I can’t decide between “Papa Was a Surfin’ Stone” or “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stoner” as more appropriate titles for this episode, but that’s mostly because we never see Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed) smoke pot during his brief sexcapade with—and impregnation of—Hannah (Lena Dunham). “Full Disclosure” focuses not just on Hannah’s decision whether or not to contact the waterskiing instructor about his fatherhood, but on the Girls crew saying what they mean.
An ill-fated dinner with Marnie (which sounds like the most insufferable Wallace Shawn movie) follows in the footsteps of Season Two episode “It’s A Shame About Ray,” in which characters constantly tell each other to grow up. Hannah tries to break her pregnancy news while the continuously caricatured Marnie (Allison Williams) whines about her safety net, Ray (Alex Karpovsky), dumping her. Hannah not only speaks the truth (“you’re always a huge cunt to him”) but seems at peace with Marnie’s self-obsession. Pregnancy has granted her social transcendence—a peek into Dunham and the writing team’s sacred cows of maturity. If you’re carrying life you must be so wise.
Their ensuing spat springs from the same disagreement Hannah and Elijah (Andrew Rannells) had in “Gummies;: There’s a lack of trust between the friends that, even when the gap is bridged, still afflicts their every fight, with each questioning the foundation of their relationship. Marnie’s one character trait (she wants to control things because she’s selfish) clashes with Hannah’s inconsistent maturity. She jumps between love guru and The Love Guru in terms of successful serenity and honestly. Neither quite fits.
This transitions into another spat, this time between Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Marnie, about whether their band should play a crappy gig for Marnie’s mom’s friend or if they’re selling out. Girls seems to think it’s earned this simplistic war between the show’s two ultimate evils, but its VH1 Behind the Music vibe has about as much drama as when MC Hammer spent all his money. It’s a boring relationship that makes for even more boring squabbles, especially when the series treat Desi’s narcotic addiction with a name-checking flippancy. I get that we’re supposed to equate this with Marnie’s dickishness, but its introduction and non-impact feel like a waste of a possibly interesting element in a couple that is anything but.
The most interesting couple on the show remains the platonic one: Elijah and Hannah’s. Elijah’s pantslessness is definitely on the right side of history, as it seems every conversation in their shared apartment stars him in the semi-nude. (That’s just how people are at home. I get it.) As an apology to Hannah for his “Gummies” outburst, he extends an invitation to an odd-sounding party whose focus is combining tacos and hot dogs. The apology, for doubting Hannah’s maternal abilities, also reveals that he’s as aware of his fearful love of the pair’s water-treading status quo as we are.
In one of the show’s funniest little scene transitions, Adam (Adam Driver) calls Hannah. Hannah answers as she leaves, only to find out Adam is on the phone right outside her building. He’s begging her to watch his completed movie, looking for artistic and personal validation about their relationship. It’s actually kind of sweet, but Hannah gets mad because she (apparently) hasn’t worked through the end of their relationship, despite last season’s finale. Now that Adam is dealing with their breakup in his own artistically professional way (which, admittedly, looks a little bit like porn), Hannah lashes out with the best ammo she has: her pregnancy. Adam’s struck and so are we. We expect this inconsistency from old Hannah, but now?
Speaking of expectations, of course any friend of Marnie’s mom vapes out of some sort of promotional Legend of Zelda ocarina. She’s the conduit through which Girls proves it can still sling some zingers. “I was in a ska band when I was your age” is a damning quotation about a healthy percentage of white high schoolers (this reviewer included). Then Desi shows up to the club on many drugs and—ah, yes, Marnie can’t tell when people are high, as per “Hostage Situation.” It’s just not a funny joke: The situations it recurs in are never absurd enough, and Moss-Bachrach affects strung-out desperation far too well for it to be a comic scene. The kicker, Marnie’s terrible mom, Evie (Rita Wilson) saying that Hannah having a baby is a mistake, is a seven-layer dip of a joke in which all the flavors are bittersweet. This, coupled with Evie offering to take the OD’d Desi’s place at the concert, really drives home where Marnie gets her self-assured self-obsession. Is Desi alive? He stumbles off into the distance like a stoned cowboy that only shops at Urban Outfitters, but I doubt this is the last we’ll see of him.
Also, the mom scats during the performance. This is the only time where the vulgar reading of that sentence would’ve been more interesting.
While the Michaels’ listen to nobody, Hannah gets advice from everybody, including her dad (Peter Scolari) and his new partner, Keith (Ethan Phillips), who was a sad sperm donor and has many thoughts on whether Hannah should tell Paul-Louis about the baby. Their discussion seems like a proxy for what the Girls team wants its viewers to be debating in comment sections and coffee shops post-viewing. Is Hannah being ethical or selfish? Can it be both? How far do a mother’s rights go when they may conflict with the desires of the father? It’s hard for us to care about this because the show does all the deliberating for us—even though what we want to see is how it actually affects Hannah.
“Full Disclosure” has a few strange cuts to scenes on opposite ends of the fun scale. In one, Elijah’s working at his high-end retailer when his co-worker asks him to run lines in a quick-and-dirty plot segue. Rannells slays a small spotlight performance about vehicular manslaughter right as some old women walk into the store. His acting partner (Jasmine Cephas Jones) is overbearing and brilliant. It’s hard enough acting well. Jones acts like she can’t act and pulls it off.
Then we have a scene that reads ironically as a parody of the previous one. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) comes over for a hyper-serious heart-to-heart about her friend’s pregnancy, but Hannah wants nothing to do with her. For some reason, this episode shifts Hannah’s maturity when it comes to this relationship she’s allegedly moved on from. It’s all setting something up that’s bolstered by the episode’s final two sequences: The power of cinema shows Hannah how Adam really felt about their relationship, while a credits scene taken from Adam’s film reenacts the story of their first meeting. Adam was good with his sister’s baby, but this still feels like the biggest backwards step Hannah (and Girls) could go for.
Jacob Oller is a writer and film critic whose writing has appeared in The Guardian, Playboy, Roger Ebert, Film School Rejects, Chicagoist, Vague Visages, and other publications. He lives in Chicago, plays Dungeons and Dragons, and struggles not to kill his two cats daily. You can follow him on Twitter here: @jacoboller.