It’s rare that seasons of Girls divide so neatly in half, but so much has come to an end or started anew in its tiny Brooklyn universe of late that “Close Up” feels more like a reset button than a follow-up. As the dust settles in the aftermath of “Sit-In,” Hannah and Adam are definitively no more, Mimi-Rose and Adam are now a couple for the show to explore independent of their effect on Hannah, and Desi and Marnie are now well past the honeymoon phase of cheating and homewrecking, respectively. That’s a lot of new ground to cover, and “Close Up” is a great start, albeit one that’s designed to be less memorable than last week’s showpiece.
Of all the series’ recent developments, Adam’s new relationship is by far the most intriguing. Hannah is the more obviously affected by their breakup, wallowing as she is in the crying-over-Cinnamon-Toast-Crunch phase of emotional recovery. But Adam’s reaction to Mimi-Rose’s abortion—or more accurately, his reaction to her reaction, which was to stay quiet it until the day after—demonstrates he hasn’t completely moved on either. Adam has spent the last few years involved with someone with needs on needs on needs. Transitioning from a woman he once raced across Brooklyn to rescue from a nervous breakdown to a woman who broke up with her elementary school boyfriend to preserve her creative integrity is no easy feat.
Mimi-Rose is new terrain for Adam’s character: the first time we’ve seen him in a functional relationship. (Any relationship with Hannah as the other half is bound to be dysfunctional, and Adam’s brief involvement with Natalia had the dubious distinction of producing the most controversial sex scene on a show that opened its fourth season with anilingus.) As Adam’s agitation over Mimi-Rose’s abortion escalates from the understandable—”I don’t understand how you could do something like this without telling me first”—to the completely unreasonable—”IT’S EVIL!”—we come to understand that Adam doesn’t know how to be in a functional relationship. He’s so accustomed to co-dependence that Mimi-Rose has to explain why it’s better she doesn’t rely on him for Obvious Child-style chaperoning: “No, I don’t need you…Wanting you like this, it’s better than needing you, because it’s pure.” And suddenly, we have that rarest of Girls moments: a step forward.
Even Marnie makes a baby step this week! Once she and Desi stop fucking to their own song long enough to actually talk to each other, she has a classic too-little-too-late epiphany: he sucks. “Stuff is more appealing when you’re chasing after it than when you have it” is something most of us learn around the time we stop using that toy we spent a month begging for, but Marnie’s got the emotional maturity of a spoiled child, so she gets the lightbulb moments to match. Maybe she’ll end up dumping him, but probably not! I’ve made the executive decision to stop caring about Marnie. It’s very liberating.
Hannah, for her part, spends this week doing the very un-Girls-like hard work of figuring out what to do with her life. During a visit to her therapist (Bob Balaban, who is now always and forever Ilana Wexler’s dad to me), Hannah is gradually enabled into thinking she’s a selfless person. Elijah, a genuinely selfless person who just gave up his sweet life as a JC Penney manager in Iowa for a wall-less room in Hannah’s apartment, points out she can’t even share a Kit-Kat bar. She perseveres anyway, vetoing such viable career options as “Mayim Bialik stunt double” in favor of teaching. There’s no way this will end well, but she strides into St. Justine’s with surprising purpose.
Here’s an idea, though: instead of focusing on Marnie or Jessa or Hannah or even Shoshanna’s sexually charged job interviews, why don’t we spend more time with Ray? His burgeoning political career is blissfully irrelevant to the rest of the show; better yet, it gives Ray something more to do than occasionally pop into the lives of his less accomplished friends. An upstanding small business owner with umbrage to spare and a knack for indignant catchphrases (“TODAY’S DOCKET SHOULD HAPPEN TODAY!”), Ray makes for a surprisingly compelling candidate. And if his campaign makes Marc Maron’s guest appearance as his Community Board 8 nemesis into a recurring role, so much the better.