This review contains spoilers.
6.2 Hostage Situation
I was down on the first bunch of episodes in the previous season of Girls. I found the comedy too broad and the tone unreal. However, last season regained its footing about halfway into its run to become one of the show’s best.
I mention this because, although the final season has plenty of time to turn things around, as of right now… hoo-boy. If I thought that the season premiere got a little too goofy (I did), I didn’t know what goofy was until I saw Hostage Situation. But it’s actually worse than that because at least the premiere was clearly trying to be funny sometimes and dramatic at others. This episode is just confused.
Mid-divorce Marnie and Desi are now full-swing into their illicit banging and they’ve roped Hannah into accompanying them to a Poughkeepsie getaway to help legitimise the lie of it being a girls’ getaway weekend. The oddness begins early in the trip when Hannah ducks into a curio shop run by a beautiful woman holding a puppy who claims to have moved upstate after a frustrating NYC life that concluded with her falling onto subway tracks and getting electrocuted by the third rail, which turned her a little psychic.
After she gives Hannah a tea set for free because she can sense that she needs it, Hannah comments that it’s all “getting very Teen Witch-y.” In this way, the show indicates it is indeed aware of the whole mystical shop/shopkeeper trope it’s riffing on, but it’s unclear what the tone or point of the scene is. Hannah may be a bit sceptical of this whole situation but, except for a few stray lines, there’s nothing particularly funny about the scene to make clear it’s parody. But it’s also not obviously dramatic either. It’s just… weird. My best guess is maybe Hannah is going to return to Poughkeepsie or this woman is going to come back in some other fashion before the end of the series. Because, on its own, I simply don’t understand this scene’s function.
This problem of confused tone gets worse when Marnie, Desi, and Hannah make it to the cabin they’re staying at for the weekend and Marnie happens upon Desi’s OxyContin stash in his luggage. What follows is some of the nuttiest crap Girls has done in recent memory as everyone freaks the fuck out. Like the curio shop scene, it feels like this is maybe an attempt at a send-up, in this case of the melodramatic manner in which drug addiction is typically played in media, but it doesn’t really work because everything is so at odds.
On the one hand, much of the dialogue (Marnie: “Hannah, you dumb slut, get down here!”) is completely absurd and, even though Desi is revealed to be a raging, insane drug addict, he’s also portrayed as being thoroughly non-threatening. Yet, at the same time, some genuinely horrible stuff actually is happening, like Desi trying to snort his Oxy even though Marnie’s crushed it into the floor and it’s now mixed in with broken glass. Furthermore, the music playing throughout this scene sounds like something out of a creepy thriller, which colors the mood and makes it harder to accept as comedy. Maybe the music is part of the attempt to make this a self-aware parody of a drug abuse scene (if that is indeed the intent), but like everything in this scene, it’s misguided.
Oh, also, that tea set Hannah needed just gets smashed amidst all the chaos, so…?
In the end, I didn’t know how to feel about any of this; I certainly didn’t laugh much. It was simultaneously disturbing and stupid as hell. And once Desi is forced outside, the episode clumsily tries to transition to heartfelt drama as Marnie and Hannah have a heart-to-heart in the kitchen, something that, coming off the heels of such madness, falls totally flat. Plus, Marnie, apropos of little, drops an extremely clichéd “Do you promise that we’ll always be friends?” which is just lame dialogue. (Side note: Hannah comes off the mature one in this conversation, again hinting at this season’s apparent—and arguably unearned—goal of turning her into a wizened, rounded soul.)
This is the stuff that dominates Hostage Situation but there is also a plot about Shoshanna (along with Elijah and Jessa) attending a mixer run by two of her former friends—friends who have achieved great success that Shosh missed out on by abandoning them in high school. This plot stays more grounded than all the Poughkeepsie nonsense, but it also ends with the characters screaming at each other, so it’s still in line with the quality nosedive of this episode’s latter half.
This storyline does, however, feature the episode’s best joke. Shosh’s former friends’ current project is an empowering women-only group (the horribly-named “Wemon”). As they give a speech about their venture, one of the Wemon founders says in desperation, “For all of those asking on Facebook if the group is open to trans women, we don’t know, okay?”
Hostage Situation starts out okay, has a couple of good jokes, and then yikes!Read Joe’s review of the previous episode, All I Ever Wanted, here.