Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Your dreams are not what you thought they'd be!

I have been having a personal apocalypse (which is a good if time/energy taxing thing) and editing things at home and things at work in a brick of dense, unbreathable heat. Sincerely: watching Girls has been comforting in a black mood borne of a heretofore unacknowledged dearth of friends IRL (I have to hedge my own melodrama and assert to myself that I have them, we all just work full time). So I went to visit my best friend in the universe the other weekend - we used to spend EVERY WAKING FREE SECOND together and I miss it so hard. We stayed up and talked until four a.m. I got a kind of echo of the feeling of leaving her house in the morning when this episode ended, for which I commend it intensely. More feelings to follow, but first -

Girls, Episode Ten, "She Did"

Adam, Hannah and Marnie move the latter's belongings from the apartment. She makes "the move of trust" and lets Adam shoulder the weight of her garbage as she says her goodbyes to Hannah, dejectedly sitting on the  stoop, palpably near tears.

Marnie: "I will see you."

Hannah: "On purpose?"

Marnie: "Don't push."

Marnie's departure is still the foremost swelling in Hannah's chest when Adam muses, "Maybe I'll move in." Hannah reacts, but she doesn't have a lot of room to react to her ideal extent. Her feelings are minutely emoted before Shoshanna takes the narrative reigns - in her apartment, she announces with nary a shred of physical evidence that things are weird and wrong. If Hannah was present, she would agree with Shoshanna with quiet relief that someone is speaking for her - her toxic cohabitation with Marnie is over, which should be a good thing, and her boyfriend wants to live with her - "toxic relationships keep us from becoming who we are," he says - but Shoshanna is really feeling what Hannah is feeling, but Shoshanna's audience is Marnie, for whom things have never been more free to be better. Later on, Shoshanna will say to somebody else, "Just stay out of my emotional way," which is exactly the words that Hannah needs to use.

When Marnie thanks Shoshanna for letting her stay, she mentions her intention of moving on swiftly, and Shoshanna attempts to be sly about tucking Marnie's luggage away, but I am sure she ultimately hides it and plans to trap her there forever. This had better be a line of reasoning explored in the coming season because Shoshanna vs Marnie would be teeming with weird. Marnie could really take advantage of Shoshanna's predisposition towards adulation, but Shoshanna would also hand Marnie her ass when Marnie failed to be a real friend.

Hannah tries to beg off work - with Ray at Cafe Grumpy - but he calls her out on the intrigue inspired by Jessa's mysterious txt, which he has also received: "Please come to the most important party of my life. 7pm sharp, dress real nice and come." I love that Jessa's enthusiasm for parties from episode seven makes this seem perfectly justifiable (I am also partial to the phrase dress real nice and come). Ray comes down on Hannah for her weak attempt at playing sick, insults her, and ultimately lets her go. The move is couched so deep within Ray-ness, but I do believe he means they are friends, we're all going to do something together, how dare you assume I wouldn't be sensitive to that. I hope he remains ensconced in his terminally uncomfortable awfulness forever, no matter his true intentions, because I would hate to look at Ray as a human being. It would not be fun and I would resent being made to like him for any reason. Even what he does before the episode's end.

Marnie and Shoshanna are spied outside the special party by Charlie and Ray, who make it weird. Inside, the squad assembles. Adam is alarmed by finding his full name on the guest list, which seemed an exaggerated reaction until I remembered: although Ray is comfortable with the fact that he knows Hannah and the people Hannah knows, it is still a relatively new development that people who know Hannah know Adam. As of episode seven, that was the first any of her core group saw him in person. Unlike the Bushwick party, which was exciting because of its scale and exoticism, clearly Jessa has had a hand in orchestrating this and that is part of the reason it is so important, which itself is exotic because Jessa has not instigated anything since her arrival in New York in the pilot.

Ray surmises that they're at an Eyes Wide Shut party, and when the MC flops out, he seems to reinforce that notion. I was fully prepared for it, but all the sudden Chris O'Dowd's character from episode eight appears! I thought some American Psycho shit was going to go down. But before the audience can recover from the revelation that his name is "Thomas-John," Jessa is spied from above, netted in white, carrying flowers. She walks up to Thomas-John and they confirm what is clearly transpiring re the dress and the flowers.

Re my wedding-angst from the previous post: (!) this is Jessa co-opting everyone's concern for her, everyone's interest and investment in her well-being and behavior. I think it is an excellent and appropriate move and the surprise nature of it does exactly what Jessa wants it to do: swiftly and totally elevates her to heights of crazy that alienate her from shows of concern like Hannah's in episode two and Katherine's in episode nine. Moves such as these are what keeps Jessa from resisting other peoples desires for her but also keeps her from acknowledging her own desires. I love that this is touched upon but does not overwhelm her character, such is the force of her little observations ("I admire your commitment to hygiene") and the way she delights in things like string-cheese.

This whole movement inspires the hope that someday Dunham will tackle the way people (not all people, but some people) use wedding-planning as a militarized attack on their relationships. Weddings are a classic finale-trope to be inverted, but I believe they go beyond a ceremony that simply doesn't mean what it's historically meant. I can see this getting beautiful with Marnie in some far flung season, since she has been the mouthpiece for Hannah's financial stress, and wedding-planning can be a tool to reinforce economic disparity, levels of energy and commitment, and inhuman reserves of intuition and emotional transference. Weddings are not - not to the people having them - things that used to mean something and don't anymore, they mean a whole new set of things. Allison Benedickt at Slate stated Jessa was going to wind up the "traditional" one, but I am weary of anyone who calls one who gets married as a means of demonstrating their maturity "traditional."

The vows include: "The night we met, I thought we were gonna have a threesome with your friend Marnie. What's up, Marnie?" and "When you showed up at my house, I was prepared to call the Special Victim's Unit." Jessa's speech to Thomas-John smacks precisely of her first encounter with Jeff and calls to mind her testament to Katherine about exactly how long her attractions to other humans lasts. "I appreciate...everything you don't know about," she tells him, and instead of saying "I do," squawks like a chicken. She tosses her garter immediately and shouts, "Your dreams are not what you thought they'd be!" She throws the garter squarely at Shoshanna, who is raw with fury. "Let's fucking cork it out!" Yells Chris O'Dowd, who dances up on Jessa.

The source of some of Shoshanna's rage is revealed during the vow exchange: "I wore white to her wedding. Because how could I have known? Because nobody told me." Ray's attempt to console her is met with her beautifully curt "step-off" gesture - I love the varying degrees of emotional articulation demonstrated by Hannah and Shoshanna in this episode, and the fact that Shoshanna is better at verbally articulating where her anger is and where the guy needs to be in relation to that.
Hannah, meanwhile, is mired in her loneliness for Marnie, and now her alternate best friend is newly married, and she cannot or will not draw the contour of that pain for Adam so he knows what is and isn't about him. Her lack of willingness to do so may come from his sporting "not one but two plaids" and his fidgety proclamation, "I'm very moved. People finding each other, taking shelter - I'm very moved." He is a ball of intense affection and completely in her thrall. Her vulnerability floodgate is wide open. So she crawls into the best friend womb: the bathroom.

"I love you, you're so fucking gross lying there on the bathroom floor," Jessa fawns over Hannah's little devastations. She tells Jessa about how confusing it is that Adam wants to move in with her and balances it out with queries and considerate listenings to the Glory of Jessa's New Love. I love them talking. I believe they talk and listen in the same key, which is equal measures enabling and real connection. This is the kind of friendship I had, and my friend who is so much like Jessa - the resemblance is increasingly uncanny - also got married at this exact time last year. I was the maid of honor. I was supposed to have been the maid of honor but we had a fight a week before the wedding and I was excised from the party, and we have not spoken since. At one point, she was one of my closest friends and I prized conversation with her so much. It was a closeness I valued and needed, even if it was really flawed. By the time we had the blow-up, our friendship didn't look anything like that, but when the MC announced Jessa and Thomas-John's first dance, and Hannah laid on Jessa the warmest buddy kiss and called after her "I love you" I cried angrily.

Thomas-John has another opportunity to call her Mary Poppins and he doesn't take it. Everything is doomed.

As Adam passionately inhales the fragrance of a cakepop, Charlie attempts to put a move on Marnie by verbally erecting an erotic encounter they should just go have since they're both free people. And I do believe in my deepest heart that the scene he illustrates was Marnie's fantasy when she reveled in Booth Jonathan's play for her in the second episode. I think it was not nearly so important for Booth to reappear than Marnie's understanding of her own desires - it is such a subtle moment, but it is absolutely there.

Ray gets Woody Allen to an uncanny extent - "it's a big pet peeve of mine - people touching, swaying" - in an attempt to access the very distraught Shoshanna. She is not quick to declare "everybody's a dumb whore," but once she's identified where she is emotionally, he is ready to identify where he is: captivated to distraction. "You vibrate on a very strange frequency," he says, praising her rawness and stating firmly that he wants to go home with her. "Fine," she says, "just stay out of my emotional way."

I love that this episode and all its subtle problems of navigation has, for the most part, all the characters in a single space.

This is the episode where Hannah breaks out the cutest dance move ever around. Adam's embrace and declaration of "we're in it for the long haul" puts a fatigued look on her face faster than the exertion he warns her against.

Elijah finds her mid-food and owns up to giving her the HPV. He introduces Hannah to George - things are over with Beau - and via a good-natured inquiry discovers that Elijah is in need of a place to live (since George's son, Templeton, needs to graduate before Elijah could move in - Templeton is extremely homophobic, and I am grateful to have been handed that bit of plot).

Hannah promptly tells Adam he doesn't "have to worry" because Elijah will move in. She blithely proceeds to illustrate how gay he is - getting certified in Alexander technique and all that - and Adam railroads her with the fact that he loves her and that's why he wants to move in with her. Because Hannah doesn't perceive them as being in a place where they view their relationship objectively and doesn't want to do that, in her heart knows she wants to have that attitude about her work - even if she doesn't have that kind of focus, she does know how deeply she could fall in to her relationship being her thing, and she wants real achievement, as taken as she is with Adam.

When Marnie laughs at the MC's horrifically pitiful jokes, Hannah responds with the evolutionarily sound decision to judge. Jessa wields a knife and wobbles around her wedding cake. Marnie ends this scene in a perfect way, and I can't describe it. She cannot resist following this up by, toasted and silly, seducing the pitiful MC, who is blithely eating the remains of the wedding cake with a fork. The tools of her seduction are her "ideal" wiles and some renegade confection that tumbles into her cleavage. "I think I just fell in love," he tells her as she gives him the best cake-smeared come-hither. She does demonstrate sincere enjoyment of the ridiculous things that come out of his mouth, but the real delight comes for Marnie in his outright adoration of her for diving right into the cake with her hands. They are peers in that moment, but her enthusiasm for his kiss is contingent upon how they will not remain peers, the bargaining power she has. Charlie sees them makeout and disappears, ashamed, although he probably doesn't realize he attempted earlier to seduce her for the same reason: there is emotionally currency to be exploited there, although it is contingent upon even more precarious factors, and even those are contingent upon some concrete evidence that she desires him.

On the street, Adam rips Hannah a new one. "You think you're not pretty and you're not a good writer and you're not a good friend," he tells her, and he tells her that she is all those things and she's a "fucking bitch" for explaining away her behavior with "I'm scared." "Join the club," he says. "NO. I'm more scared," she maintains with real conviction. From the street he waxes scientific about her self-hatred in a scene that hinges on the borderline of showing off the talent for screaming rants both Dunham and Driver harbor and some tightly coiled revealing that neither character has done yet. Then the self-proclaimed beautiful mystery that is Adam Sackler is nailed by an oncoming car.

Ray steps apprehensively onto the shores of Shoshanna's vast love-ocean before deciding to dive in double-rainbow, full on.

Adam refuses to let Hannah in the ambulance with him, and after a futile chase down the street, Hannah abandons her attempt to pursue him and curls up on the subway. She dozes off and wakes up with her head on the window, the tinfoil-wrapped cake in her lap, and no purse in sight. The subway stop is unfamiliar, and she looks out toward a group of girls on a rooftop - distinctively more street than she - and they inform her "you in heaven." She walks up Coney Island, gets rid of her shoes, and sits on the sand and watches the waves while she eats her cake.

Jane Hu: "Growing up no longer culminates in a wedding. More often, it happens quietly. Sometimes you're by yourself. You might not be aware of growth as it happens."


This episode closed off a project that has been almost healing to me as I'm in such a rut - I usually have no problem summoning the motivation to do things and by various things I've felt crushed. I wanted to engage this and account for myself on a regular basis. That is particular episode spoke to so many things pertinent to my life as it has transpired from last summer to now really sparked a new and different tenderness that makes me look to it now, not at it.

The next season is allegedly airing in January. Fortunately, time is a rubber band.

2 comments:

  1. This is a really insightful recap, I appreciate the reflections on the character's emotional possibilities. I wanted to hate "Girls," but upon watching it found myself seduced by the emotional immediacy and, admittedly, hilarious naivete of certain characters. Laughing at as well as with, you know?

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  2. I was like Andrea ^ ... i thought i'd hate it or at least be indifferent but ended up looking forward to watching every week.

    I once told you i'd give you my ideas about the show but i'm not the best at critiques of such things... and what could i say that hasn't already been said? :)

    I've very much enjoyed your recaps/reviews/commentary, etc. Very insightful!

    "Time is a rubberband" Nice close :)

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