If you don't know how to feel about the season two finale of "Girls" -- Lena Dunham's smart but sometimes cringe-inducing comedy about four twenty-somethings living in Brooklyn -- you're in good company. Two regular recappers of the HBO hit, Salon’s Lizzie Skurnick and XO Jane’s Mandy Stadtmiller, opened their recaps with nearly identical statements of ambivalence. “I don’t know how I feel about the new Hannah-in-crisis,” Skurnick wrote; “I don’t know how I felt about the ‘Girls’ finale,” Stadtmiller declared.
Indeed, a happily-ever-after ending to an otherwise dark and controversial season appears to have left many fans feeling conflicted.
Sunday’s finale, "Together," wasn’t happy for everyone: Newly separated Jessa still hadn’t reappeared, but her absence was felt in a weepy voicemail left by Hannah; and Shoshanna and Ray finally called an end to their crumbling relationship, with Shoshanna bluntly telling Ray that he needs to go to therapy.
"You hate everything. ... You hate people who wear sunglasses, like even during the day; you hate going to dinner, which you know I love; you hate colors, you hate pillows, you hate ribbons, you hate everything! I can't be the only thing you like," Shoshanna cry-screams.
But contrary to Hannah’s e-book declaration that “a friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance” (a passage that Marnie discovers on an open laptop as she prowls the apartment looking for Hannah), it is ultimately the ex-boyfriends who come to their rescue.
Having rekindled her romance with Charlie in the last episode, Marnie delivers a slightly crazed post-brunch speech explaining to him that she’s finally ready to “settle down.”
“I know I'm a mess, but I want you,” she says. “I want to see you every morning. I want to make you a snack every night, and I eventually want to have your little brown babies, and eventually I want to watch you die.”
Charlie, however, seems oddly content, replying, “That's all I wanted to hear.”
As if that weren’t enough, Marnie then adds, not all that convincingly, "I'm not getting back with you for the money, because I don't even know how much you make.”
However, the finale’s most overtly romantic moment is reserved for Hannah, when a determined and bare-chested Adam literally runs across Brooklyn to save her from “unraveling,” breaking down the door of her apartment and scooping her up in his massive, sweaty arms, just before the end credits roll.
Not everyone was pleased with the paperback ending. While Stadtmiller acknowledged, “I love a good happy ending as much as the next person,” she also criticized the episode for its “tied-up-with-a-bow, have-a-man-and-be-happy blergh-ness.”
Dustin Rowles of entertainment blog Pajiba also found fault with the conclusion, writing that, while “of course there is something comforting and satisfying about Charlie confessing his love to Marnie and about Adam running through New York City, busting down a door and rescuing Hannah from, essentially, herself,” viewers “have come to expect more from ‘Girls.’”
“Hannah, Adam, Marnie and Charlie aren't ready to grow up; they all want what's easiest for them at this moment,” Huffington Post editor Christopher Rosen echoed in a review.
The episode's reception was divided on Twitter.
“Object to Marnie getting what she wants, but just fine with hannah getting what she needs. not fair, but there it is [sic]” New York Times writer David Carr tweeted.
“Conflicted by #Girls' finale. Enjoyed it, but I feel Dunham ran away from the interesting & dark places she went in prior 2 or 3 episodes,” @MvelaseP wrote. “I love a great big romantiese finish, but I guess I expected more from her & #Girls [sic].”
In January, HBO renewed "Girls" for a 12-episode third season. Production is expected to begin in April.