Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Girls Season 6, Episode 2: "Hostage Situation" - You guys literally cracked open the market on athletic denim.

The social club scene was too real for this week: "Also, for those of you asking on our Facebook if the group is open to trans women, the answer is: we don't know, okay?"

Girls, Season Six, Episode Fifty-Four, "Hostage Situation"

The Desi development makes sense, although it's a callback in every way to big moments with Charlie in seasons two and five. Marnie does not bother to look at something and assess what it is based on tangible evidence. The best and most blatant example of this behavior is in "Beach House," when Marnie insists everyone have fun, insists that the activities she has planned are fun, and if no one is having fun, that is their failure, because she's placed the fun right in front of them. Every attempt for Hannah et al to spontaneously make or find fun alienates her. When Marnie and Charlie rekindle their intimacy at the end of season two, Marnie does not scrutinize Charlie's actions in order to determine what they mean. She insists it means they are in a relationship. She does the same thing with Booth Jonathan. Because he does the things she wants a boyfriend to do, he must be her boyfriend. Naming a thing is more important than determining if it really fulfills its function. It's a symptom of her issues with commitment. It leaps past commitment. Marnie has no model for something just being without her having to worry about it. That's why her relationship with Hannah is important to her, and why it's hard for Hannah to relinquish. Marnie insists they are best friends without examining to closely if that works or makes sense, which it doesn't always because they don't always act like it, but that gesture of devotion and reassurance, that insisting, even though it's hollow and borne of Marnie's fear that no one would ever be her friend, her boyfriend, her husband, and so all she can do is saddle them with the labels and hope they follow through—and if they break their promise, because that's what the label becomes, that's what she's used to, AND it positions her as the victim—even though that's why, it looks and feels to Hannah like faith in her, because she is good for it. And her need for that connection keeps her tied to Marnie, and Marnie frequently has no idea what to do with it except treat Hannah like an idiot daughter, but with every season, Marnie comes around closer and closer to scrutinizing Hannah's actions and realizing that this is her best friend. She really sees it when Hannah carts Desi into the car, after he erupts in rage and confronts Marnie with the fact of his oxy addiction. It's a red herring, planted last season when Marnie ran into Charlie for one whirlwind evening. That was the first time Marnie almost assessed what was going on and her rationale almost beat out her wish fulfillment. She still had to wind up in Charlie's decrepit room and discover his needle before facing it, but when their boat overturns in Central Park, it finds her: this isn't what she wants it to be and she can't make it that way, she can't insist on it. No matter what she names it, something is wrong. Marnie won't listen to herself. The audience already knew this. Even though Desi's eruption is played as an explosive revelation, it doesn't come across that way—not because it's out of left field (maybe on a show without Adam Sackler, but with Adam as the baseline for men on the show, it is perfectly excusable to say Desi was calibrated accordingly and his behavior in itself not necessarily a red flag that was any redder than any other flag flown by any other character on the show, which is just a sea of red flags) but because it proves something we already know about Marnie: she doesn't ask questions, she just dictates and expects everything to be the way she envisions it. The revelation is that she sees and believes that Hannah is her friend, that she's there for her.

It reminds me of season one, episode five, "Hard Being Easy," which follows "Hannah's Diary," when Charlie finds where Hannah's written about Marnie's disgust with Charlie, how her feelings for him have curdled. He lashes out at them in the apartment Hannah and Marnie share, insisting he belongs there. To demonstrate his importance to "the community of this apartment," he upends and carries off a table he made for Marnie, with no regard for whether it hits her or Hannah in the process. It doesn't, but just the same, Hannah shouts at him, "That's the kind of thing you do right before you hit us. Don't hit us!" It's trivializing, but it trivializes her and Marnie's ability to be hurt, not the insubstantial threat Charlie poses to them—which may be compensating for the real damage Hannah has inadvertently caused Marnie, who she did not mean to hurt (and if Charlie had hit her, then Hannah's actions wouldn't look so bad by comparison, which follows Hannah's thinking at the time about how contracting a catastrophic illness would at least distract people from the failures she's accrued when it comes to the romantic love/career/money she's supposed to pursue). When Desi breaks the window with his hand trying to get back in the cabin, the site of the Poughkeepsie getaway for he and Marnie, where Marnie has invited Hannah as a cover, Hannah trivialized his threat by swatting at him with a spatula like he's a blanket that keeps sagging onto her while she's trying to work. It's a reaction that makes her seem naive, like she's not accurately assessing the threat posed by an oxy addict who's been deprived of his substance and filled with raw fury at someone to whose face he has mused she's so dumb about the ways of the world that someone will rape her and murder her. But I wonder if Hannah's not just calling that one correctly. Desi's a human disaster, the threat is insubstantial.

While the Hannah/Marnie/Desi triad works itself out in Poughkeepsie, Jessa and Shoshanna get paired with Elijah back in Brooklyn. Hannah and Marnie are one of the vital pairings on the show, and Jessa and Shoshanna are the other. While relationships have always been something that complicates Hannah and Marnie's friendship, Jessa and Shoshanna's issues are squarely with each other, which they and the writers avoid confronting in this episode. Elijah isn't really part of their orbit, so having him there is all for comic relief and for the sake of mirroring Hannah/Marnie/Desi in the other half of the episode. Throwing Ray or Adam into the mix wouldn't serve Shoshanna's outing to "Wemun," a The Wing-like social club for professional women. While it superbly embodies Shoshanna's hilarious ideals, it also feels a little bit out of step with Shoshanna's narrative — although the argument could be made that now that she's made away with the achievements she has in recent seasons, her zeal to succeed has worn to the point that the Wemun women transfix her with envy. It's also visible how concessions were made to accommodate it within the story, since the set piece elbows out any chance at substantial confrontation between Jessa and Shoshanna. It amounts only to a stepping stone, which undermines the effect of Hannah and Marnie's breakthrough, but for all the audience knows, Marnie could backpedal on that by the next episode, and this interaction could have incited real change in how Jessa and Shoshanna see one another or how they interpret their own actions. Girls doesn't really do narrative progression the way other shows do, so my misgivings about the Wemun outing might be off base. It does bode well for consequences that their shame has a witness, which Marnie and Hannah's really didn't (Desi doesn't know what's going on by the end of it). Even if Elijah thought everything was all about him, that only demonstrates he was quite aware of what Jessa, at least, was saying when she told Shoshanna to grow up.

Jessa says this after accusing Shoshanna of coveting the career that her college friends have and blaming Jessa for distracting her from it. Jessa wishes Shoshanna could look at her and see someone worth being with, but she doesn't in part because of every behavior Jessa has demonstrated on the show. The first scene between Jessa and Shoshanna here reminds the viewer of some real obvious information that, in its obviousness, is shocking considering Jessa's storyline throughout the show: she and Shoshanna are cousins. They share a grandmother, who they create a video voicemail for together. All Jessa wants, all she does on the show, is fit herself into other families. She's in constant pain over her own family's rejection of her. But Shoshanna is her family, and she has accommodated Jessa, and Jessa has never recognized it. They wind up squabbling about Adam and Ray—Shoshanna takes a dig at Jessa for stealing Adam, then Jessa exploits her feelings for Ray who, whether or not she still has lingering feelings of love for him, he has proven to be her friend and has enabled her to become the person she would like to be, and she cares about him. Shoshanna cares that Ray is happy, and he is happy with Marnie, and Marnie, Jessa informs Shosh, is on a weekend getaway with Desi. It's another case of the men representing red herrings. This brief confrontation isn't about Adam or Ray, but about Jessa's covetousness and Shoshanna's priorities. Jessa would probably reason with Shosh that the "friendly" thing to do would be to tell Ray that Marnie is cheating on him. She might read Shosh's allegiance to Ray as exploitative in itself, since they broke up, but she's been able to work toward some of her professional goals by helping him win his local zoning board seat and revitalize his business, all of which may superficially appear like Ray taking advantage of the lingering attachment Shosh still harbored for Ray by the end of season three, but which is framed as and certainly is in Shosh's eyes big chances she needed and met in order to show herself what she can do. She wants validation for that, and she has none. She would rather have validation for that at this point than close friends, since the gamble she took on that with Jessa has not paid off. There would be more tension to this episode if, as a counterpoint to Hannah and Marnie realizing why they're friends, the fallout between Shoshanna and Jessa would have felt more consequential, but their relationship has been so insubstantial for so long—Shoshanna's been trying to avoid Jessa, arguably, since she saw her having sex in season one—there is not much poignancy in them pissing each other off again.

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