Hannah and Adam’s relationship has been a staple of Girls. Even when they’ve been broken up or dating other people, their connection has defined much of their individual journeys. Given its significance, “Sit-In” wisely devotes its entire runtime to the dissolution of the pairing, following Hannah through a very long day as she tries to process and accept that Adam’s moved on. Just as much importance is put on the audience’s reaction, with writers Paul Simms and Max Brockman holding viewers’ hands throughout, easing Hannah and everyone watching at home through an unexpected and potentially painful transition. On the whole, they’re successful, though with Marnie and Hannah’s late-episode conversation, the subtext becomes text in the show’s most glaring and least successful meta scene yet. It’s the end of an era on Girls, or so the writers would have us believe, and “Sit-In” is a wonderfully elegiac and fitting goodbye to what has been one of the series’ most significant relationships.
“Sit-In” is very structured, with one friend (or whatever Caroline and Laird are) after another coming over to comfort or counsel Hannah. This makes for a writerly and far from organic episode, but it keeps things very small, with only a few characters onscreen at any given time. The progression of Hannah’s visitors makes each scene grow in intimacy, preparing Hannah for the heartbreakingly open and honest conversation she has with Adam. We start with the aggressive Shoshanna, whose bitchiness towards Adam and defensiveness of Hannah are just what the doctor ordered. Next up is the utterly uncomforting Jessa, who gives Hannah a needed reality check, followed by the overly (unsuccessfully) comforting Caroline and Laird. Ray may be overly absorbed in his stoplight drama, but his concern and empathy for Hannah are heartfelt as he makes her breakfast, and of course Marnie is last, gently giving Hannah the hard truth she doesn’t want to hear.
Hannah’s stream of visitors prepares her and the audience for the core of the episode, her conversation with Adam. Lena Dunham and Adam Driver are fantastic here, open and truthful, trusting in the simplicity of the scene. The handheld camera adds a touch of humanity and the lack of scoring keeps the audience focused on the performances; any directorial flourish here would distract and add artifice to a painfully real moment and director Richard Shepard’s light touch works beautifully. The editing is great as well, cutting back and forth between Hannah and Adam, but holding much more on Hannah, particularly as Adam opens up. This is something he’s already processed, he’s come to terms with the broken core of their relationship. For Hannah, it’s new, so her reaction is what we focus on, cutting to Adam for emphasis and to show his sincerity, both in the depth of his commitment to Hannah previously and now, to moving on. There’s tremendous weight to Hannah and Adam’s goodbye, a finality the show will need to commit to and which makes it one of the most genuine and memorable scenes in the series’ run.
Unfortunately, despite the beauty of this scene and the rather didactic Marnie and Hannah conversation leading up to it, it’s hard to take the writers at their word. Hannah and Adam have broken up previously and gotten back together and while this feels entirely different from their end of season one split, Girls knows how great Driver is, particularly with Dunham and earlier this season, in his scenes with Jemima Kirke, and it seems unlikely they’ll be willing to let him go. Adam and Jessa attending the same AA meetings is an organic way to keep him in Jessa’s orbit, but it’s hard to imagine Adam remaining on the show long-term in any significant way without the writers getting him and Hannah back together, something that would be incredibly difficult to swallow after this goodbye. The season has been incredibly strong to this point however, so hopefully the writers have something up their sleeves to address this and any fear of backpedaling will prove unfounded. Regardless of how the storyline continues from here, “Sit-In” is an excellent episode and a crushing, but respectful way to close the door on one of Girls’ most important relationships.
Elijah is nowhere to be found—perhaps he’s still rocking it back in Iowa?—but there’s really no place for him here. The writers could have subbed him in for Shoshanna, telling off Adam and being there for Hannah at her most heightened, but between the two, it’s right that Shoshanna take precedence.
Marnie’s use of “forever couple” and Hannah’s lament that she and Adam aren’t a romantic, artistic love story take their conversation over the top into being overly meta. The conversation before and after these lines feel organic for the two characters, but that chunk feels like the writers speaking directly to the shippers in the audience, almost scolding them for romanticizing Hannah and Adam’s relationship, and given how much romanticizing of their dysfunctional relationship the show has done, this feels a touch hypocritical.
Speaking of Marnie, “woodshedding” is when musicians hole up in a practice room to drill and perfect difficult, soloistic passages. Tricky runs they haven’t yet mastered, highly technical excerpts that must sound effortless. It’s hours and hours of repetitious, focused, intense practice, and based on everything we’ve ever heard Marnie and/or Desi play or sing, there’s a 0% chance whatever they were doing qualifies. So Marnie, sweetie, please never ever use the term again.