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GIRLS “The Return” Episode Recap

Home is a messed up place for a lot of people. Some return to the place they grew up to see a completely warped sense lifestyle that they want no part of, while others have never ventured away, continuing to live their prolonged high school days in familiar surroundings. Hannah gets to see both sides of the coin when she comes back home to Michigan for a weekend to visit her parents on their 30th wedding anniversary.

Her parents get under her skin almost immediately, bringing up potential job opportunities, telling her to stop texting during Netflix night, and pushing her to eat more. Frustrated, she goes to her room (still decorated like it was in high school, iMac and all) and gets a text from Marnie asking about rent money, a stress that causes her to call Adam, only to think better of it and hang up. Instead, Hannah heads to the fridge and binges. The idea of being pampered by your parents for a weekend seems nice in theory, but Hannah is reminded quickly of the reasons she left in the first place.

Hannah continues to explore her past  when she meets up with her best friend from high school, Heather, who thinks Hannah’s in town for the benefit for Carrie, a girl from their high school who was abducted abroad. While Hannah is excited to catch up with her friend, she’s never entirely comfortable during this conversation, feeling very distant from Heater, who still talks and dresses like she’s in high school, has a long-term boyfriend (who calls Heather ‘yo,’ like he’s a character from The Wire), and expresses her desire to move to Hollywood to become a dancer (which Hannah and her New York snobbiness scoffs at).

Hannah runs into another person from high school while picking up her mom’s prescription, a boy named Eric, who co-owns the pharmacy with his dad, but this exchange is much more pleasant, ending with him asking her to go to the benefit with him. She accepts, goes home to get ready, gives herself a pep-talk in the mirror (we’ve all done it), has a fun night out with him, he’s nothing but sweet to her, and they have normal-person sex back at his apartment.

Hannah brings up the idea of delusion to Eric after the benefit, after she watched her friend dance around sluttily to some cheesy pop song. There’s no way a girl like that is ever going to make it in Hollywood, and she feels like somebody needs to tell her so. But she fails to realize that she’s going through the exact same thing. No one’s telling her if she’s doing the right thing by sticking around New York trying to be a writer, not even her parents (who, much like us, don’t even know if she’s any good). It’s also silly to think that every guy she has sex with wants her to say she’s “tight like a baby” or to stick her finger in his ass, but that’s an entirely different issue.

Hannah may be delusional, but this trip home made her very sure of a few things. There’s a delicate balance to home life, with weird townie shit playing off the brief moment she imagined a future with a guy like Eric — a kind-hearted, stable man with a cheap apartment that’s twice the size of what she’s used to. He’ll do for the day, but at episode’s end Hannah’s back on the phone with Adam, having him tell stories of New York in their sweetest exchange to date.

Maybe the American Small Town life is the safer route for Hannah to choose. There’s more stability, less stress…shit, she can even walk outside and enjoy the grass beneath her bare feet. But as we’ve seen with her time and time again, it’s unpredictability that she craves so much; a sense of excitement that she can only get in the city. “We’re all slaves to this place that doesn’t really want us,” says Hannah of New York, her new home, which is the only way she’ll have it.

Other Thoughts

– There’s also a sex scene with Hannah’s parents in the shower, which results in with her dad slipping and hitting his head and hilariously ends with Hannah having to help her naked father. I’m not sure what was more traumatizing, seeing Peter Scolari’s penis, or seeing Mrs. Weir’s boobs.

– Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend told her that her dad was gay a few episodes back, though I didn’t catch many hints here. Though he seemed to be hiding something while he was unpacking groceries? Did anyone catch that?

– There’s a great scene with Hannah’s parents at dinner discussing their daughter’s future. Dad can’t help but be worried for her, knowing how much he jittered through his 20s, and that maybe Hannah won’t grow up to be able to do what she’s always wanted. But surprisingly it’s Mom who calms his nerves, claiming that she knows how to have fun and will ultimately turn out okay. She even offers Hannah money to help her along, which see decline. A moment of responsibility and pride from Hannah? That was great to see.

– It was a good move keeping this episode entirely in Michigan (East Lansing, I assume, considering all the Michigan State allusions) and not checking in at all with the other girls. Though it’s the only excuse for having no Jessa from here out.

– Lena Dunham co-wrote this episode with Judd Apatow, and his Apatowian touch was undeniable. The awkward sentiment throughout was reminiscent of Freaks and Geeks.

– Lots of unexpected laugh-out-loud moments, including Hannah singing Jewel’s “Hands” in the car and Adam weirdly expressing how he misses Hannah.

– Hannah wrote an advice column for her high school paper (called Holla’ at Hannah), which is an amazing use of irony.

– Some fitting throwbacks on this week’s soundtrack (Seals & Croft, John Mayer, Edwin McCain), with Fleet Foxes playing over the credits.

Find Nick DeLorenzo directly on Twitter @nick_delorenzo and remember to follow @ScreenInvasion!

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Nicholas DeLorenzo

Nicholas DeLorenzo

television writer/social assassin