Saturday, February 2, 2013

'Girls' Review - 2.04 It's A Shame About Ray

        On the newest episode of HBO's Girls, Hannah hosts a grown-up dinner party to celebrate her writing gig, but her friends' behavior doesn't live up to the setting; Marnie and Audrey square off; Shoshanna realizes she has inadvertently entered a new phase with Ray; and Jessa meets Thomas-John's parents.

        It's a bit of shame that this episode had to be the one that fell on Super Bowl weekend and had to be relocated to Saturday night to avoid the fatal competition of the game. But it's airing on Saturday is also the reason why I'm able to post a comprehensive review of it. I love this very polarizing show but when it's on Sundays it can very easily be looked over because of so much great television airing at the same time. This particular episode has been my favorite of the second season so far because all of it was collectively great.
        Except for that opening scene where she (and the show) said goodbye to Elijah, this was a very slow outing in terms of story with Hannah Horvath. This was actually a really good thing because it allowed the show to give some much need character and story development to the entire ensemble - with the exception of Adam who is still missing this week. Throughout the first three episodes, each of the four main girls had their own stories that also had varying degrees of tone. Tonality is probably my biggest issue with this show simply because it thinks it can go from Jessa selling stuff on the street to Hannah finding out about Elijah and Marnie to Shoshanna being happily in love with Ray all within the span of the same episode. Yes, real life works that exact same way but in the context of a TV show it can sometimes be jarring. But, Girls is also able to handle these things much better than other shows. I only bring up tonality because up until this point in the season Hannah and Marnie's respective stories have had much more weight than the breezy stuff happening with Jessa and Shoshanna. That all vanishes throughout the course of this episode as the happy times in both Jessa and Shoshanna's relationships are over.
        Out of the four girls, Jessa has always been the spontaneous one. Her marriage to Thomas-John in the first season finale left everyone saying how long will it actually last. It would be easy to guess that Chris O'Dowd's tenure on this show would not be long because of this. However, throughout the first few episodes, these two people were actually happy as a couple. But all it took was a visit from some in-laws for these two to realize just how different they are as well as how they actually see each other. I'm sure the fact that he had a new comedy going into development at HBO at the exact same time as production of this second season factored in as well. It is also very much in need of being pointed out that this series does a fantastic job of creating characters - even with limited screen time - that aren't one-note. The in-laws finally easily could be written simply as opposed to the marriage of Jessa and Thomas-John. Instead, throughout that entire dinner scene, it wasn't so easy to pin down what exactly those two think of Jessa and their son's relationship with her. Then came that whole breakup scene which was the perfect endnote to this relationship - despite how obvious Jemima Kirke's real-life pregnancy kept getting in the way. The hilarity of that closing scene in the bathroom mostly comes from Hannah's reactions to everyone but that moment was very real and honest and true to everything we know about these characters.
        Girls has also made it a point that Marnie and Charlie are suppose to be together and yet it keeps finding interestingly real ways of keeping them apart. Audrey very easily could be the new girlfriend who barely gets any screen time and thusly can't grow attached to once the reunion between the two main characters occurs. But Audrey is given her own distinct point of view throughout this episode and her thoughts are very valid in the context of this dynamic.
        Shoshanna has always been my least favorite out of the four main girls mostly because of her lack of development or weighty storyline. Plus, all of her wound-up nervousness can very easily get annoying very quickly. Season two, so far, hadn't done anything to challenge her or her current situation. She was just happy and giddy in her relationship with Ray. This episode gives her a very big and real obstacle with the realization that Ray has theoretically moved in with her. The scene at the train station is the most emotionally real this character has ever been and it proved just how great those two actors actually are when they're given something meaty to portray.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Happy to see Elijah leave? Will Jessa become Hannah's new roommate? Isn't an emotional grounded Shoshanna so much better than the nervous wound-up one? Share your thoughts in the comments.