Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Girls Season 6, Episode 8: "What Will We Do This Time About Adam?" - Why don't you try casting someone who vaguely resembles me and has my gravitas next time, okay?

I can't see myself ever finding that this title does anything for this episode, but who can say what the future is going to do to us.

Girls, Season Six, Episode 60: "What Will We Do This Time About Adam?"

Jessa gave her father, at least until what in the time the show explores was not very long ago, a lot of leeway in order to keep from alienating him with her needs. She empathized with him as much as possible, rationalized his nude magazine stash and his unreliability. She has never been able to do this with Hannah, who she needs just as much, but for a reason that is more slippery and intangible, probably, the way friendship is—but she does exactly to Adam what she does with her father, empathizing with him when he tells her he needs to go and be with Hannah and raise her baby with her. "You've got to do what you've got to do," she tells him. She wants to believe it. She probably imagines he would be repelled by her need for him if she showed it, but more crushingly it just wouldn't matter. On top of this is the fact that Adam is leaving to take care of Hannah's baby, and Jessa was perhaps never more in need than when she was pregnant, and no one was there for her in that way. She wanted Hannah to be, but she wasn't, and the evidence that that may still be hurting her plays out in this episode in a few ways. First, when she complains to Laird, she says "her baby," disdainfully, contrasting how much more valid others see Hannah's emergency than hers. Then the replication of her walk to the bar in "Vagina Panic." Back then, she was deferring her abortion, had a white Russian, and enjoyed a joyful-seeming hookup during which she discovered she had miscarried. Now, she is listless, takes a seltzer because she's in recovery, and cries when she meets a man in the bathroom. When Adam comes back to her at the end of the day, acknowledging that she needs more help than a baby, it is a horribly poignant moment that reinforces her belief that she didn't alienate him, so he came back to her.

Adam came back to her because Jessa needs him, and Hannah doesn't. Adam needs to be needed: that's what he told Mimi-Rose when she snuck an abortion behind his back. His daughter-abandoning sister demonstrates his comfort with difficult people and with being the comparatively steady, reliable person, albeit only next to someone who cannot quite appreciate that he is not a stable force by any means. He was also there when his ex Natalia warned Hannah that she was going to wind up "with a baby [she didn't] know how to care for" by staying with Adam. Adam's name for Hannah was always "kid," and he sees her as something small and vulnerable, and the last time he wanted to get back together with her was the birth of his niece. Adam has not stopped equating Hannah with a fantasy of being able to protect and nurture someone. And Hannah is still in many respects the same person he fell in love with: he finds her digging into a bin at a bodega, just similar enough to their first meeting that it makes sense he would fall for her again. They have tender sex and he yells at her about sugar, which recalls their one true but still harrowing heyday as a couple before their first breakup. But Hannah has changed. She doesn't need him anymore. Which is why the extent to which this episode dwells on them is disproportionate to what it reveals about Adam and Jessa and how, when he does come back to her in the end, having realized Hannah's not the helpless kid sending herself to the ER anymore, it is an acknowledgment that he sees how much Jessa needs him and that's what he wants—it is so true to their characters and their relationship makes complete sense for the first time. I would have gladly traded one of the scenes between Hannah and Adam for a longer scene between Adam and Jessa in the end, but the scene I would have traded would not have been when Laird comes up to Hannah's apartment to tell her how he is an experienced single parent and makes his pitch to her that they should be together.

And while I will concede that the love story between Ray and Shoshanna's former boss, Abigail, was the purest and best ever deployment of Girls's romcom instincts, a flourish they deserved to get in before the show shuttered for good, and their kiss on the carousel was perfect, Abigail still deserves better than Ray (season one Ray has never left me; if you've only watched this show as it's aired, go back and revisit season one Ray — Alex Karpovsky has played Ray's growth as a person with so much heart, it is a jagged experience to remember what he was like to begin with). And the way he is emboldened by her example, caught up in the magic of her natural ease and charisma and sunniness, is just Ray falling prey to his manic pixie dreams. It's not to say Ray has not grown — as a character, he and Hannah have evolved the most and are, as the show ends, probably the two characters who will most plausibly stay in touch with one another, if the end of he and Marnie didn't taint that whole phase of Ray's life as fully as it had the power to. But Ray is prone to building his life in the service of what the women in his life want for him, and Abigail seems like another gorgeous building to hide in. But the history that informs their scenes doesn't make them any less magnificent — Aidy Bryant really is a dream.

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