“If I knew you were coming, I would have warned you,” Adam tells Hannah.
Yes, the fifth episode of HBO’s Girls, “Sit-In,” saw star-crossed lovers Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) air out their grievances and, ultimately, break up. When we last left them, the fledgling writer had escaped the judgmental environs of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and returned to her stomping grounds of Brooklyn two-and-a-half pounds lighter, but carrying plenty of emotional baggage. But she opened the door of her apartment to find another woman there: Mimi-Rose Howard (Gillian Jacobs), Adam’s new paramour.
And Mimi-Rose is no slouch. After some serious Googling, Hannah learns that she’s an accomplished artist and popular public speaker that delivers TED-style talks to women about “constructs of romantic discord.” Mimi-Rose is in many ways the prolific and influential cultural force that Hannah is not.
“Adam and Hannah have always had a complicated relationship,” Dunham tells The Daily Beast. “They’ve never been able to be in the same emotional place at the same time, so it seemed like a very natural time for them to explore other relationships—hence the introduction of Mimi-Rose, who is one of my favorite characters we’ve ever written.”
That’s not all. By the looks of their former digs, Adam has moved on. He’s placed all of Hannah’s furniture in a storage unit in Fort Greene, and even knocked down a wall in the apartment to achieve their shared dream of creating “a master suite with their own hands.”
So Hannah deals with it like any coddled Millennial would—by locking herself in her old bedroom and refusing to leave. She’s so nervous about leaving the room, in fact, that she does her best Howard Hughes impersonation, peeing in the corner trashcan. What transpires is a surreal episode wherein Hannah’s confined to her room in a state of Yellow Wallpaper-esque infantilization, and is met by a revolving door of visitors.
There’s Shoshanna, who doesn’t provide much relief. Then comes Jessa, who first asks if she’s “here on furlough,” before copping to setting up “MRH” with Adam. This revelation prompts Hannah to punch Jessa, followed by Jessa slapping her upside the head. “You fuckin’ bitch,” shouts Hannah. “You have officially gone psycho,” Jessa replies. Again, not very helpful.
She shares the most awkward of hugs with Laird, her ex-weird downstairs neighbor/stalker, and Caroline, Adam’s semi-stable sister who’s pregnant with Laird’s love child. A “sorry and sickened” Ray comes by to cook her breakfast and, in a fantastic example of pot-meets-kettle, Marnie stops by to give Hannah a reality check, tell her to stop moping, and “let Adam go.”
But the real fireworks come in the latter part of the episode—an emotional pas de deux between one of television’s most complex and compelling couples, Hannah and Adam.
“We’ve been playing an onscreen couple for almost four years, so even though we’re adult people—he’s married and I’m in a long-term relationship and we’re totally buddies—there’s something really emotional about letting go of that onscreen relationship,” says Dunham. “It felt like the end of an era, at least for a moment.”
Hannah, tears welling in her eyes, takes her best stab at a final plea. But it ends up sounding entirely narcissistic and all about her, as most things are.
“I guess there was just a part of me that thought that you would, you know, wait for me or at least never find anyone that could possibly replace me,” she says. “I know we didn’t make any promises, but that’s just what I thought.”“You left, and I was sort of relieved,” Adam replies, tearing up. “I didn’t realize it until after you were gone… What we had was real and it was beautiful, and intense, and weird, and terrifying, and there was a time I couldn’t imagine myself with anyone else. Ever.”
The episode was directed by Richard Shepard, who’s handled several scenes on Girls focusing on the Hannah/Adam relationship, including the first season episode where Hannah admits to Adam that she doesn’t want a boyfriend but loves him, and the charged moment when she comes to his door with her crazy eyebrows. And according to Dunham, the breakup scene was a very emotional day on the set of Girls.
“We shot that scene all day long,” says Dunham. “Usually, I’m joking with the crew in between takes, asking for snacks, and moaning, and this was one of the only times I stayed quiet and stayed in the moment because there was such a strong sense of emotion. Watching Adam experience it gave me everything I needed.”
She added, “Adam is such a real and powerful actor that sometimes looking at him emoting just makes me cry—watching someone display that awesome vulnerability. He’s also so giving. I didn’t understand what it meant to be a ‘giving scene partner’ until I met him. If you needed him to slice his arm and bleed for you to get you to nail the scene, he would do it. He’s so committed to getting what needs to be gotten.”
But what does this new development mean for Adam Driver’s future on the show? Many have speculated that his days on Dunham’s HBO series may be numbered given his rising star in the film world, including upcoming roles in the Noah Baumbach flick While We’re Young, Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi film Midnight Special, Martin Scorsese’s Silence, and, last but not least, a prominent role in J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Dunham, however, says that Driver isn’t leaving Girls anytime soon.
“He’s doing Star Wars so it would seem that way, but Adam’s not going anywhere,” says Dunham. “I’ve had people come up to me trembling in the street saying, ‘How’s Adam going to do Girls and Star Wars?!’ But we’re figuring it out. We love J.J., so we spend a lot of time on the phone figuring out how to split custody of Adam.”She laughs. “I’ve never seen the first Star Wars. I’ve only seen the second three movies, which is embarrassing to admit—the ones with Natalie Portman. But when Adam got back, I was making a lot of rudimentary Star Wars jokes like, ‘Is there a lightsaber in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?’ And then I realized I had to just let it go and let him live his life.”