The girls (and boys) are back with a fabulous bottle episode that throws us right back into the action with the arrival of Marnie's wedding day.
Girls Season 5 Episode 1 employs all of its best assets to fantastic effect straight away. The show, at this point, knows exactly where its strengths are and plays to them expertly.
There have been several "the girls get out of New York" installments over the past several seasons, and they have stood out as some of the best. "Wedding Day" falls into that same category, and is also a very strong episode.
The set-up is simple: after an undisclosed time jump, high-strung Marnie is marrying grating man-child hipster Desi. The Girls Season 4 Finale left off with a six-month time jump following the birth of Adam's sister Caroline's baby and Hannah refusing Adam's attempt at reconciling.
That six-month time jump got us into winter, so Marnie's summer wedding is likely taking place another 4-6 months after that finale jump. This means Hannah's made it work with adorable Fran for a good chunk of time. Yay, Hannah!
Fran is not nearly as dynamic or multi-faceted a character as Adam or Ray, but he is the perfect character (and perfect boyfriend) for Hannah at this point. Hannah, now a teacher, is making an attempt to settle down and be a grown-up (despite her decidedly immature instincts).
Throughout "Wedding Day," Fran just kind of bops around from place to place, being unobtrusive but trying his best to be kind and helpful (he goes wherever Hannah tells him to without question, he offers to leave the boys' room if Adam is uncomfortable, he tries to comfort distraught Ray).
It's telling when self-involved, faux-hippie Desi fails to recognize Fran during his impassioned thank-you speech to all of the males in attendance.
Thank you for being here, it means so much to me. Wolfy, my old dear friend, my bald eagle, looking out for me from on high. Adam, man, my comrade in arts, my comrade in arms, Mr. Rabbit. Elijah, the lion, a comic persona as skilled and radical as Lucille Ball. I mean that. Ray... When Marnie told me that you should be here, I though it was a mistake, you know, and maybe it still will be a mistake. But right now I feel like I'm happy that you're here. Thank you for being here.Desi
Much as Desi is a despicable character and I loathe him, this speech is hilarious.
There's just so much to unpack. Why does Desi refer to Adam as "Mr. Rabbit"? How adorable is it when Desi knows the perfect compliment to bestow on Elijah, and Elijah beams at his comedic persona being compared to Lucille Ball's?
Elijah, as always, is a gem. For me, he is by far the most consistently enjoyable character on the show and he should always be featured more. The fact that he is part of the wedding party is a little bit baffling but it gives me hope that we'll get more focus on him, as an individual character, in Girls Season 5.
Yeah, I thought meditation was just naps, but it's like a whole thing.Elijah
Was anyone shocked to find out that Desi had been engaged a whopping SEVEN times before Marnie? And even more horrifically, that the ring he gave to Marnie was intended for Clementine? Not really. But still... Yikes.
"Wedding Day" ends without us seeing the actual walk down the aisle and exchange of vows (which was a brilliant choice, and fantastically underlines that the marriage is not actually all that important in the scheme of things).
Actually, there's no confirmation that they went through with the marriage, is there? I don't see Marnie pulling a runaway bride, but I wouldn't put it past fickle Desi to have yet another sudden change of heart, inspired by a daffodil blowing by in the breeze or something equally nonsensical.
Poor Ray. I still don't buy the fact that Marnie is the love of his life, but Alex Karpovsky sells Ray's heartbreak and conviction extremely well. It is clear that Ray truly believes Marnie is the one, and the pain all over his face is palpable when he confides as much to Fran.
Ray's sojourn into the pond to calm a hysterical Desi is a gorgeously filmed scene. Lena Dunham has blossomed into a gifted director, and visually, "Wedding Day" really demonstrated that.
The actual content of the scene just underscores what a sad sack Ray is. By giving self-involved Desi that speech about sacrifice and destiny, he was clearly trying to imply that Desi should let Marnie go to find her true destiny (with Ray, ostensibly, someone who actually loves her).
Desi being Desi makes it all about him, essentially interpreting Ray's speech as Desi being Marnie's destiny – and who is he (Desi) to deprive Marnie of her destiny?! The whole thing was groan-inducing and so perfectly Desi.
Marnie, elsewhere, deals with cold feet of her own, albeit in a more roundabout way. Allison Williams is perfect as bridezilla Marnie, trying desperately to appear like the chill, cool "anything goes" bride, the very opposite of her true nature.
The fact that she can say in one breath "You know me, I'm easy, easy-going," followed by "Just make sure you OK everything with me before setting it with hairspray" is incredibly funny and perfectly in character for Marnie.
This is part of a very specific vision that I had for this wedding. A vision from an Edward Sharpe video, and it is mine.Marnie
Poor Bebe. Sure, she didn't quite get the look that Marnie is going for with her wedding and went a little overboard with the makeup, but I can't quite blame her for calling all of the girls bitches and then storming out in a rage.
I'm actually not sure how she put up with Marnie's micro-managing for as long as she did.
Hannah, meanwhile, is her typical self. She is incapable of seeing beyond her own desires and making sacrifices for Marnie's happiness, despite Shosh's admonitions. At least, not until Marnie has a total breakdown when it starts raining and her face looks like she dunked it in a vat of chocolate.
The scene between Hannah and Marnie in the bathroom, post-Marnie's breakdown, is easily the highlight and centerpiece of the episode. Notably, after Fran reveals to Hannah that Desi has been engaged seven other times and that Marnie's ring was for Clementine, Hannah fails to come clean and tell Marnie.
Instead, inspired by Marnie's rant about having always stuck by Hannah throughout her bad decisions, Hannah decides to stick by Marnie through her bad decision – she denies that she thinks Marnie is making a mistake in marrying Desi.
This is in character for Hannah, and it's part of what makes her such a terrible friend. Many of the Girls friendships are incredibly superficial, and one can't help but think that a true friend would have told Marnie the truth and stopped her from making the mistake of marrying asshat Desi.
Finally, let's talk about that moment. Adam kisses Jessa, suddenly and without warning, while the two are briefly alone. Jessa, after a brief moment of shock and hesitation, passionately kisses him back.
I love this and I completely saw it coming throughout Girls Season 4. The two were getting closer and closer throughout the season, first when Hannah was away in Iowa and even throughout Adam dating the irritating Mimi-Rose (thanks to Jessa's interference) and Jessa spending her time chasing after Ace.
They have a lot in common – they're recovering alcoholics, a bit eccentric, and care little about what others think of them. The pairing makes sense. I don't know whether it will hold up in the long run, but there's no denying the chemistry in that kiss.
And there's no denying that this will make for incredible drama, when oft-unstable Hannah finds out about it. Fran or no Fran, I don't see Hannah taking this sitting down.
- I can't wait to see Shoshanna in her new world, living in Japan. All of her little Shoshisms got me really excited to see her in action. I love her cartoon-y self.
- OF COURSE Elijah would be planning to take MDMA right before the vows. Of course.
- Rita Wilson as Evie Michaels, Marnie's self-centered and equally micro-managing mom, is always great. But she felt a bit unnecessary for this episode. She just seemed extraneous.
- Marnie's cultural heritage is "white Christian woman." I think this was the hardest I laughed throughout "Wedding Day."
What did you think of the season premiere? Love it or hate it? Let us know by commenting below and remember that you can watch Girls online here at TV Fanatic to catch up on anything you've missed!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.