The season three finale was a melancholy one, full of breakups, real-world wake ups, life epiphanies, unanswered questions and some happy news.
Collating this episode with season two’s finale, they couldn’t be more dichotomous. Season two ended on an unnervingly cliche climax (corny embraces and all!), while season three’s finale was illustrative of the sour disputes that were building up all season long between the myriad of relationships on this show, which also made it quite satisfactory.
The episode begins with Hannah running into Caroline (Adam’s sister) and discovering that she has not only shacked up with the hippie tenant on the first floor, Laird, but is expecting his (possibly) daughter. The good news continues when she returns to her empty apartment, Adam is still crashing at Ray’s to practice for his play which premieres later that day, and opens her mail. That she accidentally rips her letter in half while trying to open it is only too symbolic of the tribulations that letter’s content will laden her and Adam’s relationship with – it’s already complicated as it is. Hannah discovers she’s been accepted into Iowa’s MFA program and rushes to Marnie’s apartment to share the congratulations-deserving moment.
Meanwhile, Shoshanna, who’s been studiously working hard on completing school, discovers she’s three credits shy of graduating and goes home to find herself in a hard-metal induced frenzy – a full-on textbook tossing, window breaking, chair slamming rage. Poor Shosh, who could blame her? She’s been meticulous about her studies, putting pedantic concerns ahead of socializing all season long and won’t get the opportunity to reap in the tassel-turning reward. Marnie shows up soon after to offer some condolences and share her own college failure experiences, but then decides to come clean about sleeping with Shoshanna’s ex-boyfriend Ray, which gives Shoshanna one last cathartic outburst.
Later that night, the three girls, along with Ray and Elijah, meet up for Adam’s play premiere. Marnie goes to see Desi in his dressing room and gifts him a touching guitar memento, which leads to an awkward hug then an inevitably quick yet steamy kiss. She walks away with her head in the clouds, possibly thinking he’ll leave his girlfriend Clementine for her. Afterwards, she can’t stop bragging about the kiss and an intuitive Elijah admits, “Honestly, I don’t see this ending well for you,” which Marnie brushes off. She eventually runs into Clementine in the bathroom, who sees past Marnie’s facade, knowing what her intentions with Desi are.
Hannah finds a reluctant Adam in his dressing room and offers him good luck while also, in a spotlight-stealing moment, sharing her good news about graduate school and admitting she might take it. She was on the fence earlier that day about whether or not she would go and had Marnie and her parents (over the phone) encouraging her to take this opportunity.
Shoshanna also confronts Ray but not to reprimand him about sleeping with Marnie. She begs him to take her back and is kindly rejected by a more compassionate Ray who admits it’s because of their relationship that he’s grown up and has a stable job but can’t get back together.
All the while, Jenna is still working for Beadie who asks her for an inordinately tall order. Beadie wants to die and asks Jenna to score her some drugs. Jenna, who’s been struggling with drug addiction, a rehab stint and relapse all season long, finds this an understandably hard favor to do. She’s been so careless with her own life for so long, when another person’s life is thrust in her hands she seems uneasy about the idea. She eventually agrees to Beadie’s euthanasia proposition, but when faced with death Beadie has second thoughts and realizes she doesn’t want to die. For Beadie, this means a second chance at life; for Jenna, this could mean a clean start with a fresh perspective on life and its value.
After the play is over, Hannah meets Adam who is visibly upset and slides off compliments over his performance, saying he didn’t feel good about it because of Hannah’s good news. He obviously doesn’t want her to move and is not unreasonably upset over her good news overshadowing his big night. Hannah, on the other hand, has been feeling overshadowed by Adam’s acting career, feeling subordinate. She recently “lost” her job and has been doubting her writing aspirations – she’s dealt with a failed book deal and having to lower her standards and write product-related editorials this season. And, after talking to her friend/mentor/interviewee Patti LuPone in last week’s episode, she wondered if Adam would be the famous, successful careerist in the relationship while Hannah supported his artistry. Knowing Hannah, she isn’t one to sit around and wait for things to fall in place at opportune moments. She sees Iowa as a second chance to get back her original career path, even if it means leaving Adam behind. And, as the last shot in the episode demonstrates, Hannah doesn’t seem too upset about it.