“Lust fades,” Hannah tells a trio of students lounging on a college campus. “Friendship never does if you nurture it.” She says this smiling, with a sparkly excitement about seeing these young friends hang out together. It’s offputting, not just because she’s attempting to lend some wisdom to a group of strangers, but because she hasn’t exactly done a great job of nurturing friendships — no one on this show has.
This has long been one of the criticisms of Girls — that the main foursome at its core was introduced as friends even though they rarely treat each other that way — and here, the show addresses that by sticking those four “friends” into a tiny bathroom and forcing them to confront that they just don’t get along. But first: Hannah’s moving. Maybe.
She interviews to be a professor in what looks like upstate New York and almost immediately gets the job. The interviewer read Hannah’s stuff online and was impressed by her honesty, so much so that she wants her to show students “the real guts and meat of the internet, what it’s really for.” This is a chance for Hannah to have a real job with a real income and real benefits. She responds to the offer by asking if she can take 24 hours to decide, advice her mother once gave her — she’s never done this before, but, as she points out, she’s also never been successful at a job before. Hannah’s tour of growing up continues.
Back in New York, Elijah’s basically begging Hannah to stay even when she points out that the city hasn’t brought her “anything but misery.” They made a contract to stay in this s—hole together, he whines. Elijah’s been especially struggling with his fleeting youth ever since Hannah became pregnant, and the possibility of her moving away to a little, quiet town away from him highlights his anxieties about aging even more. (Though later we find out that he ends up getting the part in White Men Can’t Jump, which should help.)
She’s not about to stay there for him, no matter how much their friendship — probably the strongest of the series at this point — means to her. That night, as they try to fall asleep in their separate bedrooms, she asks if he’ll sing to her. So he does, launching into an a capella rendition of “Cool for the Summer.” He’s sad. She’s sad (and excited… but still sad). And, somehow, this lullaby-style version of a Demi Lovato song is the perfect soundtrack to what’s probably one of their final nights being separated by just a wall.
The next day as Hannah’s still trying to figure out what to do, she runs into Caroline — which means that she’s alive, so that’s cool. She’s now on what she calls “the right cocktail of pills” and seems happy as she encourages Hannah to move away from New York and all that comes with it. “I release you like a bird!” she coos.
That’s not enough to convince Hannah. She calls Marnie, who’s not answering her phone. She calls Shosh, whose phone number is no longer active. So she just shows up to Shosh’s apartment and discovers there’s a party there. An engagement party. For Shoshanna. Now we know where she’s been for most of this season. Surprise!
Hannah quickly finds out she wasn’t invited because she never told Shosh about her pregnancy, and then Jessa shows up, making the whole situation even more uncomfortable. Marnie, armed with knowledge she’s gleaned from her online therapist she won’t shut up about, makes all four of them gather in a bathroom to talk it out. She wants them to be honest with each other so they can hang out happily again; Shosh wants them to be honest with each other and admit that they can’t hang out happily again. It’s almost too meta, too clean. “I think we should all just agree to call it,” Shosh says before leaving to return to her fancy party with her fancy friends and her fancy fiancé (whom she met at a Sprinkles vending machine, by the way).
Then it gets a little messier. Jessa and Hannah end up standing alone together, and after some stilted small talk, Hannah reveals she’s having a boy and hasn’t really told anyone yet. She shares her fears about how to raise a little guy — what if he grows up to rape everyone, for example — and Jessa lovingly comforts her, telling her, “He’ll be perfect.” Then she apologizes. Then Hannah apologizes. “We were all just doing our best,” she says, crying. “Our best was awful,” Jessa responds, also crying.
After reuniting, they decide to make this party theirs. They goof off with the mini cupcakes and dance and just have fun. Marnie’s dancing too, and so is Shoshanna, and for a little bit, it seems like they might be friends after all — or, at the very least, former friends who are mature enough to realize that they’ve been through some s— and need to put that away for a night.
Hannah smiles as she looks around the party watching this happen; meanwhile, we see flashforwards of her moving into a house in that college town. It all feels like graduation, like that moment when you realize everything is about to change and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Earlier in the episode, Hannah stops in a shop called Enchantments and overhears two young women talking about what kind of candles they need.
“Like a candle’s gonna help us find an apartment that doesn’t smell like hot wings,” the first one says sarcastically.
“I literally don’t care if it smells like hot wings as long as you’re there,” her friend replies.
“See, that’s why you’re my best friend.”
Hannah looks at them with nostalgic, bittersweet recognition; this was her once. She moved to New York with Elijah, and, as he reminds her, they made a pact to live and struggle there together. That was when Hannah was looking for experiences, for something to write her first book about. That was when her friends were her friends, when she prized excitement, however unhealthy, over her own happiness. Now it’s time for her to find some peace — even if it means leaving everything, good and bad, that she’s known for years.