Girls, Season 3, Episode 4, “Dead Inside”
Written by Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Airs Sundays at 10pm (EST) on HBO
Like last week’s episode which focused mainly on Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) 25th birthday party, “Dead Inside” takes another big moment in her life and uses it as a lens to look at different characters. The moment this episode is the death of Hannah’s editor, David. Her non-reactions to this event shock the majority of her friends and peers, including Adam’s (Adam Driver) crazy sister Caroline (Gaby Hoffmann). As well as exploring Hannah’s self-involvement and lack of emotion, Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham give Marnie (Allison Williams) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) robust storylines in which they deal with different variants of death. They also continue to give Ray (Alex Karpovsky) good material as he acts as the caustic voice of reason in Girls.
From the opening sequence, “Dead Inside” isn’t afraid to plunge viewers into the middle of Hannah Horvath’s self-centered little world. When she is waiting for her appointment, director Jesse Peretz focuses the camera on her while people are having conversations about vastly more important things than the next installation of her e-book. Peretz’s visuals are the springboard for her discussions with various characters about David’s death. Her talk with Adam reveals the depth of his character as he empathizes with Hannah while simultaneously wondering if she’ll have any reaction when he dies beyond wondering about paying the rent. With Jessa as the only who is fine with her feeling nothing, Hannah is in big trouble. The progression of her conversations with Adam from loving dialogue to long, pseudo-philosophical monologues.
In “Dead Inside”, Dunham and Apatow finally give Marnie a couple interesting scenes that don’t connect to the main plot, but show her lack of self-awareness that is eerily similar to Hannah telling friends about David’s death. Like Hannah’s arc, Peretz’s visuals start her storyline with a montage of her working out and listening to a cheesy self-help podcast. This sequence reveals how self-obsessed she is and isolated from her friends. This self-centered behavior climaxes when she gets angry at Ray for making sarcastic remarks about her poorly received music video. Instead of listening to someone who genuinely cares about her, Marnie storms off to go work for “fancy people”. “Dead Inside” completely shatters Marnie’s facade of having her life together and reveals how emotionally messed up she is inside.
Even though he doesn’t get much character development, Ray acts as the emotional go-between for Marnie and Hannah. He is also probably the most likable character on Girls. He can be a snarky bastard in one scene and empathetic in the next. Being older than most of the main cast makes his observations seem realistic and organic than if those words came out of the underutilized Shoshanna’s (Zosia Mamet) mouth. With a pair of strong storylines cemented by an interesting theme of emotional reactions to death and decent comic relief from Caroline and Laird (Jon Glaser), “Dead Inside” might be the best episode of Girls this season. It uses its main ensemble and guest stars to reveal Hannah and Marnie’s emotional cores while offering keen observations about universal ideas.