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Recap: Lena Dunham Returns Strong With 'Girls' Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 13, 2014 at 10:00AM

As much as Lena Dunham pushed the enveloped narratively and sylistically throughout the second season of "Girls," for a show that celebrates the messiness and uncertainty of young adulthood, the finale wrapped things up in an all too neat bow. But for those worried that headed into season three, the edges might be smoothed down, with the stories becoming more broadly accessible, the sight of Jessa (Jemima Kirke) with the face between the legs of another woman in rehab will allay those fears. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
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Recap: "Girls" Season 3, Episode 2 "Truth Or Dare"

"I just think that women get stuck in this vortex of guilt and jealousy with each other that keep them from seeing situations clearly," Adam (Adam Driver) declares about female friendships. And while his assessment is perhaps a bit exaggerated, there is a kernel of truth to what he says, especially when it comes to how Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa relate. We've already seen Hannah and Marnie's friendship nearly dissolve after Marnie's drunken attempted makeout session with Hannah's ex Elijah. And then there's Jessa, who completely abandoned Hannah without a trace at the end of last season's "Video Games" only to reappear in rehab, battling what Hannah calls a "life addiction." And despite a bridge seemingly burned, here's Hannah on a roadtrip with Adam and Shoshanna to go pick up Jessa who is checking herself out of the facility.

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On the surface, "Truth Or Dare" doesn't offer up much plot wise, with the bulk of the running spent on the road with the trio driving to upstate New York. But the episode uses that time to highlight the complexity between these characters, even if those on the outside (like Adam), have trouble understanding. This is first underscored in Hannah's phone call to Marnie, who is busy moving into a new apartment, where she first lies about why she's on the road, saying she's in a "couples getaway" with Adam. But when she quickly reveals the truth, Marnie has a typically contradictory reaction.

"I gotta be honest, I'm feeling pretty left out right now," she tells Hannah. But when asked if she actually would have wanted to come? "Oh my God no, of course not. I just didn't want anyone to go."

Meanwhile, Shoshanna -- who is a particularly hilarious chatterbox throughout this episode -- takes a moment during a detour on the roadtrip, to credit Adam for being the rock that Hannah needed after spiraling at the end of season 2. "Think about it. What would she have done during this period of mental unrest if her boyfriend had been an actual human being existing in society. What if you had, like, a job or responsibilities are places to be during the day or a best friend?" 

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But Adam, who as we know can deliver zen-like nuggets of wisdom when required, thinks it's pretty simple why he's been so giving and available to Hannah, whom he already thinks gives back as much as he gives. "She is my best friend." That's all he needs to say for both Shoshanna and the audience to understand what makes his relationship with Hannah work. 

As for Jessa, if one wonders why her life is one of defensive provocation, it's because she tends to attract people who have ulterior motives for establishing relationships with her. One only has to look to her ex-husband Thomas-John who used her as a vehicle into a life he wasn't brave enough to have on his own. And then there's Jaspar (Richard E. Grant), her one and only rehab friend, who reveals he's been secreting pills to keep the edge off, and now running out, makes a clumsy pass at Jessa. It makes it pretty easy to understand why her first instinct is to flee when things seem to be getting too comfortable.

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But still, those actions hurt those closest to her, who really and truly do care about her. And when Hannah does finally arrive to pick up Jessa (who is officially being kicked out of rehab for fraternizing and "...distributing a zine of provocative cartoons") she makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, how wrong it was for Jessa to abandon her and their friendship. And then in the next breath, she says, "I've missed you so much....and I'd really like it if you'd please stop leaving because I'm really looking forward to you being around more."  And Jessa promises, "I'm done with all that."

With "controversy" stirring this week over the show's nudity, we wish critics would start seeing past the skin and realize that "Girls" is serving up some beautifully complex relationships. Friendships in your '20s are volatile, and the same people who act like assholes can also be the ones that need you most (and vice versa). Lena Dunham and writer Jenni Konner (who deserves a bit more shine) completely understand this, and the closing shot of Jessa resting her head on Hannah's shoulder, is a subtly moving one, with their shared history making up for any mistakes made along the way. [B]

Notes:

-"I hate to break it you, but school is the best thing you'll ever have. Your job is basically just to feed yourself. That's why I apply to grad school every single year," Hannah tells Shoshanna, who counters with her bit of hard truth: "Honestly, the only people I ever hear say that are people who don't make any money."

-We'd really like to meet Rachel, Shoshanna's blueberry Red Bull addict friend, and Adam's pal Chad who busted his knee in an "illegal and illicit" manner.

Songs in this episode: Maroon 5 "One More Night"; Jenny Lewis "Completely Not Me"

Watch the full episode below:

This article is related to: Television, TV News, TV Reviews, Girls


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