In each season of Girls there has been a one-off episode. In season one Hannah went home and spent a weekend with her parents, season two Jessa visited her dad and Hannah spent a whole episode with Patrick Wilson. This week’s ‘Flo’ continues the trend.
Hannah heads home to visit her dying grandma and Girls tackles the issue of death once again. In “Dead Inside” and “Only Child” we learn that Hannah’s behaviour and reaction to death stems from her dysfunctional family.
The episode begins with a phone call from Hannah’s mom. Her grandmother Flo (June Squibb) is in the hospital battling phenomena and she’s not going to make it. She arrives to find her aunts (played by Amy Morton and Deirdre Lovejoy).
Hannah’s mom asks her to tell her grandma that she’s marrying Adam – even if that’s not the case. “She’s going to die soon what does it matter?” her mom says. Loreen thinks that it will give her mother some comfort that at least one of her granddaughters will have a good life. Hannah is rightfully appalled by the question.
Then we’re introduced to Hannah’s cousin Rebecca (Sarah Steele). They’ve hated each other since they were kids because Hannah told Rebecca she would never see her dad again (he was convicted of insider trading). Rebecca is now a medical student.
“How are, like, the hot doctors-to-be? I always watch Grey’s Anatomy,” Hannah asks in an attempt to make friendly conversation.
“I’m not going there to meet a man. I actually really hate when people say that because I feel like it diminishes what I’m doing,” Rebecca snaps.
Rebecca asks Hannah if she wants to get a drink later and Hannah is stunned.
Meanwhile in the kitchen the aunts are arguing as they divide up Flo’s things – her medication, her furniture and most importantly, her engagement ring. As a family heirloom it has great importance.
A phone call to Adam brings up the idea of marriage. “I always promised myself I wouldn’t get married until I had a swimming pool in my living room,” says Hannah. She’s upset that Adam seems to think that marriage is not in their future because she felt he was more committed. Hannah is extremely upset and a little mad for reasons she can’t understand and hangs up.
Hannah heads out to the bar for a drink with her cousin, but Rebecca doesn’t even drink on weeknights. They continue to talk and Rebecca admits she has a boyfriend, Dane, who she only sees on Wednesdays because he has another girlfriend. Hannah is appalled, but Rebecca is cool with it since he’s way better than her self-absorbed writer ex-boyfriend Rick. Her snarky comment about writers is a direct stab at Hannah’s profession.
For what it’s worth, Hannah is really trying to make their relationship work. “I would really like it if we could be the kind of cousins who spend time together and sleep in the same bed in the summertime, and jump in a lake, and have inside jokes about our grandmother, and were molested by the same person, but we’re not,” she says.
Rebecca tells Hannah their grandma called her “loose” behind her back and the nights over. On the way home Rebecca gets a text from aunt Margot saying their grandma has a fever. Rebecca insists on answering her text and hits a parked car.
Hannah texts Adam “car crash” and he rushes from New York to find she’s basically fine. The aunts are not far behind him and after checking the girls are okay, an argument erupts about whether or not to keep Flo on life support. They start to insult one another and Loreen points out she thinks her sisters resent her for having her life in order and her marriage intact. After the aunts disappear in tears and Adam goes to use the washroom, Hannah and Rebecca are left alone. Hannah places her hand in Rebecca’s as a simple understanding gesture. It’s a perfect scene.
Next we see Hannah wake up her grandma to introduce him to Adam. Flo “really doesn’t want to talk to strangers.” Adam tells Flo that he’s marrying Hannah. She gives Hannah some martial advice: “Some day you will look at him, hating him with every fibre of your being, wishing that he would die the most violent death possible. It will pass.”
The obvious relief Hannah has when she hears Adam says marriage is on the table is short lived. Loreen tells her to keep the job, not the guy. “I see certain things. He’s odd, he’s angry, he’s uncomfortable in his own skin,” she says. She warns it’s not easy being married to an odd man and Hannah is understandably upset. No one wants to hear their mom say she doesn’t approve of their boyfriend!
Flo’s pneumonia seems to be gone. The aunts make amends and insist they should all make more of an effort to be closer. Hannah heads back to New York. As she gets off the train she gets a phone call from Rebecca. Grandma Flo is dead. She’s had a heart attack. The episode closes with Hannah standing alone, thinking about how quickly things can change as “Don’t let us get sick” by Jill Sobule plays in the background.
“Flo” is a standalone episode and possibly one of the best of the season. It reminds us that at the end of the day family is still family and things can change in a split second. The episode also helps to deepen our understanding of Hannah as a character.