Girls: Third Season Zings Off Into Future on (Metaphorical) ‘Two Plane Rides’

By  · Published on March 24th, 2014


Do you remember how last season’s Girls run ended? The running? The romance? The OCD reveal? It was a heady time in our lives, back when there was still some hope for Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver), Marnie (Allison Williams) hadn’t lost another boyfriend, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) was trying to spread his wings, and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) had gone MIA. Think of it now! No Caroline! No GQ! No rehab! The good old days!

“Two Plane Rides” effectively ends the series’s third season – and probably a whole mess of relationships, too – with the revelation of something just as unexpected as Hannah’s OCD: she applied to the country’s best grad school. And she got in. Elsewhere, Adam bombs his Broadway debut (by his approximation), Marnie goes after another bad boy, Shosh sees her partying come to its logical end, and Jessa tries to kill an old lady. No, really. The series closed out with a truly excellent finale – one packed with fun details like Elijah’s formal shorts, Shoshanna’s sad hair and wholly expected college flunk out, Adam’s “bad” performance, Marnie’s inability to stay away from “emotional property,” Jessa having to face some real consequences, and Hannah proving herself to be some kind of intellectual titan.

Kate: First of all, there were no planes rides in this episode. Not one, certainly not two. What a ripoff!

That said – there are some implied plane rides here, perhaps a there and back for Hannah, who might be surprised to learn that the trip from NYC to Iowa isn’t as long as she’s expecting it to be, as Iowa is not, in fact, on a coast. Although I’m happy to see a shake up, I’m pretty disappointed that the show relied on the same sort of trick they employed for last season’s final three episodes – springing a giant change in Hannah’s life on us without any previous indication that it was a possibility. Sure, we could dig to find some trace of her OCD in early eps, but Hannah has given zero indication that she was applying to grad schools, especially one as big time as Iowa. Where the fuck did this come from? And why does Girls want to keep using the same kind or twist to drive their finales?

Rob: Before I say anything else know that this is my favorite episode of the season. More on that later.

But yes, a big change is dropped in our laps at the end, and I think they fall back on that shtick because it allows for “stuff” to happen between the end of this season and the start of the next. We actually touched on this in the past couple of weeks when I suggested the season may end with Hannah getting a writing gig in LA or Marnie getting a music chance out there, both of which could happen between the seasons and then we meet them all back in NYC again.

What’s interesting to me is how Hannah managed to take this news and once again make someone else’s time be about her instead. Telling Adam that she’s essentially leaving him and NYC minutes before his Broadway debut?!? How out of touch with reality is that?

Kate: The strange thing is, nearly everything else that happened in last night’s episode – Shosh flunking out, Marnie making a move on McBeardy Singdude, Adam freaking out about his performance – had been so well set up previously. We expected that stuff, but that expectation didn’t dilute the payoff. More random Hannah BIG! NEWS! did. I’m happy for its effects – making “stuff” happen – but I am pretty put out that the show’s creative time employed the same trick.

That’s Hannah’s main issue, isn’t it? She can make anything and everything about her, no matter what is going on with other people. Marnie is having sex with Ray? You can’t judge me again! Adam is having his Broadway debut? I’m moving and now we can be a “bicoastal” art couple! I’d say this could be blamed on her being an only child, but I’m an only child, and I’ve never pulled stuff like this before. Hannah’s entire world is herself, she truly thinks she’s the center of the universe, and that’s why her relationships are so screwed.

Rob: At least Hannah’s consistent? Trying to find a bright/positive side of her sudden news bomb, and I think that’s pretty much it. What do you make of her smile at the very end? I feel like the episode (written and directed by Dunham) wants us to be happy for her, and more than that, it thinks we should be. And while I’d theoretically happy for anyone who gets something they’ve wanted and worked for, Hannah’s selfishness, inability to think about others, and sudden arrival of this news leaves me shaking my head at her final smile instead of nodding and smiling with her.

Kate: I have to object – I don’t think that Dunham is on board with Hannah, and that’s a purposeful (if weird) decision. As I’ve said before, I think that Dunham is funny and flinty and sweet in person, so it’s weird that Hannah is…not. Perhaps Dunham wants us to be happy for Hannah, but I don’t think she thinks we should be. Sure, the one consistent thing in Hannah’s life – beyond her selfishness – is her work, so although it’s “nice” to see that pay off, what has she really done to earn it?

Let’s lay it plain – do you think she’s going to go?

Rob: We’ll agree to disagree there as I think Dunham is practically demanding we support Hannah’s struggle and celebrate her triumphs. She knows Hannah’s not a perfect person, but I think she still expects audiences to be happy for her when things work out her way. Part of it is Dunham, but part of it is the HBO comedy model where the leads are obnoxious, “love to hate, hate to love” type characters. Obviously she’s done nothing to earn it, but there you go.

And she’ll most definitely go. Next season will start with her triumphant return, possibly with a new beau in tow?

Kate: Can you even imagine what sort of arty little gremlin she’ll tote home? The possibilities are endless. My bets are on a poet.

If Hannah shoves off for, what, an entire fall semester, what will happen to everyone else? Let’s start with Marnie. She’s quite firmly in the going-after-inappropriate-dudes saddle, thanks to her Desi makeout, her Clementine bathroom run-in, and her half sad/half insane spying on their (possible?) break up. This isn’t going to end well – not the possible new relationship, not the record, not anything. What can Marnie do?

Rob: Oh, Marnie. Before we tear her down let’s at least acknowledge her genuine joy for Hannah’s surprise grad school acceptance. Marnie is legitimately happy for her friend, and it was a nice thing to see. That said, good god is she trying to one up Hannah in the terrible person department? She’s so giddy post-Desi makeout and so oblivious to her role in the event. “He kissed me!” Does she not know she’s been orchestrating this for weeks now? It certainly looked like Desi and Clementine were having a major blow-out, and Marnie’s undignified spying shows she hasn’t been scared off by Clem’s warning, so my guess is we’ll see Marnie and Desi together when next season opens.


Kate: That is true, Marnie had a lovely reaction to Hannah’s news. Coming off the heels of the love-making bust-up, this was unexpected and very sweet. Score one for Marnie! And then knock her down all the points. Listen, we get it, Marn, you’ve got a thing for Desi. You probably also have it into your head that you guys are just great together, but your ruthless behavior, coupled with finally fessing up to Shoshanna what you did with Ray was bad news.

You’d think that Marnie would have learned from Shosh’s reaction – this is a bad, mean thing — but she just, well, didn’t.

Rob: Yeah, Marnie’s easily bewitched, and Desi’s appreciation of her singing “talents” just sealed her need to be with him. Like Hannah though she’s seemingly incapable of seeing or understanding the effects her actions have on others. She can share genuine joy for someone, but is oblivious to the pain.

Exhibit A being her interaction with Shosh. Telling her was inevitable, but she does it in such a cavalier way.

But this is where I point out the episode’s biggest surprise, for me at least. Shosh, of all people, single-handedly delivers the majority of the ep’s emotion and power. For so long she’s been little more than a punchline machine, but here we get to see some legitimate consequences from her actions. She’s not graduating, she’s alone, and she’s realizing it all at once. Unlike Hannah’s dramas or sorrows, Shosh’s breakdown feels real, earned, and incredibly affecting. Her desperate plea to Ray during the play’s intermission was heartbreaking, and while he gave the correct answer it hurt to see him turn her down in such a fragile state.

Kate: Zosia Mamet is undoubtedly the MVP of this episode. Shosh has toiled on the sidelines for most of this season, and although it’s long been obvious that her bad behavior was going to catch up with her academically, I think it’s wonderful that it ultimately got so much attention and was so well done.

Even better than her freak out and her begging and her intensely human performance, however, was Shosh’s sad hair. Shosh! Sad hair! Her hair is a fanciful, happy, unique being with its own personality, but after getting bad news on top of bad news, it turned flat and boring – a ponytail, a stray bun. That alone was heartbreaking.

Rob: Ha, very true. And very sad! Do we think Ray will come around and take her back? I’d like to see her earn it through her behavior because it’s clear that hitting bottom is at least partly responsible for her wanting him back. Hopefully she’ll get back into her groove and *still* want to be back with him.

The second element of this ep that worked for me in big and surprising ways is Jessa’s brief attempt at playing Dr. Kevorkian. A sober and compassionate Jessa is someone I could get used to, and I loved seeing her forced into a situation outside her realm of normal. The question though is will she be charged for her role in an attempted suicide?

Kate: I don’t know about Ray – he seemed pretty set in saying no to Shosh, despite not giving her any actual reasons for his choice. Still, I will hold on to some hope for those crazy kids.

Oh, this Jessa stuff was great. What was even better was the (maybe?) misdirection of the drugs – I thought her new employer wanted to get high, not that she wanted to die! (Super fun rhyme.) Even better? It seemed like Jessa was genuinely struggling with this – she considered it, she thought about it, she probably even weighed some pros and cons. What a turnaround. I suspect Jessa will get away from this scot-free, at least in the legal sense, but I do hope it changes her in new and special ways. It’s a great start, an unexpected one, but a warm and good one.

Rob: Could we see Jessa moving into a care-giver role next season? Maybe working with addicts or people at the end of life? She’d make a terrible mother, but I think this glimpse into her more compassionate side should be given more room to breathe going forward. It’d be too easy to have her go back to living it up, so I’d like to see her spend time being smart, caring, and still fun.


Kate: And, remember, Jessa did try her hand at nannying. She does seem to have some sort of interest in taking care of others, which is pretty much the only Jessa interest that should be nurtured right now.

Do you think Adam was good in the play?

Rob: It’s difficult to gauge how “good” Adam was in the play as we only saw brief snippets. The accent seemed overdone to me, but that may have been intentional for the play. The people seemed to enjoy him and the show, so I think we’re supposed to agree that it was fine. But he is right when he tells Hannah that it’s how he feels about his performance that matters. Hopefully he doesn’t take it to heart and give up on acting.

Kate: But is he taking it to heart and giving up on Hannah?

Rob: I’m fine with him giving up on Hannah as long as he doesn’t give up on himself. She needs to go grow up, and he deserves to enjoy some success without someone constantly trying to steal his thunder and manufacture drama where there isn’t any. More than just about any other character on the show, I believe Adam when he speaks. So while he clearly loves her I think he’s finally reached a breaking point. The two of them will come around again at some point next season, but a break from each other is clearly in their future.

Kate: What are our season four predictions?

Rob: Hannah returns with a new boy toy and a fatter head thanks to the acclaim she gets in Iowa. Shosh has finished up her remaining credits, graduated without fanfare, and is now trying to earn Ray back. Marnie is in the hospital after getting a beatdown from Clementine. Jessa is on probation for her role in the attempted suicide. Ray opens another coffee shop and realizes it’s his pride keeping Shosh at arm’s length. Adam is hit on the head and can now only talk in that ridiculous accent. Elijah is seen by a casting agent in those cast photos (thanks to his hilariously sly move into the shots) and is cast on a daytime soap opera. Adam’s sister gives birth to the antichrist.

Kate: The new boy toy is “a poet.” Shosh’s hair is just a touch more inflated. Marnie decides to try to opposite sex. Jessa’s heart grows two sizes. Ray gives in. Adam hasn’t stopped wearing his coat from the play. Elijah is a star. The antichrist baby eats the apartment building.

Rob: We should probably just go ahead and forward this to Dunham right now.

Kate: I’ll tweet it to her, line by line.

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