Monday, February 25, 2013

Girls Recap: I'm the Child. I'm the Child.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 9:30 AM


So we're in the woods with this one. Hannah and Jessa have taken the Metro North upstate to visit Jessa's father and let's just say that he does not live in Valhalla. He lives in Manitou with his wife Petula and her turtleneck-wearing, center-part having, camel toe-sporting son, Frank. And a lot of bunnies. But before we meet Mr. Johanssen or the rest of the menagerie, we see Hannah and Jessa while they wait at the train station. Hannah doesn't like to wait. Hannah still seems to think that she's the star of this story. But not this week. Hannah complains about waiting and about never wanting her parents to be late when she was a child. Jessa thinks Hannah is still a child. Jessa is not wrong. Jessa always had to wait. Jessa does not like Hannah making her feel bad about her parents and says that waiting is only ever really bad if "you get molested by the weird sub." Hannah asks Jessa if she was ever molested by a weird substitute teacher. Jessa replies, "Yeah. No. I don't know. Maybe. Probably." And the truth is, it doesn't really matter anymore what happened or didn't happen with that weird sub. Jessa was fucked the moment she was born, and she doesn't like being reminded of it. In the meantime, Hannah has a UTI and has to pee. Jessa advises her to pee by the train tracks, telling Hannah that what she really ought to do is "stick garlic in her a whole clove" but that isn't an option right now. So Hannah goes to pee and asks Jessa to make sure no one can see her. Jessa tells her the coast is clear, even as we see an elderly, upstate couple walking on the platform, taken aback by the site of Hannah's indiscreet squat-and-release. Jessa smiles. She smiles because she knows she's fucked and she might as well amuse herself on the way to wherever she's going.

Before Jessa's father comes, we get a little background info on him and the reason for Jessa's visit. Basically, Jessa's father has been married several times before, including a recent marriage that resulted in a daughter named Lemon who no one ever sees anymore. Jessa says, "I wonder if her name is still Lemon." It turns out that Jessa got in touch with her father after he sent her a butt text. There are definitely some communication issues between father and daughter. However, once Jessa's father comes, it's like they speak their own language. They have their own jokes, use their own accents, and both have no desire to explain to Hannah why "Camry drivers are cunts." These are things you either know or you don't. They're not like other people. Hannah complains that she "doesn't like not getting jokes" but Hannah really doesn't have any idea how much she doesn't get the joke.

And now we get to meet Petula! Petula, who is played perfectly by Rosanna Arquette and who met Jessa's father while he was in rehab and she was his masseuse. Petula who holds Jessa's face and tells her, "You are like the most perfect black pearl." And, just like that, diminishes Jessa and removes her from the equation. Jessa is just a beautiful, rare, hard and little thing and she is in a home, but it is not her home. And what about Hannah? Petula is delighted to see Hannah because, she tells Hannah, "I manifested this illusion. I wanted a cushion because Jessa hates me. You! You're the cushion."

Hannah, who doesn't see herself as a cushion and only ever sees herself as a perfect black pearl, which is really the glory and the tragedy of Hannah, replies, "I'm the cushion? I've never done it before but I'm up for it." Oh, Hannah. You are the cushion all the time. But that's not even the point right now. Hannah is also about to get a lesson from Petula about what life might really be all about. And that is—video games. Life is just a simulated video game and Petula is clear on this one point, "If you're not with me you're against me and I'm gonna take you down. Bam. Bam. Bam."

Jessa is meanwhile talking to her father about the end of her marriage, implying that Thomas John was the one who really wanted to end it. She tells her father, "It's like he didn't even want to work on it." Which, all we saw was their fight, not the aftermath. Jessa probably is used to people wanting to be with her no matter how many times she tries to push them away. No matter how much she's used to walking away from people, I think it still hurts her when they finally walk away from her. Jessa's father is somewhat sympathetic, but also somewhat obtuse, telling her, "Maybe on some level you wanted it, because, you know, we're not like other people."

"No." Jessa says, "We're not, are we?"

This is the point where she crosses over the line and allows herself to acknowledge that she's exceptional. It's something people are always telling her—that she is special, that she is some perfect pearl. It can be both a comfort and a burden to be told that you're not like other people. Because this means that the rules don't apply to you. And this can be liberating, but it can also be terrifying. Because following the rules can lead to good things. Following the rules can lead to a happy relationship and a real job. Following the rules can lead to building a stable life and creating a home. Breaking the rules, being special, usually means being alone. And it's not really so fun to be the last one standing. But now Jessa just goes with it. Because it's what makes sense. She is special and that's why she feels so awful all the time. That's why she connects to no one. Because they are not like her. No one is.


This feeling of exceptionalism pretty much leads Jessa to act like a sociopath for a little while. Because she knows there's no going back. Not to New York. Not to the spare bedroom in Hannah's apartment. So she plays with Hannah for a little bit. Taking Hannah's interest in Frank and seeing how far it will go. Hannah expresses interest in Frank, saying, "I can never tell if guys are attractive in a loserly way or if they're just losers." And although Jessa immediately replies, "Hannah, he had a camel toe." She then proceeds to show Hannah pictures from a vintage Penthouse, saying, "These women should be really proud of themselves because in a way it's the most noble thing a woman can do, to help a boy find his sexuality, help a boy become a man."

And when they sit eating lunch and Hannah squirms at the idea of eating the rabbit that she was playing with that morning, Jessa digs right into her meat, saying, "Hannah, grow up. It's fucking food. And it's fantastic." Jessa has tasted blood.

Later, Jessa and Hannah and Frank and his lacrosse-playing poet friend Tyler drive around doing whippets and Jessa covers Tyler's eyes while he drives and Hannah freaks out. Hannah knows the rules apply to her and Jessa knows the exact opposite. But they stop. And Hannah gets out because "That is not funny. That is immature." So Hannah does the mature and serious thing of having sex with that human camel toe Frank in a cemetery that evokes the classic movie "Hocus Pocus." It's terrible. He comes in her "thigh crease."

Jessa talks with Tyler. He asks her, "So it's like you were in some kind of freefall?"

She tells him, "It's like everything was just stripped away from me and I was one big festering sore." Except that things stick to festering sores. Nothing sticks to Jessa. That's part of the problem.

Hannah comes out of the cemetery, assuming Jessa had sex with Tyler.

"Not at all," says Jessa.

"I thought that's what we were doing!" Hannah doesn't understand.

"No." Jessa does understand.

But, Hannah says, "That was me having continuity with you."

Jessa smiles. It's a dark smile. There will never be continuity between Hannah and Jessa. They are not made for the same things. They were not made the same way. But later, when they lie in bed at night, Jessa is left to deal with the fact that fucking with Hannah doesn't make her feel better. It doesn't make her feel anything. She tries to talk to Hannah, saying that she isn't in the right frame of mind to see her father.

Hannah answers, "Who's ever in the right frame of mind to see their parents?" Hannah—lucky Hannah—will never understand.

Jessa tells her, "Please don't talk about our parents like they're the same kind of parents."


The next day Jessa talks to her father. They sit on the swingset. Jessa has a braid in her hair. She asks her father and her voice breaks, "Do you know how much shit I've taken because you never taught me to do anything else?" Jessa brings up her mother and how hard her mother was on her. There are no details, but we already saw how Petula acted toward Jessa. And Jessa has talked before of feeling unloved by her mother. Women like Jessa don't always have the easiest time of it with their mothers. She asks her father, "Why didn't you stand up for me?"

And why didn't he? He didn't because he's a little man. He's a man who drives around in an old station wagon full of computers the size of dog houses because he thinks people might care about his thoughts. He's a man who doesn't keep his house clean or throw anything out because he knows he's not going to have anything worth saving ever again. He's a man who never defended his daughter against his wife because to him they were on the same level. He's a man who excused treating a child like a woman because she was smart and beautiful and so he could tell her she was special as a way to tell her why he wouldn't treat her the way you should treat all children, which is that you should treat them like children. He fucked her up because he took away the safety net that all kids should have. He let her see from an early age that she couldn't trust anyone. He is a little man.

And so he asks her, "You think I can rely on you?"

Jessa cries. "You shouldn't have to. I'm the child. I'm the child."

She is the child. She is his child. But she knows it doesn't really matter. She still had to say it though. So that she could leave.

Jessa and Hannah go to the store. Jessa's father drops them off. She knows he won't come back. Hannah is starving and declares that she is "getting yogurt, almonds, and baby food" because Jessa might be a child, but Hannah is a baby. They walk back to the house. Jessa looks resigned.

Hannah is in the bathroom, squealing like a baby on the toilet. Her UTI is back. And, truly, I feel for Hannah. UTIs are the fucking worst. She calls out to Jessa, but there's no answer. She picks up her bag and finds the note. It says, see you around my love x.

To Hannah's credit, she understands. She gets herself to the train station and calls her parents who are themselves preparing for a trip to New York (more Peter Scolari full frontal nudity??? fingers crossed!) and tries to thank them. She says all the right things to them and it is really quite lovely because it does seem like Hannah is honestly appreciative of what she has. But because she still has her UTI and needs to squat and piss and make those mewling baby noises of pain, her mom thinks Hannah is screwing around. So her mom gets mad and Hannah is left on the side of the train tracks with her shorts around her ankles, fire coming out of her perhaps garlic-filled pussy.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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