Wow, we've been kinda blessed this season, haven't we? I admit I didn't have much hope towards the beginning of this season, but the past few episodes have been pleasantly surprising, not only in plot and character developments but also in pure comedic timing. We're in a serious groove here, so let's enjoy it. This week, our heroes (and villains, depending on your perspective) are forced out of denial and must come to terms with various truths they've been avoiding. Of course, these reality checks go about as well as you'd imagine.
Jessa and Ace finally have sex. She is clearly psyched, but he's getting turned on by anything but her — primarily, her "trippy" apartment, which he says makes him feel like they're "in a Tiffany music video." Obviously this is not going to end well, but let's move on for now, because Jessa is horrible and doesn't deserve more attention, even when she's banging Zachary Quinto.
Hannah is remarkably calm over pierogies with her father, maintaining that his revelation is "not about [her]," which is immediately suspicious considering it's the polar opposite of what Loreen maintained last week. If this development had only involved Hannah and Tad, I would believe she was being truthful with herself about his sexuality, but Loreen and Elijah, the latter of whom seems more interested in the novelty of teaching his friend's dad how to be properly gay than about how his friend might be coping with the emotional fallout, are both making it utterly impossible for this to be totally genuine, despite her best efforts. Also, we learn that Hannah still leaves her wallet at home when she goes out to eat with her parents. Booooo.
(By the way, some of you last week pointed out something that was reiterated this episode, so I want to give y'all a true mea culpa: Elijah did indeed call Tad's sexuality in a past episode — though can we in good faith believe that was honestly meant to be foreshadowing when it was written? As one of you noted, it's about as flimsy a justification as the OCD Hannah suddenly seems to have no problem keeping 100 percent under control.)
Shosh is channeling all her nervous, jobless energy into Ray's campaign, which is foreshadowingly weird because you'd think she'd be more preoccupied with her new BF Jason Ritter. He's nowhere to be found this week, so she spends the episode organizing an election-night party that includes a massive cake with Ray's face on it. That's all we get from her this week.
Back at school, Cleo has done exactly what Hannah has forgotten popular high-school girls do: dropped Hannah like a hot potato overnight with no warning, for seemingly no reason (other than, you know, the fact she tricked her into getting a piercing). Hurt and oddly confused, Hannah confronts her, revealing just how deep her delusion that it's okay for a grown-ass woman to be BFFs with her teenage student runs. (There's also a perfect, wordless, not-gonna-touch-that drive-by from Fran. He was right: Hannah is exactly the girl he thinks she is. FRAN, PLEASE COME BACK. If he were to give Hannah a second chance, do you think he would be a good influence on her, or would she drag him down the way he predicted?)
The principal overhears their uncomfortably inappropriate conversation and calls Hannah into his office, where he has a little chat with her about boundaries. It’s obvious that people like Hannah — including his own students, probably — are the bane of his meek-yet-authoritative existence. Every time she repeats the phrase, "My father came out of the closet as a proud gay man," he looks like she's just dragged her fingers down a chalkboard. Whether she's mature enough to actually understand the term boundaries before she loses her job is a question that seems likely to be answered next week. Uncomfortably explicit conversations with Loreen — who is dealing with this with about half of the tact her daughter showed in "Sit In," including telling Hannah her friend said Tad would make a great "daddy" (Becky Ann Baker, you are a true delight) — seem to hit home. So does Tad and Elijah’s new relationship. The two have become fast friends, or at least a flamboyant Jedi master/Padawan team, as the younger teaches the older about fashion and not lying about his past gay experiences. When she parrots her principal's "boundaries" lecture at her father and gay best friend as they enthusiastically go into detail about Tad's sexual history, it's clear that at least now she knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of that kind of overshare.
The Sociopath Games continue: On the way to an Ethiopian restaurant owned by Ace's friend whose breasts he photographed "for a project on globalization," suddenly, completely by accident, he and Jessa end up near Mimi-Rose's place, where Ace insists they must say hi. Cue the most awkward double-date scenario ever, wherein Jessa and Adam cannot wait for Jessa and Ace to leave, while Mimi-Rose and Ace are busy manipulating everyone in a one-mile radius in their attempts to verbally parallel-park their way back into a relationship.
When Mimi-Rose "confesses" she's jealous of Jessa and Ace's relationship (which Jessa is trying to downplay to offset MRH's attention, and Ace is playing up because he knows it's like Mimi-Rose catnip), Adam snaps. He calls Ace a "jambroni," which rules, at which point Mimi stabs everyone — JK, she just announces that she wants Ace back. The shock is tangible. Then Jessa loses it, too, understandably livid to have been out-manipulated ("I'm not going to be a pawn in your game; I fucking run game") and drags Adam out of the loft with her so they can salvage their dignity. While I despise her most of the time, I can't say this scene wasn't at least a relief. She does save Adam from the trap she dumped him in to get her own way, even if it was only after she too had gotten sucked into the mire. Mimi-Rose decides the best course of action is to be alone. Ha-ha, Mimi-Rose, CLASSIC.
After some #realtalk about what she saw in Ace ("[He's] someone who didn't give me a chance to think. I don't do well when I think"), Jessa and Adam roll up to Ray's party, but Adam bows out because he "wants to see [Hannah] too much right now." No, I'm not crying, you're crying. Shut up.
Okay, I take it back: Marnie and Coldplay being engaged is actually awesome, because now we get to experience the actual palpable discomfort people feel IRL when their self-centered friends get engaged to jerkoffs. They roll up to Ray's election-night party, and Marnie tells Beardo to keep their engagement under wraps for now, then promptly waltzes up to Ray — whom she totally knows still has feelings for her — and announces the news with her ring. And as if that wasn't enough to ensure his big day was actually all about her, later she picks up Ray's microphone, demands everyone's attention, and announces her engagement to the whole bar. This is after Ray has made an admittedly uncomfortable victory speech, promising to be there no matter what, while staring directly into her eyes. When it was Shoshanna — who seems to be a natural at politics, despite being convinced she'll be unemployed forever — who spent the entire episode organizing this party and ensuring the night is all about Ray (as it should be). Obviously Desi is completely oblivious and drunk on his own victory: winning Marnie. What a beautiful comedy storm.
The most perfect moment in this whole episode, though — and the reason "Daddy Issues" gets four stars — is the last shot, with Ray and Hannah staring listlessly into the crowd as Marnie gleefully clutches the mic as though she owns it. These two have never been disingenuous with each other, and while they're not exactly best friends, the deadpan exchange they have here is utterly priceless and gives us a fantastic jumping-off point for next week. Starting with Hannah's aside ("She is so not sorry to interrupt"):
Ray (re: Marnie's announcement): That's great news. I'm so happy for her.
Hannah: I'm so happy for everyone.
Ray: [Pause] I'm faking it.
Hannah: I'm faking everything.
Now, that is how you execute a beautiful payoff.