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<i>Girls</i> Finally Got Great Again… And It Only Took Until the Season Finale

Who could have guessed we'd be here? Who could have guessed that Season 3, which got off to such an ugly and joyless and borderline unwatchable start (if anything ever trumps "Dead Inside" as the worst episode of Girls ever, I'll be legitimately surprised and horrified), would end on such a touching and effective and funny note? If the fairytale Season 2 finale felt like a lame cop-out (which it was), then last night's Season 3 finale "Two Plane Rides" brought the show back down to earth where it belongs. It was bittersweet series of endings, to say the least, for Hannah and Co. But in your 20s, those are far more common than those elusive happy endings, anyway. Certain things about "Two Plane Rides" felt rushed, which is really too bad considering they could have cut the bullshit from earlier this season to make room for compelling story lines like Jessa's complicated request from Beadie to Shoshanna's understandable meltdown. For the first time in a long time, Girls has not only left me wanting more, but put me back in these girls' corners. Well, except for Marnie. Marnie is the worst.

"Two Plane Rides" began with Hannah (in some truly unfortunate Her-inspired pants that I'm certain were nothing more than Lena Dunham trolling us) running into Adam's crazed sister Caroline (Gaby Hoffmann). After Hannah kicked Caroline out, it seems she didn't get very far. In fact, she pretty much wandered downstairs, shacked up with Laird and then got pregnant by him. I totally buy that this would be the first time these two would have run into each other (in New York City, neighbors are often heard, but rarely seen), but I have a hard time believing Caroline wouldn't have ventured upstairs at least once to stir the shit again. In true Caroline fashion, she ominously made statements about Adam and hoping he would get "closer to his truth."

When Hannah gets up her apartment she opened a letter which reveals that she has been accepted into grad school. The Iowa Writers Workshop, to be exact. Wait, did we even know Hannah was applying to grad school? Hannah talks about herself constantly so it's kind of hard to believe that something as time-consuming as applying to grad school wouldn't have come up at least once. She first breaks the news to Marnie, who unsurprisingly turns the talk back to herself and her affair with Ray and her wannabe affair with Desi. Hannah's adorable parents, on the other hand, had a far better reaction. In fact, they quite literally jumped for joy and encouraged her to take this opportunity. "You guys sound like you're really proud of me," a genuinely happy-seeming Hannah said to them/herself.

Ah, but guess who wasn't nearly as excited or supportive of Hannah's great news? Yes, that would be Adam. Before he took the stage for the Major Barbara opening night, Hannah had to sheepishly "barge in" on her own boyfriend to say really sweet things to him ("I'm so proud of you, you've taught me so much about perseverance and creativity") and share her wonderful, life-changing news ("There's a hole in the world in the shape of me and I wanna fill it up"). Hannah looked at their future as hopeful ("We can be one of those artist couples") instead of pessimistic and wished him luck on his show. Hannah can be self-centered, childish, spoiled and narcissistic, but this was not one of those times. Sure, she probably should have mentioned she was applying to grad school to Adam and told him at a "better" time, but when would that be exactly? He'd been avoiding her like the plague so he could be in touch with his "craft" and he likely would have had the same reaction at any time. I call bullshit on him this entire season. I haven't bought the Adam-is-suddenly-a-saint act at all.

After what seemed like a great opening night on Broadway (as Elijah pointed out, it was a star-studded event that included the likes of Debi Mazar, Rosie Perez, Mark Consuelos, Wendy Williams, Treat Williams, and Sam Champion), a pouting Adam emerged from the theater to complain that he was terrible and it was all Hannah's fault. "Why'd you tell me that thing about Iowa right before I went on stage?" he cried, adding, "This is exactly why I didn't want to see you." It's funny that when Hannah wanted to write after work during her short-lived GQ gig, Adam wanted attention, but when Adam wanted to focus on work, he moved away from Hannah and repeatedly told her she was a nuisance. Now Adam is crying that Hannah is leaving him and that she is too "complicated" and wonders why "can't one thing ever be easy with you?" Hell no.

Listen, I find Hannah as infuriating and self-centered as the next Girls viewer, but if Adam thinks he is easy to deal with or isn't complicated, then he's just as bad as her. Hannah wishes him congratulations (something Adam couldn't even do for her) and gracefully walks away. Adam pouted in his cast photo later (thank god for Elijah hilariously budging in the picture for some much-needed comic relief in those last few moments), while Hannah smiled as she soaks in her acceptance letter. It was the most grown-up thing she's ever done: walk away from her destructive relationship with Adam and take a real step forward in her career.

While much of Season 3 focused on Hannah and Adam, "Two Plane Rides" thankfully gave a proper amount of screen time to the seemingly forgotten other girls of Girls. Marnie hasn't exactly been brushed aside this season, and her drama finally came to a head last night. She confessed to an already deteriorating Shoshanna (more on that in a bit) that she slept with Ray, which caused Shoshanna to -- understandably -- scream "I hate you!" in her face. But that wasn't the only scorn she received in the episode from another woman in her life. After going to visit Desi backstage and surprising him with a present (a guitar pick from his hero James Taylor), the two furiously begin to make out. If Marnie is so self-aware that she has sex as a reaction to low self-esteem, then why doesn't she do anything to change it? Either way, her desperation was immediately noticeable by Desi's girlfriend Clementine. The two women ran into each other in the bathroom and when Marnie tried to make polite small talk, Clementine stopped her in her tracks. "I know what you're up to, it's written all over you," she snapped. "You're a sad, pathetic mess… Shut the fuck up. Has anyone ever taught you when to speak?" Yikes. That was on par with Natalia's vicious take-down of Hannah in the season premiere. Marnie later tearfully watched as Desi and Clementine had a fight, but I can't tell whether she's crying because she possibly split up a couple (unlikely) or that she that desperately wants Desi (much more likely).

It's impossible to root for Marnie, particularly after the way she treated Shoshanna. Not only did she bring up her affair with Ray like it was no big deal, but she brushed off Shoshanna's news that she wouldn't be graduating in the spring because one of her professors failed her. (Marnie instead went into some bullshit nothing story about her and Charlie spending time together in college with barely even a hint of compassion of Shoshanna.) Shoshanna, the hardest-working one of the group who legitimately tries to make her life better (with Jessa hell-bent on making that nearly impossible) had everything come crashing down on her. She couldn't graduate on time, she found out her "friend" slept with her ex-boyfriend and then when she begged said ex-boyfriend to take her back, he could only thank her for making him a better man and reject her. Shoshanna is usually the most cartoonish character of the bunch, but thanks to episodes like this one and "Beach House" Girls finally made her wonderfully, tragically human. I want things to get better for Shoshanna in Season 4, but I prefer this version of her so much more.

For someone who started this season with the potential for actual change (re: rehab), Jessa may have actually regressed the most of the whole group with her relapse. It seems the Girls writers wanted to redeem her before it was too late by introducing Beadie. As it turns out, Beadie only hired Jessa so that she could get her the drugs she needed in order to end her life. "I'm tired, my body's gone…I'm in so much pain, Jessa," she pleaded. Jessa often talks a big talk about her "handle" on life, like she's got it figured all out, but she had no clue what to do here. She may have been even more scared of this prospect than Beadie was. This all felt so incredibly rushed (we only met Beadie last week) and I sincerely wish this story line had come weeks ago, not only to establish a more solid relationship with these two, but for us to see this side of Jessa. Jessa eventually provided pills to assist Beadie in dying, but as a panicked Beadie began to drift she cried for her to call 911. "I don't want to die!" This was one of the harder scenes that's ever been on Girls, but also one of the most necessary. Jessa often treats life like it's this unbreakable, easygoing thing. Even when she's surrounded by the horrors of what life can throw at you (re: her deplorable attitude towards the others in rehab), she shrugs it off. This was a traumatic, achingly human moment that I can only hope will change Jessa at her core.

It was a pretty heavy episode all around, with the exception of the glorious Andrew Rannell's Elijah (especially in his Pharrell-inspired shorts ensemble and his "ability" to predict future disasters). But I still felt more hopeful for these characters (well, except for Marnie and Adam), but especially this show, than I have in a long time.

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