Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Girls," Season 5, Episode 5: "Queen for Two Days" - Sassy separates.

I would have finished this sooner had I not been crying over Everything is Copy.

Girls, Episode Forty-Seven, "Queen for Two Days"

I'm not preoccupied with trying to figure out where Girls will end up, but since viewers are halfway through the penultimate season of this show, which plays long games with its characters, I am intrigued with where the story is taking those characters and how it's setting things up so nobody will wind up in a romantic pairing, per se. Jessa and Adam are riveting to see, but there is too much at stake — I suspect if Jessa had to choose, she would choose Hannah, but maybe only after confronting her plainly about how she has not been supportive of her since she came to New York to be with her.

Jessa came to be with Hannah in New York because of an unwanted pregnancy, and that hovers over the more playful, vigorous, Adam Classic sex he and Jessa have in this episode. They are role-playing, which Adam loved to do with Hannah until he got to know her too well and had too many real feelings about her. Jessa asks Adam, "After you come, pretend like you meant to pull out and then you're gonna freak out like you might've gotten me pregnant." Her play-distress is mesmerizing and confusing — she frets about what she's going to tell her parents, who, in reality, couldn't help her when she did find herself pregnant — but afterwards she is glowing and inviting Adam to meet her sister, Minerva.

On their way to meet Minerva, Jessa makes more references to her family — specifically how she and Minerva have had sex with all the same people except for Jessa's dad, with whom only Minerva has had sex. The viewer also knows her dad compulsively abandons her, and that fear may or may not be what moves Jessa to advise Adam that if he would like to sleep with Minerva, that is fine with her. Adam is still trying to get a read on the dynamic between them at dinner, when, after Minerva alludes to how flush she is thanks to spousal support and her trust fund, Jessa asks her for money. After ditching rehab, Jessa's grandmother cut her off, and she wants to go back to school, which, as a foreign student, means she has no access to financial aid. Minerva dismisses Jessa's intention to become a therapist as a whim. Adam makes a passionate defense of Jessa, calling her "cutting and sublime," and offers to pay for her to go to school. Jessa doesn't hesitate to accept the offer.

Minerva rejects Jessa's request for help on the grounds that Jessa's never stuck to anything, that this desire to be a therapist is a whim. Minerva isn't wrong to hesitate, but that isn't Jessa's problem — Jessa does not want to be perceived as wanting something and will eagerly reject a thing before it has the chance to reject her or the moment it looks like rejection is imminent. Adam's offer doesn't neutralize that threat, and the one person Jessa feels safe showing affection and commitment to even in the face of rejection — Hannah — isn't around anymore. This does not bode well for Jessa's plan to re-enroll (unless she graduated college at some point and is indeed ready for graduate school, because she only went to Oberlin for seven months).

Next week's episode is focused on Marnie — here's to hoping she runs into Booth Jonathan, not only since Charlie's too much of a stretch — so the rest of "Queen for Two Days" concerns Hannah and Shoshanna galavanting with a companion in futile attempts to forestall despair.

In Tokyo, Yoshi praises Shoshani's performance in her new job at a cat café. She does appear to be in her element, but so did Hannah when she worked in GQ's advertorial department — just because she can do it doesn't mean it makes her happy. When Abigail, the boss who laid Shoshanna off, appears, she assumes Shoshanna feels dejected and desperate. Shoshanna takes her on a tour of Tokyo to demonstrate otherwise, showing her all her chill spots, but that falls apart when they join Yoshi for a moment with "the elusive fifth taste." Yoshi mentions his plans to travel with Shosh to meet his grandmother — and to lose their virginities to one another. Shosh starts to disintegrate right away, and it isn't fully clear why yet. She says she's homesick, but no evidence of this has been shown. The fact that Yoshi's mention that he is a virgin — who assumes Shosh is a virgin — might have forced her to confront where she is in relation to where she was when she met Ray. I am interested to see if it is renewed drive or fear that leaves Shoshanna walking down an empty, manically flickering Tokyo street to a winsome cover by Aurora of David Bowie's "Life on Mars."

Meanwhile, Hannah and her mom, Loreen, head to a weekend self-help getaway called Spring Queening. Instead of solidarity, Loreen finds a bunch of women who dismiss her problems as invalid and express envy for what she has — a gay husband who will still have sex with her that she finds satisfying. She frets over whether or not she and Tad fucked Hannah up beyond repair and wonders aloud if Hannah can accept people who love her, since she's so at home reading passive aggressive emotional cues. Hannah insists she can accept love and tries to prove it to herself by accepting the advances of a yoga instructor. Hannah's tryst with her technically works: Hannah reciprocates the affections of the yoga instructor, who calls her "luscious," and kisses her. They wind up having sex, but Hannah can't deal with how long it takes to get her off as she gives her head in a sauna. When she tries to voice her inability to finish the task, the yoga instructor dismisses her — even though she seemed like a departure from the woman who ran orientation and shamed the attendees for neglecting to voice concern when orientation didn't start on time.

But it disappoints me that this is the second representation of queer female sexuality being expressed towards a central character — from whose point of view the encounter takes place — that serves to humiliate the queer woman. The yoga instructor isn't even named (even Grace Dunham's character from "Good Man" had a name, Lob).

Hannah hides from the day, then, conceding that Tad and Loreen did fuck her up, but since this comes in conjunction with Loreen's decision to stick with Tad, it seems more like Hannah's way of trying to stay on their wavelength. She took a call from Tad in this episode to tell Tad he should take an active roll in ending his marriage and embracing his sexuality. It doesn't seem like Hannah is excited at the prospect that she might have to be the voice of reason and that only she knows what is right for her.

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