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Ten Thoughts On Girls' Latest Episode: "Beach House"

Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 11.29.00 PM.pngThis week, the girls head to the North Fork for a "healing weekend" that, uh, doesn't go quite as planned. Below, 10 highlights from the latest episode.

1. Hannah and Marnie's bus greeting made me uncomfortable but was so, so perfect
Hannah and Marnie's squeaky, high-pitched, hyper girly "hi!" and "how's it going" reeked of fakeness and is totally how females often behave around one another when they're mildly uncomfortable and think they're good at hiding it. That interchange was also a great foreshadowing of how F-U-C-K-E-D the weekend was going to become and how tense the friends felt around one another. We saw Marnie being quick to assume Jessa had flaked (but really she had just decided to sit at the back of the bus "for political reasons") while Hannah covers up her anxiety by cracking a crude joke ("I have to pee so badly I'm going to shit myself"). It effectively depicted how dislocated the foursome had become from one another and, however lousy the weekend might become, that it was a good idea in theory.

2. Hannah's reaction to running into Elijah beautifully showed how complex their relationship is/was
As Lena Dunham notes in the "Inside the Episode" segment, Hannah's relationship with Elijah isn't entirely devoid of her past resentment towards him as a former boyfriend. Elijah has an unusual dual role in Hannah's life as this 'gay best friend' and an ex and while it's easy to let the former role subsume the latter, Hannah can't entirely behave towards him as she would someone she never had romantic feelings for. That's also why they basically cut off contact since the night they did coke at Greenhouse and Elijah confessed he slept with Marnie. It was a fucked up situation but the ridiculousness that the viewers might have felt watching a gay man have sex on a couch with his ex-girlfriend's friend wasn't shared by Hannah, who, as we argued, already felt vulnerable enough to learn her ex-boyfriend was gay, let alone that the same gay ex would sleep with her best friend and hide it from her. We got to see all this tension roil to the surface when they bumped into each other on Main Street but eventually Hannah's affection for Elijah does, in fact, overcome whatever resentment she has towards him and they make amends.

3. Marnie and Charlie's break-up was really, really sad
This has been my favorite episode of the season for several reasons, one of which is the fact that we get to learn more about Charlie and Marnie's break up. And it was really depressing! After telling her he loved her and wanted to propose, Charlie apparently did an about face and came to their apartment with a co-worker, packed up his bags, and left. All Marnie knows is that his company went under and now he's "a carpenter's apprentice and working at some sneaker store." We don't get to find out the chronology of when the company folded in relation to the breakup but part of me thinks that the company started to have problems before Charlie decided to dump Marnie. When the two of them got back together, Charlie's company (and confidence) was booming and there was a sense of grandiosity in the way he behaved -- especially toward Marnie. (Remember when they fucked on the conference table?) Charlie had a successful career and wanted the picture perfect partner and, despite all their problems, knew Marnie could fulfill that role. But -- and we're veering into fan fiction territory here -- we can imagine that as soon the company started to flounder, Charlie nosedived straight into reality and realized that Marnie wasn't what he wanted after all. Just a thought.   

4. Elijah kind of sucks
We've generally liked Elijah -- until now. We'd always gotten a kick out of his sass but this episode, his cloaked insults bordered on cruelty. Yes, it may have been those "North Fork fizzes" talking but it was really shitty -- and willfully obtuse -- of him to respond "she's so fat" about a friend whom Hannah reminds his new boyfriend of and to tell Marnie that he realized Charlie had deeper issues only once he started dating her.

5. How weird was Jessa's pseudo-come on to Paul?
We got a kick out of the fact that Jessa says to Elijah's gay friend, Paul, "Do you know you look like someone Mapplethorpe would've photographed?" (and after which he replies "I don't know who that is") but did anyone else think that exchange was a little weird and a little come on-y? Between Hannah getting a piggyback from Elijah and telling him, "it's been a long time since we assumed this position" and Jessa sidling up to the friend, there was some definite displaced sexual energy in that skinny dipping session.

6. Despite her control freak-ness, I felt bad for Marnie
Even though this episode really hits you over the head with a Waterford crystal vase filled with wildflowers how Type A Marnie is, it also made a part of me feel sad for her. Yes, Marnie should take a Klonopin and chill the eff out but her friends -- and Elijah's crew -- were being really immature and obliviously unappreciative about the dinner and the weekend in general. She really made a big effort to make the weekend fun and it was a pity that no one sucked up their annoyance and stepped up to defend her at dinner when Elijah was snarking that the meal reminded him of a Lean Cuisine. Did anyone else feel empathy for Marnie?

7. Sober Jessa is super friend savvy
Was anyone else impressed by how a recovering Jessa got Marnie to buck up and do the dance to Harry Nilsson's "You're Breaking My Heart"? Jessa's always been a good manipulator but there was something particularly masterful about how she sensed Marnie was feeling insecure and buoyed her ego by whispering, "C'mon you're the best one." But a taste of power (or confidence) can be corrupting -- Marnie uses her fleeting "dance captain" position of authority as an opportunity to criticize Hannah's skills and get her back for making her feel shitty about the dinner. Womp womp.

8. Big ups to Shosh!
Who would've expected a sloshed Shosh to unload on her friends like that? Even though most of what she said was super bitchy and hurtful, I enjoyed watching her speak up and stick up for herself. She's right -- her friends don't take her seriously and don't behave toward her with a lot of respect. I'm curious to see what long-term consequences come of this and whether her standing within the group will change. Jumping ahead a bit, it seemed like the writers wanted to end the episode on an ambiguous note. The whole episode showed how dislocated and out of the sync the four were with one another but the final moment where they're sitting on the dock and doing the dance moves literally shows that it's not impossible for them to get back in sync after all.   

9. Hannah saying to the others "I miss my boyfriend" was both sweet and wrenching
Another reason why I really enjoyed this episode was this moment and how it wonderfully illustrated the fact that the girls aren't each other's primary relationships anymore. While it's a completely normal life progression, there was something a little bittersweet about Hannah's comment since in most cases, the trend only moves in one direction and it's unlikely that they'll ever have the kind of intimacy and connection as they used to.    

10. Was anyone else reminded a bit of Marnie and Booth Jonathan during Elijah and Pal's "I love you" scene?
There were undertones that reminded me a bit of the miscommunication -- and power structure -- between Marnie and Booth during Elijah and Pal's scene in the living room. Pal's confusion and attempt to end the relationship seemed to echo Booth telling Marnie he thought they were just casually sleeping together after she assumed they were a couple. As she tells Hannah in the episode, Marnie has abandonment issues from her father...what's Elijah's excuse?

Best Lines of the Episode:

"I can't go in open water unless I'm menstruating." -- Jessa

"I thought this would just be a nice opportunity to have fun together and to prove to everyone via Instagram that we can have still fun together as a group." -- Marnie

"I can only imagine she's just walking around, bossing everyone around like a mean, skinny Miss Hannigan." -- Elijah

"So I gained 25 lbs but then I lost 30 lbs." -- Elijah
"Oh amazing, how'd you do it?" -- Hannah
"The Victoria Principal diet." -- Elijah
"Wow, what does that consist of?" -- Hannah
"It's black coffee and you can have one slice of turkey until 4pm and then you can have whatever you want." -- Elijah

"Pal is a theater publicist. He did
Kinky Boots, the whole viral marketing campaign." -- Hannah
"I can't believe that's who came after me." -- Marnie
"Well, knowing Elijah, it was eleven closeted math teachers who came after you but after that, it was Pal. And he seems great." -- Hannah

"We watched
Wild Things once and I was pretty sure we were gonna start jacking off together." -- Elijah

"I spent $80,000 on a theater BFA. Of course I am talented, Gerald." -- Paul

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