Girls Season 3, Episode 11: “I Saw You”
Written by Lena Dunham and Paul Simms
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Airs Sundays at 10 pm (EST) on HBO
In “I Saw You”, the penultimate episode of Girls Season 3, writers Lena Dunham and Paul Simms manage to balance plot and characterization for Girls’ ensemble cast while commenting on the show’s overall themes. The episodes sheds light on the characters’ strength and weaknesses and exposes and accentuates the tension in their relationships. Adam (Adam Driver) is growing apart from Hannah (Lena Dunham) as his play gets closer to premiere and begins to bond with Ray (Alex Karpovsky). Marnie (Allison Williams) gets to meet one of her art heroes, the photographer Beadie (Louise Lasser) while preparing for a big open mic night with Adam’s cast-mate Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Director Jesse Peretz uses timely scene transitions to show how the different “girls” rise and fall. “I Saw You” does a great job balancing the various characters’ plot lines while still having room for keen observations about them and several funny moment.
The majority of “I Saw You” is dedicated to Hannah’s breakdown in both her personal and professional life. Dunham, Simms, and Peretz tear down the facade of Hannah having her life together from an opening scene where it looks like Hannah and Adam are having enjoyable sex, but it’s really just a quickie before his rehearsal. For the most of episode, Hannah is oblivious to her surroundings. She is either disinterested (during a dinner with Adam’s cast mates) or too interested in herself (bringing up personal matters at the aforementioned dinner). In these scenes, Dunham strikes a balance between comedy and pain. This is just like Hannah, who can be quite funny at times when she isn’t sticking her foot in her mouth.
While taking Hannah down a rung or two, Dunham and Simms manage to build up Marnie’s character even after Jessa (Jemima Kirke) shows that she knows more about the art world than her in front of a famous photographer. Her nervousness before her duet with Desi, the poignant lyrics of the song, and her confidence after the song sum up her character arc this season in a few shining moments. Her song (penned by Fun’s Jack Antonoff) touches the characters on an emotional level and is a real scene of self-actualization for Marnie, who finally catches a break. One of Girls’ strengths is the way it portrays daily struggles for twenty-somethings, but lets them triumph occasionally. Hannah got a consistent writing job at GQ, Adam made it on Broadway, and Ray manages his own coffee shop. Now Marnie gets her moment in the sun while also uniting the characters for a fleeting time.
“I Saw You” has a real sense of unity and finality as character’s arcs flow together, and their endings are in sight. Dunham and Simms take their time showing the breaking down of Hannah’s relationship with little things, like Adam breaking character when Hannah walks into the room. This season of Girls has shown how friends inevitably grow apart as they become adults and share less things in common. “I Saw You” begins some of the separating and sets the stage for an inevitable tear-filled finale (Unless you hate all the characters. Then break out the champagne.)