Some startling discoveries were made in Girls season 5, episode 4. But did anyone learn anything?

“I just want to make sure everyone learns the right thing.” With that line in the opening minutes of Girls season 5, episode 4, “Old Loves,” Fran has officially become the poster child for my expectations this season. My biggest gripe and my favorite element of Girls are one in the same. Girls is a messy show. It shows the harsher side of navigating your ’20s where every step seems to be the right step until you take it. Unfortunately, not a single character learned the “right thing” after each misstep.

But something funny happened in “Old Loves.” For a fraction of a second, the characters shut off the little voice in their head. You know, the ones egging them to go on and make a bad decision, or say the wrong thing, or stop them from saying the right thing. What happened when the silence took over? The world kept spinning and they kept on living. In fact, I think some of them even learned a little something.

Fran

Girls season 5 trailer 1

Let’s start with Fran. Fran is in the unfortunate position of having the newest, and therefore, most fragile relationship with Hannah. I appreciate that he has no filter and tries his hardest to see that Hannah has one in the right moments. He’s not being unreasonable in his moments of assertion. Maybe keeping nude photos of his ex girlfriends was a bit creepy, but asking Hannah to not call him out of class to publicly shame him in front of a terrified eighth-grader has some solid reasoning behind it.

But Fran learns a bit about Hannah in this episode. She is going to be irrational, creative, and insubordinate. That’s the way she operates. Either you are in her corner on every issue or you are out to get her. When he turns around on the couch and thinks better of saying anything was the moment he learned a bit more about what it is like to stay in Hannah’s orbit and not crash into the asteroids littering the space around her.

Elijah

Girls 5x04 elijah dill

Elijah learned that Dill is a flirt in the streets and a freak in the sheets. Honesty and openness in a relationship can do wonders for a couple. Dill, luckily, is encouraging Elijah to silence the voice in his head saying, “Take a step back, you are playing the supporting role in Dill’s narrative.” Girls is crafting their relationship as one of equals when their worlds could not be further apart. As we saw in “Good Man,” Dill’s uptown, Elijah is downtown. But they find common ground in midtown where Dill takes Elijah into his circle of friends, into his public image, and doesn’t shy away from making their PDA a very public statement. But none of it is for professional gain. As Elijah looks out of Dill’s apartment window in his final scene, I finally got the sense that he sees that he does deserve to be happy, satisfied, comfortable, and wanted. He doesn’t have to settle for just one.

Jessa

Girls 5x04 adam

Jessa’s infatuation with Adam finally lead to the demise of her relationship with Hannah. Hannah and Jessa’s relationship has always been a mystery to me. It was, at one time, the only relationship I cared about seeing develop on the show. I think Jessa is good for Hannah and I think that Hannah was good for Jessa. It is important to note that their relationship is not equally beneficial any longer. Where that story diverged was when Jessa decided to get her life together and Hannah left all her passions scattered across the floor. Everyone is still figuring out exactly what they want from life. Jessa has found some stability and focus, but Hannah is unwilling to acknowledge what Jessa needs in order to stay on this path.

Their confrontation in the rice pudding shop was a long time coming. Unbeknownst to Hannah, Jessa has been paying a lot more attention to the type of energy Hannah brings into her life. So when Hannah dropped the line that maybe they are growing apart, she was not ready for the truth of that statement to be thrown back in her face. Was Jessa being awful? Yes, but not more than usual.

This time it was not just for the sake of being provocative. She took the first step toward facing the reality of her situation with Hannah. Her second step into Adam’s bed/couch proved that she is ready to take the first major step away from Hannah. Will it work out between her and Adam? I certainly hope it does for a while. But if it causes a Hannah meltdown you can show me to the nearest exit.

Marnie

Girls 5x04  marnie

The biggest surprise of the evening was Marnie! She responded rather well to Desi building the wall in their apartment. Even though she was not a fan of the idea, she was more level-headed than anyone would have expected. Naturally she took someone else’s problem and turned it into a moment to better herself, but she reached that conclusion by recognizing that her flaw was what caused a problem. Sure, Desi has his own issues to work through, but Marnie is going to try and recognize when she is putting Desi down and begin working through their issues with understanding and compassion. Good on you, Marnie.

Hannah

As for Hannah, well… Hannah learned practically nothing. Maybe she is sitting on her profound realization that she is in fact Cher and her friends maybe do see more of her flaws than her good qualities. Only time will tell.

Girls 5x04 hannah

Stray observations:

☕️ Ray needs to figure out how to promote his shop.
☕️ If Desi’s math was correct, I should really calculate how much money I could save if I stop buying coffee.

Watch Girls season 5, episode 5, “Queen for Two Days,” Sunday, March 20 at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO.

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