March 20, 2013 by NowhereButPop
So we decided that given how much we’d all written about Girls here at Nowhere But Pop, the best way to discuss the Season 2 finale was with a roundtable.
Oh and if you readers enjoy this format, let us know! We can roll out the roundtable again on another show or topic.
Steve Secular: So are we doing this roundtable recap of the Girls finale/season 2?
Here are my possible titles for this recap:
The Rise and Fall and Rise of Hannah Horvath
In Which Adam is the Coolest Ever
That Episode with the Colin Quinn Cameo
Ian Goldstein: I’ll start by saying that it was an episode that felt real to life and started to slide into a romantic comedy as it went on, beginning with the the Charlie/Marnie scene. Not a bad turn, but yes.
Steve: I started to feel similarly once we got that montage in the last few minutes, showing where everyone is romantically at the moment. BUT, I also loved the symmetry of that last montage with the opening montage-ish scenes, where we see each of the show’s three couples in bed, and most importantly, see how starkly different each couple’s situation is.
Adam and his girlfriend are on completely different pages, since Adam is well, Adam, and still wants to call her “whore” during sex. Charlie and Marnie are feelin’ the love, and she’s certainly enjoying herself. And then Shoshanna and Ray’s disfunction carries over from last week, where she’s distant and he just tries to show he cares.
So even when it did feel at times as if it was devolving into feel-good romantic comedy territory, it always felt as if it was a reflection back on those early scenes, and maybe more importantly, a contemplation on the genre itself. Charlie and Marnie can be perfectly happy in their recently re-formed, conventional love (which I don’t think will last), but then we get that last shot of the episode. Adam has run shirtless through the NYC streets to get to his ex-girlfriend, the one going insane from OCD, the one who broke his heart. He picks her up, they kiss, and everything feels right, for Hannah and for us as viewers. It’s a weird love, but it’s theirs.
Actually, that situation is a lot like Charlie and Marnie. Both Charlie and Adam finally took back the girls that broke their hearts and sent them into a quasi soul-searching tailspin. And they both get their happy ending, however temporary it may turn out to be.
Andrew Doscas: Yeah, I loved the OCD plotline, because I think it perfectly captures the fear of anxiety itself. I especially loved how in the beginning Hannah was looking up random ailments to see if she had any. It represents this fear of not having any control over one’s body, that something innately ours isn’t even under our control.
And I thought the scene with Laird was great and his comments about Hannah. It’s funny to note that the guys who were more in love than their girlfriends seemed to do better without them, while the girls who seemed more independent went into a tailspin after ending the relationship. But both Hannah and Marnie are looking for stability, a stability which is characterized by their men.
Steve: Speaking of Hannah’s stability being characterized by men, I remember you writing something similar in your recap of the first OCD episode. That Hannah’s downward spiral was primarily the result of the Adam breakup. And I remember being taken aback by that, because I had read the onset of the OCD differently – mainly that it was because of the stress from the book.
But after this episode…Well, you were right all along. The book was a stress, yes, but it intensified because she didn’t have the support system Adam gave her.
You were right.
Gloat at your own discretion.
Ian: It was a romantic comedy with substance. Why the Adam scene worked so well was because we didn’t just meet Adam and Hannah as we would in a two hour romantic comedy. We’ve been following these characters for 20 episodes. So when he is frantic in the streets, it’s a payoff. It’s probably wrong that I didn’t want Hannah to get the happy ending, but it needed to happen. At least to give us some hope for in her quarter-life crisis.
And on the note of Hannah’s OCD, it’s an interesting point. She’s been pushing everybody away and now she regrets the decision, calling Jessa in hysterics. Adam was a support system she took for granted and now that he’s gone she falls, completely alone.
Steve: Also, the line about cleaning up the broken glass and how now that she’s older, no one cares whether or not she goes near it.
One of my favorite lines of the whole series.
Ian: I loved that line, how nobody cares where she is in relation to the glass, whether she cleans it up or not. Also this whole season has felt like a dream for Hannah. She gets her book deal, but she can’t handle it. She follows Joshua (Patrick Wilson, in one of the best and most surreal episodes of the show) back to his house, passes out in the shower, falls in love with him and then gets angry and leaves. She gets intimate with a teenager. It’s been weird, Hannah.
Andrew: I think that Season 2 has been superior to Season 1, primarily predicated upon the fact that it’s gotten darker. As I’ve said in past reviews, each character is put through the wringer and forced to confront a tidal wave of dread, and anxiety.
For Hannah it’s her OCD incited by the various and aforementioned factors, for Jessa it’s her perpetual flight and lack of committment, after all she is a “whore with no work ethic”. That’s why she punched out Thomas John, because he saw her for what she was, and called her out for this. He saw past the illusion of the free-spirited and wild-child that is Jessa and exposed the innermost flaw of hers. As a result of this, combined with her father, she has chosen to once again move to some distant place to get away from her problems in life.
Marnie is afraid of life itself, insomuch as losing control over her own direction. That is why at her lowest she went back to Charlie, after all he is the one constant that never changed in her life, or more specifically, his love for her was constant. In Season 1 they got together in the first place, as we are shown, because Marnie felt out of place and was looking to stabilize herself under solid ground. That solid ground was Charlie. This is why she goes back to him, as if it’s a step in the right direction to regaining her composure and control.
Shoshana is starting to experience life more (sex, relationships, lies, et al), but because of her naivety she is not ready for it, least of all, happening all at once. That is why she covers up her infidelity with Ray’s lack of ambition.
However, on the flip side, this season has been just as, if not more, centered around the boys of the group than by the titular girls. Adam, Charlie, Ray, Thomas John, Elijah, even my personal favorite, Joshua, had their moment in the spotlight where they helped to add an extra layer of dimension to the girls. But I guess, just in the same way that the women we’ve been with have defined us (if but for only a scant few moments…or seconds) so too have the men in the girls lives defined them in new and multi-faceted ways.
Steve: It really was the perfect way to continue the show after Season 1. The girls face massive instability and we watch as it changes or doesn’t change them. The characters become much more well-defined in the process.
The show’s exactly on pace to play out the usual ‘TV show season breakdown’ that Ian and I established (though we haven’t had a chance to write about it yet.)
Season 1 introduces the characters.
Season 2 fleshes out the characters, explains why/how they are who they are.
Now that we know everyone so well, Season 3 is usually the best and most exploratory season.
Season 4 is a sort of “Season 1 Redux”, where something major happens that forces us to become reintroduced to everyone from a new perspective.
Lost, Fringe, Buffy, The Sopranos (not so much the Season 4 part), and Boardwalk Empire is on pace for it. Theoretically, Girls should be due for its best season yet.
And as far as the darkness of this season goes… DAMN, it was dark. Last Sunday, I was feeling like I needed a break from watching The Sopranos, so I decided to turn on the new episode of Girls. It was far from the pleasant escapism of last season, as Hannah ruptured her eardrum with a Q-TIp and Adam raped/sort of raped his girlfriend.
Andrew: Without a doubt, this has been the Empire Strikes Back of the series. Yeah the ending was a relatively happy one, but it still doesn’t wash away or nullify, or even negate all the preceeding events. Whereas the good only seemed to exist within a limited time span, the bad seemed to cast its shadow over everyone for an extended period of time.
So to speak, if Season 1 was a dream of sorts, what with four young girls living in the city and being independent, then Season 2 without a doubt shows us what happens when that dream becomes a nightmare. And I think the ending of Season 2 is symbolic of waking up from the slumber: Adam craddling Hannah, Marine and Charlie back together, and Shoshanna growing up and experiencing life.
Season 1 was one of stability until the season finale where Adam and Hannah broke up, Marnie decides let go of the steering wheel, and Jessa gets married. Season 2 is one of instability and chaos, that is, until the season finale which re-establishes a control, a reassertation of solid ground. It would appear then that each season finale serves to juxtapose the season that it concludes. What I’m trying to say is…I really love Girls.