✦ Note: Spoilers for the latest episode of Girls. ✦
Previously, Marnie got married, Hannah cheated, Shoshanna was lonely in Japan, Adam offered to pay for Jessa’s school bills. One of those matters for this episode. Charlie (Christopher Abbott), Marnie’s ex-boyfriend was back.
The episode was titled “The Panic in Central Park,” clearly focused on a few things. At first I thought it was about the mugging, but then I realized the show was being a bit clever. Marnie lost her physical possessions, including her wedding ring, which was the only thing keeping her attached anymore to the dysfunctional marriage to Desi. It wasn’t the panic, though.
The panic was when they fell into the water and there was a look of uncertainty and confusion. This was an episode showing the artifice of the romance Marnie falls for, but unlike other times, she realizes what it was before it was too late. It was all contrived, but it flowed like fate. The episode started with Marnie “recoiling from the touch” of Desi and then he burst into tears. It ended with a last jab that Marnie would probably be murdered and then he burst into tears again.
But I was impressed then, because Marnie demonstrated that he was wrong, that she had finally developed a sense of self-acknowledgment. Their romance was built on cheating and immorality, it was never pure. It was always tied to her dream of making music. The episode played with her growth, showing different points of regress and progress for Marnie. She immediately noticed Charlie’s affect and new accent, which by the way, she was right about. I went back and watched an old clip of Charlie and Marnie arguing and he didn’t sound the same.
Soon after in contrast, Marnie talked to an unimpressed shopkeeper about living a lot of life despite being only twenty-five-and-a-half years old. It seemed like she didn’t get it, but then she heard the age of Masha, the “girlfriend” of the rich man who bought drugs from Charlie. Twent-five-and-half, and Marnie retorts that “it make sense.” Perhaps it was beginning to sink in.
Charlie took her on an adventure of absurd romance, with amazing looking food, wine, and dancing. Even the theft of the boat was romantic, with Charlie being very tender to her on the subway. I began to wonder if perhaps the show was trying to trick me, because she was cheating on her husband. It got me though. I was fooled.
Marnie showed a bit of naiveté when she said she thought people didn’t get robbed anymore, which seems to lend credence to Desi’s cruel attack to hurt her. Cruelty ran both ways in that relationship. I’m still not sure about the girl Marnie met in the shared bathroom; I recognized the actress Julia Garner from her role on The Americans (which is the best drama on TV). Perhaps their interaction was meant to reinforce Marnie’s later realization about her dreams. I think that’s probably it, considering later she admits that the marriage was a bad idea but she didn’t want to give up on yet another dream.
When she found Charlie’s needle, she left immediately, which is a beautiful step. All leading to her reasonably mature breakup with Desi, although it remains to be seen how that will go. She even admits she’s messed up. It’s a strong step.
Let me say this about the episode: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this reunion between Charlie and Marnie. But both had strong performances, and in particular Allison Williams was pretty amazing. The show doesn’t let her have this level of complexity very often, and I appreciated it. Sometimes Girls is very obvious in its themes, and this was no exception. But there was room to grow, and mature. And you wonder about the “hope in the beginning,” because perhaps the hope is really at the end.
Next time, we get back to the ensemble. I really liked this episode, and it all capped off with a beautiful song from Ellie Goulding (“Here’s to Us”). Girls has always been great about introducing me to new music. Here is a line from the song: “You had to love someone else just to know your worth.”
Obvious but it works.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments below!