This week’s episode of Girls features a song from Smash, Wild Bill Hickok’s locket, Riz Ahmed on the phone, and the return of Dill.
I so enjoyed this week having the focus of this episode on Elijah. He’s been a very underutilized supporting character, which I get. You want Girls to be about the girls. But Andrew Rannells is such a talent that I’m so glad he got a chance to shine in this episode. Let’s get to the details.
After a shining moment running lines with a co-worker, Elijah decides to try his hand at acting – again. We learn that before we met him, he auditioned a lot, but was frustrated at being laughed at. And I can see why. Elijah has always been one of those people who has a much thinner skin than he lets on. In fact, when Dill shows up just before he leaves, he’s so shaken that he almost bails on his audition for White Men Can’t Jump: The Musical. (Side note: the Girls writers are genius. Nothing would have been a better fake musical adaptation).
Episode 58 (season 6, episode 7), debut 3/26/17: Andrew Rannells.
photo: Craig Blankenhorn
But on the stairwell he meets Athena Dante, guardian angel and scene-stealer extraordinaire. Seriously, the character is so endlessly charming and hilarious that I have to shout out the newcomer who played her, Latisha Di Venuto. Remember her name, folks! Anyway, Athena is hyper-confident and guides a scared Elijah through the audition. He nails the first round, singing “Let Me Be Your Star” from Smash, the ill-fated musical TV show about a Marilyn Monroe musical. (Another genius choice – the sarcastic idolatry of Smash is a gigantic theatre-twitter inside joke). His monologue appears to go well. And his dancing is good – until they bring in the basketball props.
Throughout, the casting team does exactly the kinds of things Elijah lamented before. They snack on chips, show each other memes on their phones, and talk to each other during the audition. As an actress myself, it’s so infuriating to see that you’re not even being paid attention to. And it sounds like old Elijah would have let that get him down. But after the audition, he asserts to Athena that he did a great job, and that he might get cast despite his lack of dance ability. She encourages it – “That’s how you gotta be, man!”
All in all, the storyline, which I thought would be a contrived way to solve Elijah’s problems, comes off as heartening. All we’ve seen of Elijah, in the years we’ve known him, is his reckless lifestyle. We’ve seen all the drugs and the debauchery. We’ve seen him get too attached to guys. But we’ve never seen him really care about something like this. We’ve never seen him go after a dream in earnest sincerity. It’s nice to see that even the most chaotic-neutral characters can somehow carve out a direction for themselves. And it’s good for him. He gets to the next round of auditions! And he even stands up to Dill when he gets home – before sleeping with him.
Episode 58 (season 6, episode 7), debut 3/26/17: Latisha Di Venuto, Andrew Rannells.
photo: Craig Blankenhorn
Hannah plays second fiddle in this episode, babysitting Dill while Elijah is at his audition. Dill shows up at their apartment to escape the press, who have been trailing him relentlessly after discovering that he tried to buy a white baby to adopt. When Hannah confides in Dill about contacting Paul-Louis, he insists that a baby needs a father. His left, and now he’s broken.
Hannah doesn’t seem to buy it, of course. She maintains that she doesn’t even really want Paul-Louis in the child’s life. But when she gets a phone call from him, she breaks the news. And it quickly becomes clear that he doesn’t want any part of the child’s life anyway. Hannah’s always said that’s what she hoped for and wanted. But at the end of the conversation, she finds herself crying and emotional. “I wanted it to be easy and it was easy,” she says. “I guess it’s just sad how easy it was.”
It’s as if Paul-Louis’s rejection of her child affects Hannah’s feeling about her situation. Before, when she was in control, she wanted to be the cool, single mom doing everything by herself. But if Paul-Louis had offered to be part of the child’s life, it would have served as an affirmation. You are doing the right thing, and you don’t have to do it alone. Doing it alone, however, is no longer Hannah’s choice, but a necessity based on someone else’s rejection of her child. And that hit Hannah harder than she may have anticipated.
The storyline is paired with Dill’s despair at his own baby scandal, and there’s something icky in that. Dill starts out comforting Hannah, but then makes it about himself and forces her to comfort him. It’s eyeroll-inducing, when Hannah’s misery is based on her alone-ness but Dill’s is entirely a result of his own horrible choices. But when they dissolve into each other, sobbing, it’s almost like that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they each had someone who knew, sort of, what they were going through.
Episode 58 (season 6, episode 7), debut 3/26/17: Lena Dunham, Corey Stoll.
photo: Mark Schafer
In a shocking turn, Marnie finally checks her ego in this episode. She comes home from a run to find that she’s being evicted. She proceeds to find everyone to blame. Desi, for not paying rent (though he doesn’t live there anymore). Her mom, for not giving her a loan. She goes to the pawnshop to sell the gold and diamond jewelry her parents gave her. But she learns quickly that they’re fake; her mom and dad both lied to her.
She goes into a fit of rage at being lied to, but is unexpectedly cut down by the pawnshop owner. He tells her that no one comes to sell their jewelry because they did nothing wrong. He implores her to stop blaming everyone around her, and even tells her, “The liar is you.”
This is a huge, intense moment for Marnie. Because he’s right. She’s been lying to herself this whole time. She’s been shirking responsibility ever since her Charlie days, when she blamed Hannah for their breakup. Her friends only confront her about it out of anger, which is easy for Marnie to dismiss. She’s been told before. But for some reason, and maybe it’s because she’s truly at rock bottom, this is the time that it really sinks in.
She closes out the episode packing up her stuff to move in with her mom. After last episode’s “Michaels Sisters” debacle, I’m sure that to Marnie it’s the most horrifying thing she could do. But it speaks to the growth in this episode that she’s no longer trying to blame her way out of it. She leaves a message on Desi’s phone: “You don’t owe me anything, and I’m really sorry that I thought you did.”
What a major, major step. It looks like there’s hope for this one after all.
Best Girl: Can I give this one to Athena Dante? Athena Dante.
Most Improved: Marnie. I don’t know what it was about the pawnshop guy, but it made a huge difference.
Best Line: “Good dick is a prison” – Athena Dante, queen of my heart