“She doesn’t even have the common courtesy to implode alone. All must go down with her.”
Call it on-the-nose or heavy-handed if you want, but I would have nothing but a big grin on my face if I were to see the above quote plastered at the top of a Girls Season 3 poster.
The same could be said of any one character on the show – regardless of their gender – and I have to give this episode a lot of credit for its execution of showing this ubiquitous character trait. The show’s creative team quickly and cleanly injected Adam’s sister Caroline into the narrative – as the most distilled, exaggerated version of Adam’s warning – before setting its sights on Marnie and Ray as Exhibits B and C.
I’ve had my issues in the past with Hannah’s characterization, so I guess it might make sense that I largely enjoyed this episode – one where she mostly sits back and watches others self-destruct. I might’ve scowled throughout the whole sequence between her and Adam after the party; obviously the overwhelming cuteness was setting us up for the big shock at the end of the episode, but it was overwhelming nonetheless.
That being said, there has to be some absolutely confident and fascinating character study going on to distract me from my general dislike of Hannah, and boy, did the focus on Marnie and Ray do the job tremendously. The breakup parallel between the two characters is abundantly clear, but what really struck me was how interesting it was to notice the opposite ends of the spectrum they are on.
Marnie is clearly struggling to devote her energies to things other than her beloved Charlie, and is failing to do so in spectacular fashion – she instead spends the whole episode hungrily chasing her own nostalgic fantasies, even when she claims to do it all for Hannah. For me, Marnie has always functioned best on a comedic level when she’s floundering in her own misery. This episode managed to finally tip that scale so far in the same direction that it completely obliterated any possible shred of goodwill.
Note what she says early on in the episode, when she recalls the first time she and Hannah sang the song from Rent – “It was the happiest we’ve ever been, remember? We should do it again, there’s a stage right there.” Sure, this obviously functions as a set up for what comes next. But I also think the line speaks to a very real issue that permeates the generation that this show depicts. Nostalgia isn’t by any means a new concept, but as someone on the outer edges of Hannah and Marnie’s generation, it has become very easy to see how happy people our age are to do everything in their power to cling on old, beloved memories. I had a second where I entertained the idea of Marnie maybe NOT making her most cringeworthy move yet – but when you’re considering one of the more self-absorbed characters on a show full of self-absorbed characters, the answer is fairly clear, fairly quickly. The proud look on her face as she continued to sing – long after Hannah had already bolted – proved to be one of the most detestable moments on the show so far, and was a more than appropriate way to close out her part of the episode.
Meanwhile, Ray is failing (as poorly as Marnie) to get over the breakup with Shoshanna – doing the exact opposite and trying to take a hatchet to anything reminding him of his time with her. Ray’s had his share of pathetic moments throughout the show’s run, but it will be pretty hard to top how pitifully he tried to show off to the bewildered Shoshanna. I do appreciate the fact that he was able to recognize how childish he sounded in the process of explaining the numerous ways he’s grown since the breakup – and it should definitely be noted that Zosia Mamet did a fantastic job of conveying every bit of Shoshanna’s feelings without even squeezing a word in. Ray’s subsequent tirade about the injustices of “cutting things off in the middle” was a little heavy-handed, but the added color of the silver elf/poor-man’s-Anderson-Cooper (GREAT line) that is Hannah’s editor made the scene thoroughly entertaining and notable.
Caroline’s closing act was among one of the show’s more disturbing moments in recent memory, and I truly thought her presence in the episode was perfectly handled. It was utterly insane behavior, but delivered in small enough doses to get the point across. Hannah (and the audience) obviously anticipated a horrible ending to her birthday as usual, but her final lines with Adam provided a pretty marvelous grace note to an extremely strong episode.