Girls Season 2 Review “It’s Back”

Well, that was certainly an eventful episode of Girls. “It’s Back” was hellbent to reveal to us something completely new about the history of each girl. (Jessa excluded, obviously.) And each thing was something we had little, if any at all, knowledge of before now. And, on the side, we’re treated to a glimpse of Adam outside the realm of any other known characters, and it’s kind of refreshing.

Let’s start with the least shocking. Shoshanna, of course, has a whole group of friends we’ve never seen, which makes sense. She’s the most distant of the central group of four, and while, due to economy of screen time and what the series chooses to focus on, we’ve never seen them before, it isn’t hard to accept that they exist. And it’s easy, too, to accept that Shoshanna now feels distant from them, and while we only see this evidenced in one scene, it’s ruthlessly effective. So she makes out with a doorman, and that’s left unresolved, which would be fine if the whole episode didn’t feel like one giant anti-resolution. But more on that later.

Slightly weirder was Marnie’s reveal that what she actually wants is to be a singer, and while that failed to go anywhere in this episode, I have high hopes. But those hopes are only if the series doesn’t take this too seriously. To me, singing feels like one more thing Marnie is going to try, like the art world was, because she thinks that she wants it, not because she actually wants it. That feels like the most natural path for the show to take with this, and I look forward to it if it does; the slow downward spiral of Marnie has been a great arc for this season, if this show could even be said to have arcs.

And, perhaps most out-of-nowhere, there’s Hannah’s OCD. Although, really, it isn’t out of nowhere; remember, in last season’s blowout between her and Marnie, that Marnie’s ace-in-the-damaging-secret-hole is that Hannah, in middle school, had to masturbate eight times every night. (It’s okay if you didn’t remember that; neither did I, until I was reminded after end of the episode.) And so maybe there are “arcs” at work here, that Dunham has a plan for where Hannah Horvath is going to go. As of now, it feels a little limp, but there’s promise here. While, in the beginning, it resorts to a typical TV version of OCD, her scene at the therapist reveals something weirder, and darker, and much less often discussed, and if the show is really going to dive into the world of anxiety and compulsions like the hints we get in “It’s Back” suggest, I’d love it. (If it’s not, well, there’s always Maria Bamford records to listen to and get the same thing.)

Some people are going to have a problem with this Hannah “reveal,” I’m sure, but I’m not really one of them. My main reason for not being thrilled by “It’s Back” is that it feels more set-up than complete piece. Last week’s episode was Girls at its most stand-alone; this week was much more serial, but primarily to its detriment. Here’s hoping that it’s all worth it for the last two episodes of this season.