Girls, Season 3, Episode 12: “Two Plane Rides”
Written and Directed by Lena Dunham
Airs at 10 PM EST on HBO
In “Two Plane Rides”, Lena Dunham manages to capitalize on last week’s big reveal where Hannah (Lena Dunham) finds out that Marnie (Allison Williams) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) have been sleeping together for most of the season while also tying up each character’s individual arcs. Hannah’s story comes to a logical conclusion as she gets recognition as a writer (accepted to Iowa Writers Workshop), but also has to deal with starting a life somewhere else without the people she loves (or used to love). This fits in with her character motivation to be a writer, but do her own work and not be a “hack” for GQ. The phrase “figure it out” is used many times this episode and sums up the theme of this episode and Girls Season 3 as a whole. It’s a slice of life dramedy (emphasis on “drama” this episode) where its characters are at various of stages of knowing what they want to do with their lives. Dunham does a good job of developing her leads and supporting cast as characters and placing them at various places on the sympathetic/non-sympathetic scale from Marnie, the self-absorbed man stealer to a broken and emotional Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet).
Dunham uses long, lingering camera shots to capture her character’s emotions. The scene where Hannah gets her acceptance letter to graduate school contains no dialogue as Dunham and her cinematographer use the visuals to capture Hannah’s apathy after her firing and her rapture after getting the acceptance letter. These little moments can make characters slightly more likable or unlikable. There is another scene where Adam’s (Adam Driver) cast mate Desi (Eboni Bachrach-Moss) is having an argument with his girlfriend Clementine (Natalie Morales), and Dunham uses another slow pan to show Marnie watching in the shadows. This comes after Clementine berates Marnie and calls her a “sad, pathetic mess”. The combination of visuals and dialogue shows how Marnie has grown into an antagonist role in the show after some misguided attempts at redemption. Dunham also continues to use peripheral characters to shed light on character flaws as well as picking talented performers in general.
But “Two Plane Rides”‘s crowning achievement is showcasing Shoshanna in an episode and allowing Zosia Mamet to portray a wide range of emotions while simultaneously making her more interesting as a character. To this point, Shoshanna has had it pretty good and is doing well at school while enjoying hooking up with different guys. However, she breaks down when she finds out that she is three credits short of graduation. Dunham peels down to the core of Shoshanna’s character as she gets to understand what screwing up at life is like. Adam also regresses to his old self a bit with some self-loathing after his successful Broadway debut. “Two Plane Rides” doesn’t completely break down its characters, but Dunham’s dialogue and camera work does reveal the character’s true selves at various times.
Even though “Two Plane Rides” is more heartbreaking drama than the hangout comedy, it is a strong ending to Girls Season Three which revealed its characters’ complexities and vulnerabilities while giving some of them a taste of personal and professional success. The conclusion of Girls Season Three gives the show and characters an opportunity to try new things and relationships in the next season. All the main cast members have changed this season and evolved along with it. Lena Dunham uses all her tools as writer and director to finalize character development, bring the main cast (except Jessa) together one last time, and set up next season.