Not Getting It 'Together'

Sunday night's Girls season finale, "Together" was full of many things: breakups, make-ups, haircuts, sex scenes, legal drama, hypochondria and cotton balls. There was only one thing missing: the truth.

Prior to Sunday night's episode, Season Two's value was in its verisimilitude and self-awareness. Parts of it were so un-ripened and avant-garde they were barely digestible. The show's sophomore season peeked into the dark recesses of every character's soul and left no stone unturned. So, what happened to all that macabre tension Lena Dunham spent so much time building?

Where was the real resolution to the now infamous 'gray rape' scene at the end of this season's penultimate episode, which was so raw it was searing to watch? Are we supposed to feel good now about Adam after he karate kicks open Hannah's door and heroically scoops her out of bed, saving her from her textbook presentation of OCD?

Then there's the way Charlie waits a total of two seconds before taking back Marnie after her Larry David-style performance at his company's party and encore at the pizza parlor. They kiss and make up, walking off into the sunset to live happily ever after on the money Charlie's made from his start-up.

I'm not saying the finale should've forgone all imagination in favor of being coldly authentic -- this is entertainment, after all, but "Together" seems out of place and this last episode is only symptomatic of a problem Girls has been having all season: It lacks intention.

And that shortcoming is especially apparent in the show's main character.

In the first season, Hannah's complete narcissism was tolerable because she seemed to be in singular pursuit of her dream of becoming a writer. We were even led to believe that she was talented -- perhaps the kind of misanthropic individual whose tantrums would result in genius. This lasts into the first half of Season Two, but by the second Hannah has lost everything. There is nothing redeemable about her. Even Laird, her downstairs neighbor, calls her out on it, "You are the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met, ever. I had feelings for you, sure, until I realized how rotten your insides are." There's no hero aspect to Hannah's anti-hero, and as a result no one is rooting for her.

Maybe this season the show was meant to mirror its characters' own aimlessness, or maybe it was just poor planning. Either way, after viewing all 10 parts of this year's shortened effort, it's clear that while some of Dunham's experiments resulted in moments of brilliance ("One Man's Trash," the episode starring Patrick Wilson, expertly wove fantasy with truth) others went horribly awry. This stage in the life of HBO's Girls was bursting at the seams with growing pains, and the finale provided none of the elements that elevated this season's few fresh episodes.

The only plotline that seemed to save the finale was the breakup scene between Shoshana and Ray. Finally, we see Shoshana's demons come to the fore. Her outburst was pitch perfect emotionally, and included some of the best-written lines of the episode: "I can't be surrounded by your negativity while I'm trying to grow into a fully formed woman" and "Maybe I can deal with your black soul when I'm older. Maybe we can be in love then." It was powerful stuff to watch.

The rest of the finale flailed in comparison. Instead of subverting television tropes -- by refusing to bow to them and creating something new -- the remainder of "Together" bought into them. It was so stale I felt like I was watching re-runs of my favorite rom-coms on TBS.

At best, it was pastiched -- injecting '90s nostalgia by having Adam run through the streets of New York topless set to an emotional score that, in my mind, sounded exactly like "Secret Garden," the Springsteen song that played at the end of Jerry Maguire. [Insert your favorite comparison here]. At worst, it was tired and played.

Did I cry? Yes! But they were cheap tears. They were the tears I reserve for the end of Bridget Jones' Diary when she runs pantless through the streets chasing after Mark Darcy or when Hugh Grant as a loveable William Thacker rushes into a press conference in Notting Hill to win back Julia Roberts.

Also, what is the takeaway message? Earlier in the finale Hannah whimpers:

You know when you're young and you drop a glass and your dad says, like, 'Get out of the way' so you can be safe while he cleans it up? Well, now nobody really cares if I clean it up myself. Nobody really cares if I get cut with glass. If I break something, no one says 'Let me take care of that.'

OK, that's all fine and good, being an adult sucks sometimes -- but now we'll never get to see Hannah actually pull herself out of her own funk because Adam swoops in and saves the day. Is the lesson here: Find someone else to clean up your mess? Or even worse: There will always be someone to pick up the pieces if you fall apart? Marnie, too, is saved by Charlie from 'the worst year of her life.' Do we think she's really going to struggle to 'make it' in the music business with her newly-rich beau by her side?

To be fair, this was just a season finale and not the end of the series. There is the potential for the same after-happily-ever-after drama so perfectly captured in Jon Cozart's YouTube video.

However, it should be acknowledged that there was no reality in the make-believe found in "Together." In its place, we have a shoddy sugar-sweet ending to an otherwise all over the place season.