S2 / E4 ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ – The Best Episode of ‘GIRLS’ to Date

By David Pergolini on Feb 4, 2013 to Girls

Hannah Girls

Last night’s episode of ‘GIRLS’ was the absolute best the series has to offer thus far. We see the consequences of past decisions – pulled from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. We were cracking up with laughter, we were fighting back tears, we found ourselves recognizing notable changes in our characters. Just when I was beginning to doubt Lena Dunham, ‘GIRLS’ puts out, in my opinion, one of the most memorable episodes in HBO history.

I was cracking up throughout the entire episode – Hannah’s theatrics with the butcher knife, Shoshonna realizes she has a roommate, Jessa meets Thomas John’s straight-laced parents. The dialogue is so witty and sharp. Each character is a certified smart-ass. The conversations never run dry, each scene carries some sort of emotional weight because each relationship has reached the tipping point. Lena Dunham’s writing delivers these emotionally charged scenes with a comical undertone, staying true to the show’s theme and genre in brilliant fashion. Hysterics aside, character and story revelation is what separates this episode of ‘GIRLS’ from the rest. Hannah wasn’t necessarily the focus of our attention this episode. Rather, we see the story unfold for our supporting characters.

Charlie now finds himself at the center of a heated girl fight. Though I don’t really support his decision for chasing after Marnie, I was glad to see him make a decision in a heated moment. He put his relationship with Audrey at risk for the sake of comforting Marnie. After discovering Marnie’s relationship with “Ewok” artist Booth Jonathan, Charlie receives a brutal tongue-lashing from Hannah. Showcasing a reoccurring theme of Season 2 – each character thinks their so pure and noble, that they’re the ‘good friend’ and everyone else is out to get them. Hannah reminds Charlie that perhaps he should take a look at his own actions before condemning others.

Ray and Shosh

Ray and Shoshonna are two of my favorite characters this season. Ray’s unfiltered comedy meshes perfectly with Shosh’s ditzy character. The two we’re cracking me up the entire episode. Their relationship is out in the open, including Ray’s living situation. It was hard to take any of the two seriously before they came together. But now they represent a relationship and mindset that millions of young people across the country can identify with. What makes me so deserving? Why do I deserve a love like this? Some people are to cold and bitter to remember or appreciate the act of ‘falling’ for someone. It’s real. It’s messy. This episode of ‘GIRLS’ delivers this message with a perfect culmination of drama and comedy.

The highlight of this episode, in my opinion, was the disintegrating relationship between Jessa and Thomas John. We’ve been under the impression that Jessa and Thomas John are head-over-heels in love, that nothing can break apart these happy newly-weds. If theres one thing that can – it’s the in-laws. Jessa goes back and forth with Thomas John’s mother over a steak dinner, giving us glimpses into her family life (or lack there of) and her past addiction with heroin. Things finally boil over after dinner. The two come clean, using whatever ammunition they have to conjure the most painful and deep-cutting insults. It was a “mistake.” A horrible decision that both will have to live with the rest of their lives. Perhaps this couple will find a way to amend things down the road, but I really don’t see that happening – not after that.

Jessa Bathtub

The final scene of ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ is the best scene of ‘GIRLS’ I’ve ever seen. Hannah bathes alone in her apartment singing ‘Wonderwall.’ Just by the tone of her voice we can tell that she’s lonely, confused, reminiscent. Jessa approaches without saying a word – tears in her eyes. She just listens, taking in the moment. After scaring Hannah to death she strips down and joins her in the bath tub. She lies there, and everything comes out. Her regret. Her self-worth. Who she’s becoming. Everything. Meanwhile, Hannah says nothing. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! Where once we saw a Hannah that’s obsessed with knowing how she can help, or if she’s somehow responsible, or asking what’s wrong – now, she listens. She let’s Jessa have her moment. That, my friends, is character development. And I absolutely LOVE IT! That right there was one of the most beautiful moments of the series. Two people who are so lost, so confused, so lonely, sharing a moment of silence in a show thats been so heavily praised for it’s high-paced, witty dialogue. Simply brilliant.

I try to learn something new about myself every time I watch ‘GIRLS.’ Thats the point of story, isn’t it? This episode I learned that its the quiet moments, the moments after the battle, that matter most. When we take the time to reflect on decisions, our future, our life – thats when we really judge ourselves. Charlie and Marnie did it on the rooftop. Ray and Shoshonna did it while waiting for the subway. Hannah and Jessa did it in the bathtub, in silence. Everyone this season thinks their unbreakable. This episode exposed the true fear and uncertainty that lives in all of our characters – and us.

  • Nadine

    David – Great review. I had the same feelings about the start of Season 2. I was sad that I was starting to lose interest in the show so soon into the season. The characters felt one-dimensional, and I didn’t really feel invested in the show anymore. I don’t know, perhaps my expectations were built up after season 1. After episode 3, I was seriously wondering what the hell was going on. Thank god for episode 4. When it was over, I just sat there thinking “that was really really good. Actually, that was pretty amazing.” I watched it again the next day, which I normally never do, because it was really that good. I hope the rest of the episodes follow suit!

    • Appreciate the comment, Nadine. I found myself losing interest after Episode 3 as well, but Episode 4 pulled me right back in. I found myself thinking the exact same thing as you when the credits rolled. I can’t remember an Episode of ‘GIRLS’ quite like it.

  • I watched Episodes 3 and 4 together so I never really thought the series was doomed after episode 3 like you did, David. I think season 2 is moving along just fine. The newness of season one has worn off and now we’re going to see if Lena can keep it up for 3, 4 , 5, 9 more seasons of millenial talk! I’m betting that she can.

    • I think I was simply running out of patience by Episode 3 – I was losing my empathy. I saw no change in character, just the same downward trend as Season 1. The excitement and ‘newness’ of Season 1 had certainly diminished a bit, but we’ve really only known these characters for 14 Episodes. Thats not very long when it comes to HBO years.

      But your right, ‘GIRLS’ and Lena Dunham have a long career ahead of them on HBO. Our characters are going to make mistakes, sometimes resorting to blatant, malicious, and cruel measures. But we also have to see them grow and learn from those mistakes along the way. I think last week’s episode showcased some of the first signs of growth for our characters. I hope we get more episodes like that down the road.

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