“I really didn’t like that.” Those five words were uttered by Adam’s not-long-for-this-show new girlfriend, Natalia, as she recovered from a horrific sexual experience near the end of season 2’s penultimate episode, but it’s a sentence that could have been said by most of the characters on the show, who are simultaneously spiraling toward the consequences of their bad decisions.
“On All Fours” felt like a constant string of shaking-our-damn-head moments for viewers, as the flailing characters kept one-upping each other in their groan-worthy choices. You thought Hannah jamming a q-tip into her eardrum was bad? That’s nothing compared to Marnie’s jazzy Kanye cover, or Shoshanna’s betrayal of sad-sack Ray. “On All Fours” moved swiftly and contained a handful of successful comedic set pieces, which made it easier to stomach the piles of failure being rapidly assembled. And with that in mind, let’s discuss the episode and determine which character was the saddest at the end of it, on a scale of 1-10.
Let’s start with the most compelling subplot: things are going staggeringly well for oddball Adam and his playful new girl Natalia, as a blind date turns into another, and one that ends with by-the-book sex. “I like how clear you are with me,” Adam gushes as she dutifully instructs him through their first intercourse. The first half of the episode features Adam locking up the beast that made him so devilishly hard to root for when he was with Hannah — gone are the fits of rage and bitter worldview, replaced (momentarily) by to-go cups of coffee, Sandra Bullock movies and small talk with his girlfriend’s pinhead pal. Adam is very clearly grimacing throughout this attempt to enjoy a “normal” relationship, and things start to unravel at Natalia’s friend’s engagement party, where another guy hilariously walks up to him and laments the fact that they’re “the game,” whatever that may be. Despite his knowledge of his own impulses, Adam cares for Natalia and wants to maintain the shred of normalcy she offers in his life… but then he runs into Hannah on the street, and everything goes to hell.
Hannah is recovering from an enjoyable romp of a day: she was told by her dirtbag publisher that the work she submitted was as chaste as “Pride & Prejudice” (not in a good way), and celebrated by shoving a q-tip into her left eardrum! Already suffering from her OCD habits tearing at the seams of her stability, Hannah breaks down in the hospital while being treated for an ear injury she carelessly caused, and at this point, running into a blissed-out Adam is the last thing she needs. At the beginning of the season, Hannah was more than fine with flipping Adam the deuces and telling him she never wanted to see him again; now, with all of her friends seemingly outside of her everyday adventures and no more Donald Glover to kick around, Hannah is a puddle of regret, and becomes wistful when Adam calls her “kid.” He hastily leaves the chance encounter — obviously affected by Hannah’s presence and needing to push it away for his own sake — and rejoins Natalia… and asks… for a cocktail. Adam! This isn’t going to end well!
And it doesn’t. After taking Natalia back to his Draconian apartment, Adam barks sexual orders at his stupefied girl, and quickly morphs back into the pent-up martinet that drove Hannah crazy. Natalia understandably recoils when she sees the real Adam, and he profusely apologizes before asking if she’s done with him. The smart money is that Natalia sticks around, at least for next week’s finale — but, off the wagon and back on his grossness steez, Adam is well on his way to screwing up the best thing that’s happened to him over the course of two seasons.
ADAM’S SADNESS LEVEL: 7
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Marnie keeps screwing things up, but it somehow works in her favor. After snooping around the swanky new office of Successful Charlie (his official new name, in case you didn’t know) last week, Marnie is back at it, making lunch plans with her ex and not taking the hint when he blows her off. Successful Charlie half-heartedly invites her to an office-wide celebration for his startup hitting 20
million [Correction: 20,000] average monthly users (side note: this web-traffic stat may be the most unbelievable detail in the entire second season of Girls), and Marnie takes the offer at face value. After being reassured by Ray that her voice is great, Marnie grabs the mic at the party, toasts Successful Charlie’s achievement and decides to impress him by crooning Kanye West’s “Stronger” as everyone else mutters obscenities and rolls eyes. Quick question: why is everyone at the party so hard on Marnie? Sure, her impromptu shout-out and song were strange, but is everyone in attendance so pretentious that they have no trouble openly deriding this girl, whose voice actually carries some panache?
Successful Charlie grabs Marnie’s wrist and admonishes her for not recognizing her own batshit actions, and when Marnie begins defending the “journey” she’s on, he takes hold of her face and proceeds to move onto public sex, which Marnie is fine with. This is probably the 20th time this season that a disagreement has led to sloppy, strange sex, and Marnie, who tried to hook up with Elijah at the beginning of the season, is just happy that Successful Charlie still wants her. Marnie has gone through the wringer and will probably move on from “Graduation” to “808s and Heartbreak” soon enough, but for now, she’s getting what she wants most.
MARNIE’S SADNESS LEVEL: 4
Meanwhile, Shoshanna’s infidelity with the doorman has turned into quite a bummer. Racked with guilt and not mature enough to confront Ray about her slip, Shosh decides to avoid her boyfriend while trying to be awkwardly accommodating to him. Neither ruse works. When the perpetually sad Ray stops dabbling in “the Macintosh Arts” and confronts Shoshanna about her strange behavior at Successful Charlie’s party, she lies and blurts out, “I held a doorman’s hand!” Luckily, Ray believes her childish antics, tells her he loves her and gives her a hug, as she winces in pain. Poor Shosh: she knows she messed up with the doorman, and she also knows that she just made things much worse by lying about what actually happened. Although they’re presently still together, next week’s episode will likely unleash the guillotine upon Shoshanna and Ray’s relationship.
SHOSHANNA’S SADNESS LEVEL: 6
…And, not to be outdone by her sad counterparts, Lena Dunham ends the episode she directed by showing the OCD-stricken Hannah forcing herself to balance things out and shove the same damn q-tip into her right ear. Her love life is in shambles, her friends are nowhere to be found, her e-book is an e-disaster, and, natch, here comes some more ear pain. Pour one out for Hannah Horvath, and salute the queen of all things sad.
HANNAH’S SADNESS LEVEL: 9
Photo Credit: HBO/Girls