Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I think I just feel how everyone feels: like I have three or four really great folk albums in me.

In anticipation of the death and resurrection of our lord, Sports, HBO chose to make Girls episode fourteen available onDemand and via HBOGO early. First, a belated observation regarding last week's episode:

Laird is introduced watching TV and having a conversation with Hannah that reveals how very aware of her life he is, as demonstrated by his inquiring after the Marnie-move-out. Laird is a viewer of Girls, an audience member, and Hannah's interaction with him recalls, to me, Sandy's presence in episode twelve. Hannah winds up interacting with Laird because, given the opportunity to freelance for JazzHate.com, she has no ideas of her own to pitch - she asks the editor for suggestions. In order to obtain material worth covering, Hannah seeks to cultivate an experience of note by involving her world-weary spectator. This is just as meta as Sandy's cameo appearance and informed by it: the inclusion of a factor recommended by irate viewers came off as organic as "do[ing] a bunch of coke and just writ[ing] about it."

Now,

Girls, Episode Fourteen, "It's a Shame About Ray"

This first scene - with Hannah in a nightie, with her hair up, and Elijah collared and dapper - reinforces the skewered domestic act that those two have had going on all season. It even sorts through Hannah, sorting through their mail, exhaling "Honestly!" The fantasy disintegrates as Hannah, sans underwear, sits up a storm on what was once Elijah's chair. When she said "back and forth forever," referring to her crotch on his chair, that struck me as vile - not what she was doing, but her choice of words. I thought about it and remembered the "back and forth forever" move from You and Me and Everyone We Know. Hannah's totally seen that movie. Maybe she and Elijah even watched it together.

They have a swift custody battle over their affects - even those gone forever, like burritos purchased in college - which comes down to who rightfully owns their butt-plug. A fitting segue to the "actually" married Thomas-John and Jessa who are preparing for a visit from the latter's parents. Jessa tries to seduce Thomas-John away from getting ready, and the content of their seduction is hysterical. This is an unusual mode for Jessa. She proved herself unsmoteable last season, but the endgame here is murkier. She might really want to keep them from the restaurant and might really want to prolong their time alone which is, her production of marital bliss in episode twelve aside, very new and an abrupt twist from episodes ten and eleven. If it's not a con, it's even worse. It's not so bad if it's just a con. A con can't hurt. The tension is simmering.

Hannah's JazzHate.com piece was purchased! As in life, last episode's journey is more purely fun than this episode's destination. What Hannah really celebrates is making real money, and with that money she makes her friends a sit-down, adult dinner. The money might have come from partying with her gay ex on coke and canoodling with a man who looks like he has leprosy, but now that it has been earned, it will transform into that legitimizing thing that makes one a grown-up. Never mind that Hannah shamed Marnie a minute ago about cashing in on her sexuality for money. Where those two were on completely different pages, now they are united by their unwillingness to see each other's situations as similar and learn from that.

Marnie's appearance at the party, where Charlie and Audrey are alarmed to see her, prompts Hannah to wave a knife around and declare her psychotic. At work throughout this episode is, character by character, navigating civility versus hurt. First, Hannah invited Marnie only as a polite gesture, but Marnie's actual acceptance of the invitation is "psychotic." This does play on what the audience knows about Marnie, in how, even at a loft party, the presence of her ex warranted a warm hello, even if they were likely never to bump into each other there. Hannah was relying on Marnie being Marnie and understanding that the invitation wasn't made to be taken, but Marnie is trying to be a little less Marnie these days (Hannah, meanwhile, in explaining why she can't divulge her issues with Marnie to Charlie, plays her "I'm a nice girl" card). This, as previously noted, is not what Hannah wants: Hannah is wont for a Marnie, and now she is out her temporary replacement - Elijah. I believe Hannah's word "repurpose" applies to not only making Elijah into a new friend as opposed to an old ex, but also to making him a new Marnie. She is the wound.

The initiation of this civility versus woundedness is offset by Shoshanna's rambling monologue about why she and Ray are late, which almost rambles its way into "shush" territory. Shosh redeems herself by ending it with "I'm so sorry I just lied to you all." She also appraises Hannah's apartment exactly the way she did in episode eleven. Although I found it obnoxious that it was the exact same appraisal, Shoshanna does elaborate: Hannah's apartment looks better and better. I endow Shoshanna with mystical properties, and I do believe she understands that Hannah is stronger the more alone she is.

Shoshanna's unabashed sincerity opens up a wonderful moment where the butt-plug is explored in-depth and launches the party on a studied Marnie-attack. Audrey gives vent to her feelings about Marnie's lingering attachment to Charlie which Hannah runs with. She makes a serious dig about Marnie's double-cross re: the Elijah tryst. When Hannah is unable to ask Marnie to go, she instead shrugs and goes, "Charlie can pick who leaves." Marnie tells her to grow up and goes of her own accord. She does not get points for being miss manners, just like Hannah is not well served by being a "nice girl."

Quickly: part of Hannah's parting words with Elijah concerned unspoken social rules, too, specifically how a boyfriend should pay for his girlfriend's burritos. Is this sweeping concern for social rules a response to Adam's absence (where they never applied - sometimes to her delight)?

Shoshanna's unabashed sincerity also opens her up to the reality that Ray - who reveals over small talk that he no longer has his apartment - now lives with her. Because this did not happen with them deciding on it together, without ceremony, without him advancing her from her current situation, Shoshanna is aghast. This is one of those revelations that is so slight and contingent upon the audience understanding what is important to Shoshanna, but it is so beautiful because Ray knows he isn't giving Shoshanna what she wants, and he is disappointed in himself. That is substantial growth for his character.

I couldn't quite make it out, but I have the sinking suspicion that Thomas-John's parents were mumbling something racist at the top of this scene. Jessa bangs out the gate with her best coarseness and lays on the ambiguity about her background. She went to college for seven months and pronounces "Oberlin College" like she's made it up. I can live with the seven month figure (if you recall, you who has certainly read all of these reviews, I wasn't very happy that Jessa appeared in a college flashback since her character didn't seem believably capable not of attending but just applying and getting into college) but she says she had to go to rehab for heroin. In the last episode, a bag of heroin disappeared with Elijah, who has now disappeared from the show. A few things: I believe this because it seems like something that would happen to Jessa, but I would also believe if Hannah told her about what happened with Elijah and Jessa produced this fiction for Thomas-John's parents. Her management of the dinner calls back tonally to Marnie's visit to Booth Jonathan's house in the last episode: she's embracing a willingness to judge the event on its own terms, although Jessa's mode of saying "yes" is to tailor her coarseness to the occasion.

Thomas-John's father is so into Jessa and I love how he gets himself into a wonderful conspiracy to weird out the table with her. Thomas-John's mom is clearly the premier shame-machine. She insults their marriage and calls out the convenience of artist Jessa being with her financier son. His father, meanwhile, says things like, "I want to thank the lord that you weren't hurt - especially in the face and especially on your body." The dinner party at Hannah's, although it fulfilled its mission, was not as comically balanced as this scene. I would have been up for it going on longer.

Marnie unpacks her Marnie neurosis about her desire for her path to be dictated to her so she can follow it. Charlie reveals that he and Jessa have admiration for Marnie's commitment to hygiene in common. Marnie stops Charlie from kissing her by saying that she's seeing Booth Jonathan - I wonder if - like with Jessa's provocations - that's true or if she knows it will make Charlie livid.

When Charlie gives vent to his feelings about Marnie, Hannah corrects him, citing the nuclear disaster that was Marnie's year, including the fact of her father's unemployment (which audiences didn't know) and the heretofore obscured-from-Charlie fact of her tryst with Elijah. Even though they both have very heady feelings about Marnie, Hannah critiques his management of his feelings, eating her bunt cake and delineating how it is and is not appropriate to be angry with someone.

The scene with Thomas-John and Jessa after they get back from dinner is my favorite moment in the show so far. It is a vile and creepy spectacle of horror and it doesn't have the milk or the potential for other liquids in Adam-Hannah scenes. This is arid and scary. "I am going to look 50 when I'm 30. I'm going to be so fucking fat like Nico and you know why it's because I'm going to be full of experiences!" but all Thomas-John has is his two months with her to qualify him as one with a zany streak.

She can't come back to his assertion about money, but I wonder about this. Jessa hasn't really been seen taking advantage of Thomas-John financially. In fact, in the last episode - unless she was lying about the compliment she received on her sleeves - she seemed to be selling her clothes along with Marnie and Shoshanna. There is a good chance Thomas-John wants to see money as an explanation for Jessa's interest in him because it's easy and obvious, and it is beyond likely that it IS a factor, but I don't think, based on what's been shown, that that is why Jessa is with him, period. Why she is with him is made more obvious than anything by the way they talk to each other here.

I have not seen nearly as much TV as others, but throughout my TV viewing life, as many characters I've seen that resemble each other, I've never seen someone like Jessa. Meanwhile, in my real life, I've known and been close mostly to people who have a problem that Jessa very subtly demonstrates that she has about which I have spoken before: whatever seriously bad thing befell her earlier in life, Jessa lives in anticipation of ruin with two options - she can bring it on herself, or she can let herself be the victim of it. Bringing it on herself is easier - easier to manage and easier on her dignity. When she tells Thomas-John how she knows who he is, I wager she's been mostly with guys like him. He does not have the capacity to look inward enough to ask, if this person does not respect me, why am I with her? He's still able to justify how he's with her because of the same superficial reasons that intrigued him in the first place. When they said their vows, Jessa said she loved everything he doesn't know about. I think she was referring less to the facts of her life and more to his own inner machinations. A person who doesn't quite get why he does things can't confront her with why she does things.

When he asks her if she knows why he loves hookers, he barely leads that statement away from murder-territory with a quip about all her Buddhas watching their lovemaking like a bunch of fat babies. Jessa socks him in the face for a horrible comment and says "grow up," just like Marnie told Hannah. However, when Marnie says that, Marnie is demonstrating how she has grown up, whereas Jessa needs to take her own "grow up" very urgently.

Thomas-John says their marriage is a great one for Jessa's collection of outlandish stories. Jessa and Hannah have this experience-amassing behavior in common to very different ends and it reflects very differently on their self-esteem. To Hannah, everything is work, an assignment, an experience that Hannah Horvath is having to go make art with, and with Jessa, it is what she deserves.

Shoshanna hinted in the last episode that she, unlike Ray, has somewhere to be everyday. It was distressing to see her get grumbly then, but extra refreshing to see her face head-on an issue that is tough to face in the throes of romance: you're a deadbeat, Ray. I think - I mean, I hope ardently that Shoshanna gets success. I think she's got the kind of weird equipment to get to a point fast that the other characters can't reach. I'm happy to see she isn't cool immediately with Ray not wearing the same kind of jet pack. He does love Andy Kaufman, though. Their relationship is so beautifully painted that when she says she's falling in love with him, that is what I want for her, and I've all but forgotten that the person she's in love with is Ray. I think Ray's forgotten it, too, and now he'll have to figure out what that means, not just to love Shoshanna but be loved by her.

Hannah jams out to her own rendition of "Wonderwall" and Jessa gives her the occasion for a scream that rivals her peed-on scream in season one, which is my favorite scream ever. Jessa joins her in the bath and falls apart - I wonder if this is the first time Hannah's seen Jessa cry? When Jessa shut Jeff down last season, she said the very hackneyed, "I can't do this kind of thing anymore," and wanted to run to Hannah. She didn't get to and that's what started her on the way to Thomas-John, but here she gets to quietly disintegrate with Hannah, hold hands, and make me cry torrentially. I'm so happy Hannah kept up with Jessa after she was at Oberlin for seven months. I miss my friends.

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely breakdown of last week's episode. I'll have to back track and read your others!


    <3 Akasha

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