So much of this season has focused on Hannah and Adam’s relationship and Hannah having to deal with her changing role in his life and, most importantly, whether or not this change was real or imagined, that going into last night’s finale I initially thought that it would seem unfair to see any of this unresolved. Yet it’s the understanding that we are all complex and strange and that hardly anything ever gets resolved in the way that we would like it to is what Lena Dunham has been so good at with Girls. Watching Hannah and Adam’s relationship progress and wondering how they’re going to make it work, or if they should even try at all, has been altogether satisfying when Hannah’s juvenile behavior wasn’t making me want to rip my hair out. There are also other relationships to tend to, however, and a return to a more lateral focus on the lives of our other protagonists was a satisfying way to close out the season.
Shoshanna’s self-proclaimed “year of freedom” has caught up to her and a failed glaciology class is prohibiting her from graduating. It’s a shock for Shoshanna, who has been so meticulous in setting a timeline of goals for her life, to see one of her plans go incomplete and being unable to control it. The weight of this is made even more unbearable by Marnie’s big dumb idiot butt waltzing in and deciding that this is a good time to tell Shoshanna that she slept with Ray – several times, but not before turning Shoshanna’s news about failing out into something about herself. I admit to standing up and clapping when Shoshanna pinned Marnie to her bed and screamed, “I hate you!” in her face. And this is maybe the least offensive thing that Marnie does all episode. Almost immediately after telling Hannah that she doesn’t respect other women’s “emotional property,” Marnie busts into Desi’s dressing room, gifts him with James Taylor’s guitar pick, and then makes out with him. She later says that she wasn’t expecting it even though we all know that she walked in there with that exact intention in mind. Marnie is unequivocally the worst. And so it is so, so, so sweet and beautiful when Marnie meets Clementine in the bathroom and Clementine delivers a verbal bitch smack worthy of another standing ovation. Someone is finally calling Marnie on her bullshit and there are few things I love more than an emphatic, “Shut the fuck up.” Clementine, a true classy lady, compliments Marnie’s dress on her way out as Marnie is left alone in tears. It’s perfect. But Marnie proves to be a fucking creep and later hovers outside a bar like a masturbating pervert as Desi and Clementine argue, presumably about her. This woman is a sociopath and likes to watch the havoc that she wreaks unfold. It is terrifying.
For Shoshanna, she’s left to consider what her options are and unfortunately believes that her first and best move is to try to get Ray back. It’s upsetting to watch because it’s clear that this is not necessarily about Ray, and Ray knows that. Shoshanna’s attempting to put back the pieces of her life she feels she lost this past year by returning to Ray, their relationship being the signifier of when her life made sense. But Shoshanna is a smart girl and my wish for her in season four is for her to use this as an opportunity to figure out what she really wants – to grow up, and to realize her worth.
In perhaps the most poignant and concise story line of season three, Jessa is asked to get drugs for her new employer Beattie, not for the anticipated high one typically expects from such requests, but to assist in her suicide. As the two unique but similar women sit and discuss this situation in a manner so casual they could be making lunch plans, Beattie tells Jessa, “You know I wake up everyday disappointed that I didn’t die in the night.” It’s an overwhelmingly sad moment and yet I saw it as an empowering one for Beattie – she’s lived the life she’s wanted to live and now she wants to be the one who controls how it ends. Jessa obliges because she understands this woman in ways so many people likely haven’t and because Beattie chose her for this very reason. Beattie lies in her bed looking fragile yet at peace with Jessa by her side and for a few moments we think that this is how she is going to die. When Beattie frantically changes her mind and tells Jessa to call 911 we realize that maybe even a woman so sure of herself as Beattie isn’t so sure – that we are each so very intricate and that life almost always has more to offer us than we are capable of seeing.
And that brings us back to Hannah, who has been accepted into the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop and whose reaction to the news is the most sincerely excited and proud that we have seen of her thus far. She calls her parents, unsure if she should take this opportunity because of the life that she has made for herself in New York, who tell her that of course the thing to do is to say yes, and then figure it out. It’s understandable why Hannah chose to tell Adam in his dressing room before opening night of Major Barbara, a moment that we know is so important to him – it’s exciting! – but it’s also frustrating to watch Hannah continue to ignore Adam’s boundaries. “It’s made me want to find a hole in the world in the shape of me and just fill it up,” she tells him after a heartfelt speech about how his artistic accomplishments have motivated her. Adam understands this and appears excited for her and a part of me believes that he truly is, but then Adam has to sit on this information immediately before one of the biggest days of his life and it gives him time to grow angry about how Hannah insists on disregarding his needs in favor of her own. She is difficult and now that Adam has his own life and career and wants and goals for the future it’s harder for him to give Hannah the attention that she requires to be happy in this relationship. They fight and Hannah returns to apartment that Adam has been absent from and clutches the acceptance letter from Iowa to her chest, leading us to believe that she’s saying yes. And she’s going to figure it out.
In a nice way to tie up the season we find out that Caroline has been living with Laird and delivers the news that she’s pregnant to Hannah as they both retrieve their mail. It’s a clever, awkward, brilliantly acted by Gaby Hoffmann scene and because it’s Caroline, I have no idea how much of it is true, but I kind of hope that all of it is. Those two would be wonderful together.
Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.