Last night’s episode of Girls, “Bad Friend,” is probably the most outright hilarious in the show’s history. It’s not the best, mind you, and juggles a few too many bizarre storylines. But the laughs are a constant crescendo that come to a startling halt near the end with a confrontation the show has been building to since last year’s penultimate “break-up” between Hannah and Marnie.
The episode begins with Hannah at an office, seeking a freelance writing opportunity. It’s one of those laughably “hip” start-ups, a company called jazzhate, that encourages its writers to do something crazy and experimental and then write about it. When the editor who interviews Hannah jokingly suggests she try cocaine, she jumps at the opportunity, despite her “weird nasal passages.”
Hannah confronts her group of friends about where to find drugs, and Shoshanna suggests hanging out by the mailboxes in her apartment complex because that’s where all of the druggies in her building gather. Marnie agrees, reminding Hannah of their downstairs neighbor, Laird. Hannah heads to Laird’s and finds him stereotypically druggie-esque – his apartment is sparse, he’s wearing a hippie-ish pull-over, he owns a turtle (“And I’ll never not own it.”), he drinks cranberry juice. So when Hannah asks him how she could score some coke, he freezes up. He’s clean, he tells her. “You don’t look clean,” she replies, the sort of obliviously cruel retort Hannah’s known for. But because Laird has an obvious crush on Hannah, and because he’s always wanted to do something nice for her, he tells her he’ll get her some coke anyway, but not after a stern warning that it could ruin her life.
Hannah chooses Elijah as her coke buddy, and the two snort some at 4:30 to prepare for their long night. Elijah chooses a hilariously childlike ensemble for Hannah to wear, a tight floral top that reveals her midriff and a pair of high-waisted shorts, which adds another layer of humor to the events that follow. The cocaine sheds the layer of restraint that Hannah and Elijah normally wear. With it, they’re able to confess their innermost dreams and despairs: Elijah wants to raise show dogs, Hannah wants to get married. They hype themselves up and head to a club, where the twin iPad DJs Andrew Andrew are spinning tunes. It’s the sort of scene you can linger in, whether in nostalgic remembrance or a sympathetic “oh yes, I get it.” Only the young and uncommitted can live as happily and stupidly as Elijah and Hannah do in this moment, high as kites and dancing like fools. It’s almost impossible to hate them, until you see them elbow-deep in a pile of coke on a bathroom toilet seat.
The coke sheds a more important detail as the night transpires: Elijah finally admits to Hannah that he had sex with Marnie. And because she’s Hannah, and we all knew her reaction would be abominable, it suddenly becomes all about her. Drugs or no drugs, this information flips a rage switch in her. Most of it boils down to how upset she is that Elijah didn’t choose her to cheat with, as if she isn’t attractive or fun enough. But the fact that it’s Marnie heats things up tenfold. Hannah and Marnie have been on miserable terms since last season, and this brings it back around. Now Marnie is the one with a terrible secret. Now Marnie is the “bad friend.”
But poor Marnie. While Hannah’s off gallivanting through a trough of club drugs, Marnie is with Booth Jonathon (The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, reprising his memorable role from last season). At first, it’s a vile encounter. He spots her at work and demeans her for cashing in and giving up her dreams. But then he leads her away to his home, a trove of retched doom. It’s full of scary, mutilated dollhouses and creepy cloven artifacts he calls his art. Scariest of all is a giant tube of screens he forces Marnie to watch. Once he locks her in, she’s subjected to scenes of gross, bloody horror on the screens that engulf her: maggots, dead animals, blood, torture. All set to Duncan Shiek’s “Barely Breathing.” It’s as funny as it is unsettling, and when Booth finally lets her out, she’s in awe. But not the disgusted awe you’d expect. Just pure admiration. “You’re so fucking talented,” she tells him. Ugh.
The storylines come to a head when Hannah, Elijah and Laird (who meets up with them in a drugstore – he’s been following Hannah all night, making sure she doesn’t go hogwild with the drugs) burst in on Marnie at Booth’s. Hannah, wearing a see-through mesh top she borrowed from a fellow club-goer, looks as pathetic as possible, while Marnie looks elegant and demure in a white robe. She’s been having creepy sex with Booth, but she feels special for it, like she finally has something to be proud of. Leave it to Hannah to drag her from that mystical happy place and back to an ugly reality. Hannah knows Marnie slept with Elijah and she’s Pissed Off that Marnie never had the good grace to tell her about it. Their already-on-the-rocks friendship is now at a negative ten trust level and for once, it isn’t Hannah’s fault. Marnie looks on in horror as Hannah hurls this information at her in a series of stone-cold truth bombs. “You’re a bad friend, say it!” Hannah demands. “I’m a bad friend,” Marnie concedes, before running off.
Hannah leaves, dutifully kicking Elijah out of the apartment, and puts a cap on the night by sleeping with Laird. If jazzhate was trying to get a rise out of her, they succeeded. Let's just hope it was worth the sake of the story.