Monday, February 18, 2013

"Girls" - "Boys": Giving up the gun

     Here's an image that aired for 1/24th of a second on HBO
     tonight. Ezra Koenig (Ezra Koenig) and Booth Jonathan
     (Jorma Taccone) admire great art on "Girls".
     Photo Credit: HBO

It seems I will never settle on what kind of "Girls" episode I prefer. I loved last week's "One Man's Trash" just as I loved season 1's "The Return," Hannah-only stories that forwent the other main characters for the duration of the episodes. Sunday (February 17) night's episode "Boys" featured the entire main cast, most of them (save for Jessa) with significant roles, and I loved it just as much.

Like a lot of premium cable half hours, "Girls" walks a fine line between comedy and drama, but I found tonight's episode to be the funniest of the season. Shoshanna is always funny, and I loved her great throwaway line about being the friend from "Twilight". I'm not sure how long it will take for me to not laugh at Hannah typing out the phrase, "Her name was Murjashiway," which is maybe the greatest sequence of jibberish I have ever seen in my life and perfectly encapsulates just how Hannah will fare trying to write her e-book in a month. Adam had some great lines during his even greater scenes with Ray, like his analysis of the ideal ages of women to date. Along with the full use of the ensemble (and I've never really though about the "Girls" cast as an ensemble) came interesting new pairings like Adam and Ray. I had naturally assumed from the title "Boys" that this episode would be more focused on the male characters, and Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky really nailed the unlikely bonding thing that can so easily be a poorly executed storytelling crutch.

Booth Jonathan still being a thing caught me off guard a little bit. There was no closure to his previous horrifying encounter with Marnie, but the character feels like such an aimless drifter that I'm surprised their theoretical relationship, whatever that really entails, survived over those three or four episodes. As batshit crazy a character he is, even his opening scene where he berates his assistant for eating his ice cream (props to Jorma Taccone for having apparently just as few reservations about nudity as everyone else on this show) was enough to make me chuckle, especially the assistant's line about her boyfriend working lights for Carly Rae Jepsen - those kind of ridiculous, lack of self-awareness, Jenna Maroney-esque lines are what makes "Girls" what it is. And don't blink or you'll miss Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig tell Booth exactly how many times he's seen him cry! (Those fifteen seconds would have been enough to put this into the positive column, really).

Overall, it was not a night in which any of the characters really knew what they wanted, or felt like they should be wanting something even if it's going to make them miserable. Adam and Ray are both uncertain about their relationships - Adam goes from zero to a hundred in about two seconds when Ray criticizes Hannah, despite complaining about how bad their relationship was and how much he disliked her, and Ray isn't doing so well facing the reality that there's basically nothing to his relationship with Shoshanna. Hannah's dream is to write and publish a book, but now that it's an actual possibility, the grind of the job is proving to be overwhelming (if not funny - I mean, come on - Murjashiway - funny names are funny). And despite terrifyingly realizing how Booth views their relationship, Marnie is still tricking herself into thinking that he's brilliant and that he's some sort of opportunity of escape for her that she'll regret if she doesn't pursue.

It was a pretty spectacular episode for on screen talent. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one brought up a lot around Emmy time, even if it seems unlikely that anyone but Lena Dunham will get a nomination. While I've been enjoying the second season, there does seem to be something missing and I think the show would benefit by using more of the ensemble more of the time and in newer combinations as they did tonight. "The Hannah Show" has proven its greatness, but otherwise, I'm hoping it's go big or go home in the next four weeks.