Lena Dunham and Adam Driver

“What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” is an awkward title for an episode that provides such an elegant solution for one of Girls’ biggest narrative conundrums. A large chunk of Girls is about Hannah’s relationship with Adam, so it’s not unreasonable for fans to consider a reconciliation a necessary part of the end game. Other fans—your humble reviewer included—will see it quite differently. Hannah and Adam’s relationship was fun and passionate, but it’s the kind of twentysomething relationship you look back on fondly once you’re older and settled into something healthy and stable. If Girls is about maturation, an ending that dutifully slapped Hannah and Adam back together would have undercut any of Hannah’s efforts to grow up.

That’s why “What Will We Do” is kinda horrifying, but also kinda the sweetest thing in the world. Hannah and Adam’s reunion comes together so abruptly, it would play like a dream sequence if not for the other characters cutting in at random intervals. Adam confesses to Jessa that he wants to devote himself to Hannah and her unborn child, then tracks Hannah down to a bodega where he makes the hard sell on the spot. Next, the former lovers are enjoying some good ol’ fashioned pregnancy sex, which is far more loving and intimate than any sex Hannah and Adam have ever had, at least on screen. But more important than the sex is the rekindling of their friendship. The way these two interact as they schlep around Brooklyn together drinking cane sugar sodas, no one could blame Hannah for wanting to put on a comfortable pair of shoes rather than break in a new pair. (Especially since her feet are probably swollen.)

Hannah’s still reeling from that brutally polite phone call with Paul-Louis, so while it’s less than ideal to take Adam back from Jessa like a pair of earrings on loan, at least he wants to be there. Adam is eager to be a part of her child’s life, and he’s good with kids, so why not? But even while it all makes sense, I couldn’t help but think back to the season four finale, when the birth of Laird and Caroline’s baby and Mimi-Rose Howard’s abortion put Adam in a similar emotional space. When Adam thinks about having a family, he thinks about Hannah, but in “Home Birth,” she had finally mustered the strength to put a stop to their unhealthy cycle. Refusing to mend fences with Adam was one of Hannah’s proudest moments, and this didn’t feel proud at all.

Luckily, the moment doesn’t last. Hannah and Adam have a day together, complete with laughter, makeup sex, and light home repair projects. They even flirt with the “How’s the other chick in bed?” conversation, which former lovers use to signify that they’ve entered some advanced phase of their relationship. The brief exchange about Jessa might be the shrewdest thing about Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham’s script in that it foreshadows Hannah and Adam’s resolution. Hannah could only have a civil conversation about Jessa if she was over Adam or if she was newly secure in their relationship because Adam came back to her like he always does. Turns out to be the former. As the day winds down, Hannah and Adam get into the nuts and bolts of how their new life together will work, and they both know they’ve already burned through all their enthusiasm.

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This time, Hannah is the side chick and Adam comes home to Jessa, who is so relieved to have him back she can’t even muster up a little resistance. Given how irredeemably terrible Jessa has been for the past couple seasons, I was surprised by how affecting I found her storyline. Jemima Kirke does a fine job with the material, which finds Jessa rapidly unraveling when she thinks she’s lost Adam to Hannah, of all people. There’s a visual nod to “Vagina Panic” when Jessa goes looking for a random hookup to take her mind off Adam. This time, Jessa’s rendezvous in a bar bathroom isn’t sexy, or sexual, or charming, and it’s not a fun story to tell at a party. It’s a move of sheer desperation, like a recovering addict falling off the wagon only to realize the drugs don’t even work anymore. Adam and Jessa deserve each other, and while that typically has a mean-spirited connotation, I don’t totally mean it that way.

“What Will We Do” is about two love triangles, the second belonging to Ray, Shoshanna, and Abigail, who wind up hanging out when Shosh’s former boss randomly spots her hanging with Ol’ Man Ray. Their chemistry is instantaneous, and they even use the same zen litmus test to evaluate people they meet. Ray and Abigail isn’t a pairing I would have come up with in a million years, but it really, really works, in large part because Aidy Bryant is irresistible. When they share their first kiss on a carousel ride, they’re basically defying you to resist creating a comprehensive “Fuck Yeah Ray and Abigail” Tumblr. Finally, an episode of Girls where everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

Stray observations

  • Finally, some word on whatever became of Caroline. Laird drove her crazy, probably by refusing to honor her preference for BPA-free bottles, and so she split and left the baby with him.
  • Speaking of Laird, he showed up just a few hours too late looking way too much like himself.
  • Elijah has the inside track on late-term abortions, if anyone wants to know.
  • I’m more confused than ever by the purpose and value of the “Adam and Jessa make a movie” storyline.
  • The title is, I assume, a question to the audience more than one asked by the characters.

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