After a season that saw most of its characters flounder, the return of "Girls" saw its titular heroines making slightly better choices. It began with a callback to the pilot, showing Hannah Horvath sitting at dinner with her parents. Only this time, instead of cutting her off, they’re celebrating her success. Hannah got into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and will soon be moving out of Brooklyn to attend.
She thanks them for for all their help over the years, pausing to add "even in the moments when superficially it didn’t seem like you were supporting me and it seemed like you were criticizing my choices and doubting my talent, I know you were supporting me in your own way.”
Shoshana too has something to celebrate: she’s finally graduated from NYU. Of course, since she was only a credit short and found out she missed the deadline to actually graduate on time, she misses out on the gown and the Pomp and Circumstance. Instead, she must settle for having her degree mailed to her, a lackluster event that her divorced and disruptive parents insist on photographing. We only get a small peak into the Shapiro family, though its worth noting her mom is played by ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum Ana Gasteyer and both her parents are named Mel. “Its the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Shosh laments, before adding, “It’s also the first thing that ever happened to me."
Shosh even makes nice with Ray, apologizing for trying to guilt him into getting back together with her. “You picked the best one of my friends to bone because I’ve never really liked Marnie that much,” she says, acknowledging Ray and Marnie’s short-lived fling before leaving him in the middle of Marnie and Desi’s performance at jazz brunch.
Speaking of Marnie, she treats us to the season’s first graphic sex scene, as her and Desi get it on before their big debut. In the throes of passion, he tells her that she loves “this” to which tone-deaf Marnie replies that she loves him too. Easily the most unlikable and sometimes insufferable of the characters, Marnie does seem to becoming at least slightly more self-aware.
Marnie looks genuinely remorseful when Desi’s girlfriend Clementine apologizes for accusing her of trying to steal her man. Marnie also breaks down in tears after realizing that none of the patrons at brunch are paying attention to her song. Some of the children in the restaurant go as far as begging her to stop. As far as inappropriate performances go, it isn’t even close to her worst, but its nice to see her realize that she might not be the singer (or the person) she thought she was. "Girls," being the show that it is, doesn’t allow her any of its characters to coddle her for long. Offering a quick hug, Elijah plainly states that if she wants to stay in the music business, she needs to quit being a sissy.
Not all the characters are making the same strides. Jessa is fired for assisting in her boss Beadie’s suicide attempt by Beadie’s daughter, though her-ex boss doesn’t hold it against her. On top of that, Jessa is taking Hannah’s move personally. She’s angry that Hannah has chosen to leave New York after campaigning so hard to get Jessa to stay in the city permanently.
Perhaps no one is taking the move worse than Adam, who after his Broadway debut has now sunk to such lows as appearing in commercials for antidepressants. The commercial is laughably bad, but Hannah commends him for taking the paying gig anyway. However, Adam doesn’t seem to be as supportive of her move, referring to her next chapter as just a “series of random steps.” She reminds him of their plan, which he simply refers to as “the plan not to have a plan” which could also sum of just about every character's journey thus far. Their last night together features take out, packing and a surprisingly tame sex scene, that showcases just how disconnected this usually quirky couple has become.
Come morning, Marnie arrives at 6:00, bearing coffee and a positive attitude. In an uncharacteristically quiet scene, the two girls hug in the dark apartment they once shared and almost cry as they prepare to say goodbye. Hannah looks in at Adam before she goes, but doesn’t wake him. Once she leaves, his eyes open and its clear he’d been faking sleep to avoid a big farewell.
After four seasons of tumultuous ups and downs, many of which was spurred by Hannah’s unconventional relationship with Adam, it’s Marnie who watches from the street as Hannah takes off for Iowa. Adam merely looks on from the window before we cut to Hannah in the car, looking more unsure of her decision than ever before.
"Girls" airs Sundays on HBO.