“I feel like I’m just starting…”
The first installment of this excellent two-part season finale focused on how Hannah and company reconcile their various identities, asking if the people serve their identities or if their identities serve them. It’s a universal query as one grows into adulthood and I don’t think anyone stops asking it. “I Love You Baby” takes that idea a step further by having the Girls select the radical choice of accepting their flawed selves and moving from a realm of chaotic inertia and into some sense of self control and reflection, all in the service of their own happiness. We’re in the realm of renewed dreams but not everyone is lucky enough to avoid nightmares of the self.
Hannah is jogging; an activity that she essentially pronounced as evil in the show’s first season. But even her mission to jog comes in small spurts, as she takes little breaks in between small stretches. It’s comical no doubt, but also serves as a symbolic progression in her own maturity. She is after all trying, which is a step up from the Hannah we knew of the past. Here, Hannah finds herself in the midst of a personal renaissance when her parents show up for a surprise visit. She’s understandably dismissive, distracted by how depressing they are because they’re trying to make an impossible thing work and half because she is preparing to participate in the acclaimed live storytelling competition, The Moth. Hannah’s day with Tally leaves an impression on her that assists her in realizing that she still has something to say.
In the meantime, Marnie and Ray continue to parse their feelings for one another. She seems keen on having Ray around to yet again validate her, but not in the same way she did before. This time Marnie’s affections for Ray comes from a place of wanting to make him happy by allowing him to be with her. Marnie is a complex creature when it comes to loving someone and she takes full advantage of Ray’s love for her by convincing him to tag along with her and Desi during their tour. After going back on her decision to spend time with herself and figure out what she wants, Marnie has indeed regressed. However, this might be her most stable regression yet. It’s radical for her to admit her love for Ray and she acknowledges that. Marnie and Ray are still a slapdash work in progress but nowhere near as problematic as Marnie and Desi were. And Desi remains as despicable as ever and growing more so with each episode.
When it comes to Marnie’s music career, Desi remains an obstacle that doesn’t promise to get any less difficult over the course of their tour. Even in the midst of her divorce from him, Marnie can’t rid herself of Desi. Their fans recognize them as a set and while most of them fawn over Desi, Marnie has a stake in what they’ve created as well—this is after all her dream and she’s decided on that before her ill-fated marriage. She’s at least going to make strides to succeed in achieving that if nothing else right now. However, her ex-husband’s escalating depravity looks to pose a threat to her success. Perhaps the wise direction of Ray can keep them both in line now that Shoshanna has the café covered.
Not much time is spent filling out Shoshanna’s new trajectory and dream, but she seems to be right at home managing Ray’s café with this new anti-hipster angle. It makes one wonder why she didn’t think of managing alongside Ray seasons before. Shoshanna’s rebound from her failures in Japan come quick and she is flourishing. The same can’t be said for Elijah who, in the wake of his breakup with Dill is predictably back to his old self-destructive antics. He does however find some comfort in his surrogate parents, Tad and Loreen. They navigate him through his feelings of worthlessness and lack of direction. Elijah has yet to self-actualize and perhaps with the wisdom of Tad and Loreen he can be guided to a new purpose.
There are moments during his individual scenes with Hannah’s parents that potentially veer into sexual tension which could open a whole new can of warms. Inebriated, Elijah and Loreen mention that same sexual tension. It could be played simply for laughs, but this is Girls, so anything absurd is almost always possible. Still, it is sweet to see Tad and Loreen trying to self-actualize as well, in some minute ways. Tad takes a significant step by reuniting with his former hookup now looking to make a more serious and lasting connection. Loreen continues trying to reconcile her past and map out a future in which she could be happy. Everyone’s, at the very least, trying to accept what they have regardless of past failures and flaws.
Adam and Jessa have been in their own little world all season, sequestered from their so-called friends. Their forbidden dalliance went from light fun to deep passion and then the cruel smack of life reminded them that they still live in a world where everyone else exists, including and especially Hannah. Neither have comfortably let her go, not in totality. Jessa is still suffering from guilt and Adam avoids eye contact, harboring a visceral hate for Hannah that he attempts to repress. That anger, rage and guilt between them leads to an inevitable argument that is stimulated after caring for Laird and Caroline’s baby for a few days. Their small disagreements on how to properly nurture the child is ripe with subtext of their own relationship. No matter how good Adam and Jessa grow at nurturing their relationship, they can’t move on until they reconcile their lingering feelings of love and hate for Hannah. It’s always confusing hating someone you will inevitably always love in some way, but Adam and Jessa take their feelings to a new, destructive level.
Adam and Jessa are the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald of the 21st century and they are certainly on their way towards ruining each other. You put two passionate recovering addicts in a room together for too long and some things are bound to break. An argument or even some sort of confrontation is to be expected but Adam and Jessa’s rage finally boil over into a messy battlefield of love. All roads lead back to Hannah. She is the reason they are together. Jessa would not have ever met Adam if Hannah hadn’t brought him into her life. In this way, Jessa is kind of indebted to Hannah. She loves Adam, but she also loves Hannah—again—she is basically Jessa’s little sister. As such, she will almost always be the source of their collective rage and confusion, the catalyst for their union.
The destruction of their apartment is reflective of the collateral damage they’ve done to Hannah and themselves in the process of finding each other through her. The complexity of the situation is rich, as is every piece of dialogue in their fight. It’s a declaration of their monumental love, an appreciation for one another while also being an explosion of confused rage. Adam insists Jessa will make a great therapist one day…because she’s insane. Jessa tells Adam he’ll be a great actor…because he’s a sociopath. They acknowledge one another’s detractions while also noticing the things worth praising in the other. It’s a fight that manages to be both hilarious and absurd in a way that is organic to its characters while also feeling like an unprecedented event of scary chaos and possible domestic violence. That’s hard to pull off.
But this isn’t a breakup fight; it’s a traumatic brawl that ends in what looks to have been an epic climax. Maybe, it takes a fight like this for Adam and Jessa to achieve great sex. Maybe now that they have aired their grievances, they can move on. But even if they do Adam and Jessa’s relationship will always be tainted. And they can’t blame anyone but themselves because they did this, not Hannah. It would be easy to blame Hannah and Adam tries while smashing things, but he reacts to Jessa’s continued utterances of her name in the way he does because he knows he and Jessa are the ones in the wrong. Hannah understands this which is why she leaves a “not at all cheap fruit basket” at their door. It’s a brilliant decision, resolving not to reveal this bit of information until Hannah’s story at the Moth. It’s a reveal that packs the biggest punch in Hannah’s anecdote. Adam and Jessa have become what they thought Hannah would be once she discovered their relationship: a self-destructive mess.
Hannah spent much of this season putting her energy in all of the wrong things, from a poorly-chosen rebound boyfriend to a teaching job that didn’t give her enough room to flex her wild and creative muscles. She stifled her own voice and thought by doing so she could become the person everyone thought she could never be: stable and by some measure, normal. But that’s not who Hannah is and it never will be. It’s also why she spent so much of the season regressing and lashing out in such outlandish ways, fighting against herself. It makes perfect sense now. After meeting Hugo, whose curious enthusiasm sprang her into taking back who she was, and her daylong escapades turned into poignant soul-searching with Tally, we finally have the Hannah we love and occasionally loathe back—for better or worse, but with perpetuity and acceptance.
The end takeaway from this season considers how difficult it is to stop lashing out against those who no longer deserve your time and energy. Letting them be. Letting them and yourself rest and reflect. It’s a vital part of understanding what it means to actually try and be an adult. It means being comfortable with who you are, reconciling your past mistakes, your broken relationships and still strutting down the busy New York streets with confidence. It’s a moment of triumph for sure, but there is always personal work to be done. As long as these Girls are alive they’re still learning. There is no end point but there is always room and time to keep growing and to keep falling back in love with one’s self. “I Love You Baby” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
The sixth and final season of Girls is set to air early 2017! Only on HBO!
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