Hannah, badly in need of a change in her life, finds the inciting event for one in “Homeward Bound”, involving a sly reversal of (a particular literalist reading of) comedy’s Law of Threes. The first time Hannah gets in a car with a man in the episode, it’s a “house car” with Fran, her soon-to-be-ex domestic partner, dragging burdensome domesticity along with them on a road trip to somewhere or other that isn’t New York. Hannah takes advantage of a roadside rest stop to break up with Fran via text. (This is Peak Hannah As Written By Someone Other Than Lena Dunham; Peak Hannah Written By Lena Dunham would have several thousand times more pathos and lead to the generation of enough think pieces that an event horizon would form and swallow the Earth.) Physical comedy ensues, although the mirth stops when “Nice Guy” Fran lets the mask drop and reveals himself in full as the angry control freak who mistakes passive aggression and plausible deniability for kindness. Goodbye, Fran.
Hannah’s next misadventure in a car comes when, after calling Marnie (who’s recording with Desi) and Jessa (solely to confirm that she and Adam are fucking, not out of any hope of getting a ride), she calls Ray, who arrives in his new ($50,000!) coffee truck, an apparent attempt at keeping up with Declan and Lob’s much more successful coffee shop across the street. Hannah, concerned with nothing past her own ears, decides that it would be a great kindness to give Ray a blowjob while he drives the coffee truck back to New York. Ray, to put it mildly, is not the sort who is accustomed to getting road head, and he makes the rookie mistake of closing his eyes, which leads immediately to crashing the truck in a ditch, stranding them. They walk away with no physical injuries, but Ray’s pride and bank account take a wallop, and Hannah is right where she started, in desperate need to return to New York and no way of getting there.
Until a man (Guillermo Diaz) pulls up in a hooptie with Nevada plates! Hannah springs forth, asking him if he’s heading for the city. He is. Ray warns of the dangers of getting in cars with strangers, and Hannah almost immediately sees that her apparent savior has a gun in the back seat, out in the open, just sitting there. It turns out — as seems only natural in retrospect — that the story behind the gun is that Hector, the driver, is escaping an abusive relationship; his ex pulled a gun on him, finally, and he managed somehow to get it away from her and flees with all his stuff. Hannah shares her own relationship woes, with which Hector fully sympathizes. When New York comes into view, he excitedly talks about seeing Les Mis and getting his portrait drawn. Hannah looks for a moment as though she’s going to belittle these quaint, tourist-y enthusiasms, but she realizes that she herself is in similar need of a new start, and she lets his buoyancy lift her as well. It’s a gentle, kind note on which to end the episode, rather than dwell on what horrors will come of the newly-single Hannah’s reinvigorated journey to the center of the self.
Elsewhere in selfhood, Adam’s sister Caroline has disappeared, leaving Laird with their baby. Laird, bereft, leaves Adam with the baby. Adam turns to Jessa, who is not much help. Eventually, he coldly poses what may be the harbinger of their end, the question, “You’re an adult… why do you need more help than a baby?” Marnie has to reckon with Desi’s new girlfriend (he works quick, in the time-honored tradition of the exact hugely prevalent archetype Desi satirizes so savagely), played by Lisa Bonet, who is far beyond Marnie’s ability to thwart. And Shosh, who is reluctantly back from Japan, enabling the first episode to feature the entire quartet since the premiere, finds herself missing Japan just as much as she missed America in Japan. The scene of her on the airport walkway in full cartoon character regalia embodied the show at its funniest, saddest and most emotionally vulnerable.
Next week: the two-part finale of Girls‘ finest season yet. This is the first time in what seems like quite a while that I’ll actively be looking forward to the next season at the end of the current one.
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.