Girls recap: 'It's Back'

An unexpected revelation sheds new light on Lena Dunham's character — while showing how scattershot Girls' second season has become

(Image credit: Jessica Miglio/HBO)

Girls' second season is officially in the home stretch, with only two episodes left after tonight's "It's Back," but the series remains as troubling and aimless — and somehow compulsively watchable — as its protagonist. I was frustrated by last week's episode, which introduced the laziest possible explanation for Jessa's various issues (and then sent her off to wherever TV characters go when the actresses who play them are too pregnant to hide it anymore). "It's Back" offers a similarly unexpected origin story for our heroine Hannah, who has apparently been battling severe obsessive-compulsive disorder since high school — and started to lose that battle sometime between last week's episode and tonight's.

Unfortunately, as with last week's major character development/plot dump, it doesn't totally work. This is arguably the most important thing we've learned so far about Hannah's past, and I'm not sure that "It's Back" gave such a significant revelation the time and the gravity that it needed. I can buy that Hannah has a debilitating condition that helps to explain and justify some of her personal baggage, and that the stress of her book deal could make her condition worse — but Girls wastes no time cranking Hannah's condition from zero up to 11. It's a little jarring to see Hannah obsessively counting door slams and potato chips just a week after an episode in which her biggest health problem was a UTI. This is not the first time that the show has dropped a series-altering bomb without warning. Hannah's book deal, which has been the engine driving the second half of Girls' second season, came out of nowhere: An editor from "Unpumped Magazine" — which Hannah apparently always loved, though somehow had never mentioned before — took her out to brunch and offered her a book deal. Lena Dunham is as close to a TV auteur as exists in the modern TV landscape, but Girls sometimes feels cramped, like the product of too many writers with too many ideas, each working too hard to squeeze them into episodes.

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Scott Meslow

Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for He has written about film and television at publications including The Atlantic, POLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.