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GIRLS recap: Season 2, Episode 5 & the lines we liked best
A certain type of twentysomething girl is bound to have a fling/relationship/sexual encounter or two with a significantly older man. Hannah is most certainly that type of girl, and so it is no surprise that this episode is all about her meeting Joshua (Patrick Wilson), a 42-year-old separated doctor, and spending 36 hours shacked up with him. In fact, it seems like all these girls are that kind of girl—Marnie is with artist Booth Jonathan, Shosh is with 33-year-old Ray, and Jessa must have an older man or 20 in her rearview mirror (for instance the father of her babysitting charges from last season). This episode has a different tone from the others, partly due to the fact that we only see Hannah, and partly because it isn’t funny per se, as much as thoughtful and bittersweet. This relationship may not, in fact cannot, last, but it is a telling encounter, and one that Hannah is unlikely to forget. Since Hannah is the only main character in this episode (except for her boss Ray, who sort of sets the whole thing in motion) we will break this down by the most important things that happen, starting with the garbage. Yep, the garbage. Read on.
THE GARBAGE CONUNDRUM Last week we saw a more self-assured Hannah, hosting a dinner party for her friends with money she’d made actually writing. This week we see her at her regular paycheck job at Grumpy’s, goofing around with her manager Ray. Hannah seems so happy and carefree, wearing her floral onesie and explaining the definition of the new word – sexit –that she has coined (that is going to end up in the word graveyard alongside “fetch”, Hannah). Part of her good cheer can be traced back to discovering Marnie and Elijah’s indiscretion, allowing her to feel like the good friend rather than the bad one for once. So is this the end of Hannah’s childish behavior? Has she entered the land of grownups? Not by a mile.
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When a handsome older man, Joshua (Wilson) comes into Grumpy’s to talk to Ray about why his garbage cans keep getting filled with trash from the café, we see a crack appear in Hannah’s new demeanor. Ray is unsurprisingly rude to the man, and while Hannah looks like she has something to say, she doesn’t manage to get the words out. Instead, the man storms out pissed, and Hannah tells Ray that he has made it a toxic work environment. Hannah, out! Now there’s some of that lack of foresight and rash decision making our girl is known for. She heads off into the neighbourhood, and approaches a beautiful brownstone. How does she know where the guy lives? Well, of course because she is the surreptitious trash dumper. He invites her inside, offers her lemonade, and the truth comes out. Hannah has been taking the café’s garbage each night, and placing it in people’s garbage cans around the neighbourhood. Why? Well, it started of course because Hannah is unreliable. She lost her dumpster key and rather than tell Ray and get in trouble, she just started using any can she could find. Then she started using his can specifically, because it was close enough to Grumpy’s, far enough not to get caught, and she liked the look of the house. She loves the look of it inside too, describing it as “like being in a Nancy Meyers movie.” While it started as a convenient way to cover her mess up with the dumpster key, she has continued because she likes how it feels—dropping in the trash, running away. And here we see the immaturity breaking through again. She may be growing up a bit, but this type of innocent trash vandalism shows that she is still essentially a kid. Hannah is driven entirely by a need to do things that make her feel something, and the trash maneuver makes her feel a rush, which is why she has continued to do it. It’s also why she just up and kisses Joshua in his kitchen. It crosses her mind, so she just does it. He may seem to have it all together, but Joshua is a man, and when a twenty-something weirdo of a girl kisses you in your kitchen, a man kisses back. They are having sex in no time flat, although how he gets her out of the onesie we have to imagine for ourselves.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE Post-coital chats generally don’t come any more awkward than the ones after sudden, middle of the day sex with a stranger. Hannah and Joshua (do not call this guy Josh, he really doesn’t like it) acknowledge the weirdness, but move past it quickly, with Joshua offering to make Hannah a steak for dinner. As they hang on his porch with the grill stoked, Hannah looks over his fence at his neighbours, some twenty-something hipsters whose party looks like where Hannah would usually be. Joshua reveals some things about himself—he’s a doctor who has recently separated from his wife—and it becomes clearer that while he has a beautiful house, his life isn’t quite as in order as the exterior suggests. After steak, he tours Hannah through the house, and she suggests it might be time for her to go home. Oh, no says Joshua, please stay, and his loneliness is as visible a presence in the room as he is. Hannah isn’t convinced that he really means it, and to prove it to her, she makes him beg her to stay on bended knee, leading them straight into bed for round two. In fact, Joshua is enjoying this odd but clearly sexually liberating visit so much that he takes a day off work and insists Hannah spend the whole day with him. While last night’s activities felt like Hannah travelling forward into adulthood, eating steaks and drinking wine and complimenting a room’s “fixtures”, their day together seems to be the reverse, with Joshua reverting into a younger, less responsible person. They play half-naked ping pong and have sex on the table. It’s an odd pairing, especially when they’re naked, with clean, fit & sporty Joshua matched up with zaftig, tattooed young Hannah, but they’re both getting something they want out of it: an experience that’s out of the ordinary.
TOO MUCH STEAM After their leisurely day, Hannah decides to have a shower, which in Joshua’s house means stepping into the world’s most luxurious private steam room. She pushes buttons and turns knobs, and accidentally steams herself into a dead faint. At first when Joshua goes in search of her in the cloud of steam, we thought she may have made a secret exit, running away. Instead, she just passed out, and Dr. Josh(ua) has to rescue her. The incident has scared them both, and it has also brought out vulnerability in Hannah that incites her to reveal some of the things on her mind. Hannah talks about herself all of the time, but it is the first time we’ve seen her quite so stripped of defenses and open. Joshua is making it all the more comfortable for her to open herself up, stroking her head and using the phrase “next time” indicating that he pictures them continuing to see each other. He was likely not expecting what he gets though, as Hannah is no ordinary swooning dame. She tells him that being there with him has made her realize that she isn’t as tough as she thinks she is, and at the end of the day she wants to be happy. She is embarrassed that she wants that, as she’s spent her life thinking of herself as different, and somehow better, than people who want happiness and the beautiful brownstones and cashmere sweaters she thinks go with it. She still believes herself to have the responsibility to be a voice for her generation, and puts herself in bad or uncomfortable situations so she can share the stories and help others. She shares some of the truly weird things about her sex life, as examples of how she is somehow broken, and when Joshua tries to relate, she dismisses his example as normal—narcissist Hannah is back in action. Joshua realizes as he listens to her that he may not be up for being with someone so young. He was enchanted by the fun and silliness of daytime sex and ping pong and forgot about the crushing self-doubt and dramatics that come with girls in their twenties. By the time Hannah has finished sharing her feelings, Joshua has emotionally retreated, and though he asks her to stay the night again, it’s clear there won’t likely be a “next time.” The main thing Hannah has realized from this encounter is that she is lonely. In the morning she wakes up alone. Joshua has returned to the land of adults, and Hannah’s escape from her loneliness is wrapping up. After one last morning of newspaper reading, she takes his trash out to the can and is back in her real world. Just a girl and her onesie, with one more story to tell.
THE LINES WE LIKED BEST
1) Ray: “What the fuck are you guys looking at? Go back to your panda videos before I turn off the wifi.”
2) Joshua: “Do you want to come in?” Hannah: “Oh, ahh, I don’t think that’s a very good idea, I mean you’re basically a complete stranger to me so, you know, I could really be putting myself in like a Ted Bundy situation. He also looked handsome and clean and probably had a brownstone. OK.” [She walks inside]
3) Hannah: “I made a promise such a long time ago that I was going to take in experiences, all of them, so that I could tell other people about them and maybe save them but it gets so tiring trying to take in all the experiences for everybody, letting everyone say anything to me. And then I came here and I see you, and you’ve got the fruit in the bowls, and the fridge with the stuff and the robe and you’re touching me … and I realize I’m not different. I want what everyone wants. I want what they all want, I want all the things.”
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GIRLS recap, Season 2, Episode 1: "When you love someone, you don’t have to be nice to them all the time."
GIRLS recap, Season 1, season finale: "Are you punking me?"
GIRLS recap, Season 1, Episode 9: “YOU are the wound.”
GIRLS recap, Season 1, Episode 8: “I’ve never been this miserable in my life.”
GIRLS recap, Season 1, Episode 7: “I can just tell when someone thinks that it’s spelled with a ‘c’.”
GIRLS recap, Season 1, Episode 6: ”I have been dating someone who treats my heart like it’s monkey meat.”