Much of what’s happened in this final season of Girls is about looking forward to the future and imagining what these characters’ lives might be like after the show ends. That continues in “Full Disclosure,” especially as Hannah continues to grapple with her pregnancy and what her future might hold, as well as asking herself who she wants to keep in her life. Big pieces of the episode are devoted to Hannah thinking about whether to contact Paul-Louis and tell him about the pregnancy, something she makes a half-hearted attempt to do, but can’t follow through.
This, by the way, is a place where Girls has been admirably evenhanded in its treatment of the pregnancy question. Both possibilities — telling him or not telling him — have been presented and considered, and although contacting Paul-Louis would probably be a good idea, it’s hard to deny Hannah’s counterargument: She knows who he is. He wears puka-shell necklaces, and his days off are Tuesdays and Thursdays.
But setting aside the question of Paul-Louis’s future involvement, as we get further and further into this season, it’s become obvious that Girls is as interested in looking back as it is forward: “American Bitch” was a response to, and continuation of, the issues from “One Man’s Trash”; “Painful Evacuation” was about long-threatened consequences finally coming to fruition. Even the premiere episode, with Hannah off in a beach bubble of the Hamptons, was a reconsideration of who exactly she has become.
We saw a lot of this backwards-vision in last week’s “Gummies,” but it’s become particularly pointed in “Full Disclosure,” where nearly every plot point is a referendum on where these characters have come from and the choices they’ve made. For Hannah, that’s obviously her decision to become a mother, but it’s also a reconsideration of who her friends are. Jessa comes storming into Hannah’s apartment calling herself a “dear friend,” all wounded and furious that Hannah hasn’t consulted her about the pregnancy. Hannah’s response is ice cold: They were never really friends, she tells Jessa. However much Jessa rails furiously against the way Hannah has cut her off, against the simple erasure of everything that came before, Hannah is unmoved. She just doesn’t care.
However you feel about Hannah’s actions last season, or about her epic, potentially unwarranted grudge against Jessa and Adam’s relationship, cutting Jessa out of her life now feels like one of the healthiest things she could do. Jessa has always been more aspiration and irritation than she’s been support, and you only have to look back on earlier Jessa moments to see the truth of that reality: She abandoned Hannah at her parents’ weird house upstate. She made Hannah come pick her up from rehab, even though she was obviously still a mess. More recently, she tanked poor Shoshanna’s sad entrepreneurship mixer, utterly unsympathetic to Shosh’s sincere dismay. The last several episodes have depicted her as manic enough to even raise questions about her sobriety. Cutting ties with Jessa may not make Hannah more stable at this point, but it could hardly hurt.
The same could be said for Marnie, who’s also come smack up against the consequences of her decisions over the last several seasons. Harnessed to a musical partner and former husband who seems to hate her, their music, and himself, she’s stuck at a sad Jersey club called LaVue, performing for her mother’s best friend’s “babely” birthday party just so she can fulfill the terms of her miserable touring contract. And because Desi shows up too high to perform, she’s sitting up there onstage with her mother, who is singing backup, scatting, bombing abysmally, and introducing them as “The Michaels Sisters.” It is excruciating.
But you can’t say this isn’t something Marnie has wrought, that she hasn’t brought every bit of it upon herself. And it’s just as hard to say that she doesn’t deserve it — particularly given her behavior this season. While Hannah seems to be pulling herself together, Marnie has been hollowed out, made even worse and less sympathetic than she ever was. She’s swerved into nearly pure parody in the last several episodes: treating Ray terribly, demonstrating myopic self-interest in Desi’s therapy session, and, in one of the most hilariously horrible lines of the episode, responds to Hannah’s pregnancy announcement by pointing out how great it would be to have “someone else to consider.” It’s funny, really: Marnie’s probably the most overtly comedic aspect the show has this season. But especially when compared with Hannah’s sudden seriousness, Jessa’s relatively complex breakdown, and the depths Shoshanna has demonstrated over the past two seasons, Marnie looks like she’s being drawn in caricature, while everyone else gets something closer to realism.
Marnie’s self-examination — if it’s even happening, which is a little dubious — is about the choices that have brought her to this moment, sitting onstage at LaVue next to her mother, while her ex-husband fails to drive away on a motorcycle. Elijah’s is about acting, and whether it’s something he should seriously pursue. He certainly isn’t terrible, which we know thanks to a goofy little scene between him and his co-worker — played by another Hamilton alum, Jasmine Cephas Jones — at a leather-goods store. Elijah also apologizes to Hannah for the cruelty of his words in “Gummies,” promising her that she won’t be a terrible mother and that he wants to be a part of her child’s life. It’s hard to see him as being particularly helpful, but his apology is sincere.
Obviously, the most explicit self-consideration of “Full Disclosure” is Adam’s (47-minute) movie Full Dis:closure, which Hannah finally makes herself sit down and watch at the end of the episode. The surface layer of the premise is that Hannah’s being forced to look at herself as seen through Adam’s reconstructed memories — to look at this embodied vision of who she used to be. It’s hard to imagine a more explicit way of measuring whether or not you’ve changed than watching someone play you in an indie-film story of your past self. (Speaking of indie film, it’s pretty hard to believe that Adam and Jessa could’ve actually put together a script, found an actress to play Hannah, filmed the whole thing, edited it, and figured out how to pay for any of it in the short period of time since they came up with the idea. But I’m kind of into the whole conceit, dumb name aside, so … whatever.)
Watching the movie, Hannah’s forced to look at herself. Even more, she’s looking at Adam as he watches her past self, and she’s struck by some strong emotion. What is she thinking in that moment? Is it longing? Regret? Surprise? Does she want him back? Does she understand something new about their relationship?
Full Dis:closure is about Hannah, Jessa, and Adam being required to take a step back from the emotional weight of their current positions and think again about everything that came in the past. Hannah may well want to erase Jessa, but erasing Adam proves much harder. “Gummies” demonstrated how thoroughly Jessa had constructed her own understanding of Hannah and Adam’s relationship, and how little that matched up with Adam’s recollection. Adam, meanwhile, is desperate for Hannah to watch the movie so that he can know whether his memory of their time together (intense, fraught, loving, angry, codependent) matches hers.
It’s also about Girls watching itself, and reminding us that, all along, most of our experience of this narrative has been filtered through Hannah Horvath. She’s hardly an omniscient narrator, and there’s been plenty of this show that happens outside of her experiences. But think of how often episodes end just like “Full Disclosure” does, with a close-up of Hannah’s face. Think of how many of its standalone episodes are constructed around Hannah’s perspective, and framed through her emotional arc. Adam’s movie is making Hannah do exactly the thing Marnie so glibly wishes for: consider someone else.
It does the same thing for us as viewers, showing us the briefest slice of a similar but distinct version of Girls. I don’t want to argue that Adam’s movie is entirely faithful to “reality”; his credit-sequence scene of meeting “Mira” while she’s stealing almonds at a store is made up. The point remains the same, though: The gutsiness and controversy and purpose of Girls has always been drawn from Hannah’s perspective, even as it necessarily eliminates other viewpoints. Here, briefly, is a little acknowledgment of that, for us and for Hannah. “Full Disclosure” ends with a close-up of Hannah’s face, but the main episode’s final image of Full Dis:closure is a very Hannah-esque close-up of Adam. However we want to think about it, moving into the future requires reckoning with what’s already happened, and thinking about other versions of events we may have preferred to ignore.