The Miami-based, one-hit-wonder band Tag Team provides the best review for Episode 4, “Painful Evacuation,” of Girls: “Whoomp! (There it is).”
Remember, after that sunshiny first episode of Season 6, when Jenni Konner said we’d see Paul-Louis again? Remember when you thought “why, Jenni?”
In the middle of Episode 4, we get answers. First, we all had to collectively shut our agape mouths. But now we know: Paul-Louis plays a larger role in Girls because he’s going to be the father of Hannah’s baby. HANNAH’S BABY.
There’s a lot to unpack in this dense, darker-toned episode, but once we hear Hannah’s pregnant, things start clicking into place. There’s the interview that begins the episode. Hannah talks with a childless, female writer and her childlessness is the crux of the conversation. Pre-baby news you think, “this harkens back to the interview of the last bottle episode.” It’s off the cuff and honest and tackles tricky, controversial subjects. Post-baby news, it becomes a conversation between a woman who insists being a mother doesn’t make a woman more selfless and a woman who spent five years on our televisions flaunting her selfishness.
Pre-baby, Ray’s plot uses death as a way for his character to suss out his own life’s worth and calling. It’s about death and not just physical death: the slow death of his various dreams and goals. He owns his own coffee shop. It’s snarky and awesome. But, it underperforms. He wants to be in love with Marnie and he wishes for their love to be great. But, he almost breaks up with her earlier in the episode.
He gets the things he wants but settles for them when they prove to be less fulfilling than imagined. And, as his mentor and business partner reminds us, he’s let so many other passions die–the politics, the writing (I’m totally making this one up…but wasn’t Ray a writer at some point? He just seems like his one true passion is to brood over a typewriter and a steaming mug of black coffee and write the truth, Capote style.)
Ray needs a kick in the ass to change his life. And then, he witnesses two deaths. One of the men he discovers dead is his mentor. The other, a familiar patron of his shop. Not only will he have to cope with the the loss of two lives before his very own eyes, he’ll soon know of Hannah’s pregnancy.
As my roommate wisely stated after Hannah’s pregnancy announcement and Ray’s first brush with the grim reaper: “so it’s going to be life and death this episode.” Episode 4 is the circle of life. How the characters face the challenges and realizations had after contributing or witnessing the circle of life changes their stories from here on out.
Even those characters who do not rub elbows with death or pregnancy are faced with life-altering, mini-situations. There are changes abound for the guys and gals of Girls.
Marnie (and Desi) (AND OAK!)
Before jumping into Marnie and Desi’s storyline let us all bow at the feet of Hamilton alumni, Okieriete (Oak) Onaodowan. If you’re not a Hamilton nerd, this cameo might have passed you by. But Oak pops into the Girls world to play Desi’s therapist who experiences a dose of ennui. He sits at a table with the couple and argues a bit with Marnie to make her believe her selfishness has been bringing Desi down all along. (He’s my favorite part of this b-plot. I’m here for his casual suit and tie combo and that his face looks like he could roll his eyes at any moment but he’s too professional to do so.)
Sure, Marnie’s kind of the worst. Even after the moment in Episode 2, where she sees with some clarity that her constant self-pity clouds her ability to understand how others function in the world around her (namely, she didn’t realize her husband relied on prescription drugs to make it through a day,) she doesn’t seem to fully understand the world doesn’t revolve around her or her personal goals. But, that doesn’t make her and Desi’s professional and romantic falling out only her fault. Desi plays a large part in their unhappiness. Because, he too is selfish. He too is outlandish and extra and high-strung but tries to play chill. He too doubts their love and their willingness to make their love work.
Marnie and Desi try to reach a consensus about where they stand as a partnership and as friends. Even with the help of Oak, they fail. Which makes the audience believe they’ll never be together or happy. Marnie and Ray may try to make a go of things but they’ll probably also never be happy. It’s Marnie’s time to be alone, Desi’s time to get off screen, Ray’s time to help himself first and Oak’s time to be the star we all need him to be.
Adam and Jessa
This dynamic duo puts down their yogurt containers, wears clothes, and takes on showbiz. They spread their partnership past a romantic relationship and become co-producers of a new film. What will this film be about, you ask? The happenings between Jessa, Hannah, and Adam. And yes, Hannah gives them the go-ahead to make this little meta-movie. How will they spin the tale? Hannah already got her turn (in the Times) and made it all about her personal sadness. Will Adam and Jessa highlight the differing but equally interesting dynamic between each pair? We’ll get to see more next week.
Song of the week: “Weathered” by Jack Garratt (because we’re all a little weathered after this episode!)