“Girls”: Be the walker, not the dog

For this season finale, let’s celebrate the strength to forge ahead on your own, a trait these four women unequivocally share and convey in Girls‘ “Home Birth.”

We’ve known a fragile Hannah before, a girl hiding from the cruel world in the second season and ending up cradled in Adam’s sweaty arms by the finale. So there’s history of such a reunion, which created one of the great distractions — elephants in the room — during this finale, which certainly portrayed one of the most interesting things (home birth) we’ve seen on a 30-minute television comedy.

By the way “Daddy Issues” ended last week, it wouldn’t have been surprising had Lena Dunham drawn Hannah and Adam back together; after all, Adam said he missed her “a little too much right now,” after Mimi-Rose took him for a spin. He makes a run at it and puts himself out there in an exchange with Hannah that had tears welling up in my eyes. But most refreshing of all, Hannah 4.0 is not the crutch-wielding girl from that season two finale (“Together”).

She could take hold of Adam’s hand in that hospital nursery and lean on him as she has before, but she’s strong enough to know she can’t do that to herself. Hannah refuses to be the girl who goes back to the guy, who all but left her stranded on the side of the road, when he finally realizes he made a mistake.

This is a conversation we knew they would have sooner rather than later, and the most moving part of it is watching her stand her ground and tell Adam that she can’t do it. It’s impossible not to shed a tear for her, but mixed in with the sadness is a happy feeling because you know Hannah, who was flung around by her family, friends and Mimi-Rose this season, is going to be all right.

For reassurance, Dunham tosses in a six-month leap, glimpse of what’s ahead — while validating an opening scene that initially came off as a rather random incident.

When “Home Birth” opens, Hannah’s having a panic attack at school (let’s give a nod to crafty sound work on heavy breathing). Fran comes after her outside of school to make sure she’s fine and sweetly rubs her back. He check a lot of boxes. She doesn’t need to tell him all the drama, he’ll just be there for her, comforting her when she needs it. And she sure has needed it.

After all those two have been through this season, which really isn’t a ton, maybe Hannah was right after all. He’s intrigued by her. And she interested, too, and it’s better to see their relationship six months down the road, in a snowy New York (cuddle weather!) compared to whatever their next move was going to be. Smart, smooth and thoughtful transition by Dunham. Well done.

*   *   *   *

As I referred to earlier, Shoshanna, Marnie and Jessa rise up during their shining moments in “Home Birth,” each given and taking a chance to press on.

Marnie’s had a hell of a ride this season. She’s in a half-problematic, half-starcrossed relationship with Desi. But in what was supposed to be their moment of musical arrival, he let her down just like Ray said he would. She bravely takes the stage on her own, in front of the bloggers who could make or break her career.

That’s not all. It’s also a vindicating example of how Ray brings out Marnie’s best compared to how Desi is a bit of a loose cannon. He could marry her, which merely helps him convince himself that he’s a good person, but he’s always going to be a guy who buys a $2,000 foot pedal with their signing bonus.

Jessa’s moment of strength comes out in spite of everyone else because if nobody else is going to get their hands dirty with Caroline in the bathtub, then she will. Don’t forget the irony between the season three finale (helping someone die) and this finale (helping bring a life safely into the world). It shows she’s grown up.

But my favorite success story this season is Shosh (that excludes Hannah’s arc). She can have her dream job as long as she moves with it to Tokyo, but that throws a wrench in her life’s plan. If you need a refresher, the plan: Marry a rich canned-soup mogul and live happily ever after. Seeking advice, she searches for Ray. Their beautiful relationship is one of this season’s precious gems.

Scott’s going to fall in love with her soon (isn’t that the sweetest way that’s ever been said?), so he’s telling her to stay. He’ll employ her at his company, where she said she’d never work, and she can move in with him. So here’s another rich guy trying to buy his woman. But he’s not the first man to fall in love with her, Ray is, so she’s not just going to melt at his feet for it.

So guess what? She’s moving to Tokyo. Why? Well, maybe you should pick up that book with an attractive woman on the cover, like Hermie did. We owe these resolutions to his wise words, via the writer Sheryl Sandberg. But we owe this excellent finale, and all together the fourth season, to Dunham and her team.

My favorite thing: I laughed out loud when Adam fainted, and admired Caroline’s ambition even though she needed to better plan.

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