Girls: “Latching” Series Finale Review

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Season one of Girls, easily the show’s best, had a startlingly real quality to it compared with what else was on in 2012. That’s largely because these characters were talking about things people their age talk about in a barely exaggerated way of talking about them. The show went off the rails in that season’s finale, when Jessa married Thomas-John out of nowhere, and the show’s recovery was only fleeting, with masterful episodes surrounded by those of a relatively well-constructed sitcom. But these last three episodes tapped into something true again. Ray meeting Abigail and having immediate chemistry was the most traditional Girls‘ ending got. But with Shosh’s rant last week, and all of this fascinating and original series finale, the series re-engaged into the real world that it started out in.

But beyond that, after years of having forgotten its roots, was “Latching” a good series finale for what Girls started out to be or what it would become? And which was more appropriate? Series finales are fascinating beasts. This episode could have just as easily been Shoshanna’s wedding a year down the line, with Hannah raising her child all by herself in attendance, Adam and Jessa looking on with nothing but distanced fondness. Ray would bring Abigail. Marnie would sing. Elijah would manage to sneak in at the last minute despite his busy schedule. I’d slap an A- on it, talk about how much I’ll miss these characters, and feel completely satisfied in what I just watched. That’s the series finale for what Girls has become, after years of treading too far into sitcom territory.

“Latching” is the finale for what Girls was at its best, which is wildly different from it at its worst. It harkens back to a time when Hannah’s insufferable nature felt ingrained in her personality, not written to support the next joke in the script. And through that, we get this final portrait of Hannah and Marnie as they serve themselves by thinking they’re serving each other. Uncovering all its subtleties and strong character moments, even as I’m writing this, the finale is growing into something truly significant.

The episode begins with Marnie spooning Hannah in bed, a sweet callback to the pilot. Marnie tells her best friend that she wants to raise her baby with her. Five months later, he’s born, but there’s an uneasy tension between Hannah and Marnie as they navigate a difficult household, let alone their difficult friendship, with Hannah having trouble breastfeeding her son. Hannah is particularly ruthless throughout, with Marnie’s sacrifice leaving her lonely and in service of someone else’s life choices. It takes Loreen’s wisdom to get them both out of this rut, but Marnie is initially more willing to listen.

Hannah instead storms out and goes for a walk. She runs into a distressed teenager who claims to be in an “emergency situation.” It later comes out that she ran out of her house because her mom was merely trying to get her to do her homework. In reacting to this, we see that Hannah, despite all her shortcomings, isn’t going to let her child fall into this category. When she returns home, Marnie and Loreen are on the porch sipping wine, talking about the future. Hannah sits between them, the two most important women in her life, in apologetic silence. Her son starts to cry and she stops Marnie from taking care of it, showing she’s finally ready to try. He latches, Hannah smiles, exhibiting that she’s found value in providing something for someone else, and we cut to credits, with a soft lullaby playing over them. We leave Marnie on a note in which she’s finally ready to help her friend by helping herself, not the other way around. As for Hannah, life as a single mother is going to be hard, and she’s not ready for the challenges to come, but she’s accepted what her life has become and who she needs to be there for.

And so ends the beautiful love story of Hannah and Marnie, two college friends too selfish to ever really hear each other. But through all the good and bad, there’s still a deep sense of care present that they share. Marnie will remain a part of Hannah and her son’s life, but it’s exciting that she’s going to go live her own too. In the end, Girls made a number of statements with its characters on the unknown future we all face, but it also, in a wide range of subtlety, better equipped these people for what’s to come. Adam and Jessa learned that they can’t rely on the past to recreate their happiness. Ray and Elijah opened themselves up to infinite possibilities. Shoshanna gained her independence. Marnie learned to give to herself. Hannah learned to give. They’re not going to be perfect human specimens now that the show is over, but at least they’re heading in the direction of figuring things out. Girls never intended on showing us what it looks like once they have, just specific points on that journey. With “Latching,” we leave Hannah and Marnie with a positive ambiguity. For a show that’s entire initial premise was based on being lost, that’s as satisfying an ending as we should get. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty


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