The first half of Girls’s two-part season finale deals with several kinds of love: romantic, platonic, and that sparkly feeling somewhere in the middle that can spring up in the glow of a new friendship, like the one between Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her old classmate and nemesis, Tally (Jenny Slate). It’s surprising to see Hannah connect so deeply with a new potential friend, especially someone whose success used to trigger such jealousy in her. Maybe it helps that Hannah hasn’t been writing—or doing much else—for so long that she no longer feels as if she’s in competition with Tally. As she says, when she accepts her offer to hang out: “I’m not really headed anywhere particular at the moment.”
Then again, maybe being open to Tally is another sign of the emotional maturity that Hannah’s fitfully tumbling toward. Or maybe she’s just open to a new friendship because her old friends have been so busy or evasive lately. Whatever the reason, Hannah and Tally do some serious bonding, confiding in one another, dancing to Beyoncé, and getting so high on falling-in-friendship endorphins that they briefly consider having sex before dismissing it with a mutual “nah.”
On the romantic side, Hannah still seems totally over Fran already, telling Tally she was “just using him to get over Adam, who’s probably the only person I’ve ever loved.” But she can’t stop ruminating about Adam (Adam Driver) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke), feeling left out and confused as her lost love and estranged bestie get lost in one another. As she tells Tally: “The worst part is, I miss them both, you know? I love them both so much I don’t know who to warn about the other one.” Meanwhile, Elijah (Andrew Rannells) does his best to close his open relationship with Dill (Corey Stoll), only to get a devastating rejection when Dill thanks him for helping him realize that he is ready for a committed relationship, but with someone a little less “aimless.”
The only bright note in all this heartache is the reunion between Marnie (Allison Williams) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky), after her “love dream” about him makes her think that he might actually be the one for her. Ray welcomes her back with a graceful ease and delight that feels like true love. “It can’t be you!” she says, to which he gently replies: “I think it might be me, Marnie.”
Another of Ray’s old loves, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), also comes back into his life, this time in the form of savior. When she sees what a wasteland the coffee shop he manages has become, Shosh springs into action—and provides some classic moments of Dadaesque humor. First she reminds Ray and his boss, Hermie (Colin Quinn), of her marketing skills: “What do you think I was doing in Japan? Other than origami and eating candy that tastes like other candy.” Then she scopes out the competition in a trench coat and hat before declaring that they must brand Ray’s shop as “the destination for the anti-hipster,” selling coffee to “people with jobs.”
One important part of “Love Stories” has nothing to do with love. When Hannah quits her job as a teacher, Principal Toby (Douglas McGrath) is still supportive and understanding, even as she packs up her stuff and gives him an explanation for her departure that combines pompous self-righteousness with clueless entitlement and smug condescension: “I’ve been trying to stay more open to signals from the universe, and I don’t know if I can be open to those signals if I’m tuned into another song. This job being the song.” But Toby, that most patient of men, sees past Hannah’s patronizing bullshit to the essence her students—and Girls’s audience—respond to. He admires her, he says, because “with all your setbacks and your issues, you live your life with such joie de vivre.” Maybe he’s more of a sage than a sap.
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