A far less divisive episode than Girls‘ Season Two finale, “Two Plane Rides” caused Season Three to quit while it was ahead. Again, going in the opposite trajectory of last season, this year (with a few hiccups) improved almost every week, particularly when the show went back to relying on vignettes and an artful portrayal of its character’s lives, instead of becoming too mired in their individual (and particularly Hannah’s) neuroses. At the same time, what is considered a good episode of Girls is still one riddled with head-scratching moments. Hit the jump for a reminder that “Iowa is not a coast.”
Almost nothing from this season was tied up in its finale, and the only moment that felt like it was leading in a true direction of change was the Deus ex machina of Hannah’s acceptance to Iowa’s prestigious creative writing MFA program. For Hannah, who loudly and insistently chronicles every moment of her life, it seems unfathomable that she wouldn’t mention the application to anyone else before receiving the news.
But, cast all of that to the wind! Because the point was to force an uncomfortable conversation between herself and Adam, who seemed to be moving away from her, yet, when confronted with her independence, decides everything is her fault. As easy as it is to be critical of Hannah at almost every moment, Adam’s rage at her wasn’t completely just. Yes, Hannah found the worst possible time to give him the news of her impending departure (despite the fact that she painted a nice picture of them as a future artist couple), and no, things with Hannah are never easy. But they aren’t easy with Adam, either. And lest we forget, last season ended with Adam having some degree of non-consensual sex with his girlfriend of the time, which was just one of the many, many disturbing discoveries about him.
In Season Three though, Adam went from villain to hero by essentially transforming from the insane to the generally socially acceptable, even though the transition didn’t always make complete sense (nor was it always very consistent). The transformative power of love though was something that Ray and Shoshannah also experienced, but it was shown (with them) to be ephemeral, a step towards something else (at least for Ray). Marnie is looking for that with Desi, too — someone who understands her and embraces her weirdness in a way that makes her improves upon herself. Her interactions with Clementine complicate those desires though, turning them into something sad (which in many ways they are). As Elijah pointed out, it seems doomed. And while even Caroline and Laird found some way to make their crazy coupling work, it seems unlikely to last (then again, maybe it took Caroline breaking away from Adam and Hannah to get to that point).
Perhaps what can be taken from this is that change is difficult and frightening, and it’s easy to get pulled back into old, familiar patterns. When transformation happens, though, it creates a true break. Ray acknowledged what Shoshannah had done for him, but didn’t want to go back. He was ready to move forward. The same seems true with Hannah, who found creative inspiration through Adam. As difficult and hurtful as Adam’s words had to be to her, she took solace in her acceptance letter, because it put her life on the path where she has always wanted it to be. At the very least, it was a validation of her dream. Adam made sacrifices within their relationship for his theater role, and now she’s done the same for the writing program. The scope is much larger, but the point is still the same. They didn’t talk about it, they didn’t work it out. Maybe it’s not meant to be worked out.
The rest of “Two Plane Rides” was filled with great small moments, from Shoshannah’s deferred graduation meltdown and her screaming (rightfully) at Marnie, to them later showing up to the play together. Then of course there was Marnie and Clementine wearing very similar dresses, Elijah sneaking into the photo op with the cast, Hannah having to be woken up for Adam’s part: all of these things fleshed out the weird world of Girls in a way that — when it works — makes the show really rich.
The season concluded without any conclusions, which is a smart though unsatisfying place to leave it. In the typically mixed bag that is Girls, while there were many things to be gotten from that fantastic final montage, in other ways, it can also cumulatively feel that (as Hannah says) the last few years have been a wash. Where things go from here could be a much needed change on all levels. Or not. Iowa is not, after all, a coast.
Episode Rating: B+
Season Rating: B+
— Has enough time really passed for Caroline to be that noticeably pregnant? Did Hannah really not know she was living in the apartment below her?
— “Iowa is not a coast” – Elijah.
— What was up with that entire scene with Jessa and Beadie, though? I’m not sure what to get from that. Jessa’s “wake-up call”? Unlikely.
— Drugs: not so fun when you are watching someone die.
— “At intermission, you’re going to buy me some M&Ms, and then were going to have a fucking chat.” – Shoshannah. Although everything Ray said to her was perfect. Sad, but exactly what needed to be said.
— Marnie though … where to start …
— “I’m kinda intuitive about these things. I’ve predicted two divorces, one pregnancy, and a coupe of natural disasters” – Elijah