Girls: “Hostage Crisis” Season 6 Episode 2 Review

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“Hostage Crisis” is one of those episodes of Girls that puts the show into an identity crisis. Since the start of season two, Lena Dunham has seemed incapable of deciding what Girls‘ tone should be. Is it a grounded look at millennial life? Is it a surrealist, borderline absurdist comedy? Is it waxing philosophical? Is it a silly sitcom? “Hostage Crisis” tries desperately to have it all, as many episodes have in the past. But it also might be the closest the show has come to achieving at least a partial synergy between all of those.

The most groan-inducing plot thread of the premiere had Marnie sleeping with Desi, thus cheating on Ray and falling into old habits that we thought she grew out of toward the end of season five. Now, with this episode, we see the greater purpose of this misstep in Marnie’s arc. We took a weird, infuriating road to get there, but the result is unquestionably satisfying.

With Desi, now a confirmed drug addict that Hannah and Marnie locked out of their literal cabin in the woods, trying desperately to break in, the two friends get a chance to sit and reflect on how they got here. “You think I’m going to stop being friends with you after putting up with all this bullshit?” Hannah says while calming her friend down. This line is beautiful. Even when Girls doesn’t know what show it wants to be, in an episode that includes a lazily by-the-numbers horror parody, it recognizes what’s at its core: Hannah and Marnie. In season four’s seminal “Sit-In,” Hannah complains that she and Adam aren’t the beautiful, dramatic love story she thought they were. Marnie replies, “Maybe we are.” That’s possibly never been more true than in “Hostage Crisis,” when these two are thrown into a dramatic, potentially dangerous situation and use their love and respect for each other to get out of it. The execution of the situation itself is bizarre and totally off-kilter with the rest of Girls, but that scene in the kitchen, where Hannah tells Marnie that she needs to think of more than just herself, a lesson Hannah admits to be still learning herself, is one of the best written and acted scenes this show has ever had.

So they leave, Marnie driving the convertible and Hannah in shotgun, both of them yelling at Desi to shut up. But not even he, easily the worst character Girls ever introduced, can ruin this moment of empowerment. It’s cheesy, but that’s necessary. For a moment, it feels like these two can conquer the world.  If only they weren’t too lazy to do so.

The secondary story of “Hostage Crisis” was much more in line with what we’re used to on Girls. Shoshanna has to go to a networking event with two friends she lost in college thanks to Jessa. Elijah is going with her because the more Andrew Rannells screentime the better. It’s funny to see Shoshanna interact with the people she related most with in college, but this plot thread is mostly an excuse to turn more characters against Jessa. It works, and eventually Jessa is going to have to come to terms with who she is and how that’s affected her friendships. Otherwise, this storyline was awkwardly being normal while Hannah and Marnie’s was so outrageous.

Still, after the premiere was mostly a one-off for Hannah, “Hostage Crisis” allowed us to get reacquainted with most of the main characters and where they are right now. It’s unclear how much has changed as a result, but the set-up is there for Girls to expand on this ideas to end gracefully. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • The scene in which Jessa and Shoshanna made a video for their grandmother’s birthday was beautifully directed and acted. Jemima Kirke and Zosia Mamet played off each other perfectly, as distanced cousins with closer ties than maybe either of them would like.
  • Elijah catching the eye of the waiter was great. Rannells brings such joy to his performance. Adam Driver gets most of the respect as Girls‘s best male discovery, but Rannells is a very close second.
  • Please, please, please Lena, spare of us of Desi once and for all. This probably isn’t a show that should mercilessly kill off its characters, but man is that starting to get enticing for Desi.

By Matt Dougherty

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