Last night’s series finale of “Girls” felt more like a bottle episode than a culmination of six seasons.
The show could have ended with Episode 9, “Goodbye Tour,” which provided closure for the four frenemies by way of an epic bathroom truth session at Shoshanna’s engagement party. Shoshanna tells the three that she’s moving on, Jessa and Hannah have their moment of mutual forgiveness and the catharthis allows them to dance it out and enjoy the rest of the party.
“Latching” feels more like a coda. It takes place at Hannah’s new house upstate, months after she’s given birth to her baby boy Grover, but before she’s begun teaching fall semester at the college. It calls to mind previous episodes, such as “Another Man’s Trash,” or “American Bitch,” that also presented Hannah in a vacuum. Although we end the series looking ahead rather than with a resolution, it seems appropriate to close
“Girls” with a depiction of Hannah still fumbling at adulthood.
But Marnie is along for this one. Hannah awakens one morning to find her spooning her in bed: she’s evidently snuck in during the middle of the night, and has decided to help Hannah raise her baby. (This is a terrifying moment on its own. Having recently watched Allison Williams in “Get Out,” it was too soon to see her creeping around a country estate.)
Marnie has the best of intentions, although her loyalty has an aggressive bent. “I’m your best friend. I’m the best at being your friend. I love you the most,” she says to make her case. Hannah accepts.
Proving her friendship is about tenacity: like a pup competing with her littermates, she’s determined to win by being the last to let go. Although, as we saw in Episode 9, no one else is really in the running.
“I still have a lot to give,” Marnie says. Sure, Hannah needs the help, but Marnie, who’s been unemployed living in her mom’s “home gym” in New Jersey, is desperate for the sense of purpose, even if she’s really just being a hanger-on.
At the Hudson Valley home, the two role play a kind of millennial “Grey Gardens.” Their time in Brooklyn with the gang is never mentioned, as though it were a past life or a fading dream — and watching it, I felt pleasantly sucked in to this new reality, happy to forget Adam, Jessa, et al. Although Hannah is beginning a new chapter, the episode shows her still stuck in a kind of liminal space, inhabiting a version of the pre-adulthood fantasy where “Girls” has always lingered.
And like all new mothers, Hannah’s flailing. While Marnie needs to metaphorically get off Hannah’s teat, Grover is having the opposite problem: failure to latch on. She can’t get Grover to breastfeed and she’s taking it personally, like he’s another boy who’s rejected her. Meanwhile, she treats Marnie like a human punching bag. Marnie really is trying her best, but, being Marnie, can’t help but be irksome, singing along to “Fast Car” like she’s giving a private concert, and reading Hannah passages from books on breastfeeding in a holier-than-thou tone. Hannah feels smothered.
“Everytime you say nipple a fairy dies,” Hannah says, which is especially amusing given that Allison Williams played Peter Pan on NBC’s Peter Pan Live! In this scenario, Marnie is a kind of Tinker Bell to Hannah’s Peter Pan, desperate to keep believing in the magic. Neither are quite ready to give up on Neverland, although they both desperately need to be weaned.
It’s too much for the girls. Marnie casually asks for a night off, to check out a jazz trio at a wine bar in town, and Hannah is not having it. So Marnie calls upon a real adult to help out: Hannah’s mom Loreen. Now we’re watching “Three Ladies and a Baby,” or maybe, more like one woman and three babies. With her own mom back in the house, Hannah really begins to regress, throwing tantrums like a teenager. After a fight, she storms out of the house and as the screen door slams, Loreen calls to her, “Bye, baby girl.”
Hannah’s wake up call comes in the form of a teenage girl whom she encounters, running and screaming down the road in her underwear. Hannah’s newfound mothering instincts kick in, giving the girl her pants — of course, it wouldn’t be a proper close to the series without a shot of Hannah in her underwear — and telling her that she’s a safe person who can help her. When the girl explains she’s upset because her mom wants her to do her homework before hanging out with her boyfriend Justin, Hannah gets the perspective she needs.
While Hannah is off on her misadventure, Loreen and Marnie have some QT. Loreen walks in on Marnie having phone sex —“video tagging” — with a personal trainer from Weehawken. But Loreen’s a single lady too, she gets it.
When Loreen asks her if she’s happy, she responds, “It’s not my time.” But Loreen, who knows what it’s like to give your all to somebody who has another agenda, tells her prioritizing her own happiness could be the best thing for her and Hannah’s friendship. “I hate my best friend now, and all because I didn’t know how to let him go,” Loreen explains. (Is this the first time in the show that Marnie is actually given the advice to be more selfish?)
With the help of a friendly cop, Hannah makes it home and joins Marnie and her mother, who are having a glass of wine on the porch and accept her return without a word. Grover is sound asleep upstairs, on a bottle of formula. When he cries, Hannah goes to him. The parting shot of the show is Hannah’s expression of absolute relief that the baby has finally fucking latched! The girls are going to be okay.
Here’s the question: now can we finally unlatch from “Girls” for good?