Episode 4 of the second season of Girls revolves around one major theme: mistakes. The characters, tortured by the consequences of their poor judgement, struggle to determine where they stand with each other and, even more importantly, with themselves. There are moments when their lack of self-assuredness feels a bit overblown (if you wanted to scream at Marnie to stop whining, you weren't alone) but for the most part, the vulnerability is fun to watch.
The episode is centered around two dinner parties, neither of which go well. On one side of town, Hannah hosts dinner at her place after kicking Elijah out (please, oh please, let this not be the end of his character) to celebrate JazzHate publishing her first story. Charlie and Audrey show up first and seem, for all intents and purposes, happy. But when Marnie arrives, things get awkward fast. Hannah admits she's surprised Marnie would come given their recent fight, but refuses to let either party leave. I mean, she's making organic pad thai. Cue the bitchy small talk:
Audrey: So what are you up to Marnie, I heard you were looking for a job?
Marnie: Oh, no actually I've been hosting at the Wedgebrook Club.
Audrey: Oh so you're hosting like a slam poetry night or like an open-mic night type thing?
Marnie: I'm a hostess.
Audrey: Oh, so when people come to the restaurant, you like show them where their table is. Got it.
Ray and Shoshanna arrive, which cools the air for a brief moment, but things get ugly over dinner. Audrey confronts Marnie about why she insists on being around all the time and calls her a "Stepford psycho." It comes out that she knows Marnie showed up at Charlie's apartment asking to sleep in his bed, but Marnie is too selfish to feel bad ("Well he fucking let me in"). Finally, Audrey asks Hannah to pick which one of them should leave but Hannah nervously deflects to Charlie, sending Marnie to the roof in a hissy fit. Charlie follows, of course, because he's the same sucker he was in season one.
The scene that follows made me want to throw up -- not because it wasn't believable, but because Marnie and Charlie might be the two most desperate characters on this earth. First, Charlie tells Marnie that Audrey is only combative because she's threatened by what they had. Then Marnie, scrounging for compliments, whines about how there's no way Audrey could be intimidated by her because she's a hostess and has no direction and wah, wah, wah. (This is the same girl that smugly bragged about how she liked being around "ambitious" people.) Unsurprisingly, Charlie falls for it. Showering her with sappy compliments, he leans in to kiss her only to have her confess that she's been dating Booth Jonathan, breaking Charlie's heart all over again. This was, of course, her plan all along.
Downstairs, it comes out that Ray has been temporarily living with Shoshanna, and Shoshanna hasn't even really noticed. She's upset, but her reasoning is sort of adorable: "I would just like to have been informed of that fact so that I could have, you know, bought some new sheets or called my aunt for advice about what it's like to live with someone for the first time!" At the subway, Shoshanna admits she's disappointed in Ray, telling him he should have more passions and interests. The fact is, Shoshanna tends to view life like a Nora Ephron movie (or another girly NYC series we once knew). In her eyes, there are strict rules for engagement and high expectations. Ray is no Mr. Big: he's 33 and living out of his car. But strangely, she loves him anyway. And he loves her, too. And they both say it. And Girls viewers everywhere squeal because frankly, it's cute, but also it's nice to see one couple on this show legitimately care about one another instead of just wallowing in self-reflection. All hail Ray and Shoshanna.
Meanwhile, Jessa and Thomas-John have dinner with Thomas-John's parents. Off the bat, you know this is going to be good. It's the first time Jessa is meeting them and, well, what follows is gruesome. They begin by discussing Jessa's travels, but her in-laws not-so-subtly pry to find out why there hasn't been any mention of her career. Thomas-John explains that she's an artist and will probably end up in graphic design, but one look at Jessa tells you they've never had that conversation. In fact, you get the sense that everyone (Thomas included) is embarrassed by Jessa's lack of ambition, which, in turn, makes her peeved.
My guess would be that Jessa is used to people fawning over her free-spiritedness because until now, it's been somewhat enviable. But at 25, it's become embarrassing. Spitefully, she cranks up her already heedless personality to drive home the fact that that she doesn't give a shit what people think about her. (Yes, Jessa, you're wearing head-to-toe mesh, we get it.) Taking every opportunity to get under their white bread skin, she casually reveals that she went to rehab for heroin and that she doesn't believe in God. The look in her mother-in-law's judgmental eyes is priceless.
When Thomas-John and Jessa get back to their apartment, the break-up scene (or I guess, divorce scene) I've been waiting for finally arrives. Jessa tries to defend her frivolous lifestyle and calls him out on being boring. Thomas-John rises to the occasion and points out that she isn't so disgusted when she's spending his money (and that, yes, money is clearly a factor). But in Jessa's world, money is only something dirtbags and squares discuss, so she lets him have it. "I'm embarrassed when we walk down the street because you're so fucking average," she tells him. "I tell my friends you were a test tube baby just so you have a little edge."
It's a nasty scene, but we saw this coming. Thomas-John is freakishly insecure (evidenced by the fact that he likes hookers "because they respect me" -- um, gross) and Jessa can barely commit to wearing underwear, let alone being married. This match was doomed from the start. However, I'd argue that it happened for a reason. Underneath Jessa's cool exterior, there's a panic ensuing. She has no career, few talents, little work ethic, un-invested friends and a rocky home life, or so it sounds. Thomas-John may have been a wretched person, but at least he solved a few of her shortcomings. After this divorce, she'll be back at square one (and probably a few paces behind her more straight-laced friends) with only the $11,500 she scored from Thomas-John to lean on. Oh, how the mighty fall.
After the blow-up, Jessa returns to Hannah's in tears. They sit naked in the tub and Hannah can tell it's over with Thomas-John. She lets Jessa cry and watches as she blows her nose into the water. It is truly disgusting, as Hannah thankfully points out, but am I the only one who hasn't been sharing tubs with my friends? Whatever happened to eating Ben and Jerry's in pajamas? Finally, Jessa starts to crack up and we get the sense that she'll rebound from this eventually. Is Laird still around? Something tells me they're operating on the same wavelength.
A preemptive note for episode 5: Now that Elijah's out of the picture, it would be nauseatingly convenient if Jessa moved in with Hannah. Should this happen, everyone who has ever had to list a room on Craigslist should protest because that is too good to be true.