Girls S3 Ep5: Only Child

This week on Girls … Hannah finds her path to success, and just as quickly finds it blocked. Marnie and Ray make an unexpected connection. Shoshanna starts to pay the price for burning the candle at both ends. And Jessa goes job-hunting.

From despair to joy and back again

Hannah runs the whole gamut of emotions in this episode, but her behaviour never deviates from appalling. While her lack of emotion last week was in some ways understandable, this time it’s hard to feel sympathetic towards her in any way. From her casual celebrity-spotting at David’s funeral to her treatment of his widow – her surprise that she’s pretty, telling her that she thought he wanted to sleep with her and finally asking for another publisher’s details – Hannah’s complete lack of empathy stems directly from her self-centred view of the world. Even on a day which is all about remembering a dead friend, she blithely puts herself first.

Even by Hannah's standards, her behaviour this week represents a new low point (Image: Girls Wiki)

Even by Hannah’s standards, her behaviour this week represents a new low point (Image: Girls Wiki)

However, her pig-headedness pays off as a meeting with a prospective publisher goes better than she could possibly have imagined, as they offer her a deal to write a real book, not just an e-book. Her joy is short-lived, though, as she discovers that, despite Millstreet dropping all David’s projects, they still retain the rights to her work for three years.

Frustrated, she lashes out at everyone. Having previously intervened with good intentions (but self-serving actions) in a row between Adam and his sister Caroline – Adam feels she pukes on everything metaphorically, Caroline thinks he’s suppressing sexual desire for her, Hannah just wants them to avoid words like ‘fatty’ – she ends up throwing Caroline out, much to Adam’s displeasure.

It turns out that it isn’t Caroline’s presence as much as her absence which pushes things to breaking point. She’s ultimately just the catalyst that sparks Hannah into driving in the wedge between her and Adam herself. Having earlier complained about the loneliness of being an only child, Hannah’s lack of understanding of her boyfriend’s bond with his sister, despite their arguments, threatens the one relationship which truly makes her happy.

It also says a lot about how far Adam has developed and how far Hannah has fallen that in the strange triangle involving the pair of them and Caroline, it’s Adam who comes across as being the most well-balanced – and by some distance.

Marnie superior

Hannah’s descent into self-centred non-empathy is offset by the funniest exchange of the season so far, resulting in a coupling straight out of left-field.

Having been blown off by Hannah, Marnie gets more than she bargained for when she asks Ray to tell her what’s wrong with her. She doesn’t receive the backhanded compliments she’s seeking. Instead he tells her the truth: she’s judgemental and uptight, acts superior to everyone else and uses people a lot. In summation:

In a nutshell, you’re a huge, fat, fucking phony.

But then he admits that he still likes her. In the latest of this season’s series of meta moments, he follows this up with what sounds very much like Lena Dunham’s response to the increasingly hostile groundswell against Marnie from the show’s fans:

All of this bullshit comes from a very deep, dank, dark well of insecurity, probably created by your absent father, and that allows you to be a sympathetic character.

This leads to awkward sex, followed by awkward post-coital conversation – “Be safe and stay warm”, Ray advises her – and culminating in a moment of pure Marnie-ness as she responds to Ray’s gentle request to keep their tryst quiet:

Go fuck yourself. Like I’d advertise this!

Portents of things to come?

Elsewhere the episode plants seeds which we will no doubt return to later. The impact of Shoshanna’s recent hi-jinks on her grades and her 15-year plan. Jessa seeking a job with a touch of innocence. Hannah’s father’s minor procedure – supposedly to remove a mole – which goes straight over her head.

They’re minor footnotes in one of the series’ most successfully cringe-worthy episodes ever, but I doubt they will remain as such. Watch this space.

For now, though, Girls continues to go from strength to strength, even if its main protagonists are increasingly revealing the worst of themselves.

Rating: 9/10

Girls continues on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 10pm.

Girls season 3 reviews

3.1 Females Only & 3.2 Truth or Dare

3.3 She Said OK

3.4 Dead Inside

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