“Beach House” is all about the argument, what led to it and what the ramifications will be. Alex and Shelby are back to discuss this week’s “Girls.”
Alex: We’re more than halfway home on season three and it occurred to me that it’s increasingly more important, for us and our readers, to realize which of the girls is holding all of the cards. It’s Marnie. “Beach House” escalated quickly into the biggest confrontation since the Marnie-Hannah Throw a Toothbrush Incident of season one and I was waiting, anticipating, for Marnie to vomit up her baggage regarding her relationship with Ray. It’s the wild card. It’s the thing that, if it comes up in that argument, the aggression turns onto Marnie, away from Shoshanna.
Shelby: That’s true, and the beginning of the episode sort of portrayed that idea of Marnie being the puppetmaster within the friend group. That final shot of the opening sequence was a perfect metaphor for what the group reveals itself to be in the end. As the camera pans out, you can see that the house Marnie has taken painstaking measures to perfect is still just a giant heap of crap sitting on top of a rocky foundation. I think Lena made a clever move in not bringing that baggage up in the argument that transpired in this episode. The girls had plenty of unresolved issues before Marnie and Ray had their tryst, and I was almost relieved to see the four main characters hash it out this week. Most importantly, I was surprised and impressed with Shoshanna’s outburst in this episode.
Alex: Shoshanna is the outsider of the group because Marnie, Hannah and Jessa have such a history, so she’s always just fitting in or coming under the radar. Her outburst was really powerful and unapologetically honest. I felt like that scene showed not only the emotion Shosh buried, but the naive assumptions the other three made about her being a quiet, goes-along kind of friend.
Shelby: All in all, there was a lot of tension in this episode, and the return of Hannah’s ex-boyfriend certainly didn’t help matters. It seems as though wherever Elijah treads, drama follows. However, it did seem fitting for him to be there amongst all the “healing” considering he was essentially part of what created the wound in Marnie and Hannah’s friendship. It sort of bothers me that Hannah can forgive Elijah of his trespasses within minutes of being reunited with him but won’t excuse Marnie as easily. At first, it didn’t make sense to me that Hannah would be badmouthing Marnie to the person who was guilty of the exact same crime, but perhaps she was just more receptive to his method of apology–which was to play on her narcissism and tell her that he thought about her constantly and missed her desperately. Marnie certainly never tried that approach.
Alex: I feel like this is true in a lot of cases. When you share a relationship like Hannah and Elijah — dating, sex, etc. — you become more receptive of their apology and they are often a thought, albeit near or distant, in your head, so it makes complete sense to me why Hannah would react different toward Elijah and Marnie. I also think Marnie contributed by being so picky and scheduled during the weekend. It didn’t make Hannah any more receptive to her by Marnie bossing her around and telling her what to do and how to act. Also, I’ve always been interested in how Hannah thinks things went down between Elijah and Marnie. Does she think Marnie initiated it? In reality, Marnie initially backed off. Elijah put the pressure on.
Shelby: That’s a good question; I’ve never really considered it. We also need to talk about that dance scene. So fabulous. I’m a sucker for an unapologetic, random dance breakdown and Lena Dunham knows it.
Alex: The greatest question about the dance scene is: which one? There’s the beach house one and then the stationary, seaside dance at the end. Both are fabulous; in fact, I thought the first was going to be a lasting scene from this episode before the argument happened.
Shelby: I just loved how ridiculous this episode got. And I loved the drunken exchange between Marnie and Hannah in the bedroom. I thought Lena and Allison perfectly captured the spirit of drunken testimonies and apologies–I was laughing hysterically. The lightheartedness really balanced out all the tension building between characters and it made for great entertainment. This episode felt very reminiscent of season one and the pilot of season two, don’t you think?
Alex: I thought there were a few little scenes, like the one you mentioned, that massage the tension out of the episode. I thought it was a hilarious dinner surprise when everyone got out of the pool naked because you expect it (and saw it) from Jessa, but you had no idea everyone else was naked because Hannah was still in her bikini. Other moments, like Hannah thinking it was socially acceptable in beach communities to go bikini and barefoot to the market, everyone abandoning their rooms for the lighthouse and Jessa refusing to sit anywhere except the back of the bus are some other moments I’ll remember. I always find it interesting when shows depart from their settings and go on an adventure and this was no different.
Shelby: Yeah, I think I’m a fan of destination episodes, too. And I do enjoy party episodes, especially on Girls, because there’s always so much happening, and in general, I think these sorts of episodes are able to highlight the other characters much better. I agreed with you that there seemed to be just so much going on in Hannah’s birthday episode that it was hard to really focus on a unified theme of the episode, but I thought that “Beach House” really did so nicely. As an episode, this was a story about how hard and weird and icky the process forgiving ourselves and other people can be.
Alex: You’re absolutely right. Everyone put it all on the table this week, but I don’t think anything was really resolved. I don’t know where this leaves them as a group. Do they go back to their separate lives again? What’s next?
Shelby: You know, I think that for the time being, the girls have reached resolution. Sometimes, people just need their complaints to be heard. I don’t know that there won’t be fallout in the aftermath of this episode, but the dance at the end signaled some sign of forgiveness among the girls–an indication of, “we’re all jerks, but we can still be friends, right?” I don’t see any of them making extra efforts to spend time as a group, as Marnie seemed to be hell bent on doing, but I do think that this fight was necessary to keep them all from falling completely apart.
Alex: In a lot of ways, that means the show goes back to normal. Shelby, one of the last things I wanted to talk about is Christopher Abbott’s departure from the show and how Lena is successfully weaving that story into the background of this season. In “Beach House,” I’m talking about the conversation between Marnie and Elijah. Now, we know they were living together, but Charlie was having an affair with a coworker and actually brought her over when he grabbed his stuff and moved out. This conversation also allowed Elijah to deliver my favorite line of the episode, “While you were making pizza?” This story line was one of the main things I wanted to watch for entering this season because Abbott’s walkout was so abrupt and surprising, given where he and Allison Williams were taking their characters at the end of season two. I’m happy Lena didn’t simply cut the cord. She has embraced the sudden change and continues to give each episode it’s little admission, whether that’s just Marnie explaining her feelings or laying out specific details to Charlie’s exit. As a writer, I appreciate how Lena approached the story. It’s working brilliantly.
Shelby: I agree. It was nice that this came out later into the season and not immediately upon the show’s return; it felt honest and not just an halfhearted attempt to explain away a character’s absence from the credits, as I feel a lot of shows often do.