Girls Season 4 Finale Review
Girls season 4 finale, Home Birth, hams it up with a manic finish. Here is our review.
Girls often gets criticized for rushing through plots or at times seemingly forgetting about them entirely before they abruptly resurface. It’s a fair criticism, but one I’ll admit I’m usually pretty forgiving about. To my mind, it fits the show’s tone-shifting, occasionally clumsy approach and adds to the feeling that Girls brushes up against the nonsensical workings of real life more than a conventional, tightly-constructed sitcom.
Or maybe it’s just a whole lot of rushed crapola! I mean, after all, HBO had to downsize this season back to the original 10 episodes per, removing the breathing room afforded by bumping the previous season up to 12. But I think I might like Girls better when it’s all scrambling and manic. Though I’ve never outright disliked the show, in retrospect Season 3 was probably the worst one.
At any rate, “Home Birth” is a finale that highlights Girls’ arguably slapdash plotting as it’s anchored by the birth of Caroline and Laird’s child who, let’s be honest, we all totally forgot about. It’s actually the conclusion of a pregnancy announced in the finale of the previous season and we’ve only been reminded it of it once more in this season, when Laird and Caroline briefly appeared, Caroline noticeably with child. But, really, would Laird and Caroline normally be a huge part of Hannah’s life that we’d see them with any regularity? Adam has always had a strained relationship with his sister so even during the period he and Hannah were dating, it’s not particularly weird Caroline didn’t show up much (I mean, after Hannah kicked her out of her apartment, that is).
Anyway, it’s certainly not the event I anticipated this season’s finale to center on, but I’m all right with it as it led to a lot of funny, cringey stuff, with Hannah and Adam having to deal with a naked, moaning, pregnant, Caroline attempting a natural birth in a bathtub. It’s also an obviously useful device for bringing Hannah and Adam together again to hash out their issues now that Mimi-Rose Howard is out of the picture. Jessa also shows up, which makes less sense; she feels quite shoehorned into the situation so that she can have an epiphany about wanting to become a therapist. Don’t get me wrong though, Jessa ends up having more of a function in the birthing scenes than Hannah does. It’s just her appearance feels a bit random.
Actually, it’s interesting (not necessarily bad; just interesting) that this finale keeps Hannah in the background. The birth turns out to be more of a Jessa story and the other main plot concerns the Ray/Marnie/Desi love triangle. Hannah does get a great moment at the end where Adam tries to start their relationship up again and she—probably quite wisely considering their rocky history—decides she has to reject him. Though this moment is great, the final shot of the episode (after a quick and tragic check-in with Hannah’s parents) is pretty goddamned lame. We get a “Six Months Later” chyron followed by Hannah and Fran (the potential love interest fellow teacher) walking hand-in-hand through snowy Manhattan. It’s corny and really odd seeing as we’ve been introduced to so many other momentous events in the other characters’ lives. It implies that this is the most important thing to happen after those six months and screw everybody else!
But before I get to those, one other thing I don’t like is that, at least right now, we’re being told that Adam and Mimi-Rose Howard really and truly are through. I always thought Girls wasn’t the kind of show to pull the sitcom shorthand of a character announcing the end of a relationship and then that actually is the end of it and we never see them again, but that appears to be what’s happened here. Life just isn’t actually that cut and dry and Girls is typically aware of that.
Of course, another reason it bugs me is that I think Gillian Jacobs is great and should be in most TV shows and ultimately the character of Mimi-Rose Howard wasn’t that deeply explored. Hey! I just realized that at one time there had been an announcement there’d be an actual episode named after the character! A lie! What a rip! (Also, hey, isn’t it a touch odd that Jessa had the same epiphany to become a therapist as Gillian Jacobs’ character Britta on Community?).
Those are my complaints about the Hannah-related stuff, but the non-Hannah plots all turn out quite good. It’s a nice wrap-up for Shoshanna that she finally has another great (and funny) interview, landing a dream job only to be told it’s in Tokyo. I love the meek objection to her moving that Shosh’s current love interest (whose name I’ve never retained) offers: “I’m gonna be in love with you soon.” I also think it’s a cool detail that Shosh ends up having to turn to Ray’s boss Hermie (Colin Quinn) for crucial advice because Ray is unavailable, dealing with what’s important to him.
This, of course, is Marnie. This is something of a triumphant conclusion to Marnie and Ray’s whole thing this season. It’s more than a little too perfect that Ray gets to tell off Desi in a long-winded rant (though Ray has proven himself capable of such rants previously) and, not only that, that it evidently had the effect he hoped for as Desi promptly fucks right off, leaving Marnie stranded to do an important gig solo. It feels like something we all dream of, where you get to tell someone who you think is a douche exactly why they’re a douche and not only are you articulate and uninterrupted, they take what you said to heart. The only reason I’m not that all that mad about this is Desi is a massive, massive douche and I’m happy to see him go.
This plot also has the benefit of introducing Spike Jonze as a record label president who’s a bit of a snippy asshole with the odd quirk of repeatedly voicing that he hopes Desi hasn’t gone and killed himself rock-star-style (Marnie’s line “Jesus Christ, yes, let’s hope everyone we like is alive” is probably the episode’s best). And I do like the way this plot ends. Marnie freaks out a bit but her huge ego surfaces pretty quickly, affording her the courage to play on her own, recognizing that Desi never really added much to their pairing anyway. Plus, the final awkward moment between her and Ray is great. Obviously, we’d like Ray to go in or a kiss or something, but that would be hammy and not make a lot of sense. At least we want him to say something, but he can’t seem to make himself do that either. It’s both a hugely optimistic ending and a terribly uncertain one (also known as The Graduate effect).
It sucks that we do end with something very hammy indeed, that whole “Six Months Later” malarkey, but overall, a decent finale, marked with that tone that a number of Girls’ finales have had: hope paired with a big slab of apprehension. Also, there’s a brand new silly name as Caroline and Laird name their baby Jessa-Hannah, possibly the show’s best worst name yet.
Here’s looking forward to more of the scariness of young adult life lived by people with absurd names in Season 5!