Girls Recap: Destroying Each Other

Lena Dunham as Hannah. Photo: HBO
Episode Title
Good Man
Editor’s Rating

It's hard not to keep thinking about the end of Girls.

Sure, this is only the second episode of the season, but it was announced that next season — the show's sixth — will be its last. It's a good decision, if only because it means that the show won't overstay its welcome. Doing so would be especially tough for Girls, since it focuses on the tumultuous, confusing time in your early twenties. Watching these characters make the same mistakes years from now (or, God forbid, watching these characters actually have their lives together) could be downright boring.

So Girls will end after next season, which means that I've already started looking for hints as to where this gang will end up, how they'll find happiness (if they do), and which couples are endgame (Marnie and Ray, please). "Good Man" does feature a few relationships with the potential to last, but let's be real: This show is bound to change its mind a few times on the way to the end.

Hannah and Fran are in a pretty good place, despite some roommate trouble. One night, they wake up to Fran's erratic and off-his-meds roomie, Jacob, making noise and creating a map of his body to confirm a suspicion that he's growing. (Artists, am I right?) When Hannah stage-whispers to Fran that she thinks Jacob is crazy, Jacob totally freaks out, which leads to Fran temporarily bunking with Hannah.

Fran and Hannah's relationship is going so well, in fact, that this sudden co-habitation isn't a big deal. We don't witness a huge back-and-forth about whether it's a good idea, or whether it's too soon. It surely helps that this isn't supposed to be a permanent thing — that takes away some of the general stress of moving in with your significant other. Regardless of whether it's temporary or permanent, though, the couple is completely at ease with this new development, and quickly sink into a nice little three-way roommate relationship with Elijah (who basically makes out with Hannah when they say good-bye). They even leave together for work in the morning.

Unfortunately, work isn't going quite as well as Hannah's personal life. She's not the most skilled teacher, instead choosing to teach her young students about Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus. One of those kids calls her out on the inappropriate assignment, and when the principal discovers her off-curriculum lesson, he isn't too keen on it, either. While this doesn't bode well for Hannah's future as an educator, there's no time to learn more because she has more pressing issues to attend to: Her father is sobbing in a hotel room in Times Square.

It turns out that Hannah's dad, Tad, went to New York City to hook up with a man he met on the internet, and then he forgot his wallet at the stranger's place. He's sobbing about the wallet, but it's clearly more than that: This is (possibly?) his first gay encounter, and it's happening as he's still married to Loreen, and it's all very overwhelming. This is a strange little story line, and the amount of anger from Loreen seems a little unearned. It's obviously not an ideal situation, but her reactions still don't land — at one point, she says he's "drowning in a pile of semen" — though that could have a lot to do with the fact that Tad's sudden "I'm gay" realization last season didn't land very well, either.

Nevertheless, it does make for a nice role reversal between Hannah and her father. She lectures him on unprotected sex, she tries to help him by calling Elijah (who takes one look at the weeping Horvaths through the restaurant window before bailing — and finding a possible suitor!), and the episode eventually ends with her explaining that it's okay if he doesn't know what to do.

While all of this happens, "Good Man" treats us to a pair of very different plots. Let's start with Ray and Elijah's especially frustrating story line. Ray gets increasingly agitated by the new "cool" coffee shop across the street. (The place basically sounds like it was described by a Boomer with a cursory knowledge of millennial buzzwords.) Not only is the place taking away Ray's business — including his employee Elijah, who won't stop praising its coffee — but this shop doesn't believe in coffee lids, meaning patrons hop across the street to Ray's just to steal lids.

The less said about the awkward interaction when Ray goes to confront them, the better. One of the employees is non-binary and first, Ray misgenders them, then frustratingly keeps putting his foot in his mouth as he goes on. It's a bizarre scene that borders on offensive — we're meant to take it as Ray being insensitive, but the way it plays out, the writing seems to imply that the two employees are being overly sensitive. (Also, the "You offended 'they'" line doesn't land at all; it makes the "joke" about improper grammar rather than Ray being clueless about preferred pronouns.) This all serves to turn the offended employee into the punch line, yelling "White man! White man!" before turning to hug their co-worker. The entire exchange felt out of place.

Next up is Adam and Jessa, a couple that I can't quite decide if I want to root for or not. I desperately want them to remain good friends, but there is something almost guiltily appealing about this new relationship. Adam admits his feelings for Jessa while talking to Laird, and then doubles-down by showing up to her AA meeting to try to talk about what happened ("for our sobriety!") at the wedding. Jessa would prefer to pretend that the makeout session never happened, but she clearly has feelings for him, too, so she accepts his terms that they just hang out as friends.

In a really cute, rom-com-esque montage, the pair spend the day at a carnival: He teaches her how to throw a ball, she feeds him a sandwich, they play games with a bunch of kids, and they even leave with a goldfish prize. It's staged in a deliberately romantic way that emphasizes their shared sobriety and how they work well together — and, maybe even more important, how they effortlessly make each other laugh. But there's some obvious hesitance, and it's not just about Adam's ex.

"Even if Hannah didn't exist, I would destroy you," Jessa tells him. "And you would destroy me. We would destroy each other." After all, they couldn't even keep the damn fish alive during the walk home. But Jessa can't deny their chemistry — and perhaps she's looking for another distraction to maintain her sobriety — so they end up at her place, masturbating together on the couch, and breaking the rule to not look at each other.

And now, I'm way more invested in their relationship than any other on the show. Maybe it's because they have potential to be either the series' best or worst couple, or maybe it's because watching them crash and burn would be tragically entertaining. The end of Girls may still be a ways off, but it's certainly possible that Jessa and Adam are an endgame.