In “The Return,” “Girls” puts the magnifying glass on Hannah (Lena Dunham) — she heads home to Michigan for a weekend, leaving Adam, her financial woes and her college friends out of sight (but not out of mind).
During the visit, Hannah’s childish habits persist: She avoids the rent money conversation, packs her clothes in garbage bags and fibs about her life in the big city. Interestingly, Hannah’s mother is a bit of a drama queen herself (she pesters her daughter about texting during a Netflix night, and begs for her menopause prescription). At one point, Mrs. Horvath comments that Hannah “knows how to have fun… and she thinks about that fun, and she learns from that fun,” while implying that Hannah picked up that sort of behavior from her.
The episode pokes fun at the narrative of returning home from the big city. Hannah is just as insecure and idiosyncratic in small town Michigan as she is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, But her juvenile sequence of embellishments — from “I’m working on a book” to “You are from New York, therefore you are just naturally interesting, OK?” — contrast with her realization that maybe New York City isn’t the best fit for her: “It’s like we’re all slaves to this place that doesn’t really want us,” she laments to Adam on the phone at the episode’s end.
Hanging out with old classmates at a benefit and watching their dance routine seems to bolster Hannah’s theory that “the worst stuff that you say sounds better than the best stuff that some other people say.” In other words, being broke in New York is still better than being stuck in Small Town, USA.
At the same time, Hannah’s critique of her friend Heather’s ambition to move to Los Angeles and pursue a dance career are revealing: “Nobody’s telling her! She’s gonna go to LA, and live in some s***y apartment, and feel like scared and sad and lonely and weird all the time. But she’s got a good life here.”
Pot calling the kettle black, much?
But her visit home isn’t all delusions and immaturity — she has a healthy weekend fling with Eric the pharmacist. He’s sincere, cute, genuinely interested in Hannah and he likes good old fashioned “regular” sex.
Meanwhile, Hannah’s parents have an intense discussion about her over dinner. They acknowledge the possibility that her dreams of writing could fail, and that cutting her off was intended to give her “something to write about.” Still, at the end of the weekend, their daughter doesn’t let on that she’s indeed struggling.
It wouldn’t be an episode of “Girls” without some mortification, and there were some unforgettable moments tonight. Take a look at the highlights in our “Girls” Gag Index below.
“Girls” Gag Index: “The Return”
Saddest Moment: Hannah lying to her mother’s face about “making it work,” rather than being honest.
Most Mortifying Moment: The parents’ sex scene, injury, and Hannah seeing her dad naked.
OMG Moment: “Please don’t put your finger in my _____.”
Weirdest Moment: The battle march music playing between several scenes. What was that?