Well well well. This was sure a different Girls than we’ve seen before, wasn’t it? We got Hannah all to ourselves this episode–no Shoshanna, no Jessa, no Marnie–for better or worse.
“The Return” takes us back to Hannah’s hometown in Michigan, where here parents have flown her out to celebrate their anniversary with them. The trip starts off shaky, as any 20something whose ever gone back home for random visits can attest to:Hannah’s parents dropping hints about jobs in town, asking her about her current job (which she hasn’t told them she no longer works at), and trying to get her to stop texting during their Netflix movie. The frustration radiating off of Hannah is palpable, and all the more relatable to myself in particular, as I, too come from a small town and have since moved to the big city. Dunham and crew are so beautifully adept at capturing all of the sentiments that go along with visiting home–sleeping in your old bed, having mom and dad pay for dinner, escaping the real world if only for a moment–and balancing those sentiments with the tension and frustration that comes with still wanting to be your own person without your parents harping on you about your choice of occupation.
It’s here, in Hannah’s sleepy hometown that she meets an adorably cute guy from her high school while out fetching her mother’s hormone medication. He is instantly the anti-Adam; nice, generous, and non-threatening. He asks Hannah out, and she gladly agrees, and the two head out to a benefit for one of their high school classmates who has disappeared. She had to break the news to her parents that she wouldn’t be making their anniversary dinner, and they (or more so, her mother) agree to just let her go. I loved so much that Hannah says “I don’t think you’re grasping the severity of the situation.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that. It’s A DATE! Anyone who has ever been perpetually single would understand that if you got asked out on a date for the first time in forever, you’d move heaven and earth to make sure it happened. She speaks to them like an adult here, without being too catty (as she is wont to do, I’m sure you’ve noticed), and I’m glad that her mother concedes that yes, she should just go.
It’s in this part of the episode where we diverge into two different stories–Hannah and Eric on their date, and Hannah’s parents on their’s. Hannah’s goes pretty much as you’d expect; the date goes fine enough and ends up back at his place after a few awkward moments. The scene at the benefit in which a group of girls get up to dance and sing in honor of this Carrie girl was downright laughable, not because it’s was badly written or shot, but because it showed just how vapid some of the people you went to high school with can still be upon seeing them 6 years later. It might have been a bit overkill, but it allowed for Hannah to rant a few moments later about just how ridiculous it was. Her and Eric get into it about career choices and small town living, leading to Hannah getting defensive over the fact that, yes, she lives in New York and is a writer, but she’s not getting paid to be a writer. It’s in this moment that I think she realizes for a split second that what she’s saying may not sound as appealing and grown up to others as it does in her own head. For that split second it seems like the choice to have an easy, successful life in a small town doesn’t seem like a such a bad idea. But she doesn’t skip a beat, and before we know it that thought is gone, and her and Eric are getting it on at his place.
Like so many of the sex scenes on Girls, this one wasn’t super smooth. It was pretty awkward. I did like how Hannah seemed truly shocked at not being pressured into having sex. Yes, you see that Hannah? Not every guy treats you like shit, example A. And then she, in true Hannah fashion, went a little too far–doing something he really didn’t like, asking if baby talk was going to happen, and trying to talk Adam-style dirty. It made me squirm; Hannah! Don’t you know how to just have sex like normal, mentally healthy adults? It was in this scene that I though, holy hell, Adam has either really screwed her up, or she was just screwed up to begin with.
In the meantime, Hannah’s parents are having what should be a lovely dinner, only to find their conversation digress to Hannah’s life. It’s here that we get yet another glimpse of her mother taking her side, something that I wouldn’t have really expected from how she acted in the pilot. It’s now her that’s sticking up for Hannah’s dreams and hopes instead of her father. Her father has a sort of breakdown in which he really, truly worries for his daughter’s fate, and really his daughter as a whole. “How did she get that way?” he asks, referring to her ability to be free-spirited and have fun. This made my stomach hurt, as someone without a “traditional” job myself, as it really drove home the notion that your parents might not actually support your decisions 100% even though they may act like they do (or you just hope they do). They go back home to get it on in the shower, leading Hannah’s dad to fall and hit his head. For a split second I was really worried, but he was just fine, if not just embarrassed to hell.
The show comes to a close with both Hannah and her mother talking sex in the hallway, like two adults. Granted, I would NEVER talk about sex with my mom, and we’re super super close. But I liked that they were, for an instant, on the same level with each other. Afterwards, Hannah, being ever so weak when it comes to Adam, picks up a call from him. This was predictable, yes. She’s always going to answer his calls. So they have some semblance of a normal conversation, and “The Return” ends with Hannah maybe going back on her “he’s dead to me” remark earlier in the ep? Ugh. Hannah is an incredibly impressionable character; some would say weak, sure. I’m not sure how long Adam is going to stick around, but as long as he does, I’m afraid we won’t ever get to see Hannah really grow and change. Adam is a hinderance on her well-being and dating stability, and I just hope she can remember what a nice guy Eric was the next time Adam fucks her over.