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This week's episode of Girls was all Hannah everything

Wow, what an episode. Executive producer Judd Apatow dubbed it “unique”, and love it or hate it, unique it is.

If you chose to watch Girls over the Grammys, you were treated to (or punished with, depending on who you ask) an entirely Hannah-centric episode. Hannah, in a bottle. A bottle episode where the character is contained in more than the physical space.

In this episode, we weren't shocked by what Hannah says or does, but we saw the full spectrum of her emotions and personality. She gets  that much closer to a deeper truth within herself. As an added treat, we get to see her in another set of shorteralls, even more awful than the last, and even more of her body than we usually do.

There was absolutely no Marnie, Shosh, or Jessa this week, and I always miss the girls when they’re not featured, but the episode could not have worked tonally if Hannah’s intimate scenes were spliced between those of her quirky friends. Interestingly, this was the first episode of the series where I felt like the time allotted was adequate. When it ended, I didn’t find myself cursing that it wasn’t an hour long instead of 30 minutes.

The title of this week’s episode was “One Man’s Trash,” and the opening scene shows Ray chewing out the man who came in to inquire as to why garbage from Grumpy’s was being put in his garbage bins. It turns out that Hannah was the culprit, for an initially understandable reason that then turned into a strange satisfying act of rebellion for her. That’s right, girlfriend gets a thrill from putting garbage where it doesn’t belong. Perhaps a telling metaphor for her life? She decides to fess up and knocks on the man’s beautiful brownstone door where she’s invited in and offered lemonade.

The man’s name is Joshua (not Josh), and the lemonade he shares with Hannah quickly turns to sex. The two of them share a handful of sexual encounters throughout the episode, and they are the first ones in Girls that feel intimate and sexy instead of painfully awkward.

After their first romp, Hannah assumes she should go and is skeptical when instead, he asks her to stay. They both have a use for each other – Joshua is lonely, and the fun, clever girl from the coffee shop might just fill that void. Hannah, never one to say no to any situation or experience, is certainly not going to turn down this handsome man with the impressive house.

Other than having sex, Hannah and Joshua marvel at how nice his place is, eat steak and play topless ping-pong. We learn that Joshua is 42, a doctor, newly separated from his wife, and not much more. Later Hannah accuses him of not being open with her, but she doesn’t give him much of a chance. As with all the men we’ve seen Hannah be with so far, she likes the idea of Joshua more than she likes him, and we get the feeling she’s with him for future writing material.

Regardless, he is kind and nurturing towards her, even bordering on fatherly when he asks her, “What is it, sweetie?” as she cries. His life is so different from hers, and it is one that she didn’t know she might want or need until she got this 2-day crash course. It’s nice to see Hannah realize new parts of herself in this unfamiliar territory.

While Hannah is showering, she excessively cranks up the steam by pushing some buttons (yes, his giant shower has this option), and faints as a result. Joshua comes to her rescue and after he’s gotten her out of the shower and safely onto his bed, he gently rubs her forehead while he tells her “next time, call me.” I think this “next time” throws Hannah. That he would, with no mockery, suggest a future between them where there could be another circumstance where she faints in his bathroom, that he could save her again, and that she may in fact want these things. It stirs something deep inside of her, and she becomes overwhelmed with emotion.

Hannah realizes that though she’s always felt she was so different and marched to the beat of her own drummer, that maybe deep down the things she desires are actually the same things everyone else wants. Things she’s always thought of as clichéd, common, ordinary. Things like stability, kindness, safety, and love. She’s so torn between what she always thought she wanted and what she’s discovering she may actually need when she tells Joshua “Please don’t tell anyone about this, but I wanna be happy.” It’s heartbreaking she’s ashamed of her earnest desire for happiness.

The idea that living a happy life could be more important than a memorable one is a new concept to her. She made a promise to herself “such a long time ago” to experience anything and everything she could. Even if it meant requesting a truly degrading act and sacrificing herself, it was all in honor of her pursuit to feel it all. “Something is broken inside of me,” she says, as her voice too breaks. She’s making this realization as the words are coming out of her mouth.

The scene is great, and though it’s about her realizing she wants to change, her dialogue is so very much the Hannah we are familiar with. Self-aware and selfish, unabashedly honest, quick-witted, raw. It will be interesting to see if as a result of her epiphany,  Hannah will change her future choices.

Joshua however, does not have the invested interest loyal Girls fans have for Hannah, and the longer she speaks these heavy, non-flattering truths, the more he physically and mentally pulls away from her. He tells her he wants her to stay the night but it’s fairly clear he doesn’t, and in the morning he’s gone.

This week we saw Hannah load her unwanted garbage on Joshua, both literally and emotionally, and in the closing scene she fittingly takes out Joshua’s trash before leaving his place to return to hers. She walks away from this stable, polished, grown-up fantasy and back to the struggle of her messy, broke, 20-something reality. A beautifully shot and scored final scene to end a really special episode.

Read last week’s recap of Girls here.

-Julie Gobeil

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