By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 14, 2013 at 10:05AM
Adam (Adam Driver) got hit by a car, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) lost her virginity, Marnie (Alison Williams) moved out of her apartment with Hannah (Lena Dunham), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) got married....change was is in the air for the characters of "Girls" at the end of season one. And as season two opens, Hannah is (literally) waking up as a woman with a reoriented set of ways to take control of her life. But not without first making some bad decisions. Yes, rent needs to be paid and Hannah now has a new roomie in the shape of her ex-boyfriend Elijah (Andrew Rannells) who, as you recall, discovered he was gay after breaking up with her and may have been responsible for giving her HPV. But so far so good for the pair who simultaneously declare, "You're the best roommate."
But perhaps the biggest change for Hannah is a new boyfriend, Sandy, played by "Community" star Donald Glover. Yes, it's a person of color! One can't help but think this is Dunham reacting to the criticism she faced during season one, and yet the choice still feels organic for Hannah. He's essentially a regular guy who doesn't boast the freak factor or hangups that came with dating Adam, and more importantly, Hannah is determined to take it slow. "I'm doing this a different way. I'm not just going to show up and knock on your door in the middle of the night. I'm not going to make up weird excuses to see you. I'm not going to invite you to my house-warming party and introduce you to my whole social circle. I'm going to make logical, responsible decisions when it comes to you," she says.
In short, Hannah seems to have it all together in the first episode, with her living situation solidified, a job at Grumpy's, a new boyfriend....but then there's Adam. Still feeling guilty over his accident, she tends to her ex-boyfriend who is largely confined to his apartment with a broken leg. She changes his bedpan, brings him supplies and even sleeps over on occasion, but she's made it clear it's over. But he doesn't want to hear it. "You're my main hang," he says, trying to salvage their relationship. "I came, you came, hard, we laughed," he adds citing their sexual chemistry as a reason to stay together. However, Hannah stays resolute.
But if things are going well for Hannah, Marnie is seeing her world fall apart. She's been fired -- or "downsized" or "transitioning" as her mother encourages her to say -- from her job at the art gallery, is still wounded over losing Charlie (Christopher Abbott) and has even seen Hannah drift away as their lives have been distanced by no longer living together. This is somewhat reminiscent of the "Seinfeld" episode in which Elaine becomes the loser of the group, and so too here, Marnie who once had it all together, and was easily the most "adult" of the girls, is the one left floundering....which in turns leads to two desperate acts that will have far-reaching consequences.
A house-warming party at Hannah's serves as the setpiece for the show, and Marnie is at the center of two incidents. Midway through the festivities, Hannah helps Elijah remove his drunken older boyfriend George from the apartment after he starts berating everyone there. Hannah later heads to Adam's to drop off a few things, and as the party winds down, Elijah and Marnie are alone, singing Sarah McLachlan's "Building A Mystery" (lol). Talk soon turns to relationships, Elijah reveals he might be bisexual, and makes a pass at Marnie. She initially resists, but soon they are making out and intercourse is initiated, but Elijah quickly loses his erection.
This is completely uncharacteristic of Marnie, and needless to say she's feeling confused and lonely. Earlier in the evening she witnesses Charlie's girlfriend Audrey storm out of the party, leaving him solo. He tries to shake it off, and unconvincingly insists to Marnie that his relationship with Audrey is doing just fine. But Marnie knows she'll find him alone tonight, and she knocks on his door, asking to sleep with him, because she needs to have someone beside her. Given Charlie's feelings for her, it's a bit of a manipulative move by Marnie, but at the same time, Charlie has shown a tendency to let himself get walked over in his relationships, something that doesn't seem to have changed. But Hannah isn't above reproach, as she closes the episode doing exactly what she said she wouldn't -- she shows up at Sandy's house, asking to borrow "The Fountainhead," but makes a beeline for his bedroom.
All of these events means that Shoshanna and Jessa are a bit to the sidelines. The former is furious with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) who has deflowered her, but kept his distance, but they soon reconcile and make out at the party. As for Jessa, we get a quick glimpse of her post-honeymoon with Thomas-John (Chris O'Dowd), laughing because she still has no idea exactly what the address of his apartment is, given their whirlwind union.
"Girls" opens its new season without missing a beat, as Dunham continues to grow and explore these characters with a voice that is as fresh and funny as it was during season one. Perhaps coming so soon after season one has helped keep things spontaneous rather than calculated, but whatever it is, it's working for Dunham and co. [B+]
Songs featured in this episode: Regina Spektor "Your Honor"; Alt-j "Dissolve Me"; Carly Rae Jepsen "Sweetie"; K. Flay "So Fast, So Maybe"; Amp Live "Hot Right Now"; Solange "Losing You"; Vampire Weekend "I'm Goin' Down"