“Deep Inside” felt very much like a “statement” episode of “Girls,” and just like statement wardrobe pieces, it skirted the edge of being a bit too self-conscious: a little bit too 'aren't I bold and edgy and impressive?' Still, the timing of the Gawker/Jezebel skewering was almost too perfect to be believed: In fact, if “Deep Inside” had aired one week earlier I would have been convinced of a meta mega-conspiracy, one where Vogue, Annie Lebovitz, Lena Dunham and possibly Jezebel were all complicit.
Unless I'm forgetting something, this is the first time “Girls” has killed a character off. Hannah's editor David – who crashed her birthday party in last week's episode – was found face down in the Hudson River. Dead. And since David was Hannah's only real advocate in the publishing industry, there's a pretty good chance her e-book is six feet under, too.
Adam is horrified by Hannah's cold and selfish response to David's death; she seems to have no real concern for the life lost and is only worried about losing a book deal. Adam worries out loud that if he were to die, Hannah would be more caught up in practical concerns, like making rent*, than missing her lover. “If you died the world would blur,” he tells Hannah. “I wouldn't know what a tree was.” (*I was a bit confused about this because in the season 3 premiere Hannah strongly suggested to her therapist that Adam wasn't contributing much financially to their living arrangement.)
Adam is further disgusted that Hannah has turned to Gawker for news coverage of David's mysterious death. “How would you feel if a bunch of creeps, celibate against their will, snarkily reported on every f**king detail of your body decomposing?” he chastises her. Hannah tries to defend herself, weakly and hilariously: “They report on media news, and I'm a media-ist...It's a web portal that celebrates the written word...and it's sister site Jezebel is a place feminists can go to support one another, which we need in this modern world full of slut-shaming.” (See Salon for a deeper look at Gawker as the butt of the episode's big joke.)
Though Jessa is initially dismissive of David's death, it reawakens the loss of her friend Season, who she says “choked on her vomit or something" several years ago. At Shoshanna's urging, Jessa contacts Season's family to find out where she is buried, but it turns out Season faked her own death – exclusively to get Jessa out of her life. Jessa goes to her friend's house to confront her, and Season explains that Jessa was enabling her when she was trying to get clean, and she figured the charade would work because Jessa wouldn't have bothered to go to the funeral.
This is one of the more far-fetched scenarios “Girls” has ever given us, and I'm hoping we revisit it: I would really like to know how not a single mutual friend of theirs wouldn't have let slip that Season was still alive. Also, it would be great if Melonie Diaz were a recurring character.
Adam's crazy sister Caroline is still hanging around: She runs into Hannah and Laird in the hallway, and after Hannah breaks the news about David's death, the three of them go frolicking in a graveyard. There are actual cartwheels involved. Later, as Hannah is obsessing over Adam thinking she's a sociopath, Caroline shares a story from their childhood: They had a young cousin Margaret who had terminal muscular dystrophy, and her greatest wish in life was to go to a dance. So Adam, who apparently had been visiting her daily for years, bought her a “tiny dress” and wheeled her to his high school prom as his date, just a week before she died. The story brings Laird to tears, but Hannah's first reaction is to ask why the dress was “tiny.” Caroline laughs hysterically and tells Hannah that she made the whole thing up; apparently as some kind of test, which Hannah seems to have failed, but Caroline isn't holding it against her.
When Hannah returns home to find Adam sitting on their stoop, she tries to explain to him that sometimes it takes her a while to process feelings, and insists that she is feeling sad over David's death. Perhaps seeing that Adam wasn't convinced, Hannah completely loses her mind and starts to tell the story of Margaret as though it were her cousin and her story. How do we know Caroline really made the whole thing up?! And even if she did, what are the odds that this isn't going to blow up in Hannah's face? I would reckon exactly zero. Hannah is certainly a master in the art of self-sabotage, but she may have outdone herself here.
It was already feeling as though Adam and Hannah's romance had peaked in the last episode; as if Caroline crushing the glass in her hand was both a turning point and a symbol. And the final shot in this week's episode also has a sense of foreboding: As Hannah went deeper into the lie, the camera zoomed closer in on her face, cutting Adam out of the frame altogether.
I can't help but feel a sick thrill about the possibility that the characters on “Girls” are gradually absorbing critiques from the show's army of armchair critics and spitting them in our faces. Just as Lena Dunham and her stylists appear to have doubled down on some of her ill-advised red carpet choices long after the echo chamber began to suspect calculated sabotage, “Girls” seems more than happy to showcase Hannah & Co. at their most unflattering extremes: So far in Season 3, the show's writers seem bent on raising the stakes from casual narcissism to deep and possibly dangerous pathology. Given how engaged Dunham is with the show's (and her own) public reception, it's impossible not to feel like she's presenting us with some kind of challenge. “Girls” (and “Girls”-bashing) has been a spectator sport since day one, but these days it's unclear who is watching who more closely.
Ellen Killoran is the Media & Culture Editor at IBTimes. She previously contributed to The L Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, and The Daily, and co-produced the HBO...