Tuesday, March 05, 2013

"Girls" - "It's Back": No one can hear you scream

     Peter Scolari, Lena Dunham, and Becky Ann Baker on "Girls".
     Photo Credit: HBO

We've all had a person in our life who is either a horrible influence or brings out the worst in us. In some cases, we don't tend to realize this about that person until they're gone from our lives. They weren't necessarily trying to push the dime bag closer to us and asking us whether or not we want to be cool, but they do behave and think in a way that is, below the surface, ultimately toxic. The behaviour seems so normal that outside perspective is the only way to finally realize what a mess that person is.

Countless TV shows have dealt with the trope of a protagonist reuniting with an old friend. "How I Met Your Mother" depicted a phenomenon known as "revertigo" in an episode where the presence of Lily's high school friend reactivates her urban slang. In fact, most shows that tackle this subject are comedies depicting a humorous personality clash in the former friends. I always enjoyed the way that "Freaks and Geeks" handled the pseudo-fallout between Lindsay and Millie because of its complexities. Lindsay knew creatively and spiritually that Millie and the geeks were not going to bring out her full potential, but she also realized academically and sensibly that Millie was a positive influence, and that made it difficult to constantly reject her. And because Millie is too nice and believes she can bring Lindsay back from the dark side, she always welcomes Lindsay back to her with open arms, trying to do whatever she can to help her. Sunday (March 3) night's "Girls" gave us the opposite, in that almost every main character is confronted with the person or people who are their biggest impediment to success. And in a way, even the title "It's Back" could suggest that these people are akin to horror movie villains, back to finish the job they don't realize they were drafted for.

Shoshanna is just beginning to find some kind of stable adult life with Ray when her old friend and party girl Radhika (like "30 Rock," "Girls" appreciates the funniness of funny names) reappears. Radhika isn't pushing that lifestyle on her, but in reflecting on her recent progress, Shoshanna realizes that regardless of whether or not this was a life she at one time wanted or wanted to feel comfortable with, it certainly isn't any longer. Yes, Shoshanna ends the night confused as ever about her feelings for Ray, but it was hard to do worse than Marnie, who once again makes a complete ass of herself in front of Charlie. Marnie knows exactly what's wrong with her. She just thinks those things are either Charlie's fault or flaws of Charlie himself. But...progress! Right? (Yeah...we'll see.)

By all means, Hannah isn't capable of taking care of herself, but her parents (the always great Becky Ann Baker and Peter Scolari) aren't doing her any favours by dragging her to a pediatrician to cure her onset obsessive compulsive disorder (which...weird right? It's never been my understanding that OCD comes and goes, but who knows). It wasn't a terribly gripping storyline, at least not with the track record "Girls" has had with the Hannah character, but it featured some good work by Lena Dunham and the previously mentioned Baker and Scolari (and hey look, HBO favourite Bob Balaban!) and was an interesting counterbalance to what seemed to be the episode's major story.

I was not impressed with the direction Adam was taken early in the season, as it seemed a lot of the work done to humanize him in the end of the first season was being undone because of the mistaken belief that a creepier Adam is a funnier Adam. I enjoyed the Adam and Ray scenes in "Boys," but Adam's dinner date with Natalia was the first time all season the character really intrigued me. Natalia's stories about working as a decoy for a private investigator made me wish that that had been the outcome of the date instead simply because it would be hilariously tragic, but I'm much more interested in seeing a happy Adam, and no one has any reason to sick a PI on him.

Not their best episode, but one that exhibits promise for the season's remaining two weeks.