It would have been out of character for Girls to not do something like this, but the wildly romantic fashion in which Shosh’s Japanese adventure left off last time regressed to the mean in “Queen For Two Days”, which ends with the heartbreaking shot of Shosh walking dejected through the streets at night, horribly sad and lonely in a land she doesn’t belong, scored to a rather excellent cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” (made all the better by immediately following the bad one on Vinyl). She’s not the only one of the central quartet who cultivates exteriority as a defense against revealing the pain inside, but she is the most steadfast, and when the exterior cracks, the pain is all the worse for the amount of effort spent denying it.
The entire episode builds up to that ending, with both Hannah and Jessa (Marnie had the week off) dealing to varying degrees with the same issue of appearances and protocol and going through the motions. Jessa and Adam are working unnervingly well as a couple; in stark defiance of Girls tradition, they even have a mutually enjoyable sex scene that isn’t awkward or in a broom closet or something. Jessa’s affected nonchalantness in telling Adam it’s okay if he sleeps with her sister sets up an expectation that Adam, with his dick’s history of… just, like, doing stuff, is going to torpedo (ahem) everything by sleeping with the sister and making Jessa massively jealous. This turns out to be a red herring in the scene where Jessa asks her sister for a loan she swears will be “The Last One, I Promise,” and the sister says no, only to have Adam, in unexpected yet totally apt Adam fashion, volunteer to pay for Jessa’s tuition. It’s a lovely moment, but it’s also the kind of thing that, by this point on this show, leaves one wondering what unspeakable evil fate has in store for them.
Hannah is brought by fate to a women’s retreat called “Spring Queening,” which is one of the most glorious jokes in Girls’ history, where in typical fashion, she hates everything — prepared for an entirely different reality — and ends up having awkward sex with someone. This time it’s a woman (Broadway star Lena Hall), the yoga teacher at the retreat. In contrast to Jessa and Adam’s humorous roleplay fuck, Hannah and the yoga teacher in the sauna may be the crystalization of the Awkward Girls Sex Scene, and one that foretells a reconciliation with Fran, as does Hannah’s mother’s realization that sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles in a relationship (like her husband being gay, which the other women at the retreat hilariously envy her for) are, indeed, surmountable. For Hannah, by extension, Fran being a little uptight and jerking off to his ex-girlfriends could be a lot worse in the grand scheme of things.
I know I say this every week, but it must be said again: this is such a good season of Girls. It’s really, really good. Like, so good. It’s funny, it’s sad… there aren’t those weird careening character retcons like in earlier seasons. It’s coming in for an extraordinarily graceful landing, a nice touch for a show whose subject is so often graceless.
Danny Bowes (@bybowes) is an artist and critic whose film and TV writing has appeared in Premiere, Tor.com, The Atlantic, Indiewire, Yahoo! Movies, RogerEbert.com, Salt Lake City Weekly, and The A.V. Club.