Confession: I found this episode very difficult to watch. In Girls-land, a Hannah Horvath meet cute is the equivalent of the Jaws theme, a surefire sign that things are about to get (emotionally) gory and fast. So from the moment Fran the “17th century notions of utopia” teacher, played with familiar sweetness by Obvious Child leading man Jake Lacy, asks Hannah out in the faculty lounge of their fancy schmancy Brooklyn private school, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. And drop it sure as hell did.
Hannah’s new job actually looks like it’s going well, as what seems tactless to fully grown adults passes for refreshing, relatable #realtalk among the teens of de Blasio’s New York. (Did you know Jocasta was the original MILF?!) But since the first law of Girls is that Hannah will never be a fully functional person, that just means her emotional state post-Adam has to be doubly unstable. More specifically, it’s drag-an-unwitting-first-date-into-a-social-land-mine unstable, as “this awful art show”—which describes about half the social gatherings in Brooklyn on any given night—turns out to be Mimi-Rose Howard’s gallery opening.
Girls hasn’t had a chance to sink its satirical teeth into the New York art world since Booth Jonathan locked Marnie into his Tower of Terror, and MRH initially does not disappoint. Sharing its title with the episode, her work is a performance piece that asks participants to wear shapeless denim smocks emblazoned with, well, ASK ME MY NAME. Among the innocent gallery-goers are plants with traumatic backstories to tell, including none other than Adam. His plea for Hannah to leave contains a pronunciation of “fuckin'” that elevates Adam Driver’s line reading into art.
Once Fran is scared off and Mimi-Rose notices what’s going on, though, Hannah’s in for the ride. A cab ride, specifically, that forces her to confront the eternally sunny, effortlessly talented human insecurity generator that convinced her ex-boyfriend she wasn’t worth waiting for. Girls has a knack for nailing incredibly specific archetypes of millennial self-absorption—Shoshanna’s refusal to settle for anything less than the perfect life, for example, or Jessa’s carelessness that her friends have no choice but to forgive. Mimi-Rose is another stock character: the girl who leads such a charmed life she’s lost all awareness that the vast majority of people don’t exist on her level.
Plenty of things about Mimi-Rose inspire Hannah’s envy: her looks, her boyfriend, her cartoonish ability to win over even hard-bitten New Yorkers with a painfully sincere gesture like gifting a poem. Worst of all, though, Mimi-Rose is a successful artist, one who doesn’t even have the decency to stay off of Hannah’s home turf. The news that Mimi-Rose is writing something as a side project, when Hannah couldn’t even write in a situation where writing was technically her job, sends Hannah over the edge—and that’s when she redirects their cab, which promptly hits an old lady. Mimi-Rose, of course, asks the victim her name.
Adam, meanwhile, is stuck on a nightmare cab ride of his own with Ace, the pitch-perfect art world A-hole played by the future Emmy winner for Most Pleasantly Surprising Guest Star, Zachary Quinto. Ace represents the dark side of the Mimi-Roses of the world: that enlightened headspace makes it difficult to understand that people with baser motivations and nastier personalities exist in the world. I don’t buy Ace’s theory that she’s actually in on the joke, and “your suffering is her fuckin’ safe space”—she’s just oblivious in a way that makes her insensitive to Adam’s well-founded insecurity about her ex (or last week, his shock that she’d gotten an abortion without telling him).
While Adam’s night ends with the perfectly awful Jessa reveal that she only set him and Mimi-Rose up to have a shot at Ace, Hannah’s ends on a higher note. She finally unloads on Mimi-Rose, who obviously doesn’t hold it against her; instead, she confesses her own fears about how others perceiver her, an act that simultaneously humanizes her and proves to Hannah she’s the real, unerringly good deal. And since the rest of us will never, ever beat people like Mimi-Rose, Hannah resigns herself to joining her—until, of course, she can’t, because high-minded things like asking strangers their names only works for Mimi-Roses.
Still, Hannah’s brief conversation with Adam has the feeling of a genuine turning point for her. “Ask Me My Name” isn’t as radical a structural break as “Sit-In,” but it’s another episode that focuses exclusively on Hannah and her recovery process. Hannah’s tend to be the strongest installments of Girls, particularly with performers like Gillian Jacobs—giving Patrick Wilson a run for his money as the series’ best guest star to date—stepping up to the plate. Until next week, when Hannah and Fran make awkward eye contact while grading papers.