As noted last week, the lead writer on any Girls episode makes all of the difference. For his first credit, Paul Simms did a great job of reclaiming the show’s humor, and taking the stories in some new and interesting directions. “Free Snacks” felt energized from the slog of the last batch of episodes, and was not only chockfull of great dialogue, but actually made some legitimate points to get viewers thinking and talking. Hit the jump for why “a cappuccino is not a cup of chino! Fucking animals.”
Though “Free Snacks” focused a little more on Marnie this week, it was still Hannah’s show. But for once, the focus on Hannah wasn’t stifling or incredibly irritating. It was nice to see her succeed at something, even though it’s not something she ideologically wants to succeed in. The idea that everyone in her advertorial department had literary pedigree and were still stuck in advertorial — instead of editorial — because of the benefits and snacks and gym memberships demoralized her. It was one of the best moments of Girls so far, because it rang true. Here are people who had compromised their creative forays (and probably poverty from it) for comfort in a job that uses their talents, just not in the way they ever expected to. Selling one’s soul to the corporate machine never felt so good.
For once, Hannah was almost sympathetic, as someone who wants to maintain the purity of their writing, but can’t sustain themselves on fiction alone. It’s an old story, and a typical one, but “Free Snacks” handled it well. In the end, Hannah kinda quits, then realizes that’s a mistake. Buoyed by the idea that she can write in her free time, she dries her tears … but then falls asleep. How one reads that plot, whether Hannah is selling out or just being mature, will depend on a person’s own world view. But it was a nice callback from earlier in the episode when she questioned Adam not getting a job, because they needed the money. Here, Hannah stays on with GQ because she needs the money, and even Adam gets a callback. Settling, or growing up?
The same question could be asked of Marnie and Ray, whose tragic relationship took on a new dynamic this week. In a way their relationship is mature — they both are clear about what they want, particularly Ray. They are spending time together because they are both lonely, but neither one is happy being around the other aside from the basic nature of company. The idea of opposites attracting only includes sex, and their “fighting and fucking” situation is again a typical one. Yet, “Free Snacks” found a way to make it a fresh question: is this a good situation, or settling on both of their parts?
Unfortunately, Jessa was limited to only a few wicked lines at her new job, and Shoshannah — way too far into caricature at this point — confronts her “too stupid to tie his own shoes” boyfriend, as she pines for Ray’s intellect. While the library scene was definitely over the top, the sex scene was perfect in its hilarity. Shoshanna compartmentalizes her time, focuses on what she wants, and just when you think she’s not even paying attention to the fact that she’s being bent over a couch, she asks him to pull her hair harder. Too good.
“Free Snacks” was the jolt this season of Girls needed to move forward. Whether it keeps up that momentum is still in question, but Paul Simms’ lead credit has done him credit here.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Typical to the show, Ray totally steals Hannah’s moment in the opening scene. Hannah should be the protagonist, and we should want to be on her side. But that’s impossible. Instead, Ray shreds her delusions about her GQ job, seeing through it immediately for what it is, and calling her out on a professional and personal level. And Ray remains the hero.
— The dialogue between Ray and Marnie in this episode was superb.
— Marnie: “You said you were too smart for graduate school. How dumb is that?” Ray: “No, I said I was too wise. There’s a difference.”
— “You are dumb on a core spiritual level” – Ray.
— Did Ray meet Marnie’s tiny kitten? I would like to have seen that.
— Joe’s initial (seeming) flirtation with Hannah just to find a confident in his love for Karen was a nice twist, as was Kevin’s open hatred of Hannah’s face.
— “I just like reading people’s emotional cues in high pressure situations” – Adam.
— The show got the editorial v. advertorial tension and snobbery at a publication exactly right. It exists and is ridiculous.
— Adam is insane again, which feels more balanced within the show. Though I’ve been enjoying Adam’s sanity when compared to the constant irritation that are the other characters, him being weird as shit again made so much more sense. Kudos to Simms again for that.
— “He’s just so stupid I’m afraid our children wouldn’t even get into preschool” – Shosh.