Girls S4 Ep4: Cubbies

This week on Girls … Hannah makes a big decision with unexpected results. Shoshanna and Ray reconnect as friends. And Marnie gets what she wants – or does she?

Hannah discovers that Adam has moved on in her absence. Awkward (Image: HBO)

Hannah discovers that Adam has moved on in her absence. Awkward (Image: HBO)

Goodbye, Iowa

Maybe you should talk to the rest of the class because they have put me in a box and now I’m suffocating.

Still struggling with writer’s block, Hannah writes a letter that she puts in the cubby-holes of each of her classmates. However, in true Hannah style, her ‘apology’ is no more than a Trojan horse for a defensive rant in which she blames them and seeks an apology. Her teacher tells her she would have to assault someone to be expelled, to which a disappointed Hannah admits that the thought that she might be kicked out makes her happy.

When her father arrives to take her out for dinner, he tells her that her mother once wrote a book but she quit writing because it made her miserable before deviating into a rant about stupid decisions and a suggestion that they just hop on a plane and go somewhere new. It suggests that all may not be well in Tad‘s life – could this be related to his previous health issues that have never been fully fleshed out?

Having failed to engineer a situation in which she could turn herself into a victim and blame someone else for her failure in Iowa, Hannah quits and returns to New York with a smile on her face and the weight lifted from her shoulders. But when she arrives at her apartment, she meets Adam‘s new girlfriend, Mimi Rose. Having taken her boyfriend for granted during her absence, her world comes crashing down around her as she realises he’s moved on. Awkward.

So now we have some major questions raised about both Hannah’s future with Adam and as a writer. Her Iowa experience has exposed her limitations as a writer and caused her to seriously question her calling for the first time. Where next?

The real world

What makes these people qualified to judge me?

Shoshanna gets a rude introduction to the real world as her interview at McKinsey, her seventh in two weeks, goes badly and she gets a taste of her own medicine as she receives some blunt feedback about her off-putting style, lack of sensitivity and her black-and-white view of the world.

She seeks out Ray, who she finds ranting against impatient drivers who are being held up by new traffic lights on the corner of his block. She goes shopping with him, convincing him to buy a $70 T-shirt that they both hate. But she also apologises for being the cause of the end of their relationship, admits she loved him but recognises they need to be just friends now.

It’s obvious that Ray and Shosh are better together as friends than apart as ex-lovers. He gives her the reassurance she needs when her confidence is shaken, while she soothes his anger and gives him the impetus (not for the first time) to be more than he is, planting the seed of getting involved in local politics to solve his traffic problem. Is Ray about to finally get some agency of his own as an individual character, rather than being merely Charlie’s friend, Shoshanna’s boyfriend and Marnie’s secret lover? (I hope so – I love Ray as a character.)

Right now Shoshanna needs Ray more than he needs her, as her lack of both self-awareness and recognition of the harsh realities of the real world reveal a sense of entitlement that is in many ways just as misplaced and unattractive as Hannah or Marnie‘s. She does see the world too much as black and white, and until she realises that the world is not going to simply bow to the ten-year plan according to Shoshanna Shapiro, she’s heading for a bumpy ride.

What a girl wants

I did it.

Marnie asks both Jessa and Shoshanna for feedback on her latest demo, then throws it back in their faces when both are unimpressed. When things become awkward between her and Desi after she breaks off their affair, he shows up at her apartment in the middle of the night and tells her he has broken up with Clementine. She learns that this was more a pre-emptive act before she dumped him, but she welcomes him into her arms anyway.

So Marnie at least has what she wanted. But how long will it last? It’s hardly the fairy-tale romance she was hoping for.

Now what?

With Hannah ending her Iowa sabbatical, it finally feels like this season has some genuine impetus. There’s plenty of richly dark, awkward humour to feast on, from Hannah’s inglorious attempts to either mend bridges or get kicked out to Shoshanna’s hard fall and the final revelation of Adam’s girlfriend, as mentioned in passing by Jessa in the previous episode.

Several intriguing new plotlines are also set up. Where next for Hannah? Will she follow in her mother’s footsteps and give up writing? Where does she stand with Adam? And what’s behind her father’s behaviour?

Is Ray destined for greater things than managing a coffee shop? Is the realisation of Marnie’s wish the first step towards the disintegration of her dream relationship and her singing aspirations? And will Jessa ever get a serious story arc?

Aside from the imbalance of focus between the four main characters, this was as good an episode as Girls has produced this season: sharp and funny with more than a hint of major upheaval on the horizon. It’s time for Hannah and her friends to grow up and move on to the next phase of their lives.

Fun stuff, references & quotables

  • Shoshanna references Chelsea Clinton during her interview at McKinsey. She worked for the consultancy giant between 2003 and 2006.
  • “Just having a little chat here in the dark corner of the American experiment.” Otherwise known as Ray ranting and raving at the passing traffic, Falling Down style.
  • Shoshanna nails Ray’s personality: “You’ve always been that angry. It’s, like, your essential nature.”
  • This week’s song over the closing credits is Patsy Cline’s She’s Got You. Ouch.

Rating: 9/10

Girls season 4 reviews

4.1 Iowa

4.2 Triggering

4.3 Female Author

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