“Why do you need more help than a baby?”
If there is one line of dialogue that sums up this episode of Girls, it’s this. Hanna and company are back to their old ways here, somehow more destructive than ever. This is also one of the more purely comedic episodes of Girls, continuing a season long trend of comedy gold that hasn’t been as present since the show’s first. While a lot seems to happen in “Homeward Bound” what we really get is setup for what is to come in the two-episode finale. Relationship dynamics alter or completely sever in some cases. Things fall apart for the Girls but there is a glimmer of hope that other things will suddenly come together, igniting a familiar fire for our protagonist and constructing new avenues for other characters to travel on.
After the developments from “Hello Kitty”, Hannah is in a strained headspace, one that finally sees Fran as just an excuse for companionship and nothing more. Their planned summer road trip is instinctively a bad idea but…it’s Fran and he is sometimes a little oblivious. I’ve said it many times before about Dunham and Lacey and I’ll say it again—their comedic chemistry is great this season and it culminates here as Hannah attempts to break up with Fran via text message from a highway restroom which results in a hilarious confrontation.
Fran is kind of conservative and hides his anger and control issues behind a familiar nice dude exterior. I wish we could have explored this more and given him more dimensions before he and Hannah broke up, but we essentially get the gist of it: Their only compatibility was that they both craved a relationship and perhaps Fran, more than Hannah, enjoyed the idea of what he could shape this weird girl into if he tamed her well enough. It was fun watching these two drive one another crazy for a while, but it could only last for so long before it finally combusted.
Hannah seems to be regressing more than ever and I can only presume that the root of such regression stems from both her parents’ situation and the sour discovery of Adam and Jessa. Throughout the episode, Hannah recoils at the thought and even gets a confirmation from Jessa herself in the midst of trying to get home. Another tremendous comedy duo is Dunham and Karpovsky. Ray’s coffee truck is destroyed on account of some truly disastrous road head from Hannah. A lot of the comedy in this installment is physical and well captured.
This doesn’t take away from the emotional element that all of the stories share which concerns how the women of the show relate to the various men in their lives. Hannah’s relationship with Fran was one-note and was bound to shatter. Hannah and Ray have a weird, almost brother-sister relationship which made their sexual interaction all the more cringe-worthy. Ray is protective of Hannah even though he finds her to be disturbingly narcissistic and lacking any semblance of self-awareness. When Hannah drives off with some stranger, Hector (a wonderful guest-star appearance from Scandal’s Guillermo Diaz) she cycles through a range of assumptions about him before finding a familiarity in their shared relationship drama.
Elsewhere, Desi is continues to be quick with the rebounds and his latest blesses us with a guest star appearance from Lisa Bonet as Tandice Moncrieff (the Girls writers are always coming up with strangely compelling names). Marnie’s annoyance with Desi feels like an awful retread but she seems to be more annoyed with the fact that she was married to this man and decided not to see that he was never worth her time and energy. But now here she is trapped with him and forced to endure his shenanigans all for the sake of her music career. It’s a maddening situation for sure and Tandice’s calming presence in contention with an uptight princess like Marnie is somehow more humorous than it should be.
The story with the most emotional resonance in this episode comes from Caroline’s sudden disappearance from Laird and their daughter. Adam and Jessa are left to deal with a stressful situation while both parents seem to abandon their responsibilities. Given Caroline’s history, it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen and it serves as a strange warning for Adam and Jessa—this could be them. One can totally see Jessa flaking out on Adam if things got too rough.
These two, for the first time, stumble upon some tumultuous territory as Jessa continues to stress out over betraying Hannah. The excitement of their relationship is slowly fizzing out as they are thrown into a more grown-up situation and Adam doesn’t seem convinced that Jessa is up for it. Beyond being forbidden fruit, their relationship dripping with moral ambiguity, what else is there for these two?
Shoshanna’s returned home and she couldn’t be more displeased. She’s unemployed. She has no prospects. And she’s applying for food stamps and welfare. My, how the mighty have fallen. Shoshanna’s relationship with Scott was already over, but their brief and sour reunion is just another gut punch to Shoshanna’s spiraling self-identity. Scott is right when he says she’s become her worst nightmare—she’s just like her whiny friends, the very same she always vowed never to become. She gave up and came home just like Hannah did when it got to real in Japan.
But perhaps Shoshanna’s dissatisfaction can be mended by the reinvigoration and promise of new beginnings that is New York. Hannah sees it in Hector. His excitement in starting over fresh inspires something in her. We leave the episode with a positive flicker, maybe one of growth and maturity that will put these Girls back on track to realizing what it is they want and could be. There’s not much to say about this episode other than that. It’s a much lighter installment than the last few that puts its comedic notes first and its dramatic notes second, tying in these separate but equal shenanigans up with a single satisfying note. It’s perfect set up for a finale. “Homeward Bound” gets 3 out of 5 stars!
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