News__ GIRLS: SEASON 2, EPISODE 9

March 11, 2013 | By

Recapping this Girls episode on all fours. Jk, totally on my couch on zero fours.

The penultimate episode of Girls was twisted and quick -- just the way a penultimate episode should be. Everything is building up to next week's finale and this week's "On All Fours" keeps us on our toes. It comes at us from behind. It's scary and we don't know if we like it. I pictured Lena Dunham whispering Adam's lines in my ear, "I want to hit the walls with you."

I want to make light of this episode. I want to laugh at Hannah in the hospital with no pants and a q-tip in her ear. I want to make fun of Marnie singing, "You could be my white Kate Moss tonight." I want to write a million similes for Shoshanna's hair. From Ray's peace sign bathrobe to Hannah's butt cheek splinter, "On All Fours" was full of trademark Girls goofy moments.

The problem is, none of those goofy moments felt very goofy. They weren't light or funny. Almost every beat of "On All Fours" was tinted with anxiety and unease. Even the colors were uncomfortable. Hannah's scenes were monochromatically beige and over two-thirds of the episode takes place at night. When Adam starts drinking, his scenes are cast with a Twin Peaks style red and black. The cinematography feels cramped and intrusive full of close-ups and over the shoulder shots. We rarely see characters in conversation together. We see one, then we see the other.

There's room to breathe during Charlie's party. The camera pans around Marnie singing and we see the faces of Forbid's employees. When they have sex in his office, she says, "Are people going to see us?" and he replies, "Who gives a fuck." We see them together, lit by the computer glow. Those computers helped him grow a pair of balls and now he's going to fuck in front of them.

That scene was incredibly hot. It's a strange thing to unpack because Charlie doesn't reveal a lot. His behavior isn't illuminated by any facial expressions. He used to be a sad puppy dog but now he's a bearded robot.

On the rooftop, during Hannah's dinner party, he tried to kiss her and it didn't go down too well. Marnie had Booth and she had all the power. When Charlie became successful, Marnie showed up at his office to scout out the situation. He wasn't overly welcoming and in this episode, he no-showed for a lunch date.

It seemed safe to assume that he was over this gold digging chick. She sings a cover of Kanye West's "Stronger" and he's thoroughly embarrassed. It was during a concerned, yet condescending reprimand over her performance "treat" that he goes in for another smooch. This time, it works.

The power play between Charlie and Marnie makes the scene hot and uncomfortable at the same time. The theme of power throughout "On All Fours" contributes to its uneasy vibe.

Hannah can't control herself which translates into not taking care of herself. She runs into Adam and he offers dominantly caring words. He's shaken by the control this dynamic has on him and he begins to drink for the first time since he was a teenager. The alcohol controls him, he attempts to control Natalia and that doesn't go according to plan -- if there even was a plan.

The dynamic between Hannah and Adam reminded me of the movie Secretary, wherein a boss helps his secretary stop self-harming by spanking her over his desk. Maggie Gyllenhaal crawling across the floor echoes Shiri Appleby's crawl, albeit with less Purell cravings. Is it a coincidence that Charlie and Marnie have sex on his desk?

In a lesser expression of the same idea, Ray begins the episode sick and unknowingly cuckolded by a doorman. Ray also makes a comment about Charlie's party offerings as the "people's food." More power exchanges that cast a strange shadow across scenes that should be funny.

The sex scene between Marnie and Charlie also reminded me of this article Mandy Stadt wrote for xoJane. I'm not a regular reader, but I read that post in October and have been thinking about this part ever since: "I fell into tears, and then he pulled me closer and I kissed him. He had gotten what he wanted. He had broken me. Beware the man who gets a hard-on when you cry."

Get spanked, get choked, get slapped -- you do your thing, whatever that might be, but beware people who want to break you. When Marnie broke up with Charlie, she broke him. Now he's trying to break her, although I'm not convinced he succeeded in this episode. He told her she was manic and had to get her shit together but she didn't budge. She said, "Sometimes being really good, all the time, feels really bad."

I hope she's strong enough to withstand Charlie completely dismissing her and dating that blonde graphic designer with a spiky headband, because that's what I predict is going to happen.

What do you think? I want to know so badly.

Read last week's recap here.

--Jess Bloom

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