Girls Recap: “Latching” – Series Finale


The series finale of Girls features a pants-less teen, Allison Williams as a British flight attendant, a pair of aggressive mom jeans, and a Riz Ahmed lookalike baby.

The series finale of Girls could have been a pilot for an entirely new show. Girls itself was so invested in New York City that the act of removing the characters from that place in itself made it feel a bit foreign. But the whole point of “Latching” is the new chapter that Hannah is beginning with her child. And, we soon realize, with Marnie.

The first shot of the finale mimics one of the first shots in the pilot. Marnie and Hannah are sleeping together in the same bed, legs intertwined. But it surprises Hannah when she wakes up — she wasn’t expecting her. Marnie tells her she wants to stay and help her raise the baby. But it’s the way that Marnie talks about this that is troubling — and so true to their characters. After running down the laundry list of people who dipped out of Hannah’s life, Marnie crows, “I won. I’m your best friend. I love you the most.”

It’s a telling moment for Marnie. This character has always been motivated by what other people think of her. She has always needed to be loved. At this moment in her life, living with her mom in New Jersey, she is not only directionless, but she’s lost all the people who were supposed to give her that attention and affection. Desi is gone. Ray is gone. Charlie is long gone. Marnie’s need for other people’s love has no object anymore.

And that’s why, five months later, Marnie ends up excelling with baby Grover (Hannah apparently co-signed Paul-Louis’s unfortunate name choice). The baby loves her unconditionally, just like he loves everyone. Because he’s a baby. He has to. And, if Marnie is so indispensable to Hannah, then Hannah has to love her too, right? In some ways, it’s the perfect situation for Marnie.

Episode 62 (season 6, episode 10/series finale), debut 4/16/17: Allison Williams.

photo: Mark Schafer/HBO

But of course, Hannah isn’t 100% happy with the situation. She accepts Marnie’s help, both initially and throughout the episode, even though it’s clear that it’s not working out well. But Hannah is convinced that Grover hates her. He won’t latch, which Hannah’s mom tells her should be fine. It’s how Hannah was as a baby. But Hannah wants him to be better than her.

Ultimately, Hannah’s acceptance of Marnie into her single motherhood stems from the deep-seated fear that she really can’t do it by herself. Marnie has read all the books, Marnie knows how to swaddle. Grover likes Marnie’s singing and when Marnie holds him. But Marnie can’t breastfeed him — only Hannah can do that. And if he rejects her, Hannah feels (knows, in her mind) that it’s her fault. She wants to bond with him, but she ends up just resenting him for not latching.

When Hannah’s mother Loreen shows up, she provides a stunning wake-up call and a whiplash-inducing side-by-side comparison. Jenni Konner’s direction really shines in their argument scene, in which Lena Dunham and Becky Ann Baker move throughout the old country house yelling at each other. But Loreen’s dialogue really punches the entire arc of the series. When Hannah complains about being in emotional pain, Loreen counters,

"“You know who else is in emotional pain? F***ing everyone! For their whole lives!”"

The microcosm of the mother-daughter relationship here is such an interesting point that we haven’t seen much in the series. We have seen various moments of Hannah’s relationship with her mom, but not nearly as much as with her friends. But now that most of those friends and lovers have gone by the wayside, Loreen is still here. She has to be. And that’s part of the projection we have for Hannah. No matter what (or who) Grover goes through, Hannah will still be there for him when they’re gone.

I think that’s part of what Hannah realizes when she angrily storms out of the house and runs into a pants-less teenager. Hannah worries that the girl, who is running away and screaming, is in serious trouble. She even gives her the jeans off her body. But then the girl finally discloses what’s wrong; her mother told her to finish her homework before she went to see her boyfriend. And Hannah goes ballistic.

"“She has a million trillion things she’d rather be doing…but she stays and tells you to do your homework.”"

It’s funny, first, because in this moment, you really see Loreen in Hannah. It’s a line that her mother could have, and possibly has, said to her. But also, it’s in this moment that you see Hannah’s potential as a mother. She describes the teenager’s mother, who loves her even if it means “being emotionally abused by a brat day in and day out.” And maybe that’s when she really feels like she can do it. Because she already feels emotionally abused by Grover and she still wants what’s best for him. She still wants to breastfeed him and she still wants to stay, for his whole life.

Episode 62 (season 6, episode 10/series finale), debut 4/16/17: Lena Dunham.

photo: Mark Schafer/HBO

So when Hannah returns home and goes to breastfeed Grover, she knows that she’s capable as a mom. Because a mom’s whole job is to stay and love her child and do her best. And she already does that. Which is why the very end is so powerful. When Grover finally latches, Hannah sings to him. But him finally accepting what she’s giving him is not the point. The point is that she keeps trying to give it. Even when it causes her pain. Even when he makes her feel rejected in the way that Adam used to. Because for once, someone else’s wellbeing is worth Hannah’s pain.

People and thinkpieces have been wondering whether Hannah’s pregnancy storyline is a way of trying to shove her into true adulthood. But it’s not the pregnancy, and it’s not the act of having the baby. It’s the fact that Hannah, who has never not been selfish, loves someone else more than herself. It’s that Hannah wants to give Grover everything, even if it ruins her and what she wants. Just like the teenager’s mom, Hannah has other stuff she’d want to do. She would like to travel and write and be famous. She probably would like a man to love her. But every one of those things pale in comparison to her child.

Up until this point, all the girls of Girls have tried to be adults by attempting to hit the milestones. Shoshanna thought having an exciting, successful job would do it. Hannah thought writing for the Times would do it. Adam thought raising a baby would make him a grown-up. Jessa thought marrying Thomas John would make her a grown-up. And Marnie thought marrying Desi would make her a grown-up.

Next: Girls Recap: “Goodbye Tour” – Season 6, Episode 9

Love, marriage, success, money, and yes, children are all symbols of what adulthood is. But Grover isn’t a symbol to Hannah. He’s not a way for her to prove herself. He’s a little person, whom she loves beyond anything she ever expected. More than she loved Fran. More than she ever loved Adam. More than she loves herself, and her friends, and her dreams, and her adventures, and New York. More than everything. And giving of yourself is what being a grown-up looks like.