With the first episode of this season set in New York and the second nearly entirely in Iowa, this episode naturally divides its scenes between the two. However, there’s a theme running through all of them, nicely tying everything together. This isn’t something I’ve noticed Girls doing a lot of before but I’m now left wondering if many episodes are thematically-driven and it’s just gone over my head. Recognizing themes is like Media Analysis 101 so if so, um… oops?
Anyhow, the theme here is honesty. Each one of our lead characters is faced with a situation in which they could back down and stay quiet, but instead, without fail, all of them choose to say just what they’re thinking. We then witness the fallout of that decision.
Shoshanna’s is the least dramatic and most incidental. She actually only gets one scene, a job interview for Ann Taylor Loft. It’s a bit reminiscent of Hannah’s interview from Season 1 in that it goes surrealistically well right up until the end. Though, in Shosh’s case, this is no accident as she reveals she didn’t really want the job. It was just a trial interview for her to test the firmness of her handshake and her walkability in the heels she’s wearing.
I said this episode was about the characters choosing whether to be honest or not, but Shosh is a little different because honest is her default setting. Obviously, she ruins any hope of getting this job but she certainly doesn’t seem bothered about it. It’s overall a nice, funny little check-in with Shosh that shows us she’s feeling pretty good about her chances in the job market. Of course, I’m always pushing for more Shoshanna so the fact that this is literally her only scene in “Female Author” is a bit disappointing. I want to see her interacting with her parents some more and, though she’s reliable for comedy, the breakdown she had at the end of the previous season was heartbreaking. All I’m saying is there’s a lot that can be done with Shosh!
We also don’t spend a lot of time with Marnie though quite a lot happens with her when we do. She’s kind of in denial about being Desi’s mistress, something which Ray (who’s also always set to “honest”) clears up: “You are one-thousand percent the mistress.” Ray also tells Marnie that she shouldn’t be with Desi because he’s got a “massive character flaw, which is that he hasn’t chosen you.” Marnie promptly has sex with Ray (or at least I inferred as much), which I’m good with because the Marnie/Ray pairing always feels really unlikely, which makes it all the more funny and charming. That is assuming you don’t hate Marnie, which I’m learning pretty much everybody who watches this show except for me does.
Later we learn that Marnie and Desi are, amazingly enough, already having record deal conversations with hip music producer types. But Marnie, her eyes now open thanks to Ray, deflates everything by confronting Desi about their relationship (or lack thereof). Desi has no intent of leaving his girlfriend Clementine, something Marnie makes clear is not okay with her. Marnie refusing to clam up and let her role as mistress continue certainly seems like a good move for her as a person, but how this is will affect her music career with Desi remains unresolved (very likely it will be bad).
In Iowa, we find that Hannah is having a bad time. She obviously hasn’t been writing much (on Skype she bullshits to Jessa she’s more in the “prewriting phase”) and she’s bored and not making friends. Elijah is utilized better here than he was in the previous episode. Yes, he’s still there to deliver the more over-the-top comedy of the series, like his explanation of why he’s started taking photos all the time: “I got so good at taking selfies that I wasn’t feeling challenged anymore. Then I thought: ‘What if I turned the camera… around?’”
However, Elijah is no longer there to ease Hannah into her new environment. In fact, his presence now highlights just how badly Hannah is doing. Hannah sulks and keeps to herself while Elijah appears to be friends with just about everybody.
Hannah is questioning whether she should even be doing this degree since she isn’t enjoying it or the company of the people in her course. Her story for this episode ends with her delivering a lengthy dressing down to everyone in her class (not unlike when she quit her advertising job last season).
It’s equal parts awkward and funny. She tells Chester Chong he’s a “tragically hip Gaysian” and he takes it as a compliment. She also tears down the mystique surrounding D. August (IMDB has corrected my spelling of his name since my last review; this show likes names as odd as it can make them—remember Booth Jonathan?). Hannah dubs D. August’s “patron saint of the streets” gimmick as bullshit, saying “This guy’s never been to jail.” That’s more than a bit of a misstep, considering D. August was the one in the previous episode who defended Hannah with the claim it shouldn’t matter whether she’s writing about personal experience or not. The heart of Hannah’s criticism—that everyone idolizes D. August’s work without deeper consideration simply because of his subject matter—isn’t wrong, but the angle she approaches it from misses the target.
Hannah’s takedown of her classmates obviously doesn’t go over well. Everything so far seems to be leading up to Hannah possibly ditching Iowa only several episodes in, which, if true, would certainly not be out of character, but I think I’d still be disappointed. The move to Iowa felt like a brave move for Girls and this would be some definite backpedaling (which they already did a bit of with Elijah’s sudden appearance).
Jessa’s plot in “Female Author” showcases the beginnings of some major changes in the character. Annoying as it is to her, she’s sticking with AA for now, which means she sees Adam frequently and they’ve become sort-of friends. Being Jessa, she still feels a need to rebel in some way, so she gets both of them arrested by urinating in public and then ripping up the ticket a cop gives her for it (Adam gets arrested for trying to stop the cop from arresting Jessa).
When it’s all over (Ray bails them out), Adam is fed up with Jessa and her need to screw things up while roping the people around her into her mess. Both Beedie and Hannah are gone and Shoshanna mustn’t be too happy with Jessa since the last time they lived together she resumed her junkie habits, so Adam is really all Jessa’s got. We get an affecting moment of honesty from her (which is typically not Jessa’s forte) as she’s forced to tell Adam, “I really need you to be my friend.”
This felt like a transition episode and like some major shit is likely to go down soon. But it functioned well and I liked how honesty was the hinging point on each plotline.
Oh, it’s also worth noting that Hannah and Adam evidently made no pledge to be faithful to one another during her time in Iowa. While this hasn’t much affected Hannah’s life, Jessa makes a passing reference in this episode to Adam spending time with a “whatshername.” If Hannah ends up coming back sooner than expected…