In the latest edition of the softening of Hannah, our supernarcissist gets a chance at redemption in the face of death. You might remember her most recent brush with the subject, when Hannah’s boss ate it after a week of partying. She handled it with all the delicateness that she’s been known for lately. And when the words were uttered—Hannah’s grandmother is dying—I cringed a cringe to end all cringes.
After all, Hannah hasn’t dealt with anything like this before. She’s seen death briefly, but not in a real way that actually affected her life long-term. And no doubt that after the screaming in the hospital, the car accident that takes place mid-episode, her mother prompting Hannah to tell her grandmother she’s marrying Adam, the wheels are turning on some new essays. You’d think.
But if she’s thinking those thoughts, we don’t really hear them coming out. In a surprising turn, Hannah’s playing nice. And maybe it took the whole arc of the season for this to come together, but I like what’s happening here: our lead character has slowly, painfully turned the spotlight away from herself when it actually counts. She started the process for her love, Adam, last episode. Now the trend continues for her family.
But back to Hannah’s grandma dying. She’s in the hospital with a broken femur, and pneumonia has progressed to where it doesn’t look good. The family is doing the dead-family-member ritual, where the things are divided up, which in the year 2014 includes splitting up pain medication. To give ol’ grandma some piece of mind, Hannah’s mother asks her to tell her grandma that she’s marrying Adam. Surprisingly, the wonderful June Squibb offers this piece of advice after a conflicted Hannah (“what do you read in your women’s book club, mom?”) delivers the news:
“Some day you will look at him, hating him with every fiber of your being. Wishing he would die the most violent death possible. It will pass.”
Ha. It’s the best belly-laugh Girls has pulled from me all season. Not over the top, not overstated ridiculousness. The best joke the show’s pulled off this season came from a drunk-on-too-much-life grandmother knocking on death’s door. But the episode also places Hannah next to her cousin, and shines a light on a peer who isn’t living a fairly New York bohemian lifestyle. Here, Hannah is the underachiever (even though she’s reeling in decent magazine money) and not necessarily considered a great influence. My guess is, they’re trying to pull her out of this little bubble she’s surrounded herself with. Next, is her love for Adam.
Adam’s been great this season, and this episode specifically. It’s a case of mom-not-knowing-best, when she advises Hannah that, even after telling grandma she’s marrying the guy, to hold out for something better. I’m conflicted here. Adam’s got his problems, but surely even her mother, the giver of life to this prized possession, can see that he overextends himself for her. He has come through in multiple times of crisis, pulled her from her OCD hazecloud. Dropped everything to see her in a case of emergency. Adam’s been great. But Mrs. Horvath doesn’t see that side. She sees a non-standard soul who needs to be socialized—he’s an awkward being who needs to be adapted to the world. And while it’s not nice, she is being honest. But blood relation can blind people, and Adam’s relatives could say the same thing about Hannah.
The thing I do like about the last few episodes is that they’ve addressed my primary concerns so far. Girls seemed near self-parody levels with the actions these characters were taking. And while Jessa needed a rehab stint to gain perspective (and ultimately give up on that perspective), Marnie needed a dumping and the following fallout, Hannah needed to experience her own bottom. Adam’s future is not clear in her life. Her life is scrappy and not-so-perfect past the quirky learning points she’s collected in her essays. And she’s learning (and choosing) to be humble.
I can’t wait to see where they go next with this newfound maturity.
Tyler is an assistant editor at Paste. His only experience with Girls comes thanks to HBO. You can follow him on Twitter.