Girls Review: “Beach House” (Season 3, Episode 7)

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Elijah was a fun character when he was a regular on the show, and it’s nice to see him back, even if it’s only temporary. Thanks to his presence we get to see an entirely peripheral conflict to the one going on between the girls: he is with a boyfriend who treats him like dirt. This conflict has a very real connection to the main theme of the episode, though, which is about how the desperation to have emotional connections with other people can make a person forgive some pretty awful stuff. That theme will come into full relief by the end of the episode, both in Elijah’s relationship and in the relationships between Hannah and friends, which are at least momentarily thrown into disarray by some alcohol-induced unpleasantness.

That unpleasantness is forced to the foreground by Shoshanna, who after spending a few episodes in the background is finally given a chance to show her value as the wild card of the group. To compare them to the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang, she is most definitely the Charlie of Girls. She doesn’t come across as particularly bright, but underneath the surface there is a whole lot more going on than one might think. Apparently a lot of what has been going on has been pure rage, and whether it’s because of the alcohol they’ve all been consuming or just the underlying tensions of the night (or, most likely, both), she unleashes that rage, and Hannah is her main target.

What makes that scene particularly effective is how sweetly naive Shoshanna seems most of the time. She has not come across before as someone who is harboring any significant degree of bitterness. But when that bitterness is unexpectedly unleashed, it is utterly believable. And what’s more, she is dead accurate in her criticisms of both Hannah and Marnie, who start out fighting with each other but are more or less allied by the full force of Shoshanna’s scorn.

It does not seem likely that the events of “Beach House” will have any sort of long-term consequences for the characters. It’s the sort of one-off episode that could have been placed anywhere within the season as it reflects very little on the show’s overall continuity. That’s not a bad thing, though. In fact, that type of episode tends to be a strength for Girls (see last season’s “One Man’s Trash” for another excellent example). It will, however, have long-lasting effects for our understanding of Shoshanna as a character. Despite having been woefully underused for much of this season so far, she was finally given a chance to shine, and it was electrifying.

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