Girls Begins its Ending

At the end of Girls’ fifth, and penultimate, season, things were looking pretty positive for the show’s central septet with Hannah content being single and writing again; Shoshanna finding her niche at Grumpy’s; Marnie and Ray openly together and on tour with Desi; Jessa and Adam have, despite destroying their apartment in a fight, found a dynamic that works for them; Elijah was the only one for whom things were looking down, he having just gotten dumped by hunky newsman Dill Harcourt.  With “All I Ever Wanted,” the first episode of Girls’ final season, things are still going pretty well for our heroes but the other shoe is clearly about to drop. There is heartbreak on the horizon here, at least for Hannah, Marnie, and Ray, and likely for everyone else as well.

Hannah, now a professional writer of the type she wants to be, is on assignment at a surf camp in Montauk. The assignment is not a natural fit for her as it involves physical activity, but it does bring her into the same sphere as Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed, Girls’ second Star Wars guy, not counting Donald Glover, who will be Lando Calrissian), a surf instructor/rapper who quickly wins Hannah’s affections only to inform her that his girlfriend, with whom he has an open relationship (this seems to be a legitimate claim), will be returning shortly. Obviously, this news is a disappointment to Hannah, but she decides to let the relationship with Paul-Louis play out, come what may; a situation that will clearly end in tears as it seems unlikely she will become less enamoured of the surfer. It’s fun to see the city-mouse Hannah mixed in with the laid-back “good vibes” denizens of the resort. Ahmed plays Paul-Louis with the perfect level of “surfer-bro,” attitude, just enough so that it is more appealing than obnoxious. Paul-Louis’ pal Teo skews closer to parody but he has his laid-back veneer scratched as well, shown angrily watching the girl he is crushing on kissing another boy at the campfire even though he is the one playing a lovely rendition of “She’s So High” on his guitar. I kind of hope that this moment from Teo is just a small grace note but I suspect that his drama will eventually overlap with Hannah’s, perhaps bringing them together when, eventually, neither of them is able to be with the person they want.

Marnie and Ray start the episode in a state of domestic bliss, or near-bliss, making love in the morning and calling each other “babe” way too much. Marnie, as ever, is not content with contentment, and so, per the instructions of her online therapist, she insists that Ray vacate her apartment. After a debate regarding whether Ray will return to his own apartment, currently occupied by Adam and Jessa, or crash with Shoshanna, Adam heads to the former where he finds a nude Jessa and semi-nude Adam enjoying their own version of domestic bliss, in which they have shoved all of Ray’s belongings into the corner for “sex purposes”. And so Ray is off to Shoshanna’s where it becomes clear that the friendship between the former lovers has developed into something warmer and sweeter than anything we may have thought Ray capable. Also, Shoshanna seems far more informed and conscientious than she has previously been, and the interplay between the Ray and Shoshanna is more than enough to make Marnie uncomfortable.

Marnie does her part to torpedo her relationship with Ray as well, having sex with Desi after a fight in which he insists that they should be more like Fleetwood Mac. Marnie really cannot help but blow up her relationships, always taking the path of the greatest drama. At this point it seems unlikely that Desi will become anything more than a villain, albeit an obnoxiously pathetic villain, and his continued presence serves mostly as a wedge between Marnie and Ray. This series can end happily without Marnie and Ray together, but it cannot end happily with Marnie and Desi together.

Jessa, Adam, Elijah and Shoshanna took a backseat this week, with only three scenes between the four of them. This is to be expected as Girls typically only focuses on one or two of its characters in a given episode and the show works best in this format, even though it would have been nice to know how Elijah’s networking-driven orgy went. Hopefully Shoshanna will serve as more than Ray’s alternative option to Marnie, and I have little doubt that she will, though she has long been the Girl in which the show has been least interested. Jessa and Adam will undoubtedly be granted far more screen time; they are the couple to root for here as, even though they are set up as antagonists to Hannah, they really are soulmates.

I think that the relationship that is really going to matter this season is the one between Hannah and Jessa, while the breakups between the Girls and their boys are the stuff of drama, it was the dissolution of Hannah and Jessa’s friendship that was truly heartbreaking, This is a show about four friends and one hopes that it spends its last season focusing on friendship.

 

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