This idea of cleansing oneself has permeated this season—and the theme continues in this episode. Our characters here aren't particularly good at cleaning up and starting afresh, but what they are good at is self-sabotage. In this episode, "On All Four," several characters successfully take themselves out at the knees.
Last week, a woman at Adam's Alcohollics Anonymous crowd set him up with her daughter, Natalia. Surprise, surprise, the two actually hit it off. Suddenly, they're going to see romantic comedies starring Sandra Bullock, taking lunch breaks together and even attending friend's engagement parties. Natalia seems good for Adam, mostly because she's completely up-front about what she wants. When the two first have sex, it at first seems awkwardly negotiated. But Natalia tells Adam what she won't do, what doesn't work for her, and is clear about her boundaries. Adam isn't really used to. He says, "I like how clear you are with me." To which Natalia responds, "What other way is there?"
They attend Natalia's friend's engagement party, where Natalia is courteous of Adam's sobriety and asks him if it's okay if she drinks. You can tell Adam is uncomfortable—not because of the drinking but because of the party. He doesn't fit in, as you can tell when Natalia's friend describes him as looking like an "old-timey criminal" alongside a sea of game-loving bros. This feeling is multiplied after a chance sidewalk encounter with Hannah where Adam informs her about Natalia but clearly makes sure to keep his ex at arms length.
Upon his return to the party, Adam does the worst possible thing he could do. He decides to drink because he wants to show Natalia a good time. In one of my new favorite scenes, we see Adam and Natalia drunkenly dancing set to the strains of Fiona Apple's "Valentine"—the contrast of the liveliness of the dancing and the melancholy nature of the song leave with the feelings that this isn't going to end well.
They go to Adam's house, which Natalia deems depressing. Adam commands her to "get on all fours and crawl to the bedroom." Natalia obliges and gingerly crawls to the room. And then things echo back to early Hannah/Adam sex: Adam getting wrapped up in his head and a weird, forceful fucking. This ends in one of the most explicit things seen on the show: Adam's come on Natalia's chest. He apologizes for losing himself, but unlike much of the other sex in the show Natalia airs her displeasure, saying, "I really didn't like that." I think there's a lot of power in the moment where she is able to vocalize that. Many people do things to please a partner or to push our own boundaries and discover in the process that it isn't something that we want. And that's a hard thing to vocalize. However, I also think that unconsciously the whole situation was Adam sabotaging his relationship with Natalia, especially after his encounter with Hannah.
Meanwhile, Hannah is doing even worse mentally. It's unclear whether or not she's taking the meds prescribed to her for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but I'm guessing it's unlikely given how she twitches to the eight times she picks her wedgie.
She has a humiliating meeting with her editor (another delightful John Cameron Mitchell cameo!). He didn't read her pages because they were too friendship/Jane Austen-y and less Anais Nin/sexual failure than he wanted. Even though Hannah offers up her sex story about the teenager in the cemetery, her editor tells her just to make it all up.
This rejection of her writing coupled with her increasingly worrying anxieties and OCD culminates in a disturbingly Cronenberg-esque scene. After shuffling around in her underwear on a hardwood floor, Hannah gets a splinter in her ass. Upon removal, she focuses on her ears, digging deeper and deeper with a Q-Tip until she hits her eardrum.
Hannah calls her parents who tell her to go to the doctor right away. The doctor says that she hurt her eardrum but there's a lot of blood in there. Since Hannah wanted to "clean herself out," she then asks him if he'd look at the other ear. He refuses but does give Hannah back the q-tip when she asks for it. It's a sort of deranged souvernir of the physical harm she did to herself.
On her way back from the hospital, she runs into Adam and learns about Natalia. We don't get Hannah's reaction to seeing Adam but see her calmly pull the bloody q-tip from it's plastic bag and stick it into the opposite ear. I'm really worried about Hannah. I'm also worried that none of her friends seem to care about how her mental state is declining.
We leave Hannah and pick up with Shoshanna, who's feeling pretty guilty about cheating on her boyfriend Ray with a hot doorman. She's massively overcompensating for it, serving Ray tea and being very nice, to the point that Ray notices something is going on.
The couple head to Charlie's office party, where Ray's neuroses come out in full force. Shosh plays the "avoid the boyfriend game," striking up conversation with strangers and talking to Charlie about how he could sleep with any girl in the room including her. Ray confronts Shosh about what is going on and she confesses that she held hands with the doorman. Ray hugs her telling her he loves her and Shosh's face tells it all.
While all this is going on, Marnie is attempting to kickstart her singing career. At Charlie's office party, Marnie breaks out into an incredibly uncomfortable and out-of-nowhere performance of Kanye West's "Stronger" to "celebrate the premature success" of Charlie and his co-workers. Charlie takes Marnie to his office, telling her she's manic and flailing. Marnie says she's just on a journey. In unsurprising news, the two end up having sex on his desk. Charlie's finally taken charge in the way Marnie used to want.
Now that everyone has done some sort of physical or eventual emotional harm to themselves, we have perfect fodder for next week's season finale.
Quick List: Other Favorite Factoids from "On All Fours"
- "Sandra Bullock is very charming. I only wish the best for her." -Adam on Sandra Bullock.
- "I've been known to dabble in the Macintosh arts." - Ray on helping Marnie lay a track.
- Shosh's donut hair is ridiculous.
- Ray refers to beer/pizza as the "people's food," while being condescending to Charlie.
- "I guess we aren't really huggers." Hannah to Adam.