Things are looking up for Hannah and Adam. She’s meeting Patti LuPone about a bone density drug advertorial; he’s sitting in a waiting room on a callback for a part in a Broadway revival of Major Barbara, declaring that he’s “not here to make friends.” Adam then immediately makes a friend and Hannah is informed that her subject won’t be joining her five minutes before their meeting time. Being stood up by Patti LuPone doesn’t stop Hannah from tracking her down and getting that interview, during which she quickly learns that most of her job is fake and that Ms. LuPone doesn’t know shit about osteoporosis. This, however, is fine for our Hannah because she’s a quick witted and determined writer. She can roll with the punches.
The perpetually chill Adam, who is actually a talented actor who has perhaps always been aware of his talent but unwilling to share this fact with those in his life, is offered the part on the spot and then retreats to the bathroom to allow himself a muffled scream of excitement. Meanwhile, Hannah receives her first paycheck and begins to indulge in the joys of financial independence. The two seem to be doing great. Initially Hannah is the super supportive partner who couldn’t be happier for Adam’s success to match her own. But Patti LuPone’s insistence that things are going to change in Hannah and Adam’s relationship now that he’s a Broadway actor and will “start fucking everybody in the building” puts Hannah on a path of insecurity, making her question even the innocuous “have fun” uttered to her by her boss after giving her a 16 Reasons We’d Love To Stay At The Gramercy assignment.
Marnie runs into Soojin, Booth Jonathan’s former assistant, and the two have an awkward stroll down the street with their fro-yo. Soojin’s no longer living that assistant life and has transformed into an entrepreneur who is in the process of opening her own art gallery. She is living the life that Marnie should be living. Instead, Marnie is still miserable and confiding a lot of that miserable in Ray, whom she is nearly cohabitating with and whose companionship seems to have become the one constant comfort in her life. It’s Ray though who wants a change. He wants more out of a relationship and knows that he’s not going to get that from Marnie. It’s a double blow for her because she has been dumped by a guy whom they both know is not in her league when she is still grieving the loss of who she thought may have been the love of her life, but also because she really does care about this relationship but is too hurt and embarrassed to admit it to either Ray or herself. But you don’t bring in your fuck-buddy’s Netflix envelopes, Marnie. You just don’t.
Jessa is recognizing the soul-sucking and mundane tenacity of so many day jobs and has been managing it by being her own entertainment at the children’s clothing store, spanking a dummy in the store window one second, flipping off customers from the stoop the next. But despite how inappropriate Jessa’s behavior may be, she still showed up; she’s going through the motions like everybody else. I’m also in awe of Jessa’s ability to convince anyone to allow her to be in charge of the store at all, but that’s really just evidence of her ability to prove herself to be a responsible adult when she needs to. Of course when she seems to be doing all right, her boredom from her job collides with the return of Jasper, her creep of a father figure from rehab, who essentially stalked her with the explicit intent of fucking up her sobriety. I wanted to believe that Jessa had come far, that even though her latest rehab stint seemed to be a joke to her that she still may have retained some of the skills to avoid falling back into old habits and knowing how to respond to a situation like Jasper in a way that got her out unscathed – or at least not on her hands and knees at her place of employment picking through boxes for coke money.
“Incidentals” concludes at the comped Gramercy hotel room with everyone gathering to celebrate Adam’s impending Broadway success. He brings his new BFF, Desi, who brings the aura of a former One Tree Hill star that both Elijah and Shoshanna are mesmerized by, and an acoustic guitar. Jessa brings Jasper and a cocaine high. Marnie brings the box of pizza she inherited in her and Ray’s break-up. Hannah’s insecurities continue to plague her as even her friends question how this new role could change her relationship and her life. Elijah’s concerned with educating Hannah on her “new moneyed lifestyle” and wondering how much she gets in incidentals and Shoshanna bluntly asks if she’s afraid that Adam is going to leave her for a Broadway harlot. She’s on edge when Marnie shuts herself in the bathroom upon her arrival, although it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility in their relationship for Marnie to be mad at her and for Hannah to not know why. But it’s not about her and Hannah doesn’t ask.
These girls are sad and something about it feels familiar. Jessa is an addict and her friends are realizing that Jessa has to be the one who wants help. Marnie has no idea how to cope with this type of rejection and has made the mistake of excluding her friends in a way that makes them unable to help. Shoshanna has reverted back to the one who falls back while her friends work out their neuroses. It’s Hannah, however, who has figured out how to handle things differently. She recognizes that she’s spiraling and talks it out with her boyfriend like a rational adult in a rational adult relationship because that is exactly what they have. Adam’s a very talented actor and Hannah’s a very talented writer; they’re good to one another and they’re both very lucky. Everything else is just incidental.
Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.