I’m continually astounded by the sixth and final season of “Girls” — namely by how strong the show seems to be ending. I’ve admired series creator, star, and sometimes writer/director Lena Dunham since she released her second feature, “Tiny Furniture,” and I’ve enjoyed many of the episode “Girls” has produced. But I don’t know if any of the show’s six seasons have been as consistently inventive and compassionate as the current one. Perhaps it lacks the sense of wild abandon that the first season had, when Dunham’s voice was so new and exciting, or the bold ambitions of the second season, which polarized many viewers (I found it to be even more successful than the first). But no season of “Girls” has been as purely pleasurable to watch as this one, and Episode 8, “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” is one of the series’ strongest efforts.
Like many of the most intriguing “Girls” episodes, this one has the feel of a stand-alone departure, where the show follows a single character. However, Dunham and Judd Apatow, who both wrote the episode, have become more skilled at blending the characters’ various stories. Even though it feels like an episode all about Hannah and Adam and their broken relationship, it still manages to give us important details about Jessa, Shoshanna, and Ray (only Marnie is absent).
The episode opens on Adam (Adam Driver) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) in the midst of an argument/conversation. Adam wants it to become an argument in order to gain absolution, but Jessa refuses to take the bait. He has decided that he wants to help Hannah raise her baby. It’s not immediately clear what he thinks that means for his relationship with Jessa, whether it would be over, or if they might somehow be compatible.
When Adam finds Hannah in a bodega hoarding popsicles, she’s hesitant to even talk to him, much less to accept his parenting offer, but it’s a short-lived refusal; she’s been reassessing and mulling it over ever since watching his short film about their relationship. They set off on one of those glorious day dates, the kind that neither party wants to end. Adam doesn’t require Hannah to justify her decision to keep the pregnancy, and she’s comfortable enough with him to talk about why she wanted it in the first place.
They have sex back in Hannah’s apartment, slow and tender. It’s the polar opposite of the way the show used to depict them having sex, but still has the compassion they used to feel for each other. Afterward he puts his ear to her stomach while she runs her hand through his hair. “It sounds wild in here. It’s rushing, the sound of waves.” (Kudos to one of the best pregnancy prosthetics I’ve ever seen.)
Afterward they go back out to put together supplies for the baby. The two are totally gung-ho: “There’s too much history here, there’s too much good stuff for us not to try,” says Adam almost manically. Dunham and Apatow write Hannah and Adam’s day together so well that their reunion seems totally logical, and appeals to all the desires viewers might have for the two to get back together for the end of the series. But they’re also good enough writers to know that such an outcome would be a lie, something that couldn’t really happen.
Hannah starts to see the signs without quite realizing it; Adam is controlling and takes away her sugary drink because he thinks it’ll be bad for the baby. He doesn’t want to buy many baby items because he thinks they’re all filled with toxic chemicals. While they’re in the store, Hannah’s gaze falls on a little baby bath and the picture of a mother smiling at her child. It’s an idealized picture that ignores the reality and hardships of being a mother. But there’s also no room for Adam in that picture.
Their final moment comes at a diner that evening, when the two are getting ahead of themselves — Adam can get cheap artist housing, but it would help if they’re married; Hannah should probably join a co-op. It’s a terribly sad moment when Hannah’s face finally breaks, a look of sorrow and resignation. Adam is emotional too, but realizes this wasn’t meant to be. There will be no reunion for Hannah and Adam. This day was just a temporary lark, a moment of happiness for the two before their lives once again intrude.
While Hannah and Adam are spending the day together, Jessa wanders Brooklyn in scenes that parallel season one’s “Vagina Panic,” when Jessa thought she was pregnant and needed an abortion. While in her apartment, she tries to order the “elite” channels from the cable company, then pukes in the toilet. Perhaps the sickness is just out of frustration from dealing with the cable company, or perhaps it’s meant to signal that she is also pregnant. There’s not enough to go on at the moment.
Afterward, Jessa trudges through the streets before alighting on a bar, where she tries to pick up a stranger, much like that earlier episode. However, it doesn’t go as planned this time, and she breaks down while kissing him and halts the affair. Jessa tried to be nonchalant about the possibility of Adam leaving, but it cuts much deeper than she wants to admit. Later that night, Adam returns and Jessa lets him up to the apartment with no hesitation. She smiles as he’s heading up. It’s a seemingly cheerful moment, but also somewhat ambiguous — Adam is returning after failing with Hannah. He and Jessa seemed like such a logical combination when their relationship started, and maybe they’ll once again make sense. But his day away puts that all into question.
The other story involves Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet). Ray wants to digitize Hermie’s oral history tapes as a document of encroaching gentrification, but Shosh doesn’t quite understand the purpose — why not just stick with his coffee shops for a while before setting off on a tangent? While outside the digitization place, the two run into Abigail (the delightful Aidy Bryant), Shoshanna’s former boss from her foray in Japan. Abigail is as boisterous and enthusiastic as ever and convinces them to go out to lunch with her.
Abigail seems like she should annoy the bejesus out of Ray, but instead he’s transfixed by her. Shoshanna watches in total confusion as some bizarro version of Ray hits it off with Abigail at lunch. He’s spent so long publicly hating millennials and overly happy people, but after all, it was Shoshanna who initially fascinated him. Ray and Abigail dump Shoshanna (her departure isn’t even shown) and go off on their own. The episode ends with two contrasting images: Hannah, alone on her bed, and Ray and Abigail riding a carousel. They share a sloppy kiss (one’s horse is rising as the other’s is falling). Of the episode’s two day dates, theirs was the one that actually worked out. As affecting as the outcome of Hannah’s day was, Ray’s moment of happiness is a charming final image. This is probably meant to be the end of Ray’s story (there are only two episodes left, which will most likely focus on the core characters). I hope that’s not the last we’ll see of Ray, but if so, it’s not a bad way to go.
Watch the preview for “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” below: