You might think from the title that "Boys" is another bottle episode like last week's -- an entire half-hour about Adam and Ray this time, and their quest to return the dog Adam stole from outside a coffee shop in Staten Island.
It isn't, although the two guys do undertake that quest after Ray asks for his copy of "Little Women" back from Hannah (who 1) is late to work, again and 2) gets a plot point wrong). She left it at Adam's and refuses to retrieve it herself, on the arrogant grounds that Adam is still crazy in love with her and "might murder" her if she shows up at his place.
Off Ray goes to Adam's -- probably at least in part to get away from Shoshanna's campaign to get him to show some ambition with a Learning Annex seminar -- and finds nothing but snarling, both from Adam (resents Hannah getting him sent to jail for the night) and the dog (locked in the bathroom at a stranger's apartment). After giving Adam a lecture on how wrong it is to steal a canine family member, he immediately screams at the barking dog to "shut the f--- up" -- a flawless depiction of the conflicted relationships we have with our pets. Chastened, Adam agrees to return the hound, but makes Ray go with him. Ray is pleased enough to be thought of as "extra muscle in case s--- gets real" that he agrees.
Not without a lot of complaining about Staten Island, though, and muttering that it's a portal to hell -- but it's fun for the audience, although it's unfortunate in that you may realize you'd waaaay rather watch a show about Ray and Adam. Adam has improvised a muzzle for the dog from a sweatsock, and expounds on everything from why "young girls and older ladies" are the best relationship material; to why he and Ray are alike ("maybe it's because we're both kind of weird-looking"); to why he's glad to be over Hannah, namely that she's "like a carnival game" that's rigged, "the giant Tweety doll" you have to carry around for the rest of the night.
We hope their friendship keeps developing, but this adventure ends after Ray questions Adam's attraction to Hannah by noting -- correctly -- that Hannah is a "difficult person" who "was terrible to" Adam. Adam, now coming to Hannah's defense almost against his will, decides Ray is admitting that he either wants to sleep with Hannah or already has, starts a slapfight, and spits that Ray is only with Shoshanna because he knows it can't last. "I'm out," he says, walking off. The dog owner's daughter, meanwhile, is a nasty grab-bag of clichés about Staten Island's parochial-racist inhabitants, and she won't even take "Mikey" back; she hates the dog.
Ray and Mikey end up on a park bench at dusk, looking out over the water. Ray asks Mikey, "You think I'm pathetic, don't you?", and begins to sob. But dogs never think that. That's the beauty of dogs.
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Ray's not the only one crying. Hannah elects to vomit instead of cry, because she's gotten an e-book deal from the super-twee editor (John Cameron Mitchell, very convincingly not knowing what a pistachio is) of a mag she loved in high school. She's loving the editor's compliments about her voice, which he describes as "very sweet, very naïve -- infuriating," but she only has a month to write the book. (And -- hope you're sitting down -- wearing a too-short dress, bare-legged, with clogs to a pitch meeting. We know that's intentional on the part of the wardrobe designer, but someone on the show needs to clock Hannah on it. …Clogs. Come on.)
She's making zero progress, drinking Red Bull, deleting her first and only sentence, getting distracted by the internet while a depressed Jessa glooms that "your book doesn't matter; that's the first thing you need to know." And when Hannah texts Marnie that she has news, Marnie blows her off, believing that Hannah only "wrote a blog post, or found a really good hot dog."
She's lounging naked with Booth at the time -- ugh -- and he starts to win us over by wondering why Marnie still hangs out with Hannah, then saying he doesn't really care about the answer. But he loses us almost immediately by bitching out his camel-toe-shorts-wearing assistant, while he's naked, for eating a bite of his rosewater ice cream. "Sooj" doesn't seem to mind that he's nude, but when Marnie chimes in on the sampling-groceries question, Sooj tells her to eff off, and quits. Booth asks Marnie to hostess his pre-show art party that night.
Booth's got a variation on Marnie's Hannah problem, then, and it's a deft (if depressing) take on how people get "ingrained" in our lives, and we keep them there even when we haven't liked them in a while. When Hannah, slumped on her bed "trying to work," calls Marnie, neither of them can admit that she's having a hard time, because neither of them thinks the other is going to care. Hannah lies that she left the party because she got inspired. Marnie lies that she's "in Booth's garden, we're watching fireflies" (she's on a subway platform). There's a loooong silence. "Talk soon, or…?" Hannah asks, straining for "casual." "Of course!" Marnie fakely chirps. "Love you bye," each says. But it's more "bye" than "love you."
She thinks he means co-host; she describes it to Shoshanna as "Booth and I are having a couple friends over." Ohhh, Marnie. Hannah attends, in her customary dumpy attire under an ugly raincoat, and we would feel sorry for her, but…well, we don't. It's fairly horrible of Marnie to hide Hannah's outerwear under someone else's coat, then rush off to greet one of her new friends when Hannah is in the middle of telling her about the e-book, but it's so far past time for Hannah's own selfishness to boomerang on her that we're fine with it.
Hannah, feeling out of place among a bunch of art snobs with names like Sketch and Strider, leaves early without saying goodbye. Marnie, feeling totally at home, gets a rude awakening when it becomes clear that Booth sees the hostess role as exactly that. It is, after all, what she does for a living. Marnie, who bought a hideous rubbery-gold dress for the occasion, is crushed and immediately starts weeping, admitting that she thought she was his girlfriend, and she feels like an idiot. Booth is comforting at first, but soon goes on a rant about everyone, including Marnie, using him "for what I represent to them." Marnie is taken aback: "Everyone loves you." "No one even knows me," he sulks, shoving bottles onto the floor. "I hate everyone here."
"Girls" airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.
Watch Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow describe their collaboration on "Girls" in this episode of "Iconoclasts":