Has this been the best season of Girls so far? I think so. If not the best, then it’s definitely the most earnest and empathetic so far. Let’s dig into how Girls brought this phenomenal season to a funny and poignant close, which included an allusion to The 400 Blows.
For Hannah, this season has been one of major growth, and that’s clearly evident from the first scene in “Love Stories.” Fran stops by her apartment to pick up his stuff and is angry because he blames her for turning him into someone who gets angry. However, Hannah doesn’t take the bait, remains almost completely calm, and responds to his profession of love with a simple, “I would be happy to pay for an Uber to transport you and your things back to your home.”
After ending things with Fran, Hannah goes to the school and quits her job; however, it’s very clear that it isn’t about Fran. She’s trying to figure out what she wants to do, and teaching isn’t that. After apologizing to the principal for Basic Instinct–ing him, she leaves the school and runs into Tally Schifrin (Jenny Slate), one of her friends(?) from college who has published a lot since graduating and is currently working on a novel about “the tyranny of political correctness at Oberlin,” as one does.
“It’s a work in progress, as it is for everybody, I would say — people big and small,” responds Hannah when Tally asks how she’s doing. That’s a very fitting and self-aware statement for Hannah.
Having Tally come back into the picture at this point in the series feels very fitting. This season has focused on the maturity of Hannah, and it seems right to have someone who she wasn’t a big fan of in the first season return at this important juncture. This time around, Hannah is a lot more receptive to Tally and even opens up to her, and they end up spending the day together.
A bike ride through the city leads to Tally’s apartment where the two women get high and share even more. It turns out Tally’s life isn’t as great Hannah thought it was. Once all of the sharing is done, the girls have a dance party to “Feeling Myself,” which looks like so much fun. Their big day ends when they run into Jessa and Adam, while still high, and burst out laughing.
Hannah isn’t the only one who develops a connection with someone in “Love Stories.” Marnie has a weird sex dream about Ray. Except in the dream, there was less sex and more brushing Ray’s hair, which was long, raven black and Khaleesi-like. In any case, she still had an orgasm from the dream, a fact that disgusts Elijah. Following her chat with Elijah, she has a meeting with Desi to clear the air and to make sure that he’ll stop being weird when they go on tour. Unfortunately for her — but fortunately for us because it’s hilarious — Tandis interrupts their chat.
NEXT: The end of an affair; the beginning of another one
Something about her chat with Desi moves her to show up at Ray’s apartment and profess her love to him. It’s a very sweet scene that ends with the two of them falling to the floor as they make out and Marnie saying, “It can’t be you.” But it is Marnie. Just accept it! As John Mayer and Katy Perry once sang together, “You love who you love.”
If only Elijah’s love life was going as smoothly as Marnie’s. Elijah decides it’s time to really tell Dill how he feels. So he buys a new wardrobe and heads to Dill’s place of work and delivers his “pick me, choose me, love me” speech, asking him to be his boyfriend. But Dill rejects him, saying he’s looking for “someone less aimless.”
This leaves Elijah heartbroken, and he goes on a week-long bender that doesn’t seem to end until he ends up snuggling up to Tad’s “bosom” on Hannah’s couch when her parents pay her an unexpected visit. “I just want to be happy,” Elijah says as he snuggles up to Hannah’s father. Tad says he feels like he’s just starting his life.
Meanwhile, Hannah’s mother takes her out shopping for clothes to wear to the Moth, a place where people get up and tell stories about their lives. Since her last encounter with Jessa and Adam, where she called them “sir” and “madam,” she’s been trying to live a healthier life, which includes running and dealing with her feelings about their relationship in a way that’s not self-destructive. So she’s decided to tell a story about them at the Moth.
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Speaking of Jessa and Adam, their relationship hits a rough patch tonight. Actually, rough doesn’t even begin to describe it. Jessa wants to talk about Hannah, but Adam refuses.
“Hannah is my dearest friend. She will always come first. We may not be talking right now, and I hope to God that that changes. So you saying she’s not in our lives anymore doesn’t work for me,” yells Jessa. She adds that she’ll always hate Adam for turning her into someone who steals other peoples’ boyfriends.
That’s when things hit the fan in the apartment, almost literally. Adam gets violent and starts breaking things in the apartment like he’s Michael Jackson in that controversial outro to the “Black or White” music video. Jessa joins in the destruction of the apartment, and everything just becomes a mess, which is a great description for this relationship I can’t help but ship. I feel like they both choose to act out in this way because they have no way of actually communicating in a healthy manner; immature tantrums are the only way to go. Their fight ends with Jessa locking herself in the bathroom and Adam punching his way through the door. Adam and Jessa’s relationship feels the personification of that Kanye West song “Bittersweet.”
NEXT: “You’re just to good to be true. I can’t keep my eyes off of you.”
In the functioning relationship department, there’s Marnie and Ray, who are in that beautiful honeymoon phase. Ray, whose coffee business has turned around since Shoshanna suggested an anti-hipster rebranding, offers to accompany her when she goes on tour with Desi, which is cute, I guess.
Now, it’s finally time for Hannah to tell her story at the Moth. This scene might be the highlight of the season, both in terms of writing and directing. The camera slowly dollies in as Hannah gets on stage and starts sharing. Her story is humorous, self-aware, very honest, and reveals how much she’s grown over the course of this season. Right before going to the Moth that night, she stopped by their apartment to drop off a fruit basket and heard them fighting. The note on the basket read: “Good luck. I mean that sincerely. In perpetuity, Hannah.” However, she heard them fighting and was relieved to not be inside there. “I heard the madness, and I knew I was free,” she says, as the camera continues moving forward, creating this very human encounter.
Once her speech ends, Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” comes on and takes us into a poignant and superbly structured montage. We see Ray and Marnie banging on Desi’s dressing room door, but he isn’t answering because he’s having relations with one of his fans. Then there’s Tad, who shows up at the door of the guy he slept with earlier in the season. Hannah’s mom and Elijah share a cute moment. Then, we cut to Jessa and Adam lying naked on the floor of their destroyed apartment, a striking visual when combined with this sweet song that emphasizes how perfect and destructive these two are for each other. No matter how hard they try, these two kids can’t take stay away from each other.
“I Love You Baby” began with Hannah having a hard time running and it ends with her running across the Williamsburg Bridge without any problem and with a smile on her face like a weight has been lifted off of her chest. The episode ends with a close-up of her face as she’s running, a blatant and apropos homage to François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Unlike the protagonist at the end of that movie, Hannah and to some extent most of her friends are no longer trapped in adolescence and are finally growing up, or finally piecing it together, to borrow the season’s tagline.
The fifth season of Girls ends on a very optimistic note, which feels sort of new for the series. As I look ahead at the sixth and final season, I’m confident that our favorite women are closer to sorting everything out. Hannah seems to have found some new zen. Shoshanna is killing it as she rebrands Ray’s coffee shop. Marnie is in good relationship for once, and her music career is taking off. In the process of moving its characters to this place, the show taught us new ways to understand and care about them. Yes, I love you, too, baby.
“You’re a dick. A secret dick to be sure, but you are a dick. You’re very judgmental. You’re very moralistic. You definitely would’ve sent witches to trial in The Crucible.” —Hannah to Fran
“That place is about to turn into a Manson family situation any day now.” —Shoshanna after she visits Helvetica for the first time
“Well, I would say normal family unit went out the window when one of you became gay and the other one started dressing like Pat Benatar.” —Hannah to her parents, who want them to act like a normal family
“I’m sorry I didn’t c–. I was really close. Good news is, I can only c– when I like kind of hate someone. I’m working on that with my online therapist.” —Marnie in bed with Ray
“I thought Lumineers were teeth caps, but clearly based on the enthusiasm, they must nurture some important significance in the alternative rock universe.” —Ray after Marnie tells him that she and Desi are opening for the Lumineers
Elijah (outside of the Moth with Hannah): This particular line of people is literally my worst nightmare.
Hannah: Well, you’re dressed like Lance Bass, so…
“Because that’s a fact. I’m Hannah forever. No matter what I do. No matter whether I start a nuclear crisis with my emotions or if just sit back and chill and give someone a fruit basket.” —Hannah explaining the note she left outside of Jessa and Adam’s door
Elijah: I’m like three beers away from trying to f— you.
Loreen: Apparently, you’re my type.