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Saying Goodbye: 10 Essential ‘Girls’ Episodes

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After six fantastic years, Girls is saying goodbye this month. With the series finale set to air on April 16th, it seems as good a time as any to look back on ten of the HBO dramedy’s very best episodes. Girls has never lacked for great writing, hilarious situations, and a lot of naked Lena Dunham, but these episodes are especially demonstrative of each of the elements that make the show so special.

Please note that this isn’t a traditional countdown, but rather an alphabetical list of the series’ ten best episodes.

“American Bitch”


After Hannah pens a scathing think piece on successful writer Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys), who has been accused of sexual misconduct, the writer in question invites her to his apartment for a personal conversation. Though initially careful and apprehensive, Hannah begins to drop her guard as the episode goes on, and Chuck’s careful mixture of flattery and manipulation leads to a brilliant final act.

Boosted by a strong counterpart in Matthew Rhys, Lena Dunham soars in this bottle episode. The counterpart to an earlier episode that saw Hannah playing house with an older man, “American Bitch” does a whole hell of a lot in a very short period of time.

“Beach House”


If you could only pick one episode from this list to watch, “Beach House” would probably be the winner. The titular beach house is owned by a family friend of Marnie’s, and when she manages to snag it for a weekend, she lays out a careful plan for how things should go (in typical Marnie fashion). Unfortunately for her, Shosh, Hannah, and Jessa are not on board for this at all, and as tensions rise throughout the weekend, the episode climaxes in a full-on blowout.

Though the episode ends with the girls spontaneously bonding over music, then dancing together, the tone suggests that these tensions will not be forgotten, even if the girls think (and hope) that they might.

“Boys”


A nice switch-up from the girls-only “Beach House,” the surprising and aptly-named “Boys” puts the focus on Ray and Adam, as they’re thrust into a NYC walkabout out of nowhere.

After Adam impulsively steals a dog, Ray joins him on a journey to return it. As the two make their way to Staten Island, they debate a variety of issues, not the least of which is Hannah. Meanwhile, Hannah and Marnie’s friendship is tested when both girls lie to one another on the phone after their similarly-devastating evenings do not go as planned.

The episode succeeds mainly by challenging expectations again and again, and offers some very different dimensions for characters we may have thought we knew.

“Home Birth”

“Home Birth” is probably the best finale that Girls ever pulled off. No episode of star/creator Dunham’s creation ever made the case that the characters we’ve come to know might eventually drift apart the way that this episode did.

As Laird and Caroline are planning the eponymous home birth, Hannah and Adam are pulled back together after a very tumultuous season. While Adam sees the joy of creation and is moved to reconcile, Hannah has the opposite reaction, and in a showstopper of a scene, they hold hands over a baby incubator until Hannah reluctantly lets go.

Elsewhere, a very angry Ray lashes out at series douchebag Desi and tells him off in glorious fashion. Finally, Shoshanna casts off her safety blanket and takes the plunge on a job offer to Japan.

“Japan”


“Japan,” you say? Yes! Not just a gimmick episode by any means, Girls‘ deep dive on Shoshanna’s new life is a happy-go-lucky love letter to one of the world’s most unique cultures, first and foremost.

As Shosh seems to be more at home on her own than she’s ever been, the illusion begins to fall apart at the seams, leaving her to question whether she really made the right call after all. There’s a ton to take in – both visually and canonically – in Shoshanna’s journey, wholly separate from her friends.

The episode also opens up a can of worms when Hannah invades her boyfriend Fran’s privacy by looking at the photos on his phone…only to find he keeps nudes of past girlfriends. The moral conundrum and relationship breakdown that follow are an easy season 5 highlight.

“One Man’s Trash”


The early companion episode to the aforementioned “American Bitch,” “One Man’s Trash” explores Hannah in the most intimate fashion yet seen in the series at the time.

As she shacks up with middle-aged Joshua (Patrick Wilson), who is separated from his wife, she begins to build a fantasy in her head. While she sees him as the older man who finally recognizes her for her wit, talent, and beauty, he sees her as a fantasy of his own: one of youthful frivolity and freedom. Once she begins to show that she’s more than that, though, he quickly falls back.

The episode ends with Hannah trying to assert her adulthood by taking out his trash on the way out, even as she’s removing herself from his life. It’s a brutal comedown for one of Girls most fun and unique episodes.

“The Panic in Central Park”


“The Panic in Central Park” has Marnie having a very un-Marnie day when she spontaneously runs into her ex-boyfriend, Charlie. Though he’s changed a hell of a lot, they rekindle their romance as Marnie accompanies him for the day, even going so far as to cheat on her husband, Desi. The revelation that Charlie is now a drug dealer derails things pretty quickly, but it’s enough of a change to show her once and for all that she doesn’t belong with Desi, and the two agree to divorce.

The fact that this gets (mostly) rid of world-class douchebag Desi is worthwhile enough, but the depth that “The Panic in Central Park’ instills in Girls‘ most unlikable character changes the way viewers see her forever after.

“Sit-in”


After Hannah decides that the writers workshop in Iowa isn’t working out for her, she decides to return home to her apartment and boyfriend…only to find out that both have been occupied by another woman.

Shattered, Hannah locks herself in the bathroom of her former apartment and refuses to leave. As her friends come by in a show of support, each offers her their own counsel. In the end, Hannah reluctantly leaves Adam with his new lover, Mimi-Rose, and earns a bit of self-respect in the process.

This was the beginning of the end for Adam and Hannah, and a four-season relationship was dissolved in its entirety in one fell swoop. Bonus points for the brilliant Gillian Jacobs (of Community fame) as Mimi-Rose.

“Two Plane Rides”


This is a loaded episode if ever there was one. The season 3 finale has Shoshanna attempting to rekindle her love with Ray, Marnie kissing Desi for the first time, and Jessa being asked to help an artist commit suicide.

The real meat of this episode, though, is Hannah, who receives a letter of acceptance for an Iowa writers workshop. This causes a rift between her and Adam, as he seems to resent her for it, but characteristic of her personality, she just clutches the letter and smiles to herself as the season comes to a close. A truly iconic moment.

It’s probably the second best finale in the series’ history, after the aforementioned “Home Birth,” but in a series this good, you could do a lot worse than second place.

“Welcome to Bushwick”


The infamous party episode, “Welcome to Bushwick” is certainly one of Girls‘ best from a purely comedic standpoint. With classic moments like Marnie meeting Charlie’s new girlfriend, Jessa accidentally inviting her employer to the party, and Ray being tasked with caring for Shoshanna after she accidentally smokes crack, there are a ton of laughs to be had here.

This is also the episode where Hannah first realizes perhaps just how self-absorbed she is, as Adam reveals that the reason he hasn’t told her anything about his life is because she’s never asked. When she finds out about his history of substance abuse, it’s a turning point for the two of them, and the point where there relationship formally begins.

But seriously, man is this episode a lot of fun!

Agree with our choices? Think we missed some? Feel free to let us know what your favorite Girls episodes and moments are in the comments!

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Ricky D

    April 6, 2017 at 5:17 am

    So glad you included “One Man Trash”

    • Mike Worby

      April 6, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Truly one of the best episodes.

      • Ricky D

        April 7, 2017 at 6:34 am

        yeah but a lot of people hated that episode for some reason. I think I’d put Beach House at number one although there is one episode in the first season that I would include in this list. I can’t remember the title but I’ll try to figure it out. I remember it being the party crack episode.

        • Ricky D

          April 7, 2017 at 6:35 am

          oh wait you did add that episode. Yeah that would be my favourite.

          • Mike Worby

            April 7, 2017 at 12:24 pm

            Yeah the party episode is hilarious. Love it.

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‘Mr. Robot’ Just Changed Everything with a Shocking Reveal

There have been a lot of moving parts put into place over the course of Mr. Robot’s fourth season. Several of them just came together, in devastating fashion.

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Mr Robot

There have been a lot of moving parts put into place over the course of Mr. Robot‘s fourth, and final, season. On Sunday night, however, several of those pieces came together for one of the best episodes of the entire series in “Proxy Authentication Required”.

The reveal of a trauma so intense and horrific allows the character of Elliot to make so much more sense – so much so it almost warrants an entire series rewatch, to search for other hints.

Staged like a five act play, and utilizing a cinematic aspect ratio, “Proxy Authentication Required” immediately lets viewers know that it’s doing something a little different. While this may not be a huge surprise for fans (Mr. Robot just did a dialogue-free episode two weeks ago, among other experimental efforts throughout the series) the reason for it is fitting.

Essentially a bottle episode, “Proxy Authentication Required” takes place entirely in the apartment of Elliot’s former therapist, Krista. As such, the five act structure makes it even more like a play than it already is. Moreover, the episode is very dialog heavy, with almost no action.

Mr Robot
Still, with a meaty chess match between Elliot/Mr. Robot and drug dealer Fernando Vera making up the majority of the episode, the dialogue is weighty enough to justify this structure. The first round goes to Vera, who obviously has Elliot over a barrel, having kidnapped both he and Krista. However, Mr. Robot turns the tables in the second round, pointing out the lack of originality or planning in Vera’s drug-fueled, mystically-advised bid to take over New York City.

Finally, the third round comes: the tie breaker. As Fernando orders Krista to have an impromptu therapy session with Elliot, the most shocking reveal in the series is laid bare. After a tense build-up, and against the protests of both Krista and Mr. Robot, Elliot finally digs up the truth behind his alter ego. Mr. Robot wasn’t created after Elliot had an accident, he was created to protect Elliot from a series of traumas that came before it.

In an emotional moment sold gloriously by Rami Malek, Elliot accepts the truth: his father molested him throughout his childhood. In one fell swoop, so much of what we know about Elliot suddenly makes sense – and the fact that Mr. Robot looks like his dad is just the beginning. There’s also the details of the trauma that we’ve had up until now: that Elliot told Darlene to hide when he heard his dad coming; that he grabbed a bat to defend himself – and, finally, that he threw himself from the window when he feared he couldn’t best his father in the altercation.


The reveal of a trauma so intense and horrific allows the character of Elliot to make so much more sense – so much so it almost warrants an entire series rewatch, to search for other hints. Certainly it’s more logical that Mr. Robot was created out of these terrible memories rather than materializing after the injuries sustained during Elliot’s fall. It also lets the viewer know that Mr. Robot had a history of altering Elliot’s perception and memories long before the events of the series.

Even more disturbing is that the creation of false narratives and fake memories is actually a real-life coping mechanism used by survivors of sexual abuse, especially children. As such, the reveal fits naturally into the character of Elliot – but it’s a huge shock to drop on the audience a mere three episodes before the end of the show.

Of course, the reveal will no doubt ignite debates as to whether Mr. Robot creator and showrunner Sam Esmail planned this backstory from the start, or whether it was concocted as a wrench to throw in the gears at the last minute. Either way, questions remain as to how this new information will affect the remainder of the series.

Will Mr. Robot be back or is he gone for good, now that his job of protecting Elliot from the truth has become obsolete? Did/does Darlene know? Will this affect the plan to hack the Dark Army that has been building all season? All of these questions and more will be answered in the next three weeks but in the meantime, we’ll be waiting with baited breath.

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Watchmen

Watchmen Podcast: Breaking Down “Little Fear of Lightning”

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Watchmen Podcast Episode 5

This week, Watchmen delves into Looking Glass’s past and revisits one of the biggest events from the comic: the “interdimensional” squid attack on New York that kills over three million people and psychologically damages millions more. “Little Fear of Lightning” the finest hour yet, a focused character study that connects past and present in fascinating ways. And as always, there’s a lot to digest.

Our Watchmen podcast will see Simon Howell and an assortment of guests tackle the entire series (or at least the first season). In this fifth episode, Simon Howell, Sean Colletti, and Randy Dankievitch, take a deep dive into “Little Fear of Lightning” and note some of the more astonishing facts of the episode you might have missed.

And for those of you wondering, in order to keep things simple, we’ve decided to upload each episode to the same feed as our other podcast, Before the Internet.

Listen here on iTunes or listen here on Stitcher. 

You can also catch our show on Pocketcast and on Spotify, or simply listen via the player embedded below.

Before_The_Internet_Podcast-2-1024x1024

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Wrestling

The Career of Seth Rollins: From Face to Heel at Lightning Speed

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It wasn’t that long ago that The Shield debuted on Survivor Series, setting the main event careers of three talented wrestlers in motion. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins all came to the WWE through NXT. In and out of The Shield, each man has held multiple championships and has had great success.

Seth Rollins
The Shield stands together.

These days, look a lot different for the former Shield members. Dean Ambrose left the WWE for AEW to wrestle again as Jon Moxley and Roman Reigns took a step back from the spotlight after warring with cancer. Meanwhile, the career of Seth Rollins has taken a turn of its own.

Becoming Seth Rollins

Colby Lopez joined the WWE in 2010 as part of Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Seth Rollins. He was there when it was re-branded in 2012 as NXT and became their inaugural champion. Seth Rollins turned heel in epic fashion by betraying The Shield and embarking on a huge singles career after his main roster debut.

Seth Rollins heel
Rollins turns heel and betrays The Shield.

Rollins hitting his Shield brothers with a steel chair still rates as one of the most shocking turns in WWE history.

More recently, Rollins had two wars against Brock Lesnar over the Universal Championship. Rollins won the Royal Rumble, using the title shot he earned to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania. Then, Lesnar somehow won a Money in the Bank match he wasn’t technically involved in. He used that shot to get his belt back. Rollins would then reclaim the title at SummerSlam.

Rollins defeats Lesnar at WrestleMania.

It was a repetitive feud.

Rollins vs. Lesnar Into Infinity

The back and forth between Rollins and Lesnar became exhausting to fans. Not shockingly, WWE viewers were already sick of Lesnar being an absentee champion by the point that Reigns finally took him down. When he reclaimed the belt after Roman’s cancer announcement, the focus turned to Rollins hunting Lesnar.

Even when someone else like AJ Styles or Baron Corbin got in the mix, fans knew they wouldn’t win. It was always going to be about Lesnar and Rollins so fans started to turn on Rollins. His Hell in a Cell match against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt was the final nail.

Top Face or Top Heel?

There was a time long ago that fans over the age of eight cheered for John Cena when he came out to the ring. At some point, it became cooler to boo him. The same is true of Roman Reigns, who had to go through a traumatic personal experience to get fans to ease up on him. In both cases, they were the corporate champions chosen to lead the brand.

In reality, fans didn’t really care if they were good wrestlers or not. It’s just something they chafe against.

The boos echoing through the arena are growing louder and louder for Seth Rollins for similar reasons. That’s due in no small part to the long, tedious promos he’s sent out to give to personally connect with the audience. Play that card too often and the opposite becomes true. WWE was frequently guilty of the same thing with both Cena and Reigns.

Rollins cuts another promo.

Watch the video from the night when Reigns made the announcement of his hiatus to fight cancer. Fans were reflexively booing him because they figured they were in for another long promo. The mood changed quickly when Roman started talking about leukemia.

Things Go Wrong at Hell in a Cell

All of this was already building to a head when Hell in a Cell came along.

Rollins faces The Fiend.

Universal Champion Seth Rollins was set to defend his title against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt in the titular main event. Unfortunately, WWE had painted themselves into a corner. They wanted Seth to retain, which he did, but couldn’t use the traditional DQ or count out to do it. Instead, WWE went for some weird finish where Seth hurt Wyatt so much so the ref stopped the match.

Essentially, a DQ in a no DQ match.

Rollins became the focus of much of the rage for the bad finish but the feud between him and Wyatt would continue. Wyatt finally won the Universal Championship and took it back to SmackDown. The side effect of this would be Lesnar returning to Raw with the WWE Championship.

It’s inevitable that Rollins and Lesnar will cross paths for the WWE Championship. Unfortunately, fans will have to choose between the two. They’ll end up cheering Rollins on as the lesser of two evils from their perspective.

The main miscalculation that WWE made at Hell in a Cell is the same one they made with Reigns and Cena. They assumed that being the top face in a match makes you the fan-favorite. Bray Wyatt is, by far, the most over wrestler in the company. People love Firefly Fun House and they love ‘The Fiend.’ Rollins simply couldn’t compete as any ending that wasn’t Wyatt with a belt would not be satisfactory to fans.

Seth Rollins’ Next Phase

Now, Rollins is stuck in a weird limbo. The top face on Raw for management that’s morphing into a heel based on fan opinion. His heel run alongside Triple H was some of his best work and he is still a superb in-ring performer. WWE should let what’s going to happen by letting Rollins perform to his strengths.

Let Rollins burn it down as a heel one more time.

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