A review of tonight's “Girls” coming up just as soon as this is not one of my more convincing fake showers…
One of the things I enjoy most about “Girls” is its willingness to experiment a few times per season, whether spending an episode away from Brooklyn, focusing only on Hannah, or in other ways deviating from its usual form and style. Those episodes can be divisive (in some corner of the Internet, I imagine people are still arguing about “One Man's Trash”), but they also tend to be more vivid and memorable than when “Girls” is trying to function as a more conventional TV show and juggling Hannah's story with what's happening in her friends' lives.
What makes “Sit-In” (written by Paul Simms and Max Brockman, and directed by Richard Shepard) so special is that it's both things at once: a format-busting bottle show dealing with the immediate aftermath of Hannah's discovery that Adam has a new girlfriend in Mimi-Rose, but also a chance to check in with most of the regular characters (only Elijah is absent) and even hangers-on like Laird and Caroline.
The core is obviously Hannah's response to the Mimi-Rose news, which only gets worse the more she learns about it: that Adam has already remodeled the apartment, that Jessa (oblivious, as usual, to Hannah's emotional needs) set them up, and that Mimi-Rose Howard – “That's not a name,” she argues, in Duckie Dale fashion. “That's just a woman's name and a man's name with a flower stuck in the middle of it!” – is essentially a more successful version of the person Hannah wants herself to be. (Even Hannah admits to Adam by the end that Mimi-Rose having her own studio is cool.)
The whole thing is a surreal nightmare, and letting a shell-shocked Hannah simply park herself in the apartment for 24 hours drives home that emotional experience. Hannah always insists that her feelings are much greater and more potent than any other human's could be – here arguing, “Probably no one else in America has ever had to piss worse than me” right before she relieves herself in a wastebasket – and while “Girls” never exactly defends this belief, “Sit-In” does a very strong job of putting us inside her head as she goes through the experience.
At the same time, the visits she gets from all her friends turns into a series of strange, fully-realized comic vignettes, whether Hannah and Jessa hitting each other, or Ray becoming too absorbed in his traffic light obsession(*), or Hannah crying while Laird and Caroline make out next to her. Even Marnie gets a few moments of not being insufferable – albeit only after she says that she and Desi have been “woodshedding” – as she helps Hannah realize that she has to let Adam go, at least for now.
(*) It's a nice touch that Hannah – who even on her good days can be fairly oblivious about the needs and concerns of her friends and family – is able to at least notice that Ray's mind is elsewhere, even as she's trapped in this seemingly endless moment of shame and confusion. That it comes moments after she expresses the belief that the only way to solve a Rubik's Cube is to peel off the stickers is an added bonus; Hannah Horvath contains multitudes.
The Marnie scene in turn nicely sets up Adam's return to the apartment, as Hannah's finally able to have a real conversation with Adam about what happened, how he felt about their relationship before she went to Iowa, and more. That she's moved past the initial shock in some ways makes this discussion more painful, because now she can really hear him talk about the troubles they were having, even as he acknowledges just how close they were emotionally. It's a really lovely scene from both Dunham and Driver, and of a much different emotional tenor than previous Hannah/Adam splits.
And with that, “Sit-In” uncorks the bottle and lets Hannah leave the apartment, not to crash with Shoshana (because that would involve being around Jessa) or anyone else, but to go to the storage facility where Adam put her furniture. It's a lonely image, but the solitude also seems oddly comfortable for her after spending a day and a night having difficult conversations with so many important people in her life. For this night, at least, she gets to tune out the world, and the mess her life has become – no Iowa, and now no Adam – before moving on to whatever's next.
Really strong episode. Best of the season so far by a good stretch.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com