1. It sucks to realize your loved ones are actually kinda shitty people
This episode essentially serves to remove Hannah from her constantly "in the moment," "adult" environment of work, friends and relationships and to place her back into her "bigger picture" familial context. It also serves as a vehicle for Hannah to realize how flawed (and human) the authority figures are in her life. After getting a call from her mother that her grandma Flo is on the verge of dying, Hannah leaves the city and goes to visit her in the hospital. As she's packing for the trip, she tells Adam how loving her grandmother was ("she always cut out the 'Cathy' cartoons for me and mailed them on Fridays") and seeing Hannah and Flo (excellently played by Nebraska's June Squibb) interact in the hospital, we're inclined to believe that assessment. That's why it's all the more surprising -- both for the audience and for Hannah -- when, one scene later, Loreen tells Hannah about what an awful mother Flo was to her and her sisters. Hannah has to suddenly reassess her perceptions of her grandmother -- and we see this happen again with her mother, her aunts, and her cousin (more on that later). While adulthood opens your eyes to a lot of things, one of the most jarring is the moment you first realize your parents -- or grandparents -- are, like most people, incredibly imperfect and prone to errors of judgment and behavior. These realizations later in life can often feel more significant than the disagreements between parents and teens, when adolescent rebellion often has more to do with a parents' rules than their fundamental values.
2. Did anyone else think Rebecca was like a 'Bizarro World' version of Shosh?
Rebecca's mile-a-minute speech patterns, hyper-analytical mind and social cluelessness really reminded me of Shosh but if Shosh had a darker edge. #JustSayin
3. Hannah's been so caught up in the present that she realizes she has no idea what she wants out of her relationship with Adam in the long term
As a striving young adult in a city like New York, there are so many day-to-day low-level stressors, activities, opportunities, parties that it practically takes all of your mental bandwidth to make it through the present -- let alone plan for the future. I (and I'm guessing I'm hardly alone here) often feel like the only time I can sit down and make important Life Decisions is when I'm out of the city and free of its constant distractions. As I touched on earlier, this episode was fun to watch (as was the episode in season one in which Hannah returns to Michigan) because by pulling Hannah out of her 'twentysomething-in-New York bubble,' we see her begin to consider the bigger picture. And this includes marriage. Initially flabbergasted that her mother would suggest she pretend an engagement with Adam, Hannah begins to consider the possibility that this might be something she wants. And it's understandable that she later feels confused and a little bummed when she talks to Adam about it. Though she's unsure about what she wants from their relationship, she can't help feeling disappointed by Adam's shared hesitancy.
4. That scene with Loreen and the aunts dividing up Flo's OxyContin made me very uncomfortable
Uh-oh, will we next see Loreen and Tad descending into pill addiction?
5. Actually, that whole scene had some unsettling undertones
On the one hand, it was fun to watch three middle-aged women revert back to old sibling rivalries and arguments but on the other, it was uncomfortable to watch Margot and Loreen use their daughters as proxies in their own competitive one-upmanship. Beyond that, it was also interesting -- and disconcerting -- to see that their main source of rivalry in that moment centered on their daughters' relationship statuses rather than their careers (or any other markers). Just as Hannah expressed shock and indignation over her mother's request that she lie to Flo about being engaged to Adam, there is something very retrograde -- yet extremely realistic -- about watching these two women who are clearly very, very proud of their daughters' career achievements act like a boyfriend (or husband) is the only thing that matters. This sentiment gets echoed later on during the fight in the hospital when Loreen's main source of ammunition against her two sisters is the fact that she's the only one who's had a stable and intact marriage. As Loreen admits to Hannah, she's actually not that progressive and, despite Margot's DGAF attitude and Sissy's Chico's sale rack wardrobe, neither are they.
6. Rebecca and Hannah's relationship was spot on
I thought Hannah and Rebecca's cousinly vibes were very accurate. The tension between their inherent suspicion of one another and their desire to do what they're "supposed to do" in this situation (spend time together and bond over their grandmother) was fun to watch. Also, much like the rest of the episode, Hannah's assumptions about her family get proven wrong yet again when she learns that not only is Rebecca not as straight-edge as she thought but she's also in a polyamorous relationship.
7. Reality check: Hannah would most definitely be drinking a Bud Heavy in that bar
While I can sort of believe that a random suburban/small-town bar *might* serve Brooklyn Lager, I think the producers should have had a little bit more fun with this "I'm not in Greenpoint anymore" moment and had her drinking something more mass appeal.
8. Aww Adam
Adam really steps it up this episode, what with him borrowing Desi's motorcycle so he can rush to Hannah's side when she tells him she got in a car crash and lying to Flo that the two of them are engaged. Speaking of that phony engagement, now that marriage has been brought up, how will Adam behave once Flo's in the ground? Will we get to see Hannah and Adam discuss marriage further? Do we even want to see them do that? Despite his history of douche-y behavior, Adam's always seemed better equipped than Hannah to handle commitment (remember season one when Adam tells her "when I commit, I fucking commit" and Hannah argues that she's "the most scared" person ever?). But at the same time, he's still a lone wolf and non-conformist. And, as chill as Hannah sometimes pretends to be around Adam, as she tells an editor, she's still from the Midwest and can't totally shake off some of the traditional values with which she was raised. She is her mother's daughter, whether she wants to admit it or not. I hope we get to see this play out before the season is over but I also hope that the two don't get engaged...yet. As Hannah says, she doesn't want to get married until she "can have a swimming pool in my living room." You don't have to abandon that goal yet, Hannah.
9. Flo's relationship advice was intense
Though at its core Flo's advice to Hannah was on point, the delivery gave us a little shudder ("you'll want him to die the most vile death possible"). Though we know nothing about Hannah's grandfather, Flo's manner suggested she was projecting her own experiences and feelings about marriage onto her granddaughter. And, speaking of projecting...
10. Loreen's transformed into a very unsympathetic character
Though she thinks she has her daughter's best interests at heart, Loreen's plea that Hannah "keep her options open" because Adam is "an odd man" was way harsh -- especially, as Hannah points out, after all that he did for the family that day. Throughout Loreen's monologue about what it'll be like to be married to an odd man whom you have to constantly "socialize" and "make the world a more friendly place," I kept wondering to what extent she was referring to her own marriage. Tad is a little "outré" (at least by East Lansing, Michigan standards): he wears an earring and fedoras and gives off some "not-so-heterosexual" vibes to a few people (or at least Elijah). And, by the way they belittle him during their fight ("he has a body like a gymnast and a brain like a toy poodle), it seems like Loreen's sisters don't think highly of him. Is there more to Tad and Loreen's marriage that we don't know about? Is Loreen burnt out from trying to lead a conventional, Midwestern life with an unconventional man and thinks her daughter might fall into the same trap? Either way, that scene made us like Loreen less -- couldn't she have at least chosen a better opportunity to voice her concerns about Adam?
Best lines of the episode:
"The only thing I remember about my grandmother was that she had really rough skin and she spit a lot." -- Adam
"My grandmother was really neat and she had skin like a kitten's ear." -- Hannah
"When Jerry Milberg didn't show up for my prom, mom promised me that ring." -- Aunt Sissy
"I always promised myself I wouldn't get married until I had a swimming pool in my living room." -- Hannah
"Tad Horvath, catch of the fuckin' century. Body like a little gymnast, brain like a toy poodle." -- Aunt Margot
"I ate one cheese sandwich and I'd like another!" -- Grandma Flo