“That got real, fast.”
Once again isolating Hannah from the rest of the cast, as was the case in last week’s intimate, brilliantly crafted episode, Girls returns with ‘Painful Evacuation’, an instalment that meanders for its first half before it snaps sharply into focus, setting into motion the story arcs that will propel the remainder of the season.
Adam Driver gets some decent screen time this episode, showcasing his fantastic ability to act in a movie within a TV show. Adam’s growing success as an actor has quietly played out in the background of Girls since his featured role in an Off-Broadway play back in season three. Driver has always imbued Adam’s artistic streak with a great deal of arrogance and an undercurrent of superiority that he is above all the trivial roles he has received ““ a narcissism that is a similar breed to Hannah’s.
Following a heated disagreement with his director, Jessa encourages him to write his own film. The couple latch onto the idea of creating something together about raw, gritty, human emotion; as if they’re the first people to ever explore the concept (again, the arrogance). While brainstorming plot ideas, Jessa convinces Adam that the story should be about their relationship and their shared history with Hannah. Given that Jessa and Adam are almost manic at the thought of bringing this to life, the film could either be a rousing success or complete disaster. It’s not the most riveting plot Girls has put forth and seems to exist purely as a function to tie the couple back to Hannah ““ which I am all for.
The disconnection between Ray and Marnie is more apparent than ever, with Ray zoning out during their conversations and Marnie dissociating during sex. Marnie’s forced orgasm and “countdown” to climax is so hilariously inauthentic that it’s almost hard to feel bad for Ray when he’s being so obtuse.
Meanwhile, Marnie and Desi continue to circle one another and despite the pitiful humour that Ebon Moss-Bachrach brings to the role, this relationship should have naturally concluded after ‘The Panic in Central Park’, an episode that seemed like it was going to be a turning point for Marnie and a fitting departure for Desi. Marnie is adamant that she is a blameless, innocent bystander to Desi’s drug addiction. While the former couple’s scene with Desi’s therapist is entertaining ““ particularly as they both scramble to get the therapist’s approval ““ it only serves as a reminder that Marnie is still painfully self-deluded. Girls continually flirts with the idea of redeeming Marnie’s character, often in the wake of a big inter-personal blow-up; a fight with Hannah, her divorce, her brief reconciliation with Charlie, etc. However, this development is either stalled or forgotten entirely. I have no issue with Marnie being “unlikable” if I can at least understand where she is coming from, but her motivations have only grown murkier over time.
For most of ‘Painful Evacuation’, Hannah is preoccupied with a UTI, giving the episode its colourful title. Props to Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner for exploring another subject that doesn’t get enough air time on television (though Crazy Ex-Girlfriend still takes the cake for best UTI subplot). It’s also a fun excuse to have Hannah call her mother and bring back the wonderful Becky Ann Baker, if only for a brief scene. Hannah’s UTI almost comes off as a contrived way to get her to the ER to run into a familiar face (that I won’t spoil) but the payoff is absolutely worth it. It also gives a whole new meaning to a piece of dialogue in the episode’s seemingly inconsequential opening scene with Tracey Ullman.
Outside of one major reveal, ‘Painful Evacuation’ isn’t the series’ most compelling hour, but does act as a necessary place-setting episode as Girls dwindles to a close.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10