Girls: “Queen for Two Days” Season 5 Episode 5 Review

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After last week’s expertly written and acted episode, Girls comes down from its high and returns to a more uneven place. “Queen for Two Days” has moments of transcendence for some of its characters, but others just go backwards in their arcs for the season.

The latter obviously points to Shoshanna, who made the brash decision to stay in Japan even after she got fired from her job. Sure, having her work at a cat cafe is hilariously appropriate, but there are a lot of scenes here that are supposed to set her up to be unhappy. Neither Zosia Mamet or writer Tami Sagher sell that before her breakdown to her former boss, who she’s been showing around Japan for some reason. Girls has stunted arcs before when it counts, so this comes as no surprise. Season four had the same problem with Hannah in Iowa. But right when it looked like it might right the ship by making Shoshanna’s Japanese lifestyle stick for a while, we’re faced with the same sort of breakdown and loneliness that brought Hannah back too soon. Shoshanna isn’t back in Brooklyn yet, but her days in Japan are clearly limited. And once again a character is returning after a trip that had potential to advance her life in a meaningful way for no other reason than loneliness.

Meanwhile, Hannah and her mother are on a retreat for divorcees. The whole set-up here felt forced, like it was coming from a more cynical version of Broad City, a type of comedy Girls would be very awkward to introduce this late in the game. Still, there were meaningful steps taken here. The road to Loreen deciding to stay with Tad was bumpy, but her final reasons were heartfelt. Having other divorcees tell her that her problems were minor was counterintuitive, especially since it pushed her to her ultimate conclusion. But this couple built a long life together and one that is, frankly, probably ending sooner than another one with someone else could begin. That’s a sad but mature point for Girls to make.

As for Hannah, her father’s sexual awakening has spawned her own questions. When a very attractive female trainer lifts her spirits about Fran, a sexual encounter seems inevitable. There’s an undeniable spark between them. It doesn’t make Hannah a lesbian, but perhaps she’s a little more bisexual or pansexual than she initially realized. For such a confusing time with relationship she’s spent most of her life around, it makes sense for Hannah to experiment a little. I doubt we’ll see her picking up a slew of girls at the Cubby Hole (a famous, largely female gay bar in the West Village for the non-New Yorkers out there) next week, but the possibilities of a meaningful connection for Hannah just opened up a bit more.

The only other thing going on in “Queen for Two Days” was the continuing relationship of Jessa and Adam. We met Jessa’s sister, which wasn’t quite as revolutionary as meeting her father in season two’s “Video Games,” but was interesting nonetheless. Asking her sister for money to go to school, it’s Adam who actually comes to her rescue. Considering he’s been on commercials and CBS cop shows, he actually has a fair bit of money saved up, and him being Adam, he’s willing to give it to Jessa. Adam has always been attracted to true passion, which is why he and Hannah never worked. But Jessa is finally achieving a sense of not only maturity in her career, but also drive. Jessa and Adam way just be the best thing about this season.

So while this episode was mostly up and down, it still had its moments. Girls won’t always be as good as it was in season one or “Old Loves,” but the great moments scattered throughout episodes still resonate larger than most shows. It’s just getting to them where the show fumbles. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

 

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