Girls Season 4 Episode 9 Review: “Daddy Issues”

Girls

Following Hannah’s dad coming out of the closet in “Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz,” this week’s episode of Girls, titled “Daddy Issues,” has Hannah trying to figure out what Tad’s revelation means to her. Meanwhile, most of the members of the gang are also forced to do their own reality checks. Some excel at it, while others prefer blissful denial. At its conclusion, the installment does exactly what it was conceived to achieve: it moves the plot forward with a perfect balance of comedy and drama, while more questions are formed.

A little bit sudden and forcing the audience to fill in every single blank, this week’s Girls opens with Jessa and Ace together in her room. Right off the bat, we get it: Jessa wanted MRH’s former flame and she got him, yet the disconnect between them is pronounced. At that point of the installment, “Jace” is, potentially, the most toxic relationship on the show ever.

In the meantime, Hannah is acting very composed toward her father’s surprising confession. It is hard to tell if she is numb, in denial or just does not care whatsoever. Whatever it is, I’m afraid Hannah is just a ticking time bomb right now. One would expect the very polarizing girl to make her father’s newfound identity her own Greek tragedy, and regardless of the fact that against all prediction she stated that Tad’s sexuality is “not about her,” I believe she is 100% faking it. Otherwise, who is that person and what did she do with Hannah Horvath?

In contrast to Hannah’s apparent emotional disengagement, Loreen is a wreck, yet a hilarious one to watch given the woman’s no nonsense approach and how brutally articulated, graphic, and realistic she is. On the other hand, there is Elijah, who wants to teach “Gay 101” to Tad, while simultaneously trying to enlighten Hannah regarding her dad’s self-defining process as a gay man. I love how Elijah seems to have these mini projects all the time, and Tad as a mentee does fit; however, as a friend, Elijah did act careless towards Hannah.

Tad’s approach to pretty much everything in “Daddy Issues” was probably my favorite part of the episode. The Girls writing team nailed it on the head when they decided that Tad was not going to be out, loud, and proud overnight. Throughout this season, we have seen the man struggling with something we can now name, and the process has been treated very delicately so far. For all intents and purposes, the subplot of someone who is Mr. Horvath’s age, with a long-lasting marriage, a (sort of) grown up daughter, finally admitting that he’s attracted to men, yet remaining unsure what the next step is, rings true. There is so much honesty in Tad not having the answers and so much courage that he displays, that his way out of the closet gains depth. This storyline is not about shock value and repercussions but about roads taken and journeys to embark on. 

During Hannah’s time with her dad Tad had, among other things, called her a child, a notion he also backed when he asked if she brought her wallet to dinner and, naturally, she did not, which, I confess, repulsed me. Hannah, I love you, but grow up! Further proof that Hannah needs to understand that she cannot act immature forever is her sad attempt to reconnect with Cleo, who seems to have lost interest in being her teacher’s bestie. Again, Cleo is only acting her age, and probably reminding Hannah of that, yet the new substitute teacher doesn’t compute that info. 

Even after the school’s  principal overhears Hannah’s improper attempt to fraternize with Cleo again and tells her that she must acknowledge and respect boundaries, Ms. Horvath just can’t follow. Not only does she hardly ever apply any filter when sharing information, she seems equally unqualified to take a room’s temperature. She ends up giving her boss more than he bargained for, while her Millennial delusion continues.

What makes Hannah’s lack of tact even worse is that she expect others to have it when it comes to her; therefore, she looks like a brat. Otherwise, her regurgitating her employer’s speech about limits to Tad and Elijah would have been more than organic and understandable. Instead, the spiel proves one thing: she does to others what she doesn’t like others doing to her, which is selfish, annoying, and hypocritical.

On a different front, Ace tricks Jessa. He tells her that they are going to an Ethiopian restaurant, which is strategically located near Mimi’s place. He also fake-casually suggests they stop by. They do, and as anyone could have foreseen, Jessa, MRH, Adam, and Ace at the same place equates to someone making a stew that’s a mix of dog food, confetti, chocolate syrup, and Prozac; they just don’t go together!!! 

When Jessa and Adam turn out to be the most grounded people at a table, it is clear that something is going to hit the fan. In this case, it happens rather quickly. Jessa and Adam are assertive enough to gather that the impromptu double date is a colossal mistake; both try to put an end to it, while Ace seems to have been possessed by Glee Season 1’s Rachel Berry, and rubs his and Jessa’s romantic development in his ex’s face.

Mimi-Rose, in turn, spits out that she is jealous, while showing zero feelings. She is either psycho or a politician in training (or maybe both). Tension escalates  when Norma Bates claims to want Ace back, which prompts Jessa to do what any intelligent woman would: opt out. She refuses to be manipulated and tells Adam to follow her lead. They both escape the “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Park Slope Edition” situation, while Mimi has a change of heart and decides she’d rather be alone. Jessa, Adam, and Ace dodge a huge bullet.

Jessa opens up to Adam and confesses that she went after Ace because he is someone who didn’t gave her a chance to think, and she doesn’t do well when she thinks. It makes sense; Ace was in-your-face and self-involved enough to offstage the whole Kardashian clan. That said, Jessa can’t escape her demons by getting involved with nightmare men. 

The newly single pair stop by at Ray’s election party; however, Adam splits because he is far too eager to see Hannah, which was a great statement for him to make, yet I would have loved for Adam and Jessa to continue their heart to heart.

At Ray’s celebration, Marnie tells him that she and Desi are engaged, and he reacts to the news with a ballerina’s grace. Then his feelings bleed into his victory speech. In return, Marnie announces via microphone that she will marry her worst mistake. 

The episode concludes with Hannah and Ray sitting beside one another, confessing they are “faking everything.”  There is such simplicity to their exchange, while all the same raw feelings are covered by the mask of chosen numbness, that the scene is a delight to watch. So is the episode.

Highlights: 

–  Cleo placing Hannah in social Siberia and reminding her she is needy. It was a short scene but it also made a very strong point: Ms. Horvath has trouble with older, contemporary and younger generations. 

– Jessa calling it like it is and refusing to be part of Ace’s plan to rekindle his relationship with Ms. Psycho. 

[Photo via HBO]

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