In “The Return” we went back to East Lansing, Michigan with Hannah and watched her grapple with big city girl returns to the suburbs situation. Removing some of the annoying drama between characters like Marnie and Charlie (or Jessa and the father of the kids she nannies) and taking Hannah out of NYC was just what Girls needed after losing traction in the last couple episodes, putting all the extraneous noise in the margins to focus on this extended vignette into East Lansing.
“The Return” was written by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow, who pick up the clichés that surround “home” and see what icky bugs run out from underneath by sending Hannah to her parents’ house in Michigan for the weekend, for their thirtieth anniversary. The episode defines and redefines “home” as it applies to Hannah: as an oblivious twentysomething, as a New Yorker, and as an adult only child. And it starts with the “oblivious” part when Hannah’s heading to the airport. Marnie—Hannah’s mother hen by proxy—leans out the window to remind Hannah that rent is due next week, and admonishes her to “be nice to your parents. Okay?” “I’m the nicest!” Hannah chirps.
I don’t mean to trivialize the rest of “The Return”. My initial distaste for Girls has obviously receded, and this episode maintains the steady run the show’s been on since the third episode. We understand Hannah enough now that it’s not even that annoying tonight when she slips into her worst and most selfish behavior since the pilot.