LAST WEEK, Jane pointed out that Girls has developed something of a plot problem. Season one, as Jane says, felt “timed, propulsive, and finally satisfying,” while this season has felt like more of a mixed bag. Partially, I think this is the result of a kind of self-recognition that, even in the more coherently plotted first season, the show’s best and most resonant moments — Hannah’s striptease in the pilot, Marnie’s tantalizingly electric first encounter with Booth Jonathan, Marnie and Hannah dancing on their own, Hannah’s beach cake — were exactly that: moments. While the first season was admittedly tighter, it was by no means as invested in seriality as it could have been, and so the show has taken its second season as a license to explore more bottle episodes, more withholding of main characters — to gravitate toward episode-length moments. Where set-pieces had previously anchored plot points, we’ve had to recalibrate our viewing to read set-pieces as things in and of themselves, reflecting though not necessarily propelling the show’s narrative.
If the series had gone full-Louie, however, that would be one thing. But it didn’t. As a result, I think we all feel rightly jarred by the past few episodes that seem to be resurrecting dormant plots — as is the case with Adam’s alcoholism — or materializing wholly new ones — as is the case with Hannah’s barely hinted-at OCD — and making them the propulsive focus of the show. As such, now at the penultimate episode, it feels like we’ve been watching our regularly scheduled six-episode season interrupted by four ruminative — if often masterful — webisodes.
But, in lieu of offering a full-on disapproval of this season’s herky-jerky pacing before seeing what the whole thing looks like next week, I’d like to turn to one of the most intriguing late-season resurrections — the Adam plotline — and one of the most compelling left-field additions — Natalia. Evan mentioned last week the not-recognized-often-enough fact that Adam Driver is a phenomenal actor. The AA monologue last week was one of a number of great acting moments in the episode and one of the best in the series. Evan aptly compared Driver to John C. Reilly, which I think is really right, but, increasingly, with his uncomfortable muscularity, his alternately dead and soulful eyes, and his twitchily intoned line-readings, he is making me think of a young Christopher Walken. (Not to mention that Amy Schumer says he looks like an “old-timey criminal” this episode.) In any case, so much of the success of the first season as a plot-driven one (if we choose to think of it that way) rested in Driver’s ability to make us surprise ourselves by caring about what happens to him. If that season w...read more