Girls has never cared if its characters are likeable. That’s a simple fact. But, it does want the audience to be able to sympathize and maybe even empathize with them. And, usually it succeeds in that. At some point or another in this series, you’ve felt for one the show’s core characters even if you can’t stand them.
“The Panic in Central Park” is a Marnie-centric episode — her own “One Man’s Trash” in a way — that makes you understand and feel for Marnie, a character who, for some, is sometimes the walking personification of insufferable. Last season, the show lost track of Marnie as a character and she became kind of like a punchline, but this episode reclaims her and reminds us that she’s more than that.
Marnie’s journey to enlightenment begins in her apartment. She and Desi are seated on their bed; their wall remains incomplete. She has headphones on and is moodily browsing her laptop while Desi is playing guitar. At one point, she finally takes off her headphones: “Why are you aggressively playing guitar at me?” she asks. It turns out they had a fight and because of their small living, they have been stewing in their own tension. Not able to deal with Desi’s annoyingness, Marnie storms out of the apartment.
She walks through the city listening to her headphones and eventually passes a group of men who cat-call her. And lo and behold, one of them turns out to be Charlie (Christopher Abbott, still sporting his Whiskey Tango Foxtrot beard), you know, her ex-boyfriend. Last time we saw him he was running some app or something, but some “legal s—-” (his words) happened and now he’s no longer part of that. At first, Marnie ignores him and keeps walking, but he chases after her.
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Obviously, Marnie doesn’t really want to talk to him since he said some pretty mean stuff the last time they saw each other. But, after catching up a bit, she agrees to go with him to a party uptown, which will require her to buy a dress. Our first clue that something sketchy is going on is when his friends come up to him and say he’ll make enough money to cover himself for a while.
They head uptown to this fancy party, where Charlie is supposed to sell some guy cocaine. The guy buying the cocaine assumes Marnie is an escort and propositions her. Marnie says she’ll meet him upstairs in the hotel, but requires payment upfront and manages to get $600 off of him. Guys, Marnie is living right now!
NEXT: Marnie’s big decision