Girls Recap: Lean In

Baby's growing up. Photo: Mark Schafer/? Mark Schafer 2014
Episode Title
Home Birth
Editor’s Rating

Sometimes sentimental season finales feel like a cheat. The season it caps doesn't jibe with overwhelming sweetness, or perhaps it's been so bad it's undeserving of such a magnanimous end. I felt that way about the Parks and Rec series finale (contrarian opinion, I know); the last episode of season two of Girls, in which Adam suddenly returns to rescue Hannah from her OCD meltdown, and Charlie and Marnie inexplicably get back together, ushered in a similar conclusion. It's all so Vitamin C, you know? So it just goes to show how far this show has come in just a couple of seasons that this week's finale, whatever its flaws, felt completely worthy of its sap factor, after such a string of truly great episodes. 

This week, we've got ourselves a cold open: Hannah bursts out of the school where she works and sits on a low wall, breathing heavily. Fran is right behind her — apparently, she's just had a panic attack and left her kids in the classroom. With a face that says, "This is not a good idea, but I can't just leave her out here," Fran comforts her as she tries to fumble through an explanation — her family issues have been, understandably, a little hard to handle — putting his hand (!) on her back (!!) while also asking her permission to do so (!!!). Fran is the man. (Also, I know at least one of you commenters has mentioned this, and I wholeheartedly agree: Suddenly Hannah's/Lena Dunham's bob is perfect. Not going to question it, in the event that it disturbs its grandeur with another pixie cut.)

Shoshanna has used the confidence she regained by helping Ray win his election to go back to the job hunt. Aidy Bryant plays her potential employer at a perfectly pink and Shoshy company called Abigail, and the interview goes swimmingly — until Aidy Bryant casually lets it slip that the job is a liaison gig … in Japan. Honestly, this doesn't sound like a drawback, culture shock aside. Tokyo is made for someone like Shosh, plus she wouldn't have to live with effing Jessa anymore. Later, she breaks the news to Jason Ritter, who immediately becomes pathetic, stage-five clinger, begging her not to move to Japan in the same breath as he hurriedly asks her to move in and says he's "going to fall in love with [her] soon." Wow, and I liked you so much, Jason Ritter. I agree with Lindsey — way to nip that potential in the bud.

Marnie and Male Feminist Desi are showing off their "happiness" again, unsurprisingly and rapidly becoming one of those couples that overcompensate for their anxieties about whether getting married is a very bad idea (it is) with an annoying degree of PDA, this time performing their joy at a coffee meeting with their label president at Ray's coffee shop. In one of the most epic Girls moments ever, Ray gets his, at last. As Marnie and label dude leave the shop, Desi comes up to the register to pay, but mostly to express his concern about the bad vibes he senses between them. All he really wants is validation from Ray, but Ray is not having it.

DESI: I am exactly the kind of person that needs to know that none of my lines are faulty, that I'm making everybody around me happy. Does that make sense?
RAY: It does make sense. Unfortunately, Desi, you're not going to get that assurance from me today.
DESI: Okay … can you expound on that?
RAY: You're not going to get that assurance from me because I fucking hate you.

Thus commences the tirade of a lifetime against Desi and his stupid eyeliner and — we all knew it was coming — how he will never deserve Marnie and will never be able to make her happy. Even though I find his attraction to the "mysterious" Marnie Michaels extremely misguided, the confused look on Desi's face — like a spoiled 5-year-old who has just been told "no" for the first time — is too beautiful to wish he hadn't said anything. #VOTE4RAY!! (Except for his assertion that Imagine Dragons are "great." Because, come on.)

For some reason, Hannah has agreed to come help — or perhaps more accurately, discourage — Laird and Caroline's home birth, which is most definitely illegal, even if either of them were licensed doulas (Caroline almost is, they insist). She's posted up in the bath, full-on naked, as Hannah delicately expresses her concern; suddenly, Adam bursts in and cuts right to the point, Ray-style: "This is the dumbest idea that's ever happened." Caroline does her righteous free-spirit thing, raging against modern medicine and "drug-addicted robots," whatever that means. Adam yells at Laird for being an idiot, Caroline yells at Adam for yelling at Ray, and it's all just a jolly good time. (Not at all amplified by the fact that Hannah and Adam are in the same room again for the first time since Adam admitted he wanted "to see [Hannah] too much right now" outside of Ray's party last week.) Eventually Jessa gets involved and, whether out of selfish curiosity or necessity, sticks her head underwater to discover the baby is in breach, which prompts everyone to carry Caroline against her will to the hospital on foot (Hannah Waze'd it, and it was faster to walk).

Marnie and Desi's showcase arrives. It's happening at IRL Brooklyn Landmark Pete's Candy Store, and "all the blogs are here" (for some reason Brooklyn Vegan and Pitchfork are both interested in covering this? Hmmm). Desi, however, is not — possibly as a result of Ray's tirade, he is nowhere to be found. Marnie is reasonably losing it, until Ray shows up and convinces her to perform the songs alone. Now, I'm very #teamRay, so maybe my judgment is clouded here, but does this feel natural to you? It seems very … convenient that the eternally selfish Coldplay wouldn't show up to his Big-Break Moment even if he were having second thoughts about the engagement. She realizes she totally can handle a solo set and does remarkably well on the one (?) song she performs, after which Desi is still not there but Ray is. This coupled with his reassurance of the label dude ("don't worry, man, she cries all the time — all the time") is awfully boyfriend-like. HMMM. Not sure I'm into this — not sure Marnie deserves this — but I have to admit, it's an awfully sweet scene.

This whole episode is overflowing with sweet scenes. In the next, Shosh is having an existential crisis, and makes a beeline for Ray at the coffee shop to help her decide whether she should go to Japan or stay with Jason Ritter. Ray is at Marnie's thing, but his boss Hermie (Colin Quinn) is still there, and he unexpectedly has some good advice, due to his recent "conversion" after reading Lean In, and tells her to "be the walker, not the dog" and go for her dream job in Japan instead of waiting for Jason Ritter to get around to falling in love with her. Later, Jessa comes home to announce she's going to become a therapist and finds her learning how to use chopsticks and reading a guidebook. I am honestly happy for them both, even though you couldn't pay me enough to be counseled by Jessa Johansson. Sisters doing it for themselves!

Jessa-Hannah Bluebird Poem Schlesinger-Sackler is finally born in a hospital, safe and sound. Yes, that is her name. Adam and Hannah visit her alone (?) in the neonatal ward, where Adam adorably mispronounces umbilical and then confesses he broke up with Mimi-Rose and misses Hannah so much. The way he says it just liquefies me into a puddle of lady-feels, but not Hannah: She has, at long last, decided she "can't" take him back, not again. It is, shockingly, the mature decision, even despite how sincerely he seems to mean it. Adam Driver and Dunham have always had good chemistry, but in this scene, they make the closing door of their relationship feel as raw and heart-wrenchingly final as a real one might — it's not obvious she should say no, but she decides to anyway. That's how love actually ends.

Hannah calls her mom, who is still spiraling out of control, claiming she doesn't have a future because her husband "ate [her life] all up." While I understand the panic, that's a horrible thing to say, not only because Tad is sitting right at the table with her wearing an awfully tight polo and looking utterly miserable, but also because she's practically oozing with bitter jealousy at her daughter for having so much time left. This is probably the saddest scene of all, but it does end on a hopeful note: Hannah asks to speak to her father instead, a symbol of her choice to move on, in spite of it all. It does feel like a breath of fresh air, like the show as a whole has decided to move forward — think of where everyone was at the beginning of this season! how far we've come! — which is all any of us ever wanted from it, right?

And then, the cherry on top, which may or may not have been a lazy writing decision, but who cares since it's that satisfying: Cut to six months later, it's snowing in New York (ew), and whose hand is a mitten'd Hannah clutching as she makes her way slowly down the sidewalk?