By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 21, 2013 at 10:00AM
Season 2, Episode 2: "I Get Ideas"
If the season premiere was a bit of shakeup to reorient the gang in "Girls" for wherever the new season will take them, the second episode almost seems like an addendum. It's as if Lena Dunham and company decided they needed to make yet another shift to get the show in the direction they needed, and a couple of characters who we figured might be in play a bit longer definitely get sidelined. So yeah, spoilers ahead.
Following his brief indiscretion with Marnie (Allison Williams), Elijah (an increasingly winning Andrew Rannells) confesses to his boyfriend George, who promptly breaks up with him. Elijah is a bit flabbergasted at George's reaction, trying to shake off the incident. "I wasn't even with her for that long! It was like three pumps, it was like two-and-a-half pumps, and then I lost my boner," he explains. Needless to say, this doesn't sway George, and it's over. But compared to what Hannah winds up going through (who, incidentally, doesn't yet know about Elijah and Marnie, with both determined to keep it that way), Elijah has it easy.
First, there's Sandy (Donald Glover), who entered the season not only as Hannah's new boyfriend, but also as a Visible Minority. But one can't help but wonder if Dunham is slowly twisting a knife into those demanding a little diversity by revealing he's the dreaded "r-word" -- Republican. It's a sly movie, and a welcome one to what easily could've been a token character, but Dunham never really gives this intriguing development a chance to play out. In fact, the friction and dimension that relationship could have delivered is pretty much snuffed out right away.
Hannah gives her latest essay to Sandy to read, and after dithering for a few days, she finally persists in getting his feedback. "I just didn't feel like anything happened in it," he says about the work, adding, "It felt like waiting in line and all the nonsense that goes through your brain when you're trying to kill time." Uh, ouch. Try as she might to be mature about it, and have an "open conversation," Hannah immediately guns for his political beliefs in an argument that becomes more about her hurt feelings (below the surface) than about her work. Gun ownership and incarceration rates of minorities are tossed out like bombs before Hannah ends things first, saying that their beliefs are too far apart, and they should just be friends. And after a couple more ugly turns (and a Missy Elliot reference), Sandy asks her to leave.
While this potentially interesting outlet is abandoned, Hannah and Adam's (Adam Driver) relationship is also firmly, finally severed, to the point where we wonder if the he'll be back in the show. After sending Hannah a completely inappropriate and intensely disturbing video of himself singing songs he's written about her, Adam lets himself into her apartment one night with the emergency key she's given him. Hannah is livid that he can't respect her decision to end things, and also a little scared. She dials 911 just long enough for it to ring, before deciding to hang up. But the cops show up anyway, just as Hannah has gotten Adam to leave, and he's shocked and perhaps hurt that she went that far. But it gets worse. Upon looking up his file, it turns out Adam has some outstanding parking tickets and a warrant for public urination, so he gets arrested, cuffed and led away.
Two episodes for Hannah's arc to get her back to singledom seems excessive, and one wonders why Sandy was written into the season at all. From the usually tight storytelling of the first season, this feels a bit less fully thought out, and more quickly dashed on the page, and it's not going to be the first time this season when the writers seem to play it a bit easy rather than sharp. But don't get it too twisted, there is still no female character as unique as Hannah on television, or as well written, so there is still much to enjoy, even if the show is currently feeling unwieldy.
Meanwhile, Marnie's search for a new job leads to an interview with a snooty gallery owner, who first condescendingly instructs an employee on how to make her tea properly before telling Marnie she doesn't see her in the art world. Of course, the usually put-together Marnie is in a downward spiral, until Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) builds up her confidence, and tells her she'd totally be able to get a "pretty person" job as a hostess. Marnie is skeptical at first, but when she hears of the money the gig earns, she goes for it, and soon she's decked out in a uniform about which Elijah sharply observes: "What the fuck are you wearing? You look like a slutty Von Trappe child."
Finally, as per usual, Shoshanna and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) are pushed to the background. We already discussed Shoshanna's minor appearance, but Jessa gets a few more minutes with Hannah, mostly to assure her that she loves domestic bliss and is happier than she's ever been. And when Hannah reveals to her she's dating a Republican, Jessa sagely says: "What's wrong with a Republican? It's the just the same as a Democrat. They're all dirtbags." She then caps it off by reminding Hannah that it was Bill Clinton who repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which has pretty much led to the nation's economic ruin. As pretty awesomely pointed as that is, it's also randomly out of place, though Jessa, dismayed that Hannah didn't know this, advises: "Just read a newspaper. Just read one newspaper." Good advice for all.
Entertaining, but probably not an episode that will go down as one of the show's highlights, "I Get Ideas" once again repositions everyone, but a clearer direction will emerge in the weeks to come. [B]
Songs in this episode: M. Ward "I Get Ideas"