This Girls review contains spoilers.
Girls: Season 6, Episode 4
Pessimist that I am, I typically enjoy myself more with Girls when shit goes wrong so, though I don’t love being this predictable, this was easily the best episode of the season so far.
Though “Painful Evacuation” is named after Hannah’s recurrent UTI, the episode is more focused on everybody else. It’s mainly a Ray episode and I’ve always appreciated how, as the oldest of the principal characters, Ray’s struggles differ from everyone else’s. He’s a bit less caught up in the flailing drama of the twentysomethings trying to get their lives together as he’s facing the possibility that life may have already passed him by.
The episode highlights Ray’s existential crisis by pulling an unsubtle but regardless well-executed plot maneuver. A random, old patron of Ray’s café dies early in the episode, right after Ray couldn’t be bothered to listen to a story he was telling (a story which, in Ray’s defense, was starting to sound pretty homophobic). Then, at the end of the episode, Hermie (the always lovely Colin Quinn) dies, right after Ray couldn’t be bothered to listen to his advice.
It works neatly because, though Hermie doesn’t appear to be in poor health in any obvious way, the death at the beginning of the episode sets you up to accept his death at the end. It’s a simple, deft way to make something that seems unlikely instead feel like the natural progression of the story. Furthermore, if you’ve been with Girls for the long haul, Hermie’s death has been a long time coming. When Hermie showed up in this episode, it made me recall that he’d made vague references to his impending demise way back in, I believe, season three. It appeared the show had forgotten about this entirely, so when he then up and died, I gotta say I was impressed.
In other Ray news, I loved the scene where Ray has the realization that Marnie is impossibly self-centered and (probably) that the days of their relationship are numbered. It was handled simply with a moment of him zoning out while she blabbed superficially, but it was effectively tragic. Marnie also gets a weird scene with Desi, who’s going through rehab. She’s the asshole in this scene overall, complaining about the bruises she has from recent massages, but, considering Desi is the worst too, it’s not the most effective way to drive home the “Marnie is a horrible, self-involved person” message. (Desi gulping down a big glass of water and Marnie reacting to this with disgusted bewilderment is funny, however.)
We don’t get a lot of Hannah and she spends a good bit of her screen time here on the toilet, but, in a fine callback to season two, Patrick Wilson pops up as her happenstance doctor. The bombshell is that Hannah is preggers by way of Riz Ahmed’s surfer bro character from the season premiere. There isn’t much to this plot yet, but I’m good with this. The first three episodes appeared to be building Hannah up to be the best Hannah she can be while all her friends sank deeper into confusion and failure. So I’m glad Girls is throwing a wrench (read: a baby) into the Hannah works.
It’s becoming the norm that Adam and Jessa are my least favorite part of the new episodes and that holds true here. Together they’re such over-the-top cartoon people and the show is more ridiculous anytime they’re onscreen. It’s especially notable in a sadder, more grounded episode like this one. Adam storms off the set of an absurdly bad movie, Jessa jumps around a lot, Adam literally growls like a dog at one point, and then they decide they’re going to make a movie about all their drama with Hannah. Fine. I do like Adam’s explanation of why making a movie is hard (“You need funds and sandwiches”) but I mostly don’t know how to feel about these two goofballs anymore and their plot brought the episode down some for me. Also, Adam’s long hair looks awful.
Finally, I’d like to mention that Ray and Shosh accidentally stumbling into a conversation about whether either of them is considering suicide gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had all season.
Oh, and Tracey Ullman is in the episode’s cold open. I wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be playing an author or if she’s just meant to be Tracey Ullman. Anyway, hi Tracey!