When the fourth season of “Girls” opened, Hannah’s at a restaurant — one we recognize from the pilot episode — with her parents, toasting to her future. As Hannah references in her reciprocal Thank You to her mom and dad, a lot has changed since the first scene of Lena Dunham’s terrific show.
The last time few times we spoke, Hannah had been accepted to the Iowa Writers Workshop and argued with Adam before returning to her apartment where she was seemingly about to make an important life decision. Flash forward to Sunday’s premiere, aptly titled “Iowa.” Since we’ve been away, the wheels have been spinning. The ball is rolling. The plan is in motion. Hannah’s heading west, like actually leaving tomorrow, and she’s trying to do what any sane person making such a move would do: tie down everything at home.
“Iowa,” directed by Dunham and co-written with Judd Apatow, is an authentic representation of what it’s like to make an extreme move, down to shipping boxes and early-morning departures. But it also captures the emotion of the event. As these things go, why is it always that only the actual person uprooting their life is the one who hears the ticking clock?
Adam, nowadays a paranoid actor afraid his depression pill commercial isn’t sending the right message, finds ways to deflect Hannah’s best attempts to sit down and have a reasonable conversation about their relationship. She’s sorry that there isn’t a set plan for her to come home, but he brushes it off because they’ll talk using various methods 10 times a day. She asks what he’s thinking about during a quiet moment at Marnie’s performance, but he’s just listening to the music.
In fact, the only time Adam almost engages Hannah is when he suddenly mentions that “You know I’m shit on the phone,” in kind of a joking way. He has raised a legitimate concern for long-distance relationships. Hannah is refreshingly sarcastic in her response, but when she asks him, “Do you want to go over the plan again?”, he shuts back down as if there isn’t one.
I can’t tell if there ever was.
It makes you wonder what their relationship has been like since Adam’s Broadway opening. By calling Hannah’s move to Iowa a “random step” in front of her parents, he’s insulting the decision she made. But he’s clearly in denial, the way he fakes sleep when she’s trying to say her goodbye in the morning. He’d rather avoid any emotional conflict and watch her from the window instead, which was the main problem early on in their love story.
Everyone else, except Marnie has fallen into the roles as friends who don’t have to think about it. This is especially when Hannah starts to feel disconnected. Jessa, fresh off a wicked burning by Rickey (guest star Natasha Lyonne), Beadie’s pissed off daughter who’s taking her mom back to Connecticut, is quite crass about Hannah’s advances to hang out before she leaves. Shosh drifts in and out, after finishing her degree. Elijah, who supposedly will join Hannah in Iowa this season, is distracted by an encounter with his ex-boyfriend.
Marnie, a fragile shell on stage who’s winning at having tremendous erotic sex with Desi, is the only emotionally available person for Hannah. Marnie writes a goodbye song for her and stops by the apartment with coffee and a helping hand. It’s a touching moment, on top of a suitcase, when they hug each other because it’s the kind of emotional attention Hannah’s been looking for.
Sometimes Hannah’s been sick for attention in the last few years, but you can’t dog on her this week. It’s not easy moving away, especially when you feel like everyone else in your life is ignoring it. She has no choice but to tie everything down. That way, at least she knows it’ll be there whenever she returns.
My favorite thing: Marnie’s evaluation of the jazz brunch performance: “That place was a shit show. Last time I ever do a jazz brunch!”