Hannah is one week into her new job as a substitute teacher and apparently killing it with her class of high-school English students. I think we all anticipated this might be the case, but Hannah has never been in rarer form than she is in front of a room full of sassy teenagers (including Maude Apatow!) discussing Oedipus Rex, free will, and MILFs. What’s more, she seems like she’s doing ten times the job any of my subs ever did. When her charming banter with history teacher Fran in the teachers’ lounge ends in a date proposal almost as abrupt as Jason Ritter’s to Shosh last week, I genuinely thought, Good for you, Hannah! You deserve it! possibly for the first time in the history of this show. (Side note: Is it just me or does this feel like a scene from a less caffeinated New Girl?)
Of course, being Hannah, her genetic coding demands she torpedo that good fortune immediately. The pair go to a nice jazz bar, where their repartee is just as lovely as before, the kind of chat that kicks off most enviable relationships — but instead of taking Fran up on a second drink, Hannah suggests they go to an art show. Which can only mean something very bad.
Now here’s the Hannah we all know and want to bop on the head! She brings her “delightful sport” of a co-worker/date — who, as if he needed to further prove his awesomeness, gamely agrees to go — to Ask Me My Name, a performance art exhibit by (you guessed it!) everyone’s favorite Sociopath Lite, Mimi-Rose Howard. I just want to pause here and reiterate just how dreamily perfect this whole episode (written by Murray Miller and Jason Kim and directed by Tricia Brock) has been so far: so much psychological well-being, so many adorably flirty exchanges, so much hope. It’s almost as though Hannah has become self-aware.
Alas, this reverie comes crashing back down to hell when Hannah’s friends (who are all Mimi-Rose’s friends now, I guess?) descend on her to demand what she could possibly be thinking. Adam, understandably, freaks out, too. Hannah claims she doesn’t know what anyone is talking about; there’s nothing weird about coming to your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s art show. (Another side note: Shut up, Coldplay, no one asked for your pseudo-feminist garbage approval.) Fran actually doesn’t know what anyone is talking about, but he’s quickly getting the gist of it. He does his best to roll with it — great people remain friends with their exes all the time! — but the whole confrontation becomes increasingly awkward with every passing moment. Then Hannah tells Adam, “I came to see my friend Marnie, my friend Jessa, and for a date I’m on with a man named Fran — check him out.” And everything bursts into flames. (Which is to say, Fran gives up and bails.)
Ugh. Poor Fran.
With her pawn out of the picture, Hannah finally admits she doesn’t know why she’s come — a perfect prelude for the woman of the hour, Mimi-Rose, to come say hi! Against Adam’s strong suggestion, she invites Hannah to come out for drinks with them. After all, her own “ex-partner” Ace (played by Zachary Quinto, my moon and stars!) is coming, too. Hannah immediately accepts and the odd quadruplet set out for the bar, still wearing their ASK ME MY NAME smocks.
Mimi-Rose insists they split into two cabs, the girls in one and the boys in the other. This goes about as well as you’d think: Slick Ace pretends to commiserate with Adam about the manipulative act MRH puts on, then informs him he’s going to get her back, so Adam might as well just enjoy it while it lasts. Mimi-Rose, meanwhile, demands Hannah confess her real critique of her show (“The show was perfect; it was Beyoncé to me,” she maintains, her expression a line-face emoji), then compliments her writing while simultaneously humblebragging about a book she’s trying to write that sounds like an amalgamation of every best-selling novel of the past five years. Hannah asks Adim the cab driver (fun fact, Adim is a Hebrew variant on “Adam”) to make an unexpected turn, which results in the car hitting and knocking over a little old lady with a walker. Mimi-Rose hails some cops loitering on the corner, and Adim insists it’s Hannah’s fault he hit a dazed Mary; Hannah wants to bail, but of course Mimi-Rose wants to stay. They compromise by waiting (and buying a bunch of snacks) in the bodega.
You’ve got to hand it to Mimi-Rose; her brutal honesty can be refreshing (when it’s not a casual abortion announcement, anyway). “Do you resent me for dating Adam?” she asks Hannah, beginning a therapy-style conversation about how Hannah actually feels. Hannah plays some great, if wishful, defense here, insisting that she would never resent another woman because it’s “not how I roll”; instead, she rants about Adam being a coward. There’s a perfect moment of direction here when Mimi-Rose agrees (“That’s Adam in a nutshell”), and Hannah visibly winces. If there were ever a person to test the limits of a feminist’s refusal to hate other women for the sins of the patriarchy, it’s the inappropriately empathetic Mimi-Rose.
The pair have a minor bonding moment when they “protest” the deli clerk refusing to let Hannah use the employees-only bathroom by stealing Mimi-Rose’s Popsicle; they escape to the laundromat next door, where, in the span of Hannah’s two-minute bathroom run, MRH has befriended a delighted stranger woman by trying to sneak a folded-up poem into her dryer. Hannah negs the woman and Mimi-Rose’s poem hardcore, which leads Mimi-Rose again to their therapy talk: Does Hannah want Adam back? Because if she does, “I might say you can have him.”
Screeeeeech. I’m sorry, what did you say, woman?
Hannah and I are both calling bullshit here, but Mimi-Rose suggests that she could start giving him the cold shoulder so Hannah can swoop in and win him back, thus proving that she is indeed a sociopath. She suggests Hannah do this by getting back into her writing with him through a “joint creative project,” which of course is like offering an addict a line of primo-grade cocaine. Hannah flips out and gives in: Yes, she blames Mimi-Rose for stealing her boyfriend, and yes, Mimi-Rose’s art is stupid and she is full of it and maybe she should just admit it.
But really … it’s kind of true, you know? Hannah is, for all intents and purposes, an addict — her drug being the high of fabricating a romanticized, totally untenable “artist’s” life; the detox being the exploration of a life that might actually make her happy instead of one she believes ought to — and Mimi-Rose is being the worst kind of friend possible, because she’s still snorting fairy-tale dust with reckless abandon. The difference is that Mimi-Rose is a much more functional addict, so of course instead of letting her guard down, she launches into another of her excruciating TED talk monologues about the inspiration for her art show — it would be some more B.S. if it weren’t for the fact that it turns into Hannah yelling about how much she hates getting to know her because it just keeps getting more obvious how successful and perfect she is, and then Mimi-Rose fiiiiiiiiinally being a non-robot human and snapping back that she feels the same way about Hannah. “I know that you hated my show,” she says. “And the way that you see me, I’m afraid that’s the way everyone sees me. I just want to make something that says something, and I don’t even know why anymore.” Dingdingdingding! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Brooklyn Bobbsey Twins.
Because that is a line we can all imagine Hannah having said last season. The second she says it, you can tell Hannah recognizes it, too, because she sits down and confesses that she is terrified she’s going to have a boring, normal life, which is the worst thing ever, at least in her mind. She sees Mimi-Rose as being successful because she keeps working at the dream she couldn’t maintain because she “wasn’t talented enough.” It’s sort of heartbreaking, not because she’s giving up on her dream, but because both of them still consider any life less than that of the second coming of Joan Didion or Marina Abramović to be bleak and unfulfilling.
Mimi-Rose suggests they go get plastered. This is the best idea Mimi-Rose has ever had.
They show up to the after-party bar, where Jessa has just learned that Ace is not in fact interested in her as she’d hoped when she set MRH and Adam up. Mimi-Rose splits to meet her adoring fan-friends, and Hannah, instead of drinking, makes a big move: She walks up to Adam, who is sitting at the bar and understandably miserable, to tell him she really likes Mimi-Rose and is sincerely happy for them. Whether she means it or is just setting up the first part of Mimi-Rose’s psychotic plan is no matter for the moment; she leaves him confused and probably a little guilty and goes to end her night the way so, so many of us young Brooklynites have: She buys a falafel and a seltzer and wanders home alone.
I really like this Hannah, you guys.