'On All Fours' Sets The Stage For Dramatic Season Finale
With only one episode of Girls left this season, "On All Fours" left us with plenty of cliffhangers to ponder as the characters continue to flail and look for some sense of direction. In last week’s episode, “It’s Back,” they seemed particularly lost and inconsistent in their actions., but in "On All Fours,” the series finds its way back to at least some sense of continuity and puts the pieces together for what should be an exciting season finale.
From Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) very first scene it’s clear that her OCD is now dominating her life. It certainly doesn’t help her anxiety when her editor tells her he doesn’t like the manuscript she’s turned in for her upcoming book because it’s too focused on friendship and not enough on sex (a metaphor for Girls itself as of late?). The OCD still seems very out of nowhere in the context of the series, however, what’s really commendable is that Dunham is presenting a darker side of the disorder than what is usually seen on television. Hannah’s struggle is painful to watch, and even more so when she runs into Adam (Adam Driver) on the street having a great time at a party.
Adam is moving forward with Natalia (Shiri Appleby), and at first things are going great. She seems like a refreshing step above the struggling main characters of the series and more of a kind, dependable adult. She knows who she is and what she wants in life, which is illustrated when she tells Adam exactly how she likes sex when they first sleep together (he does it her way instead of the much rougher sexual behavior we usually see from him). She starts to call him her boyfriend and takes him to an engagement party with her oldest friends. As Hannah’s reaction to this demonstrates, this is a way more “grown up” activity than what he is used to. Adam, the recovering alcoholic that he is, drinks at the party, and when he takes Natalia back to his place things start to get uncomfortable. It could’ve been the booze, it could’ve been the supposed sex addiction he sometimes alludes to, or it could’ve just been Adam showing his true bedroom colors, but what ensues is a sex scene that is incredibly difficult to watch. While Hannah may have accommodated, if not really enjoyed, Adam’s need for dominance, Natalia wants nothing of it. When that side of him comes out anyway, it’s degrading, and the pained look on Natalia’s face says it all. The scene is very graphic, and while what it shows on camera is nothing new for cable television, it’s still a rarity for it to be depicted in such a negative, empty light.
Meanwhile, Marnie (Allison Williams), Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) show up at Charlie’s (Christopher Abbott) office party like humiliating ghosts from his past, wide-eyed at his swanky new “adult” life. Before the party, we learn that Marnie has started chasing her songwriting dream, and she stops at Charlie’s office earlier that day for a lunch that he totally forgets about. Shoshanna acts up around Ray, and when they arrive at the party she starts flirting with other guys there – including Charlie.
Marnie attempts to “launch” her singing career by giving a surprise performance at the party. Her rendition of a Kanye West song is painfully awkward to watch and definitely sinks Marnie to an even lower point in her messy quarter-life crisis than before. Hey, at least she still managed to match her eye shadow and nail polish to her dress – there’s still a little bit of that Type A Marnie left in there. Charlie pulls Marnie into a back room and tries to shake her out of floundering, telling her that he’s never seen her as such a mess. Then – drum roll, please – they hook up right there at the party. Finally. Some fans will be totally disappointed in seeing the two of them together in any capacity, but I can bet that some viewers (this writer included) have been hoping they’d reconnect for a long time!
This episode brings a little more continuity back to the series. Adam’s darker side makes an appearance, and while that’s hard to watch, it allows for some consistency in his character and prevents a sudden change into a totally typical, well-rounded guy. And Hannah’s OCD being shown in a more painful light makes it seem like less of a little quirk brought in by the writers out of nowhere.
What’s most startling in this episode is just how isolated each character is, even though it's been somewhat of a running theme through the series. Hannah has nobody to take her to the hospital, Adam alienates the one person he thought he was connecting with, and Shoshanna and Ray are on completely different planes. As for Marnie, well, she’s a train wreck. They are islands, and while they sometimes lean on each other, they are mostly finding their way alone. The second season particularly emphasizes this, with much more focus on the girls’ floundering than in the past.
So what have we learned this week? Marnie’s completely lost and may want Charlie back (but it’s questionable whether he’d feel the same way), Hannah’s drowning in her disorder on her own, Adam is alone again, and Shoshanna and Ray are barely keeping it together. Oh yeah, and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is nowhere to be found: the perfect storm for an excellent season finale next week.