Hannah (Lena Dunham) finally breaks up with Fran (Jake Lacy) in tonight’s episode of Girls, but it doesn’t register as drama, let alone tragedy. Instead, it plays out as absurdist, almost slapstick comedy. Looking slightly ludicrous, as always, in PJs and cowboy boots, Hannah escapes the RV Fran rented for the summer, which she insists on calling a “house car,” and runs away from him at a rest stop—until she trips on a tree branch and lands ass up on the ground. It’s a fitting end to a relationship that always felt fated to fail, his bland sweetness and respect for the status quo fatally out of balance with her sharp tongue and reflexive rebelliousness. Their breakup doesn’t appear to be a particularly big deal even for Hannah, who tells a kind stranger who gives her a ride later that day that she’s more upset about the fact that Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Adam (Adam Driver) are fucking.
Hannah’s trip back to the city starts out as a comic misadventure too, though it winds up in a sweet and genuinely vulnerable place. When her girlfriends are unable to come to fetch her (she is, of course, banned from Uber for having gotten too low a rating), good old Ray (Alex Karpovsky) comes to the rescue in his new coffee truck—and Hannah promptly finds a way to trash it when the blowjob she insists on giving him, despite his protests, distracts him and they veer off the road. The short scene after they’ve gone over the embankment is a perfectly timed comic gem, starting outside the truck with the two of them staring at the grass and saying “What the fuck?,” going inside for a medium shot of Hannah looking up at Ray, and ending on a shot from even farther away as, after a beat, the truck falls over.
Ray unloads one of his periodic tirades on Hannah (“You are callow, you are insufferable, and you have really fucked me this time!”), making you wonder how much longer he’ll put up with this sort of thing, since the “girls” are getting to an age where drifting aimlessly and thoughtless behavior are no longer socially acceptable.
Meanwhile, Shosh’s (Zosia Mamet) ex-boyfriend, Scott (Jason Ritter), bluntly chastises her for that very thing when she tells him she’s applying for food stamps, pointing out that she’s “figuring out how to go on welfare over omikase sushi” and then adding: “You complained the entire time we were going out about your unemployed entitled friends, and you’re actually the worst of all of them.”
The show’s minor characters leave vivid impressions while surfacing some truth about the major players.
Of course, Hannah is always hard to beat in that regard, and Jessa is also in the running in this episode. Although she does show up to “help” Adam with his infant niece, she’s unable to think of anything but herself as he cares for the baby and worries about his sister, Caroline, who abandoned her child and boyfriend three days earlier. Adam, who’s rising to the occasion like a real mensch, doesn’t like what he’s seeing, as Jessa obsesses over whether they were “bad” to hurt Hannah by sleeping together and freaks out over a little baby puke on her shirt. “You’re an adult. She’s a baby. Why do you need more help than a baby?” he asks icily. That’s a question that could be asked of almost every member of this crew at some point, and periodically has been, but it’s getting more frequent and more urgent of late.
Girls has always been good at creating minor characters, like Zachary Quinto’s Ace and Gillian Jacobs’s Mimi-Rose, who leave vivid impressions while surfacing some truth about the major players, even if they only appear in a handful of episodes. “Homeward Bound” introduces another of those characters, Desi’s (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) entertainingly new-age squeeze Tandis (Lisa Bonet), who’s so smugly “evolved,” so thoroughly in charge of the malleable Desi, that just a minute or two in her presence brings Marnie’s (Allison Williams) always-simmering goulash of inchoate emotion to the boiling point.
Hector (Guillermo Díaz), the passerby who gives Hannah a ride earlier in the episode, registers poignantly with his kind eyes, sad story, and joyful whoop at the sight of the New York City skyline. More importantly, though, he serves as a catalyst to bring out both the worst and the best in Hannah. First he surfaces her capacity for self-involved insensitivity when she laughs as he talks about having been abused by his girlfriend. Then, after she hears his story, his unguarded excitement at the sight of New York puts her back in touch with her own sense of adventure. “It’s a good place to start over,” he says. Eyes shining, she agrees, ready to do just that.
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