'Girls': Cut off the limb

Girls-Hannah-HBO-280.jpg Episode 5 of HBO's "Girls" takes a closer look at the demise of Charlie and Marnie's relationship, and its roots -- by giving a glimpse at the characters' college days at Oberlin.

The story picks up where "Hannah's Diary" left off -- Marnie ( Alison Williams) and Charlie are grilling Hannah ( Lena Dunham) over the diary entry (which, remember, was read without Hannah's permission). Charlie is devastated because he knows Hannah's words are accurate, and indeed he decides to "cut off the limb and let the stump heal."

Marnie sets out to win Charlie back (with Sleigh Bells songs punctuating between scenes). But she's only putting on her party dress and visiting his apartment for the first time because she doesn't allow Charlie to call the shots -- especially the final coup de grâce of dump-age. After pleading with him ("please, please don't break up with me") he caves, only to be rejected by Marnie several minutes later. As much as viewers can't stand Charlie's friend Ray and his creepy, neurotic, misogynistic drivel, his hostility toward Marnie makes more sense in light of her narcissistic behavior.

The flashback to ye olde Oberlin days answers some narrative questions that the audience has had for several weeks. Where did the "Girls" meet? Which liberal arts college did they attend? Have they always been so kooky/randy/unsophisticated? Seeing Charlie and Marnie's first encounter was painfully bittersweet.

The episode wasn't as jaw-droppingly outrageous as some of the others this season, and for the most part the characters are doing the same old. Jessa is still frisky and overly self-assured ("I am un-smoteable"), while Shoshanna serves as her insanely virginal foil.

Hannah continues to bring the biggest comic relief to the show. She makes a fool of herself while trying to negotiate relationships with her boss and Adam -- both of whom cross the line of appropriateness in their own way. While she bombs an attempt to coerce Rich into sex and then wrangle him for money, she does end up grabbing $100 from Adam after yet another incredibly awkward sex act. It's not quite poetic justice, but it's nice to see her get something out of Adam -- just this once.

"Girls" Gag Index: "Hard Being Easy"

Most cringe-worthy moment: Hannah proposing sex with her boss, Rich ("You don't need to fight it"). Ugh!
Funniest moment: "I want cab money. $20... $30. Because I also want pizza, and gum."
Continual trainwreck-waiting-to-happen: Jessa and her babysitting dad Jeff. All the awkward tension and guilty eyes aren't reassuring - and nothing has even happened (yet)!
Saddest moment: Charlie's breakup logic, which certainly hit home for many viewers. "We're not grownups," he says to Marnie. "There is nothing keeping us together other than the fact that we have already been together for so long."
Poor Shoshanna! moment: When Shosh witnesses Jessa having no-strings-attached sex in Shoshanna's apartment, is too nervous to interrupt, and then gets called a "little perv." Obviously.
Photo/Video credit: HBO
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