In noting key moments from this episode of Girls, I was amazed by just how much stuff happens.
“Daddy Issues” manages to pack its running time with a lot of major story movements and only one of the plots gets a little short shrifted. Overall, “Daddy Issues” is chock full of great, funny moments and my only big problem with it is I think it should’ve been called “Boundaries,” but hey, it’s no big deal.
We start out the episode seeing Jessa getting what she wanted: sex with Ace. It happens to be one of the show’s most straightforwardly sexy sex scenes ever, so I guess all parties involved are meant to be enjoying themselves. But it turns out Ace is just using Jessa to get Mimi-Rose Howard back. Unfortunately, this is the aforementioned plot that doesn’t get quite enough time to develop. It’s an interesting twist to see Jessa—who’s been bragging about her ability to manipulate men for the past few episodes—find out that Ace slept with her purely as a strategic maneuver. But it sure resolves quickly.
It’s a small window into just how phenomenally weird Mimi-Rose is when she says “So this is jealousy, huh,” announcing that she’s never felt it before and then bluntly stating that she does want Ace back, with no apparent awareness or care of how deeply this is going to upset Adam. It fits with what we know about her, the way she senses uncomfortableness and, rather than avoiding it like most people would, throws herself more deeply into it. It’s just a little ridiculous that she suddenly proclaims that the only choice available to her is to be alone and then Adam and Jessa promptly flee the scene (though Adam is dragged out by Jessa). That said, finality is rare in Girls; characters usually put up with each other a lot longer than they claim they’re going to, so I don’t really think MRH and Adam are done with one another. I’m just saying this scene feels a bit rushed.
It’s cool that the moment after Jessa and Adam leave MRH’s apartment recalls their bourgeoning friendship (which had been all but forgotten recently), but this too is a very short scene. I do love Adam’s role throughout all this, the same one he had in “Ask Me My Name” where everyone else is insisting on drawing out a horribly awkward situation and he’s doing his utmost to exhibit basic manners. I like him bitterly saying, “Sure, I’ll fry up some sausages!” And the way he makes the decision not to turn to Hannah for comfort is pretty affecting.
Another plot (and the place where all the storylines converge) is Ray’s victory party for winning a seat in his district community board. Shoshanna is great here as the party planner, flitting about dealing with various issues like how the cake with a frosting decoration of Ray’s face accidentally came out looking kind of like Gaddafi. It’s also nice to see Marc Maron again, however briefly, as the spiteful, now ousted, asshole chairman. Of course the real story here is that Ray is still very much in love with Marnie and, after finding out about her engagement to Desi (she keeps it a secret for approximately five seconds), gives an impassioned victory speech that obviously veers away from politics as he looks directly at Marnie and repeats, “I’ll be here.”
Do we get what it is about Marnie that Ray loves so much? If you ask me, not really! (I mean, aside from the fact that she’s gorgeous, obviously.) But then again, being infatuated with someone rarely has a definable logic behind it and overall I somehow believe in Ray being stuck on Marnie (maybe because she’s gorgeous?) and his speech to her is very nicely bittersweet. I also like his miscalculated joke to Desi that he’ll “make an honest woman out of the trollop.”
Finally, there’s Hannah dealing with the new knowledge that her father Tad is gay. There’s a lot to love about how this storyline is handled here. I love Tad’s small moment of victory when he tells Hannah she’s basically a child and then proves it by getting her to admit she didn’t even bring her wallet to their lunch meeting. Elijah is used well here, too. He’s very helpful and wise, explaining to Hannah what the process of coming out is like and what she should expect. But, simultaneously, he’s still his awful self, rubbing it in Hannah’s face that he previously sniffed out her father’s homosexuality (“But you think everyone’s a homosexual.” “Most people are!”) and making her deliberately uncomfortable by forcing her to imagine her dad engaged in “Full-on anal!”
However, what I love the most about this concept is Hannah’s struggle to deal with the news. She sees herself as the most liberal, progressive person ever. She even took a photo with Hillary Clinton when she was a little girl (“She loved you,” says Tad—my favorite line in the episode). However, this is an undeniable shake-up to her world and she’s unable to just be automatically accepting, much as she’d like to be. She also gets in a rather loud argument with her young friend Cleo (who I’m going to assume is a little annoyed that Hannah backed out of their piercing adventure last episode) and Cleo accuses her of being homophobic since she’s having so much trouble processing her dad’s gayness. This adds another brilliant level to everything, the idea that each subsequent generation is (or at least wants to prove they are) more progressive and liberal than the previous. Hannah thinks of herself she’s a “famous liberal” but she’s nowhere near the level of Cleo, whose friend Thomas “has like four dads.”
Hannah’s argument with Cleo gets her in trouble with the principal, who has to give her a lecture about boundaries, telling her she has to try and “keep at least some stuff inside.” This is a new frontier for Hannah and one wonders if it could lead to some actual maturity when, later in the episode, she realizes there are times she desires boundaries herself.
I love how “Daddy Issues” ends. The final lines from Hannah and Ray are tragic and funny, encapsulating what a bad place everyone is in. All that’s left is to see how all this closes out in the season finale.