This week on GIRLS we took a train upstate to peer into the family life Jessa seems so far removed from.
After receiving a text message with a string of letters from her father, which Hannah notes was most likely ‘a butt text’, Jessa sees it as a sign, and makes plans to visit her father and his girlfriend Petula.
The bucolic episode begins as Hannah and Jessa sit lakeside, awaiting Jessa’s father’s arrival to pick them up. They chat briefly about the state of Jessa’s relationship with her father. We learn he lives with his ‘new’ girlfriend, although Jessa notes, with a twinge of disapproval, she has met her three times already. When Hannah inquires about a child he had with his girlfriend, Jessa reminds her that was his ex-girlfriend. When Hannah asks what happened to the child, Jessa nonchalantly says that she doesn’t think anyone talks to her anymore. She looks up and ponders aloud “I wonder if her name is still Lemon.” They linger briefly on the unfortunate turn Jessa’s life had recently taken before her father pulls up, his car filled with old computers that Petula insist he discard, but he refuses to, in fear of someone pillaging through them for his ideas.
Early in the episode, his relationship with Jessa seems lighthearted and healthy considering the distance they keep from one another. They joke in caricature accents to one another and reminisce about family friends from years past. The air turns still, however when Petula enters the room. We later find out that she was her father’s masseuse at rehab and the two split the place together. After Jessa and her father leave the room Petula informs Hannah that she is ‘the cushion’ implying that she functions to pad the tension between Jessa and her father and Jessa and Petula. Hannah and Petula tend to the rabbits kept on the farm, and she introduces Hannah to Frank, her teenage son who awkwardly enters the scene in knee length jean shorts and a red turtle-neck as awkwardly and as quickly as he exits. Petula speaks to Hannah about her theory that the entire world is in fact a video game, which Hannah gives momentary consideration.
At dinner that night the gang sits outside in a garden-party style arrangement for a meal of beers and, much to Hannah’s disgust, the rabbit Petula and Hannah had played with earlier that day. This practice of rabbit eating apparently happens at every meal. It is one Frank resents, a notion on which Hannah dwells, as her attraction to him, and determination to apparently rendezvous with every man she comes in contact with, swells. When his strapping blonde friend Tyler comes over later in the dinner he invites Hannah and Jessa out with him and Frank, although Jessa refuses at first, on the assumption she would be spending time with her father. When he informs her that he has plans with Petula, plans he had made on the assumption that this was like other times Jessa had plans to come up and did not follow though. Jessa clearly upset by this oversight agrees to go out with the boys and Hannah.
Careening around on a dark long windy two lane highway the four suck the nitrous-oxide from a whipped cream bottle getting higher and higher, with their judgment becoming so impaired, Jessa at one point cover’s Tyler’s eyes as he struggles to drive in a straight line. Hannah, as if SHE is the voice of reason, insists they stop the car. When they pull over Hannah gets out and makes her way down a roadside hill into a cemetery, followed closely by Frank. After some awkward interactions the two have ‘sex’, although the encounter lasts no longer than 15 seconds, and is quite possibly Hannah’s worst this season (and last), proving to viewers that maybe in some cases quality does supersede quantity.
Atop the hill Jessa and Tyler talk briefly about their lives. When Hannah rejoins her Tyler has gone off to be sick and it leaves an opening for Hannah to break the news about her latest sexual encounter. Jessa recoils in disgust at Hannah’s admission, remarking that he is only a child. Hannah had assumed that Jessa, too, had used the evening for a ‘sexcapade’, she with Tyler, and gets defensive and accusatory when she finds out it wasn’t, as if there was some sort of head’s up she should have received.
The next morning Hannah has an awkward interaction with Frank, who tells Hannah he feels like she used him, and that everyone in town thinks he is in love with Tyler, but it is in fact, as he vehemently insists the opposite, leaving implications about his sexuality. Hannah’s patronizing questioning of his sexual experiences and her final remark, “That wasn’t sex, you came in my thigh crease!” reminds us of why we’ve grown so intolerant of her these last few episodes.
Jessa confronts her father over his long-time absence. When he accuses her of being unreliable she pleads with him to treat her like his child; she should be able to rely on him. She goes to leave but he begs her to stay just a little longer, and she complies, or so we think.
After packing up, and complaining incessantly about her UTI, which we hear about through the entire episode, Hannah goes into the bedroom to collect Jessa and head out. On the bed is a note, “See you around my love. X.” Jessa has gone, and we don’t know where. The episode closes with Hannah standing alone at a rural train stop and calling her parents. She thanks them for always making her feel supported, but her insistence on treating every conversation like a book deal makes the exchange sound artificial and her mother responds with comical disregard for Hannah’s scripted affection.
All I can say is I hope Lena Dunham does not plan on writing out any other characters, unless, that is she plans on changing the title of the show from GIRLS, to HANNAH.