Monday, February 4, 2013

GIRLS: "It's a Shame About Ray" S2E4 (review)

By Caitlyn Thompson
This delightfully sober episode of Girls was the best yet of this season. 

Hannah (Lena Dunham) presents us with an evening of dinner parties, giving us a closer look at everyone’s love life, sans her own.

HBO, Lena Dunham, Girls, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver

Jessa (Jemima Kirke) predictably hits foul cords with Thomas-John (Chris O'Dowd)'s parents at a hoity-toity restaurant, while Hannah hosts a New-Adult-Me themed spread at her place. The tense back and forth between Marnie (Allison Williams) and Charlie (Christopher Abbott) continues, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) face the sweet, but odd reality of their relationship, and Hannah acts as an almost wise, neutral party to everyone, all while eating bunt cake. It was enjoyable to watch everyone squirm around their respective dinner tables.

Marnie and Charlie.

HBO, Lena Dunham, Girls, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver

I’m a little sick of their anxiety alongside Audrey (Audrey Gelman)’s mousy and annoying comments. Clearly something is going to rekindle between the exes, but have they really grown? Isn’t Marnie still lost, sad and desperate? Charlie clearly hasn’t moved on emotionally and his actions towards her feel pathetic rather than sympathetic. Yes, Marnie is going through a rough patch but she’s also being, to quote Hannah, “a jerk too”. The characters continue to bond through their misery so when they kissed, it wasn’t an “aww” moment, nor did we care either way that they both just cheated on their partners. The characters are stuck and shallow. It’d be nice to see Marnie and Charlie develop as characters outside of their relationship with one another.

Ray and Shoshanna.

HBO, Lena Dunham, Girls, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver

Really sweet. Her reactions felt true to her character from last season and it was refreshing to see an insecure side to the usually word-savvy quick-talking Ray. Their scene in the subway station was gripping and made me smile. I’m happy for them.

Jessa and Thomas-John.

HBO, Lena Dunham, Girls, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver

Well, duh. The break-up was inevitable, and the only part of the relationship that actually felt genuine. Jessa lashes out at Thomas-John with her typical mocking condescension, but his insults to her are brutal, intense and sadly somewhat true. Calling her “a whore with no work ethic” completely justifies her punching him in the jaw. We all knew this would happen. What I didn’t expect was to see a sensitive side of Jessa. Her actions have always been impulsive and driven by attention from men and women who are shocked by her lifestyle and blunt filter-less dialogue, but by the end of this episode we see her honest and painful reaction to the bitter but accurate insults of her soon-to-be ex-husband. Jessa displays some beautifully endearing and hurt expressions for the first time and we really feel for her in the doorway of Hannah’s bathroom. She looks tired and naked, even before she actually steps into the bathtub.

Dunham did a great job with this episode.  Hannah remained surprisingly non-dramatic and aware of others.  She’s in a good place it seems and I was glad there were no over-the-top antics tonight.   The episode was simultaneously calm and tense, very earnest and human.

HBO, Lena Dunham, Girls, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver

However, I am curious about Adam (Adam Driver)’s whereabouts and how he will re-enter Hannah’s life now that she is attempting to be more mature. Will she try living productively on her own and revisit her relationship with Adam as a grown-up? Or will Jessa move in and further procrastinate Hannah dealing with her unresolved feelings towards Adam?

The show seems to be heading somewhere. The set-ups for controversy and growth have been put into place I just hope it doesn’t fall flat. This episode was successful in not feeling forced, but rather, honest and comforting. The camera needs to pan out now and show us who these characters really are and where their potential lies. We’ve been given their romantic statuses, now I want to get back to the Season One premise about who these people are individually as modern mid-twenty-year-old girls. 

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