There was no way that Hannah Horvath could stay in New York forever. The city itself is essentially toxic to her friendships, to herself, and to her life. This episode serves at the leaving New York essay that we always knew she’d write. Thankfully, we don’t have to read it. We can just watch it instead.
As the show opens, a visibly pregnant Hannah walks through a campus upstate on the way to a job interview, listening to the kinds of conversations she’d had in her “youth” — so, like four years ago, when she was 23 instead of 27 and pregnant. She’s interviewing for a job as a college professor, so she can teach kids about writing for the internet. She’s the fresh blood the department head wants. It is a fruitless endeavor to wonder how precisely Hannah’s gotten this job with the amount of work she has or hasn’t been doing, but writing for the internet will get you places, I guess. Setting aside the relative insanity of Hannah even being qualified for this position and understanding that this is done for dramatic effect and nothing else only makes it a tiny bit better. On the train ride back down to the city, she gets the call. The job is hers.
Back in Brooklyn, Elijah’s sad about her leaving, but you can tell that he thinks it’s for the best, despite his own interests. “Why would you want to leave New York?” he asks, as they eat burritos together in a sweaty apartment. The situation that they’ve found themselves in is essentially an answer to that question. New York is hard enough as one person, and as two people, it’s likely much harder. Besides, she needs health insurance and the job offers that. Thus begins her walking tour of the city, which serves only to reinforce her decision to take the job, pack her shit, and get out.
First, she talks it through with Tad, who is in total support. She can’t get in touch with any of the friends she’d like to talk to, however. Marnie’s not picking up the phone and Shoshanna’s number is disconnected. Part of the confusion she feels about leaving New York is that she hasn’t made her “mark” on the city yet. While I understand the impulse to carve your name into an indelible chunk of the city because it’s a big, scary thing, it’s just a city. It’s like any other place where millions of other people live, work, and die every single day. Making a mark on the city or feeling the need to do so is narcissistic, but that’s the core of this entire final season — everyone on this show is a narcissist and they are coming to terms with that, slowly but surely.
After improbably making eyes with a stranger on the subway who is reading a Michael Chabon book, Hannah gets off at her stop and runs into Caroline, freshly medicated and out of a hospital stay, ready to take care of Sample. She gives Hannah her blessing to leave the city, though some might argue she didn’t really need it. Hannah still can’t get in touch with Marnie — and we see now that it’s because Marnie’s been ignoring her calls. There she is, with a fresh blow out and a tastefully wrapped gift. Hannah’s not sure why she’s not answering the phone, but she finds out soon enough, when she shows up to Shoshanna’s engagement party — a event she wasn’t invited to that completely blindsides her.
That’s where Shoshanna has been the entire season. Getting her shit together, living her life, and getting engaged to Byron Long, a man she met at a Sprinkles cupcake vending machine who seems to really, really like her. Hannah wasn’t invited because honestly, Hannah’s been a shitty friend. Marnie’s there, though. So is Jessa, and so is Elijah. Sensing the tension in the room, where the girls are gathered together for the first time in what feels like years, Marnie gathers the group for a meeting in the bathroom.
What ostensibly should be a “meeting” to assess why and when and how their friendship hit the toilet turns into an airing of grievances, fueled by their own virulent narcissism. Hannah’s leaving. Elijah got a job. Jessa wants to be treated like a normal person and not a witch or the devil. Marnie’s anxiety about the friendship is actually misplaced anxiety about her own life. The only person who sees this pity party for what it really is is Shoshanna, who calls them out for being the shitty people that they actually are.
At the party, Jessa and Hannah finally make up — progress, which comes by way of a baby gift of a dress. Turns out Hannah’s having a boy, Jessa’s the first person she’s really told, and the improbability of Hannah raising a child that is also a boy hits them both so hard that it erases everything about their fight and lets them actually be friends. Cue the montage of the girls being girls, doing what they’ve always done best. Hannah’s dancing and sweaty; Marnie’s handing out business cards to men in suits. Jessa’s eating cupcakes and talking to people she’s just met as if she’s known them forever. Seems like everyone’s returning to their natural state.
We close with Hannah accepting the job, packing up her apartment and moving into a beautiful space, sun-splashed and full of decorative mantels and books and plants. She left New York. She’s teaching at a college. Now she’s got to have this baby, and we must put this show to rest.