The penultimate episode of girls, “On All Fours,” was the darkest, most complex episode yet. Some people are wondering if it went too far, but behind the shocking moments lie painfully real and complicated implications.
Some may argue that season 2’s ninth episode of Girls, “On All Fours,” pushed the limits too far to be called “comedy” any longer. And while there were far fewer laughs this episode, the deep, raw honesty is indeed intact, and Dunham’s genius writing is taking us to places that we need to go — whether we know it or not.
Several people are turning on Adam’s character (Adam Driver) because of the eponymous sex scene that happened near the episode’s end between him and new-girlfriend Natalia (Shiri Appleby). Natalia had earlier given Adam permission to sleep with her, given that he’d been “nice all week.” Then, she gave him very clear instructions on what she liked and what she didn’t.
This scene set the entire tone for their relationship and its eventual spiral downward. Adam forcefully tells Natalia what he wants — almost as she did, though he doesn’t even give her time to reconsider — and then proceeds to do it. She’s left feeling humiliated and “debased.” It can be questioned whether Adam did this against Natalia’s will and whether what we witnessed was actually sexual assault. It’s hard to say either way, though it’s unfair to rush to such an accusation.
Let’s break it down: First of all, Adam was drunk. Not the best place to be as a member of AA, one would think? And Natalia lets him get drunk. Sure, it’s easy to think she was being polite, but given that they only reason they met was because Adam met Natalia’s mother in AA, Natalia is fully aware that Adam has a problem.
Next, Adam and Hannah had just talked on the street. Interestingly, Adam looked the cleanest he’s ever been, while Hannah looked her most pathetic in a ragged T-shirt that reads “Life’s a beach.” This could send almost anyone into the worst parts of their mind, especially since Hannah and Adam have so many unresolved issues.
We’ve seen Adam’s boorish fantasies played out before (remember that time he peed on Hannah? Or made her role play as a lost little girl?) but they were always from Hannah’s eye- – they were silly, bizarre, and not that damaging. But Natalia’s clear discontent after their second sexual interaction in “On All Fours” makes us reevaluate Adam’s moral compass.
Adam is, and has always been, an intense character. This is the first time that another character has really voiced opposition to his behavior, and that’s what makes us step back and furrow our brows in discomfort. Adam and Natalia’s interaction is a real issue in many relationships, especially new ones; often, we put up our best version of ourselves upon first meeting someone to seem worthy of their attention. However, when our true colors show through, we’re forced to somehow navigate the blurry area of what we want and how we determine what we don’t want.
Hannah knew Adam long before they became an official couple and knew what to expect. Natalia, on the other hand, wasn’t fully privy to Adam’s dark desires until she stepped into his dank, saw-dust-covered apartment, which she herself deemed “depressing” — a lot like Adam’s mind.
Not to mention that “On All Fours” saw every other present character (since Jessa is still MIA) at their ugliest. Where Marnie used to be downright irritating and aloof, now she’s sort of helpless and pitiful. Shoshanna used to be the innocent little sister that always made us giggle, but now she’s lying to Ray about her hookups and very obviously flirting with other guys (some have even stated that Shosh is now the new Marnie).
And then there’s Hannah. Though her OCD may have come out of left field, it’s evident that she hasn’t always been mentally stable. Marnie hinted at her “deepest, darkest secret” in their tumultuous argument during episode 9 of season 1, “Leave Me Alone.” And in times of extreme stress (read: writing a book in a month), it’s not surprising that her past illness would creep back up on her. Though it’s really unpleasant to watch Hannah harm herself via Q-tips, it’s real and there are many people out there struggling with the same kinds of mental illnesses.
The fact that her OCD doesn’t just magically disappear after she takes a few prescription medications is a testament to Dunham’s brilliant story lines and character development. Sometimes we really, really want to hate Hannah, but how can you hate someone that struggles so much? And who, even though we never want to really admit it, we can see so much of ourselves in?
Though you may have written off season 2 of Girls for its lack of light-hearted humor and its surplus of emotional weight, I ask that you just stick around for the season’s finale. Dunham laid out 10 episodes in season 1 for us to really become attached to each character and their distinct, vivid personalities. Yes, they’re all unlikable in ways… but again, it’s real and honest. Who doesn’t have their flaws? Really, the series couldn’t have continued if it had kept up with its fizzy comedic approach to several complex issues. It’s been refreshing to watch these characters grow and come into themselves — for better and, usually, for worse — and it will be even more startling to watch it all come to a head in the last episode of season 2.
The season finale of Girls airs Sunday, March 17 at 9 p.m. ET.
Image via The Huffington Post