Girls 5×08 ‘Homeward Bound’: Directionless

Girls 5x08 Cover

One of the best things about Girls is that it highlights how growing up isn’t a linear journey. You might make a decision only to realize how childish it was a year down the road, reverting to your worst self in order to get out of it. You might decide to follow a path that you don’t love because you think it’s what’s best, only to realize that you have no idea what is best. Really, none of us know what is best for ourselves, so we follow our hearts, hoping that they’re leading us in the right direction. Only listening to our hearts means having to tune out the things you want but shouldn’t have. It’s tricky, trying to sift through your own conscious thoughts for what is right and what is wrong, realizing that the mechanism you use to do so doesn’t work as well as you think it should.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

“Homeward Bound” is an episode entirely devoted to these girls trying to follow their hearts, only to watch everything spiraling out of control. Shoshanna, who has been in Japan for most of the season, ends up broke in America once more, trying to apply for welfare because she needs money. Really, as her ex-boyfriend points out, she’s not doing this because she needs money. She’s doing this because she’s scared of moving forward, because she doesn’t have a real direction to go in now that she’s back in America. Shoshanna is living in this purgatorial state that happens when your life plans fall apart, when direction turns into nothing. It takes time and effort to find another direction, and it can be absolutely terrifying to pick one while still reeling from the pain of picking a wrong direction.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Marnie wants to move forward, but she’s so tied to Desi that it’s difficult to go where she wants to go. She wants to continue with her plans as a musician, but her plans are so tied to Desi and Desi’s immaturity is so pervasive that it’s difficult for her to continue creating music with him. It certainly doesn’t help that Desi’s new girlfriend (played by Lisa Bonet!) places a great deal of blame on Marnie, doing so with a self-serving smugness that irritates her to no end. Like Shoshanna, Marnie is faced with the unknown, plans falling out under her that feel as if there’s no good direction to move. She wants to continue with music, but now there’s a huge barrier in her way instead of the joint effort she had envisioned with Desi.

Girls 5x08-3

Source: HBO

Jessa is now seeing that her path to moving forward might not be as singular as she thought. She sees Adam as being somebody that can help her as she pushes towards her degree, and she loves the thrill of being with him, but her direction with him is moving in a way that she hadn’t envisioned. While being with him was fun at first, now they have to deal with something very serious. This is always a test for couples, making it through the first very, very stressful event of their relationship. It’s a test that takes couples from the honeymoon phase to a point where they have to really test the strength of their bond. And here, while Adam is fairly committed to their relationship, it’s beginning to hit Jessa just how serious their relationship is getting. She’s beginning to realize that if she wants to be in a relationship that has an element of longevity, she may have to change direction.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

And Hannah realizes that being with Fran is completely wrong, something that she can only see having been in that relationship for a while now. What works brilliantly about her realization is that whenever Hannah loses direction, she quickly implodes, making crazy random decisions in order to test the waters for a new direction. Of course, those decisions can be potentially harmful, especially to others, but they give Hannah a sense of where to go next. After leaving Fran and being stranded in the woods, she calls Ray, who gives her a ride back in his coffee truck… until she gives him a blowjob and he crashes the truck. After the coffee truck flips, she hitchhikes with a random guy that drives by. Hannah’s interactions throughout the episode speak to her immaturity, but her immaturity really only shines through when she’s directionless and terrified. Interestingly enough, she’s the only one that has a real moment of clarity in this episode. She ends up, as she heads back into New York City, ready to move on with her life. Sometimes it takes being selfish and taking chances to really move on.

With next week being the last finale before the final season, there should be moments of clarity for the characters. Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa certainly won’t be perfect adults when they get to the end of Season 6, but they should have a direction, some sense of purpose, something to keep them moving towards their adult identities. Because it’s not a linear journey, and it’s not a journey that ends with complete clarity. Really, it’s a journey that ends with more clarity, even if it’s a little bit. That’s really what adulthood is, discovering clarity in life, even if you’re only accumulating it a fragment at a time.

What did you think of “Homeward Bound”? What do you think will happen to the girls in the finale? Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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