It’s David’s funeral and for just a second we think that Hannah has managed to step outside herself and be present as a mourning funeral guest and not as a writer mourning about her forgotten e-book deal. Before we can even blink that passes when we see that Hannah is more concerned with breathing the same air as the likes of Zadie Smith and Michiko Kakutani than she is with the loss of someone she cared about – maybe. We’re all thrown for a loop as we meet David’s wife Annalise, played by one of my favorites, Jennifer Westfeldt, who mistakes Hannah for another one of David’s memoirists, one who has overcome obesity and tourrets. It’s a mistake that Hannah can’t let go because, as we all know, she is only chubby. It’s a confusing few moments and Annalise later understands Hannah’s confusion, as a lot of people thought that Annalise’s late husband was gay, but she also shares that David was gay “sometimes.”
While still at the funeral, Hannah learns from Annalise that Millstreet has dropped all of David’s projects, which sends Hannah into a panic. I don’t have a PhD in etiquette and I often make vulgar jokes when I’m uncomfortable (most likely because I want to force everyone else to also feel as uncomfortable), but my gut tells me that how Hannah handled this is generally considered inappropriate. Hannah could have swallowed this information and then reached out to Millstreet, or possibly even Annalise, had enough time passed. She could have done the networking dance and searched for another publisher. Instead, she asked David’s grieving wife if she could offer up a name that might now be willing to help Hannah out. Annalise, however, does respond to Hannah’s insensitivity appropriately by telling her to simply get the fuck out.
Either Hannah couldn’t tell when she had overstayed her welcome or she did know but wasn’t willing to let that knowledge overpower her desire to get her book published. This seemed to set the tone to “Only Child” – people staying too long and lacking the skills to get the fuck out.
Jessa has started to take up too much space in the small apartment she and Shoshanna have been sharing since Jessa’s return from rehab. She’s become a burden to Shoshanna, which seems to be the case with so many of Jessa’s relationships, and Shoshanna wants Jessa to shut up and let her study. Shoshanna has a fifteen-year plan that involves an MBA and a business lady skirt suit and has started to realize that her recent turn up lifestyle has set her back a bit. It’s clear that Jessa views Shoshanna’s plans as boring, but she doesn’t have any at all for herself and is starting to realize that this no longer makes her interesting. She embarks on a mission to improve herself by smoking e-cigarettes and making a snap decision to apply to work at a children’s shop. While I want to be optimistic that Jessa is sincere, I’m already preparing myself for her to enter another toxic relationship and fuck up someone’s universe within the next half hour.
Caroline has, as Adam predicted, brought chaos upon the Horvath-Sackler household and it’s starting to wear on Hannah, who attempts to Jeff VanVonderen the situation at the kitchen table. Adam describes Caroline as someone with “no drive, no real goals, but somehow tons of opinions,” and Hannah responds by telling Adam that that actually sounds a lot like him. I’m offended on Adam’s behalf because I don’t think that it’s true, even though I kind of, okay totally, think that it’s true. When it’s set out so simply like this is seems as if the problems between Caroline and Adam stem from them being so much alike. We don’t really know what Adam wants outside of his relationship with Hannah and we don’t know what Caroline wants either. All we really know about her is that she has a tendency to enter into damaging relationships with men – and that she’s maybe a little psychotic. The conversation ends after Caroline throws out an accusation of Adam having a regressed sexual attraction to her, taking it back only seconds later. These two make each other crazy and they make me a little crazy too, but I somehow don’t want Caroline to leave.
Hannah manages to land a meeting with a new publisher and Lena & Co. also manages to cast a black woman in a role that isn’t a stereotypical black lady trope! It’s a meeting that’s uncomfortable because Hannah puts on an interview personality and throws out awkward one-liners while the publisher and her assistant Mo (whom I love) laugh a little too loud and a little too long. Her writing lands her an actual book deal and it’s all giggles and ice cream cones until Hannah learns that Millstreet owns the rights to her work for three years post-signing date. Caroline tries to soften the blow by telling Hannah that now she knows that she’s capable of writing great work and that she just needs to write some more. It’s a rational response, but also one that would send crippling anxiety and panic pulsing through a writer like Hannah who has placed so much weight on this one success. Hannah kicks Caroline out, thinking that she did the right thing for both her and Adam, only to learn later that night that Adam loves his sister probably more than any of us realized and now he’s worried that he’s failed at his responsibility to take care of her.
Like Hannah, Marnie initially exhibits what we believe is a slice of sincerity when she shows up at Ray’s apartment and very matter-of-factly asks him to tell her what’s wrong with her. I was impressed with this version of Marnie and with her willingness to take responsibility for herself and accept that maybe she’s the reason why she’s so unhappy. And I also admired her willingness to trust in Ray’s often-ruthless truthfulness. It’s in this moment, when Ray obliges Marnie and describes her as “a huge fat fucking phony” that I realize that Ray, and this episode’s writer Murray Miller, has essentially packaged my distaste for Marnie and tied it up with a neat little bow.
I wrote “OMG ARE THEY GOING TO FUCK?” in my notes of the episode as soon as Ray opened his apartment door so I wasn’t entirely surprised when they did, but a little surprised at how it happened. It was Ray’s sincerity that got Marnie all hot and bothered – maybe she just needed someone who wasn’t afraid of her to tell her what’s what. He’s the lacrosse team to her Regina George and to be honest, I think that Ray and Marnie could work if they could both knock themselves down a notch. There’s a balance between these two that would make for an equal partnership, but I’m worried about how the already high stress and vulnerable Shoshanna is going to handle the news. And I wish that Marnie would stop fucking her friend’s exes. That’s just like, the rules of feminism.
Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.