March 11, 2013 by Ian Goldstein
When do you stop contacting your parents about emergencies that you probably could handle yourself? When do you stop being a kid?
Maybe when you jam a Q-tip in your ear.
The penultimate episode in season two of Girls, “On all fours,” is about growing up. The four character arcs this week target the idea that being in your mid 20’s can push you into childhood more than adulthood.
Here are the kid moments from this week:
Hannah knows she should go to the hospital when she shoves a Q-tip too deep into her ear, but instead she calls her parents. She seeks the comfort of home rather than medical aid. She is stressed. Her e-book draft is not what her editor is looking for. She endures the mocking of her doctor: “well you must be feeling pretty silly. What were you digging for gold?” Then Hannah, continuing the child-like qualities she’s had all season, tells the doctor of her stresses.
Shoshana: “Your office is like stupidly grown up. Like grownups do work here.”
Hannah: “Kid, it’s very nice to hear you say that.” Adam, currently in a new relationship, calls Hannah a kid. Hannah tells him it gives her a weird emotion. That feeling she gets is the dividing line that separates her two states of mind. One, the adult side is the one that gets assigned the book and finishes it, the other is the one that says she is “finishing her book.” That line simultaneously represents excitement and fear. That’s how she feels about Adam currently. She likes seeing him again—she’s excited. But she fears that she might have made a mistake when she hears he has a girlfriend who is looking for a fiancé.
Marnie: “Sometimes being really good all the time feels really bad. I’m on a journey. It’s my journey.”
Marnie is following her dream to sing professionally. That’s either courageous or stubborn. Marnie feels she is owed more than she has been given and she takes that out on Charlie. When Marnie sings and subsequently gets back with Charlie—an unfortunate moment for Charlie who’s been slowly recovering—she’s a child, desiring not only success but attention and affection from anyone.
Shoshana: “What does nadir mean?” Shoshana doesn’t want to end the relationship with Ray. She only held the hand of the doorman, nothing more. But she did more. She just doesn’t admit it; she can’t handle the consequences. Shoshana has been a child since this show has began. Now that she’s in an adult relationship we see small transformations from her, having to deal with the consequences of cheating. She’s assuaging her guilt by telling Ray it was only a handhold.
The climax of the episode is when Adam becomes the Adam we used to know. He tells Natalia to get on all fours. This is one of the darkest moments of the season. Adam has become a progressively likable character, but here he is someone else, an Adam that surrenders to his most lustful desires. He needs to be in control. And when he senses someone is taking control, he doesn’t like it. Like a child he gets what he wants. He forces Natalia to fulfill his desires without sympathy. Natalia complains about how the apartment is messy, how the nails on the floor hurt her as she crawls. He ignores her. He doesn’t care.
“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” Adam tells Natalia after he’s finished. Now he expects the relationship to be over.
In the last scene of the episode Hannah sits by the bathtub, dressed like a child, wearing a t-shirt that’s too big for her. She contemplates using a Q-tip again. She sticks it in her ear, feeling both pain and satisfaction. Her OCD is getting worse.
Each character must mature at some point, but it’s easier to be a kid, to crawl on all fours rather than learn to walk. It’s easier to drift into convenience without considering the consequences. Maybe our characters will reach adulthood, but for now, they are still kids.