With “Home Birth”, Lena Dunham and the rest of the Girls team end what has been a strong, but somewhat disjointed season in peak form, delivering a fantastic season ender that could have easily, and satisfyingly, served as a series finale. The episode is creative, moving and laugh out loud rewind-the-DVR-repeatedly-and-belly-laugh-each-time funny (more on Ray later). Even better, it services all of its main characters, putting them in moments of crisis and forcing them to make what could easily become life-altering decisions, all while feeling natural to the characters’ journeys.
In many ways a direct continuation of its strong third season, Girls’ season four premiere picks up shortly after the events of last year’s finale, with Hannah preparing to leave for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Marnie continuing her musical and romantic partnership with guitarist Desi, Jessa newly unemployed, and Shoshanna freshly graduated. This is a change of pace for the series, which has previously taken advantage of the season breaks to jump its characters forward in time, with significant developments occurring offscreen (the start of Hannah’s relationship with Sandy, Jessa checking herself into rehab, Charlie leaving Marnie). Fun as it may have been to jump right into Hannah’s fish-out-of-water adventure in Iowa, it’s nice to get one more episode with the leads together, reestablishing their bonds before they’re tested.
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.