It’s hot in the city. Tempers are flaring, milk is spoiling, and deadlines are approaching—and it appears that everything’s about to come to a head.
Shosh, Ray, and Marnie discuss Jessa’s disappearance. Nobody seems to be all that worried, which is convenient, because neither am I. Marnie is wearing stupid-looking pigtails. It’s not a good look—but then again, neither is stalking mournfully off into the sunset when Shoshanna reveals that Charlie has found great success in the app industry.
Still worse, though, is creepily appearing at his office (which is apparently Wieden + Kennedy’s East Coast branch). Charlie handles the situation as gracefully as one can, but he wants nothing to do with Marnie. Sad trombone.
Adam returns to AA, still not feeling good about the lack of Hannah in his life. One of the members of his AA group sets him up with her daughter, who is mind-blowingly beautiful, fun, and apparently, not anywhere near as complicated as Hannah. Adam seems mystified by his own happiness. It’s charming! I can’t help thinking, however, that there’s gotta be a catch. I don’t know if this is based in a culturally learned jealousy of other women, or if I just want everyone to be as obnoxiously forthright as Hannah.
Meanwhile, Hannah is completely overwhelmed by book-related anxiety (and, it seems, Adam’s continued attempts to get back in touch), and as a result, is falling back into some gnarly OCD patterns. The situation becomes un-ignorable when she attends a Judy Collins concert with her parents, peaces out mid-song, and gets called out by Ms. Collins herself. It’s a baller cameo, followed by a not-so-baller trip to the local psychologist’s office.
The same night, Ray refuses to attend a party thrown by one of Shoshanna’s party-girl friends, so Shosh heads out all by her lonesome. The party sucks—but she ends up making out with the stunningly beautiful doorman in the mailroom! Drama!
Um, HELLO, sir.
Marnie, fresh off her unrewarding trip to Charlie’s office, whines to left-behind Ray about her lack of direction. She confesses that she wants to be a singer, which is confusing, but then she sings! And rays (no pun intended) of light descend from the ceiling! Ray gives her a pep talk: “If you’re going to sing, you have to do it now. You’re never gonna look this good again.” Oh, Ray, I love your unparalleled ability to call out bullshit without meaning to.
Hannah clams up about her OCD, despite the half-hearted efforts of that actor who always plays psychologists with round glasses. Her unwillingness to talk about it is such a marked departure from her usual woe-is-me oversharing that y’all better recognize that something’s up. In the very last shot, she holds a bag of meds, the only thing that’ll get her head back in the right place—and the only thing, unfortunately, that’ll keep her from finishing her book deal. She’s exhausted and terrified. It’s hard to watch.
This is the first time I’ve seen Hannah suffer in a way that wasn’t 98% self-inflicted—and also the first time that Hannah reveals it’s been only a month since her breakup with Adam, which makes the timeline of the whole season even more bizarre. Just think about what’s gone down in the last thirtyish days: Hannah’s intense relationships with Sandy the Republican and Hot Brownstone Doctor, the revolving door of roommates in the Horvath apartment, Jessa’s honeymoon and divorce, multiple parent reunions, the ending of long-term friendships, the scoring of book deals and brokering of app deals—I mean, who wouldn’t have a breakdown under these circumstances?
What I love most about this show (and this episode in particular) is that it feels real. All the terrible things about being in your early twenties—the lack of fulfillment and the shifts in important friendships and the bad sex—are reflected, and somehow justified, by the lives of these characters. I watch, I cringe, and I feel better at the end.
In the past, though, it’s all felt bubbly and balanced. As one character falls, the others stay grounded enough to catch her. Lately, the show has taken the pressure-cooker approach, drumming up drama at the expense of the formerly hilarious writing. Last season went for the cringe; this season is going for the tissues. It doesn’t quite work.
Next week promises some more career (and perhaps romantic) heartbreak for Hannah, some potential embarrassment for Marnie, and another nail in the coffin for Shosh and Ray.
Wherever you are, Jessa, I hope you’re wearing linen. I hope you’re warm.
All photos via HBOgo.com Maggie Carr has written about TV, feminism, fashion, and other kinds of lady business for BUST and Thought Catalog, among others. She's never not tweeting about Kanye West at @racecarr.