girlsseason2ep1.jpgA season premiere should open doors, and last night's return of HBO's hit Girls, titled "It's About Time," did just that. It opens with Lena Dunham's character, Hannah, spooning with her now-gay-ex Elijah, who has moved in. Minutes later, we find her in the arms of a new love interest, Sandy, played by Donald Glover, who encourages her to tell former-flame Adam about their relationship. The issue: Adam, who is still healing from his bus accident at the end of last season, has convinced guilt-ridden Hannah to tend to him 'round the clock. It's all very shameless, manipulative and typically Adam (one word: bedpan). But sometime between the two seasons, Hannah grew a pair. Armed with a bit of confidence, she (sort of) puts her foot down and tells Adam she never wants to see him again. I'm not sure if I buy it, but at least she's finally getting the hang of standing up for herself. All adventurous women must.

Meanwhile, Marnie (Allison Williams), has become intolerable. With no boyfriend, no job and no roommate, she's a tornado of self-obsession, judging and whining about all who stand in her path. The only one spared is her mopey ex Charlie, who somehow seems even more mopey with his new girlfriend (played by Dunham's real life pal Audrey Gelman, press secretary to Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer). Eventually, Marnie shows up at his door, saying that she "just needs to sleep next to someone." Groan. Here's hoping Booth Jonathan screws her out of her pity party, especially since her romp with possibly-bisexual Elijah earlier in the episode was a heinous failure.

Shoshanna (Zosia Manet) steals the episode. She remains the most high-strung character of the bunch, but her frenzied rants are completely earnest. You can totally tell she's obsessed with Ray, even though she's totally saying she's not. ("Like, I am woman, hear me roar.") We don't find out exactly what went down between them, but here's a guess: After Ray took her virginity, she expected a relationship and he pumped the breaks. So they play cat and mouse at Hannah and Elijah's party until they wind up making out in the bedroom -- and Ray obviously wanted it the whole time.

We only get a few seconds with Jessa (Jemima Kirke), whose story line was left the most open-ended at the end of last season when she spontaneously married Thomas John. Now, they're back from their honeymoon and (seemingly) madly in love, except she doesn't know his address. Whatever. I don't care how giddy they seem, I don't see this lasting. It's only a matter of time before she gets bored and becomes a lesbian or a nun or... something. (PS: Kirke not showing up for last night's Golden Globes, where Dunham was awarded Best Actress in a Comedy Series and the show won Best TV comedy, is so Jessa.)

Collectively, all four girls start season two in drastically different romantic circumstances than when we first met them (Marnie, the monogamist, is now single; non-commital Jessa has committed etc.) and such changing roles and dynamics are bound to affect their friendships. Though relationships and guys were barely alluded to, the tension between Hannah and Marnie during the party scene suggests that we're not finished exploring Marnie's and Hannah's adjustments to their new roles with respect to one another. We first glimpsed these changes when Marnie and Charlie broke up last season and -- for a little while at least -- Hannah and Adam seemed to have a functional relationship, thereby inverting the friends' previous romantic statuses and identities. And now those changes are even more pronounced. As much as she is capable of doing, Hannah seems like she's got her shit together (for now). Marnie, meanwhile, realizes that -- likely for the first time in her life -- she has fewer boxes checked than Hannah: no job, no relationship and no (stable) living situation. It will be interesting to watch how Marnie continues to handle this power shift and how long it takes for her to land on her feet. It will also be interesting to see what kind of effect a potential relationship between Ray and Shoshonna (along with Jessa's marriage to Thomas-John) has on the foursome's dynamic and their evaluations of themselves -- and the roles they play -- within the group.

These changes aside, it's clear the girls have remained the same in other respects. They still self-obsess and then point fingers at the self-obsessed. They draw moral boundaries and then dance dangerously close to the edge, occasionally blowing right off the cliff for the story (Jessa) or the experience (Hannah). Ever-suspended in a state of identity crisis, they experiment with dignity and dogma until something clicks. Oh, and drugs. Based on the trailer for the rest of this season, here is my one prediction for season two: Hannah, in an attempt to think less and live more, hits up a warehouse rave and dabbles in MDMA. It's about time.

Photo: Jessica Miglio/HBO

Comments...