Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We're in the night kitchen.

Drug idylls make me sad, in that hopeless way of rain and dropped ice cream, because of addict friends and friends whose otherwise harmless times were compromised by their fundamental illegality. That said, I would rather see a broader range of narratives about drugs than the after school special kind, and this contributes to that.

Also, I watched this and the next episode in tandem, so some thoughts begun here will be finished there. Onward!

Girls, Episode Thirteen, "Bad Friend"

Hannah has a career breakthrough! I like the fact that the audience sees this interview, like they saw the one she had last season with Mike Birbiglia. That was a job she really wanted, as opposed to the one in Rich the Lawyer's office, into which she whispered. But from this scene's presence alone, viewers know Hannah wants to work with Which is distinct from wanting to work at Birbiglia's nameless trade publication. Naming the entity enables the viewer to empathize with Hannah more directly. "It's only the internet," disclaims the editor, whose name as I understand it is Jame, like Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. I have not been as keen as others to count the horror film references, but those references are stacking. Hannah really is more scared than anybody.

Two hundred dollars an article could pay my rent, by the way. I wonder what kind of dent that makes in Hannah's finances. I don't wonder about that as deeply as I do about the threesome article idea as Jame* pitches it to Hannah. The fact that Hannah opts for the other idea - doing a bunch of coke - seems to me like she does not quite know where her comfort zone really is. That is very Hannah, to not know how to locate comfort. An aside: I hate that term and employers who can only parrot the cliche associated with it. Such people do not have the equipment to determine and capitalize on their employee's strengths. But Hannah knows more than this woman. I am not worried. I am just projecting intensely personal feelings onto this TV show.

* - oh I just got it right now as I wrote it. Is this supposed to be, you know, who Val was based on in Daria? The only remark I intend to make here is: what a legacy.

Wow, also, adults. This is my oversight, they've been in every episode, but the adults this season are making more of an impression on me. There is a difference: by and large, last season, although there was tension between the titulars and the adults, the adults also did not seem incapable of being on the same page as them for lack of sanity. Jeff was deluding himself, Hannah's parents lacked objectivity, Rich was a pig - but they were all painted very soberly. So far this season there's been Marnie's psychotic mom, Laurie Simmons who miromanages her three-minute scene to death (beautifully - I really enjoy watching her), and now Jame, who doesn't know what she's talking about.

I will wait until the season wraps to judge the next scene. Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna have a flash vintage boutique - the name of which is anticipated by Adam at the end of the previous episode - erected outside Marnie and Shoshanna's apartment, on the stoop. The conception of this idea and why all three are roped into it, I can only wonder. While Shoshanna's claustrophobic behavior is illumined in the next episode, Marnie's involvement in this enterprise would have more of a context after the events of the next episode. But la! Maybe Marnie takes her get-up-and-go for granted. After all, the end of this episode is pretty obliterating.

Hannah's purpose in dropping by is to see if she can get cocaine from a friend. None of them have any suggestions except for Marnie, who of course was on cordial terms with everyone in their building, all of whom Hannah probably never looks in the eye. One of these creatures is Laird, who is a junkie. "How do you know?" "He told me," Marnie says, in much the same tone of voice as Jessa in episode eleven when she admonishes Hannah for her unawareness. "You'd know that if you read a newspaper. Just read one newspaper." This Jessa/Marnie twinning - I will get there.

Laird, as played by Parks and Recreation's councilman Jamm, demonstrates straight away that he is a Hannah fan of stalkery proportions. The line he treads between being so worth it to be around - like when he says, of his turtle, "he can be a real asshole sometimes" - and absolutely unnerving - "I don't know if you can hear me up there but I can hear you" - that once he reveals that he is clean and Hannah still inquires after the whereabouts of some cocaine, they break weirdly even. The scene is ultimately the episode's least sinister involving a man and woman alone. Laird's whole way with Hannah reminds me a lot of her old boss, Rich, except for the fact that Laird is vehemently, comprehensively into her and makes no physical overtures. They are very alike, though, in that they keep enough ambiguous that Hannah's reciprocation in any way they can pick up and call consent and an understanding of the situation. Something I didn't go into much detail on in episode eleven for all the feelings it endowed was the scene when Hannah locked Rich (another batshit adult) out of the party. He tells her she is not a sweet girl and she takes substantial offense. In season one, when Marnie told Hannah, going home, to be nice to her parents, Hannah shouted, "I'm the nicest!" That willingness to judge things on their own terms is an important part of Hannah's self-concept. That woman should prioritize being "nice" so highly - as opposed to aware, safe, and free to react appropriately to situations where rage and hurt are felt - is gross and real. I'm glad it's a problem Hannah has and one that Dunham, for all her seriously keen nuances, would do well to go a little heavy-handed on if she ever wanted to blare that point to people who don't read Girls episodes as closely as others do.

Marnie, however, winds up in the claws of Booth! Jonathan! He of the bathroom-whack-off fantasy is back, carousing at Marnie's new place of employ. She takes the observation about her new job to a pessimistic, grumbly place where he can celebrate her surrender in the face of poor prospects for aspiring curators. She responds by taking him down a peg as an artist, which he likes. Her argument strikes this reviewer as sound and correct as far as an opinion goes. This reviewer remains sad that instead of being derivative of Damien Hirst, Booth is not derivative of Jeff Koons, York, PA native.

Elijah joins Hannah on her coke adventure. His every line in this scene is inspired, and the way he builds the picture of a suburban high - I wonder if his character is not also meant to have studied writing at Oberlin. His desire for this to be the kind of night where they punch Disney show stars is part of a chorus of characters getting aggressive with their past through tokens of it - the "children's death games" of which Booth speaks when he shows Marnie a dollhouse version of the Shining. The high begins with Hannah and Elijah in their living room, Elijah rubbing Hannah's shoulders, both of them talking - in that classic way indicative of amphetamine use - about what they want in terms of aspirations. Elijah's desire seems a little played for laughs and inspired by Christopher Guest. Hannah's seem to be genuine and associated with a thoroughly branded adulthood. When it comes to her writing their ramblings down, she writes Elijah's desires but not her own. There is a realm beyond her comfort zone.

In Booth's studio, Marnie is no longer critical of him. I am curious as to how sincere her praise is that she delivers after being locked in a chamber of TVs playing macabre loops while Duncan Sheik's one hit plays. Booth leaves her - going full on Bowie in the Man Who Fell to Earth - which, it doesn't come to that, but I hoped - and her appraisal seems a little strategic and hopeful, not as sharp as the judgments she passes on Hannah. I think Marnie is channeling Hannah's willingness to say yes here, to see what happens if she gives into the bad art and judges something on its own terms.

Hannah has said yes - yes to power clashing, yes to switching shirts, yes to more coke, yes to Icona Pop, yes to jerky at points unspecified. Something about Hannah dancing that I love is the way that in those moments I see how great it is that Dunham can metabolize her present and use it now instead of waiting until it crystallizes and distorts into nostalgia. For all the references to the past, in this episode, it is not driven by nostalgia: it's haunted. I like that this isn't a dissection or romanticization (not a word, do not make it one) of another time. Since December I've been reading books like the Receptionist and the Best of Everything and just finished another round of Mad Men re-views (AHHHHH) - I enjoy a good measure of old New York romanticism. I also love feeling like now is good, and there are many moments like this one when the characters' location is not at the forefront of my mind.

The cut from Elijah and Hannah's euphoric dance to the next scene made me scream! Every time I watched it it made me scream! Elijah and Marnie's episode eleven encounter was called awkward by other critics. I do not agree with that in the first place, but compared to this sex, that sex was exciting. When I took French for the last time after studying it for over a decade, finally a professor alerted me that my use of "excitement" was excessive and creepy since, en Francaise, it has an exclusively sexual meaning. Because he was so afraid to address that with me - he was small and polite and gave me a free pass on a quiz when I couldn't take it because I was crying so much because my brain was so diminished that I could not think of the word yellow (to which he said "well, Kari, sometimes the sun is red," which I loved) SO NOW when I say something is exciting, it never means anything else.

Booth has Marnie in the starfish position. He did say when they met that the first time they had sex, he might scare her - way to call it, BJ. I am enraptured by what he says, what he asks her to do, his whole attitude. I'm not going to tell you! I'm going to make you see it! Afterwards Marnie dissolves into such appropriate cackles. Every moment she's with Booth is closely cut with Hannah and Elijah's escapades. With a Grease allusion, Elijah unleashes the information about his encounter with Marnie. Their storylines are primed to converge as Marnie informs Hannah via text that she is at Booth's place.

Elijah bebops down a pharmacy aisle and declares, "We're in the night kitchen," and a sound comes out of me that isn't human. They bust Laird for his not so stealthy stalking and, as if this really were a jovial adventure - of the Don Bluth variety maybe more than Maurice Sendak - they tell him to come along to Booth's if he's following them anyway (also, Laird gives Elijah heroin - hang onto the fact because - not here, but later - it will make a Chekhovian reappearance, at least in spirit). I enjoy the detail that Hannah drops about Marnie making her walk back and forth in front of Booth's house when earlier in the episode, Marnie walked past his house without knowing what it was. She's not such a skilled stalker either.

First: I love the fact that Booth does not intervene or have any qualms about the drug-addles kids and Laird in his house. Second: Hannah and Marnie have a sequel to their season one fight in the home of an artist, calling back to the staged quality of that fight. "We can keep being friends as long as you know you're the bad one." This seems like the drugs until Hannah lucidly informs Elijah that he is no longer welcome in their apartment. She accuses Marnie of lying to her with her eyes, lying by saying nothing about having sex with Elijah. Just like their other one, this is a fight about non-communication. This is so subtle. But Marnie and Hannah really don't speak the same language. Here, though, they are both aware of it, and their non-communication is both the occasion and the content of their fight. Although the "you are the wound" element is here, Marnie's conceding to the title might give way for them to realize that's not what they're fighting about.

Laird, who has probably seen "children's death games," urges Hannah out of Booth's house. Back at the apartment building, Hannah lays into Laird "just for tonight, for work." Elijah's gone, and he was her way of hanging onto that feeling of being worshiped - recall that Elijah, in the wake of their college breakup, was both the instigator and inconsolable. Laird actually worships her, which is a little too much for Hannah, but it is great material - and my gosh, she won't have to write any of it down. He'll remember it all in detail.

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