“Girls” is ending next year, after its sixth season, and no one is ready for that — except, maybe, them. The season five finale episodes were some of the best episodes this show has seen yet, in both content and execution. The finales don’t end with cliffhangers; they wrap up the season with scenes that leave you ambivalent about what you want for the show’s four core women, and unable to predict what they will want for themselves.
Ray (Alex Karpovsky, “Inside Llewyn Davis”) makes a passing comment to Shoshana (Zosia Mamet, “Mad Men”) about his recent sexual experience with Hannah (Lena Dunham, “Tiny Furniture”), which she rightfully ignores, then Shosh takes control of his coffee shop. This is one of the funniest subplots of the show, as Shosh makes the shop popular by marketing towards anti-hipsters, but it also blows fresh air into the lungs of a character that needed to be gently punted out of her funk; her eyes widen and then narrow with purpose as she works tirelessly on rebranding. Ray slips back into the background where he belongs, making sardonic quips right up until the moment Marnie (Allison Williams, “Peter Pan Live!”) decides to walk back into his apartment and love life and he, staggered and stuttering, accepts her with open arms.
After Hannah and Tally (Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”) have a dance party high, they walk downstairs and run into Adam (Adam Driver, “Frances Ha”) and Jessa, (Jemima Kirke, “Tiny Furniture”) looking domestic in comfy clothes with groceries in each hand. Hannah — who still hasn’t talked to Adam or Jessa about her feelings regarding their new relationship — and Tally both burst out laughing. It’s maybe a 15 second interaction, there are less than 10 words said, and most of it’s laughter, but it’s one of the most perfectly directed scenes in the finale. Even though we know that Jessa and Hannah will always be in each other’s life, and Tally won’t stick around, in that scene Hannah and Tally are closer together, having just indulged in a decadent heart-to-heart (not to mention some seriously strong weed). The scalene triangle Hannah, Tally and Jessa effortlessly form only drives home the distance between the two friends — it almost feels like Adam isn’t there at all.
Later there’s a shot of Adam and Jessa lying naked on the floor, heaving from the sex or the stress of the verbally vicious and physically threatening fight they’d just had. The wreckage of their fight looks like the swirling debris of a shipwreck, rapidly spiraling into the sinkhole. Unbeknownst to them, there’s a gift basket from Hannah outside the door; she decided to leave it there even after she heard them screaming her name, coupled with some choice, four-letter words.
The final episode ends with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” which could not be a more perfect song. It feels innocent and romantic at first, but gets more uncomfortable the longer and louder it plays. The setup is reminiscent of a scene from “Inception,” when people can only be woken up from their dreams within dreams by music that starts soft but gets increasingly louder, forcing your heart to speed up with the tempo as it reaches deafening, wall-shaking pitches.
Few shows on air right now capture the intricacies of friendships the way “Girls” does. With something like “Sex and the City,” there’s such a cultish practice of assigning ourselves characters based on personalities. People debate with their friends over who is the Carrie, the Miranda, the Samantha and the Charlotte in their group. But it’s not like that with “Girls.” Nobody wants to identify with Hannah, Marnie or Shosh — and if you identify with Jessa, you’re probably immature. But we don’t actually hate the girls in “Girls”; we hate what we secretly identify with.
Maybe that’s why the jokes in “Girls” don’t really feel like jokes as much anymore. Yes, I still laugh at all of Shosh’s rapid-fire remarks, make audible noises of disgust at Marnie’s self-absorbed monologues and grit my teeth whenever anyone else talks, but the jokes just feel like voiced observations of how people interact and connect — or don’t.
This season of “Girls” has seen the evolution of relationships, some unfolding more rapidly than others. But it has also been circling closer and closer to the hearts of these friendships. The relationships in “Girls” are like spiderwebs: easy to accidentally tear through, yet also surprisingly springy. The closer and closer you get to the center, the stronger yet more delicate they become.