Girls: “Japan” Season 5 Episode 3 Review

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Girls teases us with one of season four’s biggest mistakes. The handling of Hannah in Iowa was an absolute mess, and with Shoshanna already given a reason to go back to New York (getting laid off), the show’s formula of failing to take a risk comes around once again. But “Japan” also doesn’t take the route we might expect, leaving the full outcome to play out in future episodes.

With the crew actually going to Tokyo for the episode, there’s a lot of exploring for Shoshanna to do in this episode. That’s where “Japan” succeeds the most. Director Jesse Peretz really romanticizes Tokyo in a way that’ll have many Girls fans looking for opportunities there over the next week. The ever-sociable Shoshanna has made friends and even has a crush. She likes her life there and now it’s threatened before she barely even got to really acclimate. This being the first episode we see her in Japan, it feels very soon to try and bring her back to New York. But then, in a welcome surprise, she doesn’t show up at the airport. Her new crush, Yoshi, seems to be a better fit for her than Scott and she deserves a better social circle than the one Hannah, Marnie, and Jessa provide. We’ll see how this turns out, but I’m cautiously optimistic for now, even if it’s highly unlikely Shoshanna will spend the rest of Girls in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Hannah was insufferable this episode. After finding nude photos of other women on Fran’s phone, he explains that they are his ex-girlfriends. He has understandable socio-political reasons for not watching porn instead, which only make him more of a stand-up guy. But besides the very funny scene where Ray and Elijah shot nude photos of Hannah for Fran, this subplot was just plain annoying. Does Hannah really think that deleting all the photos of his ex-girlfriend is going to sit well. This whole thing also felt like it was pandering to the Buzzfeed culture a bit. Girls has only recently started feeling at that level, but it used to be very much above it. This topic just seems too targeted at millennials, and even most of them have probably already seen a version of this on another series or two.

Faring much better was the continual development of Adam and Jessa’s romance, which felt more natural than ever this week. The scene in which Jessa tells Adam how impressed she is with his acting abilities was practically smoldering. Adam Driver and Jemima Kirke are really selling this thing, it’s just a matter of how long we’ll have to watch their will-they-won’t-they (which Jessa hilariously commented on) before they can’t hold back any longer.

All in all, “Japan” delivered on some fronts and failed on others. Shoshanna’s whole future on this series right now seems to be in limbo. While that’s exciting, it’s also worrying. We’ve seen this before with Hannah and it didn’t go well. But her fate hasn’t quite been decided just yet. Grade: B

Some Other Notes:

  • Look at Adam getting a guest spot on some CBS crime drama starring Lucy Liu. And Jessa’s right, he was very good.
  • “You talk really fast.” “I’ve literally never heard that before.”
  • I know nothing about 20 something culture in Tokyo, but I don’t fully trust that Lena Dunham does either. Regardless, if these after work bathhouse sessions are a regular thing, I’m moving there tomorrow. That one club also looked fun. Not the fetish club, the dance club (no shame if you’re into the former though).
  • Just one scene with Marnie and Desi and the latter didn’t even speak. I think Girls knows it has a problem, it just now has to eradicate it swiftly and believably.

By Matt Dougherty

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