Girls: “Painful Evacuation” Season 6 Episode 4 Review

Photo Credit:

With “Painful Evacuation,” we start to get a sense of where Girls‘ final season is going. The first two episodes included a lot of moments of self-reflection and evolution, then the third went for an unconventional story. Episode four is quite plot heavy. People who complain that nothing ever happens on Girls would be challenged by this episode. That said, Girls‘ quiet introspections have historically been much better than when it tried to throw lots of twists into its basic premise. Depending on which character’s story we’re talking about, that proves to be both true and false in “Painful Evacuation.”

Where it proves to be true is with Hannah. Thinking she sat too long on a UTI, Hannah goes to the ER after her mother coerces her to over the phone. In a pleasant shock, her doctor turns out to be Patrick Wilson’s Joshau, from season two’s seminal “One Man’s Trash.” My initial excitement came from the thought of Girls getting to show how it progressed since its most profound masterpiece. But the reveal that Joshua gets to deliver is odd and, perhaps intentionally, inconvenient. Hannah is pregnant, and Riz Ahmed’s Paul-Louis is the father, she says. Now, Girls can handle this a number of ways that could make or break how the show ends as a whole. Where does being pregnant take Hannah emotionally? Is this meant to be the show’s climactic ultimate trial of womanhood? Is Girls now a show where we have to wonder what’s going to happen? “Painful Evacuation” doesn’t answer any of these. All it does is introduce the idea, as delivered by the man who made Hannah’s maturity feel so insignificant in season two. Joshua seems judgmental in a way, as if the pregnancy is Hannah’s fault alone and that an abortion is the only option. It’s just another example of a man trying to have control over a woman’s body, as micro as that control may have been in this situation. That’s why it works so well when Hannah dismisses the idea that her decision has already been made and storms out. But for this storyline to be successful, Girls needs to focus on Hannah and Hannah alone. If it focuses too much on the physical pregnancy, the show’s basic premise will dissipate. If it focuses too much on the social politics and stigmas surrounding her pregnancy circumstances, the show will be making a statement that was absent from its first five seasons. It can do both of these lightly, but only if Hannah remains at the core of it all.

Another plot-heavy storyline in the episode saw Adam quitting his movie and initiating an idea with Jessa to make a movie about their difficulties with Hannah. This piece of the episode was everything wrong with Girls. Characters not acting like themselves. Setting up overly ambitious ideas with a legitimate prospect of success. If this is to be the final arcs of Jessa and Adam, the show will have betrayed them both by making them so big.

Faring much better, however, was Ray’s storyline. As he realizes that his and Marnie’s relationship is all but empty, he witnesses a neighborhood regular to his coffee shop die when walking on the sidewalk, falling into a cellar. Afterward, he and his boss, Hermie, talk about death and how short life can be. Hermie, ever Ray’s guardian angel, continually pushes that Ray can be doing better than co-owing this Brooklyn coffee shop. Ray grows angry, leaves, and confides in Shoshanna. Here we get an inkling of where Ray is going. Not only do we see another example of how comfortable and perfect he and Shosh still are (she certainly listens to him and encourages him much more than Marnie does), but we see Ray taking charge of his life and aiming to do better. This has happened before, but when he goes to Hermie’s house to apologize, he finds him dead. It’s common in fiction for mentors to die (i.e. Obi Wan, Dumbledore), giving their pupil a chance to shine all on their own. Girls handles this cliche smartly. Ray, the oldest of the core characters, has lived an undramatic life. He’s seen a lot of things, as one does managing a coffee shop in Brooklyn, I’m sure, but not a whole lot has happened to him. Hermie’s death is big, and it’s going to affect Ray in ways that he’s unfamiliar with. What will this teach him about Marnie? Shoshanna? His career? Unlike those surrounding Hannah’s pregnancy, these are questions I’m desperate for Girls to answer before it ends.

That said, “Painful Evacuation” is the weakest episode of this final season so far. The show just introduced a lot of ideas for a lot of its characters that point to where they’re going before the end. Some directions are fascinating and rewarding, others are arbitrary, and one is just a big question mark. But the show still has time to develop them all into successful endings. Girls‘ success rate has proved shaky at best since its first season ended, but at this point, we’re here for the ride. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *