Because it’s about the emotional lives of a group of young women, Lena Dunham’s Girls is also very much about friendship—real friendship, not the wish-fulfillment kind you see on TV shows where a tight little group of besties go through life in lockstep, anatomizing every triumph or frustration over cocktails or coffee. So one of the most poignant motifs of the show’s last couple of seasons is how Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna often grow slowly, almost imperceptibly apart as their interests change or they head out of town for a while—whether it’s the Iowa Writer’s Workshop or rehab or Tokyo.
The friends all convene now only when there’s an occasion big enough to compel their attendance, like Marnie’s wedding or, in “Hello Kitty,” Adam’s (Adam Driver) new play. The performance may be mostly included to get them all in one place, but, typical of Girls, it’s also a closely observed, tartly funny little gem of social satire. Based on the murder of Kitty Genovese, the play is a spoof of those audience-participation plays in which the viewers turn into some ungodly hybrid of extra and editor as they move from room to room, seeing random snippets of scenes—and, in this case, pocketing candy from a bowl or talking loudly over dialogue since, as Marnie (Allison Williams) puts it, “It’s not like the actors are doing anything interesting.”
The tectonic shifts in the inner lives of Girls’s main characters sometimes bring them back together: As they prepared for her wedding in the season opener, Marnie complained to Hannah that the two of them had barely talked for the last couple of years, and Hannah’s heartfelt apology and the awareness that Marnie’s words sparked in her seems to have reunited the former best friends, who’ve been seeking each other out again whenever they’re feeling particularly vulnerable. This season, it’s Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Hannah (Dunham) who seem to be drifting the furthest apart. While Jessa agonized over whether to date Adam because she knew it would upset Hannah, she gave in to the impulse without so much as talking to her old friend about it.
Hannah figures out what’s going on between her old friend and her former lover during the play, when she sees Jessa beaming at Adam from the balcony of an apartment across the courtyard, while Adam smokes moodily in a window, gazing at Jessa in what’s obviously not part of the script. Hannah is as hurt and angered by the realization as Jessa guessed she would be, her cheeks reddening and lips tightening as she looks back and forth from one to the other. After all that, the post-play encounter between Jessa and Hannah is surprisingly tame: just a cordial hello and an awkward wave. Hannah had plenty to say to Marnie about how she feels, though, so her uncharacteristic diffidence with Jessa is likely just a subterranean rumble signaling a coming eruption.
Starstruck Elijah (Andrew Rannells), on the other hand, seems perfectly happy at the thought of dumping his old comrades, now that his dreams of living the luxe life seem within reach. At a party at new boyfriend Dill’s (Corey Stoll) glamorous apartment, he burbles about how nice Dill’s fancy friends are compared to his own, who are “mean and poor.” But the bubbles in Elijah’s champagne dreams suddenly pop when a gossipy guest tells him about some of Dill’s other boy toys. Maybe his rich and famous boyfriend is just a fantasy after all.
The parts of the episode that aren’t about shifting allegiances among the friends mostly involve updates on various unstable situations. The long-suffering principal at the school where Hannah works finally sits her down for what he sets up as a serious reprimand—though she ducks out of any real consequences by opening her legs to expose her vagina. At least, she thinks that got her out of trouble, though surely flashing a flustered and fatherly man will only amp up the alarm bells that were already going off in his head about her.
Marnie and Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) are back in synch, thrilled by the news that Alexandra Patsavas wants to use one of their songs on Grey’s Anatomy. Determined to make the most of “our moment” by going on tour, they agree that they’re getting together just as a band. But from the looks of Marnie’s shining eyes and their cozy intimacy as they croon a chorus together, this is not likely to be a purely professional partnership. Before Desi showed up, Marnie was back to her old ambivalent tricks with Ray (Alex Karpovsky), seeking him out to tell him that she’s done with Desi—and then saying that what she needs now is to be alone. Ray just wished her luck and fled, though, so he may not be up for playing romantic understudy opposite the love of his life once again until she finds someone she likes better.
Fran (Jake Lacy) and Hannah seem to be on the verge of that inevitable breakup, inhabiting totally separate emotional universes. She’s terminally annoyed at him, he’s royally pissed at her, and she’s managed to strip off the niceness she’s derided all along as a façade. When she insists on talking about their relationship just as they’re about to walk into Adam’s play, Fran gets downright snarky. “Oh! Hannah wants to do something rude, disruptive, and inappropriate,” he says. “What a twist!” He’s not wrong about Hannah, of course, and that kind of talk is hardly new: Every one of her friends has said similar things about her. Still, it’s a bit of a shock coming from Fran, who seems to have been driven over some kind of emotional edge by Hannah. Maybe her mother was right when she said Hannah isn’t capable of loving anyone who is kind to her.