Hannah rescues her dad's wallet while Jessa and Adam make a non-move move in their relationship.

By Marc Snetiker
February 29, 2016 at 01:50 AM EST
Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
S5 E2
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  • TV Show
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While the season premiere was an anomaly that brought every character together, the second episode is more of a return to form to the Girls we’ve come to expect: One that rests in the clammy clutches of Hannah, who tonight we must reluctantly remember is the show’s protagonist, after all. The theme of the episode is the trepidation of romance, showcased by a bonus swath of redemption in Adam and Jessa’s flirtation and a love interest for Elijah, who may actually stick around for more than a beach house getaway.

A quick check-in of Hannah’s home life returns us to her world: She’s spending nights at Fran’s apartment, but that status quo is shattered after Hannah and Fran awaken to a home invasion that turns out to just be Fran’s insane roommate, Jacob, chalking an outline to chart his growth, as one does when they are spiritually fragile. Hannah rightfully calls Jacob crazy, and he in turn unleashes at Hannah over her pubic nonconformity. So, Hannah and Fran relocate to Hannah’s apartment for a while, where poor Fran becomes a third wheel to the uncomfortably amorous relationship Hannah shares with Elijah — which seems just a little overindulgent, even by Hannah standards.

At work, she’s pushing an outrageous middle school curriculum (Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus) on her students, who even have the sense to acknowledge they shouldn’t be learning it. It’s a marvel Hannah has even held down a teaching job that long — but perhaps it’s not since Hannah’s lack of awareness (the only thing worse than her self-righteousness) actually manages to benefit her. Her inability to stop talking during a scolding from the principal is what seems to keep her from straight-up getting fired.

Halfway through the school day, Hannah abandons her class and heads to Manhattan after her dad calls her, crying, from a midtown hotel room. He’s done the unthinkable and met up with an Internet lover, ostensibly his first male companion since coming out to his family, but Tad left his wallet behind and inexplicably recruits Hannah to help him retrieve it. The dilemma stems more from Tad’s utter lack of confidence entering a new stage of sexuality this late in life, the episode’s most extreme and somber manifestation of its discourse on amorous baby steps.

As Tad tells it, the man’s apartment looked sinister and he had a “huge dog.” Hannah shows up at the apartment and discovers the perfectly un-sinister home (and disgustingly tiny dog) of a fine boot dealer named Keith, who looks a little bit like Joel Grey if he had made his career from Mumford and Sons instead of Cabaret. Keith is sweet and harmless and even says he enjoyed Tad’s company so much that he added him on Facebook (a very fun new website for adults over 40). For the first time, Hannah is actually the least awkward thing about the whole situation, which says both a lot about Hannah and about this wholly sloppy encounter.

As is the case with these sort of events, an uncomfortable dinner between gay father and Grindr intermediary daughter must occur next, and Hannah must contend with Tad lecturing her about not letting Fran get away. She’s offended — it turns out everyone’s assuming she’s going to ruin this good thing, which means she must have read my recap last week. Tad scolds her unhealthy choices, and Hannah in turn scolds his unprotected coitus.

Hannah decides to call Elijah to help quell Tad’s gay emergency, but before he arrives, she’s forced to confess to Tad that Mrs. Horvath asked for a divorce. Tad starts crying, and Hannah starts crying, and when Elijah arrives, he barely observes the tears for more than five seconds before jumping ship.

Hannah and Tad finish up dinner and part ways in midtown, with Hannah assuring her bereft father that she’s there for him. If this episode was meant to demonstrate that Hannah, for all her selfish speeches and behavior, can still exercise that compassionate heart muscle, I suppose it succeeded in that strange Horvath kind of way. I never doubted that Hannah’s empathy was up for debate, and yet her exchange with Tad perhaps showcased how rare her empathetic moments actually are.

Elijah

Elijah, who’s now working at Ray’s, exercises a similar disregard for the demands of employment when he ditches the coffee shop to go help Hannah. (He also infuriates Ray by drinking the coffee from the new hipster café across the street, Helvetica.)

When Elijah shows up and abandons the Horvaths in midtown, he winds up at a quiet bar and finds himself being liquid-lubricated by Dale Harcourt, a popular gay news anchor or cable TV pundit. Played by the divinely domed Corey Stoll, Dale quite literally sweeps Elijah off his feet and, for the first time, shows us a side of Elijah in Like, not Lust. They have a symptomatically rom-com exchange after a whirlwind encounter, and Elijah gets giddy when Dale leaves his business card.

And so Elijah continues the little life of his we’ve seen: an aimless, horny, time-shifted wander through the boroughs of New York that is his own gay version of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild

NEXT: Adam and Jessa kill a fish

Adam and Jessa

Like I said last week, I’m completely on board with the giddy romance between Adam and Jessa, two self-destructive time bombs who seem destined to explode with one another.

Adam’s visiting Laird and his sister Caroline, who is far less zen as a mother than her insisting on natural birth would suggest she would be. Our erstwhile Kylo Ren is forced to hold little baby Jessa-Hannah Bluebell Poem, and Laird peppers him with questions about whether he has any romances on the horizon. Adam’s hesitant and, without naming names, summarizes his current feelings for Jessa as “the situation is complex.”

Cut to Adam tagging along to an AA meeting with Jessa, who senses their sexual tension but tries to escape from Adam’s gaze — and conversation — because she knows there’s no future. He wants to talk about their kiss at the wedding; she wants to pretend it never happened. He gets her to admit she has feelings, but she argues that it doesn’t matter because nothing can ever happen, regardless of whether Hannah has relinquished her hold on Adam. Their banter is coquettish but deliberate, like two schoolyard crushes giggling every time they pass notes written with the blood of their mutual friend Hannah.

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Adam, in full puppy mode, insists that the two hang out as friends while Jessa runs errands, and so he tags along as she leads him to her errands: on the boardwalk. When Adam jibes “Nice plans, freak” and Jessa teases “Uh, you don’t know my life,” my heart melts because this pair in deep matching greens is simply adorable.

Jessa collects a debt from a carnival barker (because, of course she does), and she and Adam spend the next few hours in a flirt montage, eating sandwiches, playing games, and making friends with local boardwalk children. It’s DELIGHTFUL.

So much so, in fact, that when Adam walks Jessa home and announces his plans to kiss her, it’s heartbreaking when Jessa splashes him back to reality like a goldfish bag hitting the ground: “You know as well as I do that even if we could be together, even if Hannah didn’t exist, that I would destroy you and you would destroy me.” Adam smiles gleefully: “We would destroy each other.”

They laugh, and Adam suggests that they be together but not touch each other. Somehow, this clicks with Jessa, either because the idea itself is attractive or because she simply has no other excuse preventing her from getting what she wants. And suddenly, Jessa and Adam are on Jessa’s couch, masturbating next to each other and staring at each other and orgasming at each other. It’s outrageous. It’s absurd. It’s absolutely par for the course for both Jessa and Adam. It’s perfect.

Quote highlights 

“You got your f—ing bush hanging out! It’s blowing in the f—ing wind like a f—ing Bob Dylan concert!’ —Jacob to Hannah, who rectifies the situation by pulling down her shirt

“Keep it sweet, keep it sexy, keep that fridge stocked with Kmart-brand seltzer.” —Elijah, explaining the house rules to Fran

“I’m surprised he’s not on Christopher Street drowning in a pool of semen.” —Loreen Horvath, remarking to Hannah about Tad’s whereabouts

“Oh, no way, Cosette.” —Elijah, avoiding all engagement with the crying Horvaths

“What kind of a f—ing douchebag names their store after a font?” —Ray, in Helvetica, on his mission-of-the-week against Brooklyn’s commercial district

Episode Recaps

Four young ladies live in New York City, and it’s SO hard.
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 6
Rating
  • TV-MA
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Premiere
  • 04/15/12
Status
  • In Season
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