Girls, Season 5, Episode 3
I usually don’t stick around after the credits of a show to see the commentary from the creators. In the case of “Japan”, I’m glad I did. I learned that the inspiration for the episode was a phone call Lean Dunham received from long-time creative partner, Jenni Konner, at the time on a visit to Japan, describing everyone there as “a Shosh”. That’s how I felt watching the episode. While there was some concern for me last season, with Shoshanna deciding to move to Tokyo, it is undeniable that this is definitely her scene.
Shoshanna’s (and Zozsia Mamet’s) role in this collection of characters is nothing short of magical. You never really know how much you miss her until you spend some time with her again. I was holding out hope (episode previews be damned) that the whole half hour would be spent in Japan, much like last season’s “Iowa” took a break from the normal scenery. Can you imagine how amazing a whole episode of just Shoshanna would be? Even with the side stories though, this is definitely her shining moment.
Shosh has always been in a different place than the rest of the “Girls”, but she has come much farther in some ways. At the start of the series, her naivete and optimism about her future were a glimpse of what the other characters might have been like before entering the “real world”. The difference is that as she grew and faced more challenges, her spirit remained pretty much unbreakable. Though her actions at times were impulsive and short of wise, she could never be faulted for lack of trying.
So she ups and moves to Japan and it seems like the only thing holding her back is her boyfriend back home, while she is crushing on her Japanese boss. The obvious cultural differences are amusing and provide some of the best dialogue of the episode (“I’ve literally never heard that; it’s probably a Japanese thing”), but you can see how much she wants to cut ties and fully commit to her new life in Japan. This makes her “managing out” all the more crushing, and after talking to Scott on the phone we see the options floating through her mind.
Scott (Jason Ritter) is constantly referred to as Shoshanna’s “sort of boyfriend” throughout the episode. The two of them met when Shoshanna was ready to give up on her dreams and marry into a comfortable, if not exciting, life. The choice she has to make between him and Japan seems to reach its obvious conclusion. One last night out, which includes a visit to a sadism club, ends with her hooking up with Yoshi. At the end of the episode, as Shoshanna looks out on the balcony over Tokyo, she decides she’s not going back and Scott is left throwing out a bouquet of flowers at the airport.
Like I said, I would have been happy if all the action of the episode remained in Japan, but there’s some stuff going on in New York, so I guess I’ll address it. Fran, as predicted, is starting to become more of a character than just a stark contrast to Adam. I still don’t know what to feel about this new development, but at least he’s interesting. Hannah finds naked pictures of Fran’s exes on his phone and is surprised at how upset she is about it. Fran’s somewhat redeeming excuse is that the pictures are better than exploitative downside of most pornography. Well, I guess they are both right? I can’t say I care that much. The resulting photo shoot Hannah has with Ray and Elijah is pretty funny, but I can’t say it makes me any more interested in Fran and Hannah’s relationship. Of course, the episode ends with her deleting all the other naked pics on his phone.
Equally unsatisfying is the plot between Adam and Jessa. Adam is getting the same kind of work most struggling actors cling to: bit parts on episodes of a Law & Order-type show. They watch the episode’s airing with Ray and Jessa is impressed. This is nothing new. Adam has proved to be a capable actor and has received support from the people around him in the past. For some reason though, her comments prompt him to try, again, to make a move. Jessa, again, rejects him, walking out saying, “I’m not doing this will-they/won’t-they shit”. Too bad it seems the show is doing exactly that. Here’s a tip, if one of you isn’t ok with being “just friends”, then you probably can’t be friends. Ugh. More of Japan, please.