‘Girls’ Season 3 Episode 8 Recap: “Incidentals”

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Maybe that beach house blowup wasn’t a breaking point after all. Maybe it was a much-needed airing of grievances, dragging this friend group’s tensions up to the surface before they could break it apart. And now that everyone’s aware just what everyone else thinks of them, the Girls are free to have civil, uneventful parties like the one Hannah and Adam throw at the Gramercy Hotel. There may be a few uninvited guests—denim-on-denim wearing actor Desi, the anxieties Patti LuPone implants in Hannah’s already anxious head—but “Incidentals” is largely a happy, quiet episode. Which Girls is more than entitled to after last week’s drunken meltdown.

Big things happen for our romantic leads this week, hinting that Adam and Hannah (Hannadam? Addah?) might soon be more than just another “creative” duo living beyond their means in a gentrifying neighborhood. After “Incidentals,” it’s not inconceivable they’ll be a bona fide power couple five years down the road, the kind that turns up in New York Observer round-ups every January. Adam clearly has it in him to be a Broadway star, and while interviewing Patti LuPone about bone density isn’t the most glamorous gig in the biz, Hannah’s good enough at making up detailed stories of LuPone’s fake osteoporosis to hint that writing might work out for her after all.

She’s also persistent, despite her claims to being the laziest person she knows. Tracking down Patti LuPone after she flakes out on an interview at a SoHo bistro, Hannah gives her all to making this glorified Strenova ad the best Patti LuPone-endorsed Strenova ad that ever was. Any reservations about the artistic value of advertorials have been left behind back in episode six, with her first-ever paycheck putting the final nail in the coffin. It’s way more than her rent, and who’s going to turn down a job that lets you throw your boyfriend a celebration at the Gramercy? For free?

All’s not entirely well with Hannah, though. When she announces that Adam’s just landed a major role in Major Barbara‘s Broadway revival, LuPone doesn’t share her enthusiasm. She just flatly informs Hannah that she’s about to be in a relationship with an “asshole” who’s bound to start “fuckin’ everybody in the building,” funny-looking or no. Were this Season One or even Season Two Hannah, that tiny seed would have blossomed into a full-blown panic attack/break-up/general meltdown, courtesy of her insecurities.

But Season Three Hannah takes it somewhat in stride, experiencing a level of insecurity that’s unpleasant, yet perfectly normal. It’s even something of a running gag during the build-up to the surprise party. As cutting as it is when Elijah (who’s still around) says something like, “I never thought he’d be the first to fulfill his dream,” we know those are the bitter musings of someone who’s desperate to break out of the “contemporary dance world.” While Elijah’s busy running through post-show bar options to someone he’s apparently unaware is an alcoholic, Hannah’s grown enough to realize what’s going on. She admits that Patti LuPone’s fucked with her head, a self-awareness that keeps her reasonable boyfriend’s-now-a-Broadway-star relationship anxiety at a manageable level.

Marnie, on the other hand, is apparently not quite finished with her downward spiral. On top of her romantic humiliations, this week brings a professional one: while getting her fro-yo on (CLASSIC Marnie!), she runs into a frenemy who announces via humblebrag she’s opening her very own gallery. Remember when Marnie was part of the art world? She doesn’t either. [Side note: Frenemy Chick is played by Homeless Heidi from High Maintenance, the best thing to happen to stoner comedy in years. Watch here if you haven’t already.]

So she goes running to Ray, who’s decided that he wants an actual girlfriend he actually, you know, likes being around. With a particularly vicious send-off (“I wouldn’t be eating pizza in front of you if I actually liked you. Was this your plan the whole time, Ray? To humiliate the girl you couldn’t get in high school?”) she’s forced to take her one-woman pizza party to the Gramercy. For some reason, Hannah’s still happy to play the supportive friend post-beach house, but Marnie finds something better: yet another dude to worship her.

Hannah’s face as Desi and Marnie serenade each other says it all. This dude is “irksome,” a little pretentious, and ready to re-wrap her friend in the cocoon of validated self-absorption she so desperately needs to escape. From a pure character perspective, we’ve already seen Marnie do this when she hopped back into a damaged relationship with Charlie. It’s high time we saw her focus on something other than a dude. And as “Incidentals” reminds us, probably on purpose, this is a woman who did, at some point, have actual ambition.

And then there’s Jessa, who retreads the classic ex-party girl path of boredom and relapse with the help of her rehab buddy. Reduced to playing air guitar with the mannequin in her shop window, she’s ready for the British ball of mania long before he walks through her door. His rant about how she’s a “wild thing” who “can’t be tamed” is a cliché, but turns out to be true: before we know it, they’re high as a kite and bombing around the Gramercy, where we learn to no one’s surprise that a coked-up normal person equals a completely sober Shoshanna. The whole sequence is played for laughs (“I was wearing rehab goggles!”) but it’s still deeply sad: a return to a father figure who’s dropped all pretense of being anything but a junkie, and a choice to give up the beginnings of a normal life Jessa’s convinced she doesn’t want or deserve.

I’d be worried that she’ll end up in a Marnie-style endless loop of bad choices, but Jessa would never be that boring. Being boring, and thus bored, turns out to be Jessa’s worst fear.