Hannah tags along with Jessa to upstate New York to visit Jessa's father (Ben Mendelsohn) and his girlfriend Petula (Rosanna Arquette), and "Video Games" gives us some insight into why Jessa's so grand and careless: As you probably deduced ages ago, she's the daughter of grand, careless parents who can't be relied on. Her father's apparently an artist of some sort who moves around constantly and drives around with a carload of vintage computers (maybe he's actually a hoarder); Petula is a no-nukes flake who thinks the world is actually a video game, and both Mendelsohn and Arquette give good, subtle performances as step/parents who are both cluelessly well-intentioned and highly toxic.
As obnoxious as Jessa can be -- and is here, advising Hannah to put garlic in her, um, wonderfulness to cure a UTI, and calling "Penthouse" Pets "noble" for teaching young boys about their sexuality -- it's still sobering when she weeps to her father that he shouldn't have to rely on her. "I'm the child," she repeats. "I'm the child."
And it's a credit to "Girls" that, even though the audience might have more compassion for Jessa's peripatetic selfishness as defense mechanism, the show's still willing to complicate things by having her be a child. She shoplifts a bottle of booze and "explains" that it's not stealing "if it's from a corporation." Then she ditches Hannah in the country with a "See you around my love X" note on the bed, forcing Hannah to find her own way back to the train station.
Did Twitter think the Jessa-focused ep worked?
Actually, i'm still crying from that episode of #girls. Jessa's scene on the swings with her dad...Felt like I was talking to my mother.— Alicia Gray (@aliciajgray) February 25, 2013
It was a little thing, but I liked that Jessa's father seemed genuinely kind of bummed about the end of Jessa's marriage. #girls— Ali Amjad Warraich (@aliamjadwrch) February 25, 2013
Girls was pretty good last night, especially the Hocus Pocus line. I wonder tho, did they just prove how unnecessary Jessa's character is?— Jeremy (@jermlikespie) February 25, 2013
Then again, we might have done that ourselves if we'd had to spend the weekend with Hannah and no TV…
The worst outfit of the episode, seen below, is bad, period, never mind on Hannah's body type: You can't really see it thanks to our under-awesome photo skills, so we'll do better next week, but it's a pair of pleated jean shorts with a bow on the front. That they're often around her ankles (when she's urinating right next to the train tracks, thanks to a UTI; when she's having…let's say "young" sex with Petula's 19-year-old son Frank in a cemetery) (more on that later) doesn't improve matters much.
So…it's later, and yes, after storming out of the car on what she thinks is a "sexcapade" with Jessa, Frank, and Frank's friend Tyler because everyone's doing whip-its and driving erratically, she has awkward almost-sex with Frank among the gravestones. It becomes clear the next morning that Frank is pretty new to having sex, and the ensuing scene is very uncomfortable -- and kind of mean on Hannah's part, as she's needling him about whether it was his first time. (Frank claims he's had sex before, with a girl named Rihanna, and while Hannah shouldn't have pushed the point, we can't blame her for reacting incredulously to that "information.")
When Tyler mentions that he had a poem published "locally," Hannah can't wait to say that she's a writer too, and "just inked a book deal." Yeah, shouldn't she be home working on that? It's due in, like, three weeks now, right?
Standing on the train platform -- well, at first; later, she's peeing next to the tracks, again -- Hannah calls her own parents to thank them for, basically, not being Jessa's parents. She's absolutely sincere, but her mother assumes she's calling to ask for money, and reacts to Hannah's heartfelt gratitude for their support by snapping, "I'm not falling for this crap, Hannah." We started to feel sorry for Hannah, but the exchange indicates that she's called home with pronouncements like this before hoping they'd send her a few hundred bucks, so…
"Girls" airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.