Colin Horgan is watching Season 2 of Girls and asking questions about it here each Monday.
Elsewhere on the site, Jessica Allen is writing about it, too. Click here for her take.
Here’s Horgan with three questions about the third episode of the second season:
Where does the magic happen?
The plan was simple, according to Hannah. “I’m going to write an article that exposes all my vulnerabilities to the internet,” she tells the other girls. The only thing she needs is a bit of cocaine, procured from the ex-junkie, Laird, who lives on the main floor of her apartment building, but who is now only apparently addicted to pomegranate juice and cartoons. The drug deal is necessary to meet the challenge from a new editor with a decent budget and a wall-mounted motivational idea: Get outside your comfort zone where the magic really happens. Hannah decides to do coke with Elijah on a Wednesday because it was a Wednesday. It would have to be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be interesting, right?
Elijah insists they go to a club to see the duo Andrew Andrew, who he describes as “brand consultants and iPad DJs.” Isn’t everyone? Before heading out, though, Elijah and Hannah do some rails and jabber about dreams and goals. Elijah wants to raise show dogs. “I want to get married wearing a veil,” Hannah blurts out. “And I want to taste like 15 cakes before I do it. I know that I said I’m against the Industrial Marriage Complex, but that’s what I really want.”
Meanwhile, Marnie runs into Booth Jonathan (played well by SNL writer, and one-third of the Lonely Planet team, Jorma Taccone) who we last saw in season one, putting the moves on Marnie. She rejected him then. Now she’s working a hostess job at the old boys’ club, which Booth tells her is “f–king depressing.” It’s a job, Marnie replies, “it pays. I’m sorry there weren’t a bajillion, y’know, curatorial openings in this city.” Booth is unfazed. “I love that,” he says. “I love when young people are passionate about something and then they just give up the second they have to struggle.” Marnie retorts with a jab at his creativity, calling him a “con man” who makes derivative art. It’s the response Booth is looking for, apparently, and he immediately leads Marnie back to his place.
There, they examine Booth’s art, including what he feels is the best thing he’s ever done – a weird, vertical coffin of inward-facing television screens playing disturbing images of maggots and crying babies in a continuous loop set to Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing.” Booth briefly imprisons Marnie in his creation as he makes coffee and checks email. As it turns out, Marnie was right. Booth is derivative to the extreme, and the artistic merit of his creation is dubious. In reality, it’s boring – another piece of nothing that you swear you’ve seen somewhere before. But Booth’s TV coffin serves the purpose of the script, which is to put Marnie outside her comfort zone. Once she emerges, con man though she may know him to be, she declares Booth to be “so f–king talented.”
What follows between Marnie and Booth (the magic?) is a strictly bizarre sex scene, as they lie facedown on top of one another, spread-eagle toward the foot of Booth’s bed. On top, thrusting, (“Give me everything,” he says. “Let me control you”) Booth instructs Marnie to look at a large, faceless doll standing in the corner – the could-be-anyone stand-in for, one presumes, a number of Booth’s sexual conquests: “Look at the doll, look at her. Describe her. How’s she feeling?” Marnie tells him the doll feels sassy. “No,” Booth replies, “she’s sad.” Marnie says nothing. He’s right, though.
What makes you a good friend?
While all of this is going on, Hannah and Elijah are dancing, faces melting, to Icona Pop’s “I love it.” Which they do, too, until Elijah confesses that he (sort of) had sex with Marnie. Hannah, now wearing a see-through mesh top she’d exchanged for her own vaguely Strawberry Shortcake-esque halter, runs her head under the tap to cool off from this news, and the two are soon out of the club, scanning the shelves of a pharmacy for supplies, and arguing. “Elijah, I was meant to be your last,” she says. Elijah rounds on Hannah. “Leave it to you to make this about you and your role in my path to sexuality,” he says. Did Hannah consider that maybe the tryst had nothing to do with her? “No.” Or maybe that Marnie’s mouth tasted like non-petroleum lip balm and Trident Layers and, for whatever reason, that was a turn on? “No,” Hannah says again. “No,” Elijah repeats. “We’re all living in Hannah’s world and it’s all just Hannah, Hannah, Hannah, all the time.”
Of course, he has a point. We know this, too. This season could just be called Girl.
In a strange twist, Elijah and Hannah run into Laird in the pharmacy, only to discover he’s been following them to make sure Hannah is all right. They go to Booth’s, where Hannah confronts Marnie. But she doesn’t want an apology. “That’s boring,” Hannah tells Marnie. “What I actually need is for you to recognize that maybe I’m not the bad friend and you’re not the good friend.” Her point, when she finally gets to it: “What makes you a good friend is not doing something that you know will intentionally really hurt another person,” she tells Marnie, as if she and Elijah had sex with Hannah in mind and not, as Elijah just finished trying to explain, because they got caught up in the moment. “And you did that and you looked me in the eyes again and again and you lied to me with your eyes and you said to me by not saying anything that you’d done nothing,” Hannah continues. “So guess who’s a bad friend? It’s you.”
She makes Marnie say it. “I’m not a good friend,” Marnie chokes before leaving to throw up. Elijah steps in, relieved everything is out in the open and ready to move on. “You know you’re moving out, right?” Hannah says. “You’re not staying. You ruined my article, you ruined my night.”
What is life?
But then, it’s an admitted tendency of Hannah’s to look for barriers where there really are none. Earlier in the night, when she and Elijah were still in the apartment, shouting about their hopes and dreams, Hannah confessed she still can’t properly write a cheque, and that all these little complications in life are preventing her from becoming an adult – as if there was some alternative version of life in which the little things that come up day to day don’t exist and it’s all one smooth path of successes to … something.
Hannah seeks a perfectly easy existence, with a big Industrial Marriage Complex wedding and in which there is an uninterrupted stream of cash from her parents and, it seems, some kind of collective, pure, adulation for her talent. Then, presumably, everything would be easy and she would never have to leave her comfort zone. This is perhaps what she sees in Jessa’s happiness, taking a wave of newfound, post-nuptial bliss as a statement from a what-could-be reality that’s only just out of her reach. If only she could write a cheque. If only her friends hadn’t had sex. But Hannah is playing a mug’s game because all these little things aren’t barriers to life. They are life. And thank goodness for that. Because, anyway, what’s more interesting? An article in which you did cocaine alone for a night, or one about how the first time you did cocaine, you found out your gay roommate and your best friend had sex and everything went to hell? And in which one would your true vulnerabilities really be exposed?
Hannah and Laird end up back home, in front of Laird’s door. They say goodnight. Hannah kisses Laird, who starts to ask questions — mainly, is this all OK? Is Hannah sure? It’s just for the night. It’s “for work,” Hannah tells him, and Laird finally gives in, a junkie turned enabler. Just what Hannah wants.