Picking up immediately where last week’s episode left off, “Sit-In,” an impeccably constructed tour de force, finds Hannah (Lena Dunham) reacting to the news that Adam (Adam Driver) is living with a new girlfriend, Mimi-Rose (Gillian Jacobs), in their previously shared apartment. Shell-shocked by the discovery, she shuts herself up in her old room, leaving Adam to call on her friends to coax her out. What ensues is a series of encounters between Hannah and the show’s primary players, as the apartment becomes a revolving door of presumptive caretakers.
Watching Hannah work through her anguish via a series of conversations sounds potentially grating, but “Sit-In” never feels like an ordeal. That’s largely because, for once, our sympathies are clearly aligned with Hannah. Though her behavior in Iowa, frequently petty-minded and egotistic, could be alienating, here she’s completely relatable, struggling to come to terms with a situation that would be challenging for anyone. That’s not to say her narcissism has disappeared. Indeed, her talent for solipsistic hyperbole is on full display when, afraid to venture outside her room for fear of running into Adam, she declares, “I have never had to piss worse in my life. And probably, no one else in America has ever had to piss worse than me.”
Interestingly, the episode refuses to grant Hannah the unadulterated attention she so craves. Explaining his decision to pursue a new relationship, Adam tells her, “I want you to understand, this isn’t about you,” a sentiment that lingers in the background of subsequent scenes. One of the difficult things Hannah must grapple with is the recognition that even as they stop by to offer comfort, her friends remain preoccupied with their own concerns. “Do you maybe have some stuff of your own going on?” she asks Ray (Alex Karpovsky) when it becomes clear that the “ethically bankrupt” actions he laments aren’t related to her predicament. It’s a question she could just as easily pose to her other visitors.
Among them, it’s Jessa (Jemima Kirke) who fuels the most revealing exchange, divulging that she set Adam up with Mimi-Rose: “I don’t understand. What’s the problem? You said you were leaving for two years. What were we supposed to do? Sit around flicking our clits ’til you came back?” Her words sting, but they contain a glimmer of truth and again challenge Hannah’s idea of her own self-importance. Even so, they’re delivered with a calculated spite, and though Jessa feigns disaffection, it’s clear she feels uncomfortable: Once she discovers why Hannah is upset, she pulls away from her friend’s embrace and lights a cigarette on the other side of the room. She recognizes the malice in her actions (prompted, perhaps, by her own sense of abandonment at Hannah’s move to Iowa), but she’s unwilling to cop to it. The pair ends their discussion in literal blows, another relationship severed, at least temporarily.
If the episode were composed only of these wrenching tête-à-têtes, it might threaten to become too emotionally overwhelming. Thankfully, “Sit-In” has a dexterous command of tone, nimbly shifting from soul-baring confession to irreverent comedy on a dime. In particular, the episode highlights Driver’s gift for physical comedy as he skulks along the periphery, contorting his body in outlandish poses of frustration. It also marks the welcome return of Laird (Jon Glaser) and Caroline (Gaby Hoffman), loopy as ever, who offer Hannah consolation with a group hug of misjudged intimacy. “There’s nothing sexual about this at all,” cautions Laird, before Caroline chimes in, “But of course, if you need something of that nature, we’d be happy to offer.”
Facing Adam as she prepares to finally leave, Hannah confesses her distress at his unfaithfulness, and in a series of handheld close-ups, the pair discuss the dissolution of their relationship: “You left…and I was sort of relieved,” admits Adam. “What we had was real, and it was beautiful and intense and weird and terrifying, and there was a time I couldn’t imagine myself with anyone else, ever,” he continues, before acknowledging that that time has passed. Throughout their conversation, Hannah remains as stoic as we’ve ever seen her, suppressing tears as she listens to Adam’s defense. After she exits the apartment, curtly telling Adam to stop calling her “kid,” it’s clear she’s accepted their breakup.
Acceptance, however, doesn’t mean approval, a fact underscored by the episode’s final sequence. Following Hannah as she journeys to the storage unit where Adam moved her belongings, the episode concludes with a shot of her uncovering a couch from beneath a stack of boxes conspicuously labeled “Fragile” and lying down for the night. After the episode’s string of pairings, she ultimately opts for solitude, and as she prepares to sleep, cocooned in the darkened storage unit, she must brace herself for yet another new beginning.
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