'Girls' season 4 finale recap: 'Home Birth'
Every so often I think about that aphorism Girls gave us way back in the first season: “All adventurous women do.” Now, as the fourth season comes to a close, we got another sort of motto I think I’m going to be returning to frequently. Hannah, looking at Laird and Caroline’s baby, gives some life advice to the child: “I can’t guarantee perfection, but I can guarantee intrigue.” It’s a bit of honest, relatable wisdom from Hannah—who isn’t always the wisest person—which I think is a sort of nice summation of how the world actually works. It’s also a pretty good summation of the show itself: not perfect, but definitely intriguing.
The first big question of the season, for me, was: Is Hannah going to stay in Iowa? The easy prediction was, “no, she’ll return to New York,” and the show offered no surprises there. The second was: Once Adam and Hannah broke up will they eventually get back together? I assumed, given the events of last week, that they would, and that disappointed me. Don’t get me wrong, Adam Driver’s performance is something I love, and I hope it doesn’t go away even if he has to wield a lightsaber to do it. Still, I’m eager to see Hannah in a different long-term relationship.
And guess what? Girls pleasantly subverted my expectations. Standing on either side of Laird and Caroline’s baby, Adam tells Hannah that he and Mimi-Rose broke up. “I just think I was confused and I think I made a mistake,” he tells her. He tells her he misses her. He tries to reach for her and she doesn’t reciprocate. He begs her. “I can’t,” she says through tears.
Cut to six months later: Hannah is walking down a snowy street, arm and arm with Fran—adorable, adorable Fran, who at the beginning of this episode helped Hannah through a panic attack outside of school.
The episode, however, doesn’t dwell on Hannah’s continued turmoil following her father’s coming out. Instead, Hannah is drawn into the drama of other’s people’s lives when she hears moans coming from Laird and Caroline’s apartment. It’s Caroline—a very naked Gaby Hoffmann—in the bath, wanting to have a homebirth despite the fact that the baby is a month and a half early, the not-trained Laird is acting as her doula, and she herself is only “almost a doula,” according to Laird. For all of Hannah’s immaturity, Laird and Caroline make her look like a completely sensible adult. Hannah is trying to deal with the situation calmly, but when Adam arrives he is furious, saying “this is the dumbest idea that’s ever happened” and eventually screaming at Laird to “shut the f— up.” It’s, surprisingly, Jessa, who actually makes Laird and Caroline take some action. She’s at first interested in the superficial details of the birth, but when Laird freaks out that something is really going wrong, Jessa heads into the bathroom, sticks her head under the water, and sees that the baby is breaching. She pep talks a crying Laird, who finally gets Caroline to leave the tub, and the entire crew eventually carries her to the hospital together. There, Caroline gives birth to their daughter: Jessa-Hannah Bluebell Poem. The experience gives Jessa her revelation: She wants to be a therapist. She announces this to Shosh when she arrives home. Shosh, meanwhile, has made her own decision: She’s moving to Japan.
The finale gave us yet another Shosh interview scene, yet this one has a positive outcome. She gets the job—only she has to move to Japan. (It was a pleasure to see SNL‘s Aidy Bryant as the clueless-about-Japan interviewer.) This is great, right? Well, there’s still the possibility of Scott for Shosh, and when she tells him over lunch he tells her not to take the job. He offers her a job at his company and says she can move in with him. “I’m going to be in love with you soon,” he tells her. It’s sweet, but a little tenuous, and Shosh seems to know this. Shosh goes to Ray looking for advice and instead finds Hermie, played by Colin Quinn, who quotes Sheryl Sandberg to her. “Grab a seat at the table and lean the f— in,” he says. “You are strange, but you’re very wise,” Shosh tells him, and by the end of the episode she’s holding chopsticks on her couch.
Marnie also appears to be moving on without her guy. At the outset of the episode, she and Desi are talking about marriage and planning their showcase with Marcos (played by Spike Jonze!). Ray sees all this and stews. Marnie and Marcos leave, and Desi goes to close out their coffee and scones bill, asking Ray, “Are we solid?” Desi’s quest to clear the air, prompts Ray to share how he truly feels: “I f–king hate you,” he tells Desi. Desi tries to maintain that he and Ray aren’t that different, but Ray says they are. “I would never treat her like shit,” he says, explaining that Desi does not “deserve” Marnie. “You underestimate her every f–king day,” Ray says. Ray threatens that Desi will “never ever make her truly happy.”
Clearly Ray got to Desi because he doesn’t show up for the showcase. Ray, however, is there, and coaches Marnie to go onstage herself. And Marnie’s unflappable self-confidence begins to show. “I am perfectly capable of commanding such a crowd,” she says. Marcos volunteers to play guitar, saying he’s “pretty good.” Marnie says she’s also “pretty good” and takes the stage on her own. And voila: She sounds great. (And the song’s not ridiculous!)
So the season ends with Marnie, Shosh, and Jessa striking out on their own, independent of Desi, Scott, and Ace (thank goodness), and finding some level of professional success—or at least in Jessa’s case having a profession in mind. Hannah, meanwhile, has also cut her ties with Adam, and while we don’t know how she and Fran’s relationship began, we do know it seems to be going strong. And yet, before this nice little coda, the show gives us something sad: Hannah’s parents. Hannah calls Loreen to gush about the beauty of witnessing new life come into this world. Loreen can only respond with bitterness: “The sad part is I don’t really have a future.” Tad is sitting next to her in silence. Hannah asks to speak to her dad; we hear their hellos and nothing else.
So we end with lots of questions for next season. Here are some: Will Jake Lacy become a series regular? Will Adam stay on the show? Will Desi be back? How long will Shosh stay in Tokyo? Will Jessa actually try to become a therapist? Will Tad and Loreen find resolution and happiness? Will Hannah stay a teacher?
Another year until we get some answers: May they be not perfect, but intriguing.
“Don’t ever think that you get on stage anywhere where the vast majority of the crowd doesn’t think, ‘douche!’ Douche! You know how you feel when you watch Imagine Dragons play? Well that’s how we feel about you. And you know what Imagine Dragons are great, and you’re the douche.” —Ray to Desi
“For obvious reasons I’m not going to cover my vagina.” —Caroline to Adam, who tells her to cover her boobs
(Gaby Hoffmann, you are incredible.)
“It makes sense like a Danielle Steel novel makes sense to a woman with emphysema.” —Hermie to Shosh
“Like I’m going to take the stuff that Michael Jackson took to sleep.” —Hannah on how she’s going to give birth
“I’m a Jewish recovering junkie and I weigh 135 pounds.” —Laird
One of my few complaints about this episode: Where was Elijah?