Last week’s episode of “Girls” ended with a surprise for Hannah (Lena Dunham) — she’s pregnant. There was a sense that she might actually want to see the pregnancy to term, despite her support for reproductive rights and the plentiful evidence that she might not be the most responsible parent in the world. At the start of episode five, “Gummies,” Hannah is coming to terms with the actual details of her pregnancy.
The episode opens on Hannah holding a lentil up to her face. She’s Googled the size of the fetus, which is supposed to be lentil-sized. When the camera backs up for a mid shot we see a bag of lentils Hannah bought just to see how big one was. She’s also trying to overcome her desire to have a baby by making a list of all the reasons she’s not ready to have a child. Adding to her stress is an impending visit from her mother, Loreen (Becky Ann Baker), and Elijah’s (Andrew Rannells) morose listlessness. Elijah’s been popping Adderall and stalking a former a cappella group mate’s musical successes. While he’s been leading a wild and care-free life, his peers and competitors are doing all the things he wants to be doing, claiming all the successes he wants for himself.
Adam (Adam Driver) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) have started making a film about Adam and Hannah’s relationship. It was originally meant to be a kind of cathartic healing for both of them, a way to get past the huge role Hannah plays in both their lives. And perhaps it’s doing that for Adam, who’s directing and playing himself. But Jessa can’t handle the naked intimacy of the scenes Adam shoots with his Hannah stand-in Mira (a joking reference to all the Lena-like names Dunham has given to her characters on the show and in her films: Hannah, Aura, Ella and now Mira). She belittles the performance from the actress (Daisy Eagan, playing a version of herself). Eagan is excellent, both as an actress, and at mimicking Hannah’s own mannerisms, even though she’s about 15 years too old for the part. But independent filmmakers can’t be choosers.
What ultimately sticks in Jessa’s craw isn’t that Adam is reliving these moments of tenderness with his temporary Hannah replacement — it’s the fact that his portrait of a wild, crazed, doomed love is uncomfortably similar to their own relationship. Jessa always imagined that Adam was unhappy with Hannah, so she questions why he doesn’t wear a look of disgust in his scenes with Daisy. If Adam and Hannah were always doomed as a couple, than Jessa’s relationship could be just as fragile.
Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is given short-shrift in “Gummies.” After finding Hermie (Colin Quinn) dead at the end of “Painful Evacuation,” Ray is still in the middle of assessing his life and possibly adjusting his path, but what path he might take isn’t specified. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) drops in briefly to give her (heartfelt) condolences, and Marnie (Allison Williams) visits him in Hermie’s apartment to (disingenuously) offer her own, but Ray doesn’t do much beyond listening to some old audio recordings Hermie made. There’s definitely a sense that Hermie’s death will spur Ray on to do something big, but “Gummies” just treads water with his story rather than creating any momentum.
The back half of the episode is devoted to Loreen’s visit to New York. She’s coming to terms with her new single life (sort of), and she’s replaced the booze she’d been relying on in the wake of the dissolution of her marriage with marijuana. She munches on some weed-filled gummy worms throughout the visit. Hannah works up the courage to tell her about the pregnancy, and Loreen finally gives her reason to trust her judgment. Being pregnant with Hannah was a happy time for Loreen, although it’s possible she’s idealizing it in the light of the difficulties she’s had raising her daughter and having a marriage fall apart.
But Loreen’s constant gummy-munching puts her in a sour mood. She opens up about her loneliness to Hannah while at the laundromat (Hannah still needs help doing her laundry). Baker is excellent in this dramatic turn. For Loreen, the hardest part of her day is just returning to the emptiness of her home. Hannah tries to comfort her, but it rings hollow, the perspective of a young woman who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a middle aged single woman. Loreen storms out of the laundromat and says she’s going back to the apartment.
When Hannah gets home, though, Loreen isn’t anywhere to be found, so Hannah goes in search of her with Elijah. They find her high out of her mind at a Chinese restaurant, where she lets slip that Hannah is pregnant in front of Elijah. He and Hannah have it out in the restaurant’s kitchen (because everybody’s allowed back there). Elijah says all the things Hannah has been thinking and fearing, but has been trying to push aside: that she’s reckless and immature and not capable of taking care of a child. Hannah envisioned them raising the kid together, and the idea that she would expect him to participate in her bad idea further enrages him: “I’m gonna say this to your face because no one else will have the guts to, but you’re gonna be a terrible mother.” And with that, Elijah walks out. Up to that point, Hannah has spent the day concocting a fantasy in which there are no downsides to having a child, but she’s forced to consider reality now. Hannah goes back to her extremely high mother, who isn’t as optimistic about the baby thing as she was a few hours before. “Every time I look at your baby, I will see my own death.”
“Gummies,” which was written by Sarah Heyward and directed by Jesse Peretz does an effective job of showing Hannah’s growing pains in her quest to mature. Even though she’s far more adult than she was way back in season one, her understanding of adulthood is always poisoned by fantasies about how great (and easy) it will be. But she’s trying, and she genuinely wants to develop the kind of maturity and responsibility necessary to be an adult. Elijah’s speech to her about her deficiencies as a mother mostly rings true, but it’s also a bit harsh. She’s making strides to stand on her own in the world, and she’ll surely make more progress in episodes to come.
Watch the preview for “Gummies” below: