Season 3, Episode 7: Beach House
In this episode, the girls from Girls head to the beach — a friendly reminder of just how freezing it is in New York right now.
The episode begins like a scene from Downton Abbey with Marnie carefully preparing her family friend’s castle-like house at North Fork for her friends’ arrival. (For those of you who don’t know, North Fork is where people who think the Hamptons are tacky go, according to Marnie.) As soon as she begins placing the place cards on each of the beds, we know there’s going to be trouble. Marnie has a strict, highly scheduled plan to heal their friendship. But Hannah, Jessa and Shoshanna were never ones to be controlled.
This is the first time this season we’re seeing all four girls in the same place alone. Marnie is right that the four have drifted apart. And while we might wonder why each character hasn’t split off into her own new friend group (can we really believe that Marnie has no other person to eat lunch with besides Ray, as she said last week?), it’s a common problem among 20-somethings. How much loyalty are you supposed to have to your college friends even as you grow apart?
After Marnie outlines her plan for healing over the weekend — it’s going to happen specifically at dinner, followed by a series of activities middle school girls probably consider too juvenile for sleepovers — the girls head into town. Hannah decides to just wear her bikini and is promptly kicked out of the store for having neither shoes nor a shirt. Marnie asks for her list of items to buy from the store, and Hannah pulls it out of her swim bottoms. Ick.
As Hannah gazes inside the shop, she hears a group of men making fun of her attire. She turns around to find that one of those men is Elijah. (Quick recap for those who forgot: Elijah dated Hannah in college then came out as gay then fought with Hannah then roomed with Hannah then slept with Marnie and then fought with Hannah again.) Elijah and Hannah admit they miss each other. Elijah says he thinks about Hannah all the time: “What’s wrong with her? What’s she eating? And who she is mad at?” Not very flattering things to wonder, but I guess it’s still something.
Hannah thinks Marnie’s being too controlling, so she decides to set aside her differences with Elijah for the greater good of screwing up Marnie’s perfectly planned weekend. She invites him and all of his friends over.
Once the gang begins drinking, they start to let loose. Hannah pours a handle of vodka all over her body. Marnie and Elijah look on from inside.
Elijah: “She’s in such a great place right now.”
Marnie: “That’s disgusting.”
In a heart-to-heart between Marnie and Elijah, we finally hear about Marnie’s breakup with Charlie. (One caveat: Marnie is perhaps not the most reliable narrator.) According to her, Charlie told Marnie over the phone that he wanted to propose to her but that they had to talk about a few things first. Ten hours later he brought a work friend home to the apartment he and Marnie shared and started packing up his things without saying anything to her. As he left, he turned around and said, “I don’t love you, and I never did love you.”
But it’s cool because he works in a sneaker store or something now after his business went under. Good to know Marnie’s not shallow.
Marnie also casually drops Ray’s name in the conversation. As soon as she walks away, Elijah’s friend correctly guesses Ray and Marnie are sleeping together. Perhaps this was Marnie’s intention so that Elijah wouldn’t pity her too much.
The good cheer continues as Hannah and Marnie drunkenly make up and blame their parents for all their friendship problems (too distant, too close — a parent can never really win).
But the reunion is short lived. Marnie asks Hannah to kick all the boys out so that the four girls can have their healing dinner together. Unwilling to be rude, Hannah invites everyone to dinner, leaving each person at the table with kiddie sized portions. This puts Marnie in a predictably bad mood. (Knowing her sanitation standards, she probably wasn’t psyched about everyone skinny dipping in the pool while she was cooking either.)
She cheers up a little as they perform a dance to Harry Nilsson’s “You’re Breaking My Heart” that one of Elijah’s friends has taught them. She’s in a particularly good mood when she critiques Hannah’s moves and request they perform the whole thing over again. Hannah gets annoyed with Marnie’s rigidness. Marnie says Hannah ruined their weekend by “inviting the cast of Magic Mike.”
And then all the girls get a little too honest and a little too vicious thanks to paltry portions of duck and an ample amount of alcohol. (Note: Jessa is staying sober, which may explain how she’s shockingly the most calm and rational one during the fight.)
Shoshanna, however, finally finds her (not-so-high-pitched) voice and lays into all three friends. (Sidenote: up until this point, Shoshanna has basically acted like a friendly, ditzy windup doll when she’s drunk, so this mean streak is coming out of nowhere. Maybe it was the cosmo. Note: vodka is not Shoshanna’s liquor.) On to the insults.
Shoshanna on Hannah: “You’re a f***ing narcissist. Seriously, I have not met anyone else who thinks their own life is so f***ing fascinating. I wanted to fall asleep in my own vomit all day listening to you talk about how you bruise more easily than other people.” She also calls her mentally ill and miserable when Hannah suggests that Shoshanna isn’t intellectual enough.
On Marnie: “Can you chill the f*** out about dinner? Seriously, that duck tasted like a used condom and I want to forget about it…You are tortured by self doubt and fear, and it is not pleasant to be around.”
On Jessa: “What is that like some AA bullshit? Seriously, Jess goes to rehab for five f***ing seconds and we have to listen to everything she comes up with.”
On the whole group: “You guys never listen to me. You treat me like I’m a f***ing cab driver. Seriously you have entire conversations in front of me like I’m invisible. And sometimes I wonder if my social anxiety is holding me back from meeting the people who would be actually right for me instead of a bunch of f***ing whiny nothings as friends.”
Can’t really disagree with many of her critiques though they were harsh. “You’re a cruel drunk,” Jessa concludes.
The real problem with Shoshanna’s catty takedown is if she wanted to make new friends, she’s in the easiest position of the girls to do so. She’s in college. Though we never see her there, I presume she takes classes and participates in extracurriculars and goes to college parties. Has she not made any close friends there?
The fight ends when Hannah suggests Marnie should lower her expectations for their friendship and Marnie deadpans, “I can’t lower them any further.”
“Well, maybe you should try what I do, which is that I don’t expect anything from any of you,” Hannah says. “I really miss my boyfriend, who asks me for nothing, so I give him everything.” Except for, you know, the truth. I’m still not letting go of that whole lying about the dead cousin thing.
Elijah and his friends are not faring well either. Elijah confronts his boyfriend about being condescending (he makes fun of Elijah for thinking inertia means going too fast) as per the advice of Hannah. But as soon as the boyfriend suggests he and Elijah should maybe break up, Elijah kisses him into silence.
It seems like this is the end of the Girls friendship. But wait! In the morning, Marnie comes downstairs to find Hannah, Shoshanna and Jessa all cleaning the house. In the final shot, as the four sit on the curb waiting for the bus back to New York City, they silently begin the dance moves that momentarily brought them together the night before. It’s a nice moment following an episode that contained some of the better dialogue of the season. (I’ll admit, I would much rather see the original girls fight than see them fight with new characters.) Let’s hope this isn’t the last time this season all four girls will be together.
Marnie says she can’t believe Elijah’s new boyfriend was the guy he decided to date after having sex with her. Hannah: “Knowing Elijah, it was 11 closeted math teachers who came after you.”
“I thought we could still have fun together and prove to everyone via Instagram that we can still have fun as a group.”
“I can’t go in open water unless I’m menstruating.”
Shoshanna already took up most of the words in this recap. She maybe had two more words in the entire episode. And I think they were, “J. Crew?”