'Girls' recap: 'I want to be happy'

Sarah D. Bunting
Yahoo! TV
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"Girls" -- "One Man's Trash"

Lena Dunham, Patrick Wilson and Alex Karpovsky in the "Girls" Season 2 episode, "One Man's Trash."

Ray and Hannah are crafting the Café Grumpy chalkboard sign. Well, Ray is crafting it. Hannah is claiming she's invented a term called "sexit" -- to leave a place in order to have sex. Ray shoots that down with a quick visit to UrbanDictionary.com (NSFW) but courteously says nothing about the horrid-even-for-Hannah camp shirt and too-short shorts combo she's wearing.

Enter a guy from the neighborhood (Patrick Wilson! Love that guy!) to complain that someone from Grumpy is leaving Grumpy trash in his cans. He's perfectly reasonably about it, but Ray is…Ray, sneering at the concept of neighborly politesse with an R-rated reference to "Kumbaya" and calling Patrick Wilson a "f------ pinko." Patrick Wilson is annoyed, but also kind of scared of Ray's "corporeal percussion," and leaves…

…and so does Hannah, claiming a "toxic work environment." Really, she's gone over to Patrick Wilson's house to gawk at it, then apologize, because of course she's the one who left the trash there. Her excuse is, for once, not completely self-serving, and when called on her crap, she is, for once, genuinely apologetic. "I will see you around, but not by your trash cans," she says, hands him back his lemonade glass, and reverts to Hannah form by laying a kiss on him. Hey, it's Patrick Wilson, so we totally get it, but we also got the feeling she was doing it to do it, so she could write about it. 

But not good weird either

But he's responsive, and they end up Doing It on his kitchen bar. Then they trade names, and "Joshua" agrees that what just happened is weird -- "not bad weird…but weird" -- and is not seeing the red flag in Hannah's (on point) comment that she only has sex with people she knows: "I might know that they're bad, but I know them."

Then they spend the next couple of days together, grilling steaks and drinking wine; talking about his separation from his wife; glaring at his neighbors, who, in a rich takedown of Brooklyn, are riding in circles around a keg in their yard on unicycles (we live there, and trust us, this nonsense does happen); playing ping-pong in only their underpants; and having all the sex.

Joshua, a physician who's very into his home renovations, is into their fling, of course; she's about half his age and impressed with him. But Hannah is really loving it, making him beg her to stay ("like, sadder -- not like you're in 'Toy Story'") and beaming when he tells her she's beautiful. (Her shy admission that that's "not always the feedback that I've been given" is very sympathetic, and makes us wish even harder that the wardrobe people weren't deliberately making Lena Dunham look like a clueless sack of old potatoes with her outfits.) Joshua makes her call in sick? She loves it. They're having coffee like old marrieds in his yard, with a bowl of clementines, while she wears his sweater? She loves it.

[Related: Ari Gold's 'Entourage' house hits the market]

But she's loving it a little too much, and after fainting in his (gigaaaaaantic) shower because she over-amped the thermostat, Hannah has a mini-breakdown about loving it, and begins to cry. "I want to be happy," she sobs, and even though it's kind of vintage-Hannah obnoxious when she's complaining about how "it gets so tiring, taking in all the experiences for everybody" -- as if anyone really cares, in the end -- we felt for her, that she's spent so long telling herself that she doesn't mind the discomforts of being 24 that she almost believed it. And she's ashamed that she wants "all the things," like the art and the soft bathrobe and the fancy bathroom sink, and we remember what that's like too.

...and then she lost us

But Joshua is starting to look uncomfortable, because the level on which Hannah is sharing is a dating level, and he's just not there. Hannah, to the surprise of no one, doesn't catch that, and tells a weird sex story (about Adam, we assume), and has a revelation about her "deep, deep" loneliness, and worries that Joshua thinks she's crazy. He lies that he doesn't, but when Hannah's like, I don't think so either, and adds that, "if anything, I think I'm just too smart and too sensitive," we can see Joshua thinking to himself, "Aaaand that's about enough of that." We'd have to agree, especially after the Fiona Apple reference by Hannah, and it's excellent subtle work by Patrick Wilson as Joshua slowly becomes aware that, like so many others before him, he's stepped into a quicksand of self-absorption, and that the thrill of getting with a young woman may be off-set by…this.

So it's time, then, for Joshua to tell her that he's going to sleep because he has to work early. Hannah does understand that that's a classic blow-off, but she can't seem to shut up, asking him if he wants her to leave (he lies that he doesn't), then bitching that he barely talked about his divorce, then making it clear she didn't listen when he did talk about it, and calling him "Josh," again, when he's told her about a dozen times he doesn't care for that. He reassures her again that he doesn't want her to go, but leaves the room, and she stares straight ahead.

Sad piano plays (it's quite lovely; thumbs up, Michael Penn) as Hannah wakes up the next day. It's cloudy. She makes herself toast and eats it sadly in the yard. She visits his closet. She makes the bed, and takes the trash out on her way back to the café.

We'll skip Klueless Korner this week. Hannah had a few off-putting moments in "One Man's Trash," certainly -- when she sniffles, "I want all the things," we wrote "then develop a work ethic, you brat" in our notes. But the writers yanked her back from the brink she'd sauntered cluelessly up to in previous episodes; she seemed more naïve and confused than snotty and self-centered this week. Sure, Hannah grousing that she "can't believe" he's "doing this" is kind of tone-deaf, but we got the feeling she was talking as much to herself as to him -- and that she realized her mistake, albeit too late.

Maybe she's growing up?

Twitter's not so sure (least of all about that outfit):

Next time: Hannah's writing an e-book. Oh, dear.

Lena Dunham explains how real-life bad dates give her "Girls" inspiration:

"Girls" airs Sunday nights at 9 PM on HBO.