We open on Shoshanna in a cold, bland room, being interviewed by a cold, bland woman for a job that she actually quite wants. Sadly for Shosh, she’s ‘not right for the role’, despite her passion for Chelsea Clinton. Instead of running home and burying her woes in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream like any self-respecting job seeker, she holds her ground and asks for critique. This admirable desire to improve herself backfires somewhat when her would-be-employer reels off a long list of shortcomings: Shosh sees things in ‘too simplistic a manner’, has an ‘off-putting style’ and ‘lacks a certain sensitivity’. Ouch.
Marnie and Jessa are hanging out (which somehow feels weird) and Jessa is being forced to listen to a new Marnie-Desi recording and looks about as thrilled as a post-Grammys Kanye West. Shosh joins them and rants about her terrible interview, earning a few pearls of wisdom from Jessa, including ‘interviews are bullshit’ and ‘if you want some cash you could just sell an organ’. Marnie is still waiting for someone to listen to her track and forces it on Shosh, a move which backfires when she dishes out the mother of all backhanded compliments by calling it the kind of song ‘you hate, and then they play it on the radio a billion times and you love it.’ Marnie sulks and yearns for Hannah’s wishy-washy creativity.
Speaking of Hannah, she’s still miserable and inspiration-less in Iowa. Elijah, on the other hand, has got the creative juices flowing and is working on his ‘article made of pictures’. The good news is that Hannah’s dad is coming to visit! Hurrah for parental interventions!
Until then, though, Hannah’s self-destructive behaviour gets free rein. She slips typed sheets into her classmates’ pigeon holes in a manner which is wholly suspicious, especially considering that not once this season has she written anything remotely sensible. Hurry, Mr Horvath.
Back in NYC, cars are honking and Ray is ranting. Unable to concentrate, he decides to channel his anger directly at the source and yells at the honkers on the street. The result is less than productive. Luckily, he is interrupted by Shosh, who gives the time old excuse, ‘I was in the neighbourhood’, before sloping off with Ray to run errands.
Iowa again and it turns out the typed sheets were copies of an ‘apology letter’, delivered to each one of her classmates. ‘Progress!’, you may think. You’d be wrong. It is less an apology and more, as one of the class says, ‘super defensive’. In standard Hannah form, her ‘apology’ is couched in a refusal to take responsibility for herself, instead deflecting blame onto her classmates for putting her in a box. After Jeffrey comments that ‘it’s written like a live journal’, Hannah loses her temper, screws up a piece of paper and throws it at him, before retracting her apology. Peak of maturity right there.
Hannah is asked to stay behind and her teacher picks up that she isn’t ‘entirely happy’ in Iowa which is ‘a very specific kind of place for a specific kind of writer’. Hannah panics she’s being kicked out, but is reassured that only violence against another student merits expulsion. She admits that the thought of being kicked out was, for that brief moment, actually a relief and appears to consider what else she could have lobbed at Jeffrey.
It’s not all bad though, as Hannah’s dad has finally arrived to impart wisdom! Turns out Hannah’s mum quit her book project in order to focus on happiness. This unexpected fact finally allows Hannah to admit that she’s struggling (cue collective sigh of relief). Papa Horvath then comes out with a gem that pretty much sums up Girls’ whole ethos: ‘Sometimes the stupidest fucking decision in the world is the right decision for you’. Maybe, after hearing those words, Hannah will give herself permission to let go.
Ray and Shosh are fighting about t-shirt prices and it’s great. Whilst trying to restyle his wardrobe so that he no longer looks like ‘a loser who doesn’t care’, Shosh is finally able to talk to Ray about what went wrong in their relationship, admitting that that she wasn’t ready and ‘acted in a way I don’t want to be remembered’. Her heartfelt apology is all the more touching next to Hannah’s false one: ‘I like knowing that I did love you because it makes me feel like I might be capable of something else great some day.’ I loved this moment; it felt earned and true to both characters and the relationship between them. They may have been dysfunctional at one point, but they also bring out the best in one another. They’re both maturing and it’s wonderful to watch.
Marnie’s decision to break up with Desi has the exact effect she wanted – and we dreaded. After breaking up with Clementine, he hammers on Marnie’s door in the middle of the night and sobs dramatically into her chest. Turns our Marnie is hot for sensitivity, whispering ‘this is so intense for you’ and stroking his hair. When Marnie cottons on to the fact that this might have been a preemptive dumping brought on by Clementine’s infidelity, he deflects by saying ‘I love you. I love only you’ and sticking his face in her vagina. She looks bummed out, then victorious. It’s a tad nauseating.
Hannah is back in New York! With her head sticking out of a taxi, hair blowing in the breeze, she looks more peaceful than she has since the season started.
Sadly, it lasts all of five minutes.
Somewhat predictably (but no less heartbreakingly), the door to her flat is opened by Adam’s new squeeze, Mimi Rose. Hannah squeezes past her to say hi to Adam and the two have the world’s most awkward hug, before she begins to notice that her stuff has gone. The episode ends just as the reality of the situation hits home.
This is brutal stuff. In this final moment, Hannah is not truly at home anywhere. Not in Iowa, not in her NYC apartment, not even in her own mind. She has quit grad school – the most authentic decision she’s made so far this series. But there’s still a long way to go.