While last week's episode of Girls brought many characters to new lows (Marnie trapped onstage with a scatting Rita Wilson and a despondent attic ex-husband, Hannah and Jessa ending their friendship seemingly forever), tonight's episode, "The Bounce," delivered on its namesake and put a little lift in everyone's step.
But before we get into the episode, let's ask the question on everybody's mind: where is Shoshannah? We just completed episode seven, and America's favorite J.A.P.-turned-Sheryl Sandberg acolyte hasn't been on the scene since episode four. We have three episodes left of the series, and with next week looking to be a totally juicy Adam/Hannah/Jessa showdown, Shosh is running out of time. Unless episode nine is a Zosia Mamet bottle episode (which would be next-level), Girls is going to get a lot of blowback from Shosh fans.
But back to this week's episode, which begins with Elijah on the move. After years of stagnation and dependence on others—going from one wealthy suitor to the next and even joining Hannah in Iowa out of boredom—our favorite charmer finally commits himself to a goal and starts auditioning again. And, in the great tradition of 30 Rock ("Mystic Pizza: the Musical"), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ("Spiderman Too: 2 Many Spidermen") and Bob's Burgers ("Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl"), Girls creates a fictional musical adaptation of an existing movie. White Man Can't Jump the musical? Whatever, I'd see it.
Elijah tries to rehearse lines for Hannah in what he thinks is a more masculine voice, but she's barely paying attention: she's too nervous about the inevitable talk with Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed) about the fact that she is pregnant with his child, and keeping it too. Before Elijah can head to his audition, his old love Dill (Corey Stoll) shows up at his door, frantic. Apparently Dill tried to adopt a white baby on the black market, and the press got wind. Now Dill is stuck with Hannah while Elijah tries to keep it together at his open call.
Meanwhile, Marnie seems to be at the end of her years-long cycle of bouncing around emotionally warped men, never accepting her part in the damage. But, like Ruth Fisher in the final season of Six Feet Under, she may be heading towards a breakthrough that could set her free. Lord have mercy, we deserve it after dealing with her deep lack of self-awareness for all these years. Upon receiving an eviction notice and the brush off from her mom, the ever-delicious Rita Wilson ("Oh God, those nails!"), Marnie heads to a pawn shop to sell her jewelry.
Naturally, within moments she's killing the pawn shop owner with her self-indulgent histrionics ("My freedom is more precious to me than a precious locket from the 1870s.") He tells her that the locket is fake, along with her not-so-diamond earrings. Then, while Marnie starts a screed about the failings of her family and her husband, he rolls his eyes. "Nobody here who comes in here to sell something off their body has done nothing wrong." Who is this angelic man? Marnie takes it in. Later, she leaves a sincere message to Desi, and lets him know that she's moving in with her mom in New Jersey. And in that moment of grace, Marnie appears as her best self. She's can be a lovely human being when she's not getting in her own way.
Elijah shows up to the call, where he befriends the now-legendary Athena Dante (Latisha Di Venuto). She convinces him to bring it for his audition, and so he does for a nonplussed Marissa Jaret Winokur. Now, he's auditioning for a non-existent musical with a song from another non-existent musical. "I will be singing "Let Me Be Your Star," from the hit musical "Bombshell," from the hit TV show Smash." THIS IS SUCH MEAN SATIRE.
In true Andrew Rannels style, he crushes it, and moves on to the dance routine... where he gets schooled in his entitlement. As talented as Elijah thinks he is, he can't keep up with basketball choreography. It all goes spectacularly wrong, and he leaves a fellow dancer recoiling with a broken nose. Between white men truly not being able to jump, white men getting caught trying to buy white babies, and white women being brought down to earth in a pawn shop, this episode really put its characters in their places.
Meanwhile, in Greenpoint, Hannah finally talks to Paul-Louis, who barely remembers her at first. "I wrote the article about the surf camp...I threw up in your bed...you said I had a lot of pubic hair..." The conversation takes an awkward and realistic turn when Paul-Louis affirms that he doesn't want to be a father, and that Hannah is on her own. Both actors bring it: Hannah falls apart but can barely speak above a whisper for fear of being needy, and Paul-Louis proves himself to be nice enough, but no great champion by any means.
Before you know it, Dill is comforting Hannah, and then she's comforting him, and then they're both sobbing. "We're just children... we're just naked children."
Though Elijah's audition ends in calamity, he doesn't leave empty-handed. Athena Dante imbues him with some meteoric confidence, and both walk away with their heads held high. He arrives home to Dill and Hannah, eating pizza and watching Look Who's Talking. Dill pledges his devotion, and Elijah gives the dramatic fuck-you speech he's always wanted to...then invites Dill to bed moments later.
I would have been pleased with this as a proper ending for Elijah, but he gets even more. Marissa Jaret and her fellow producer loved Elijah enough to disregard his horrific dancing, and they want him in the show. Suddenly, he has everything he could want. Look, I'm always overjoyed to see my queer brothers and sisters get happy endings—it's still a very rare event. But this was a lot of wish fulfillment in one episode, especially in relation to Hannah's shattering reality check. Though she's confident in her choice, she's still alone with it, and will have to face doctor's appointments and beyond with only her own resolve to bolster her.
Loneliness has always been a central theme of Girls. And for Hannah, it may not be so easy to shake off.
"You're never busy in advance, just sick from your drugs."
"You're the whitest guy I know."
"I believe in the soul: the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back."
"I can't give you any more of my fun money."
"Reese Witherspoon learned how to sing for Walk the Line and she won a god-damned Oscar... I'm going to let you in on a secret. I'm really fucking talented. I'm as talented as you think you are."
"Dill got us eight pizzas! The pepperoni's in the bathroom."