scattered group of former friends. All the supporting character stories this year are, like Hannah’s, about what these people are going to do with the rest of their lives once we’re not watching — well, everyone but Shosh’s, since she’s barely had any story so far — but because so much more time gets spent on Hannah, or on people like Adam and Jessa this week who are directly involved with or impacted by Hannah, the other stories feel underfed. I hope old man Ray gets a happy ending, but I’d have rather this whole episode just been about Hannah and Adam, with Jessa (and Laird, still in love with Hannah for some reason after all this time) lurking on the margins.
What did everybody else think? Were you satisfied with what seems to be the final attempt at a Hannah/Adam relationship? Are you into what’s going on with Ray, or Marnie, or anybody else? And what are you hoping for out of the final episodes?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org