‘Girls’ Season 6, Episode 2 Recap: ‘Hostage Situation’

The final season’s second episode of “Girls” found the show in an unusual mood. There was a sense of crisis, and with it, catharsis. These striking moments of drama have mostly served as a means to push the characters apart, before eventually uniting them again. But “Hostage Situation” was a rare instance in which Hannah and her friends grew closer (a matured a bit) because of dramatic developments.

The episode opens on Marnie and Desi having sex (Ray is still under the impression that he’s in a relationship with Marnie). It’s obvious from the start that “Hostage Situation” will be a showcase for the great Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Desi; he’s one of the most consistently hilarious parts of latter-day “Girls,” and this is no exception. After Marnie reaches orgasm before him, Desi concludes that he probably won’t be able to, but gives it a few more pumps for good measure.

Marnie and Desi have included Hannah in their toxic relationship by inviting her on a trip up to Poughkeepsie for the weekend. Hannah doesn’t want to be involved with the two of them, but she also can’t say no to something that might make good material for an essay. Desi and Marnie arrive to pick her up in an old convertible (Desi knows a guy). Marnie has a scarf on her head that looks a lot like Susan Sarandon’s from “Thelma and Louise,” so that’s the first suggestion that something self-destructive might happen.

The B-story revolves around Shoshanna, Elijah and Jessa when they attend a young women’s leadership party. Or, more accurately, Shoshanna attends and drags Elijah along for moral support, while Jessa just crashes the event. The party is being thrown by two of Shoshanna’s college friends who started a company called Jamba Jeans shortly after she ditched them on spring break to hang out with her cousin Jessa. Shoshanna is convinced that staying friends with them would have allowed her to be involved with a successful company. She’s not wrong, but she misconstrues successful people with good friends, something that Jessa understands. After they leave the party, the two girls fight it out over missed opportunities. Both understand painful truths about each other, but only partially—they’re still blinded to their biggest weaknesses. Elijah is mostly just there for wisecracks and throwing shade, which he does flawlessly.

Back in upstate New York, a mysterious antique seller gives Hannah a tea set on the house, and she settles in to work on her article about sex cults. But Desi and Marnie won’t allow their problems to be resolved in private. Marnie finds a jar of pills in Desi’s suitcase, he confesses that it’s OxyContin, and he’s been using for years.

It’s a strange development. A similar drug-use story was used for Marnie’s previous boyfriend, Charlie. In that case, it was a way to show that Marnie is blind to every aspect of the world she dislikes, and it also wrapped up ambiguities about the way Christopher Abbott left the show. It’s not totally clear if Desi’s addiction is just a way to further underline how bad he is for Marnie, or if this is the show’s farewell to the character. If it’s the latter case, the move is a bit abrupt. But it’s also incredibly funny in a way that “Girls” doesn’t always allow itself to be.

“Who doesn’t know that they’re husband is on 20 oxy a day?!” Do-gooder Marnie smashes Desi’s mason jar of pills once he reveals the contents, which sets off their biggest fight yet. Marnie is smashing the pills under her shoe while Desi tries to snort the newly pulverized pills amidst broken glass shards. Hannah gets dragged into it and she and Marnie manage to lock Desi outside, at which point it turns into some kind of horror film, with Desi popping up unexpectedly outside various windows before he puts his fist through one in a drugged-out rage.

The episode ends with Marnie and Hannah driving back to New York with a bandaged Desi in the backseat. But before that, there’s a moment of conciliation and understanding between the two girls in which Hannah makes it clear she isn’t judging Marnie. It’s an important moment because almost everything Hannah does involves judging her friends, so the ability to put that aside is one of the biggest signs of maturity she’s shown so far.

Girls airs Sundays on HBO at 10 p.m.

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