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HBO’s ‘Girls’ ends in silence, after all the noise

Stars of HBO's "Girls" Jemima Kirke, left, Zosia

Stars of HBO's "Girls" Jemima Kirke, left, Zosia Mamet, Allison Williams and Lena Dunham in a scene from one of the final episodes of season 6. Credit: HBO / Mark Schafer

By now, we’ve all become used to the series wrap that reduces all that came before to a pile of smoking rubble. “Girls,” gratefully (thankfully) avoided the rubble pile. Ending at six seasons, and with an episode entitled “Latching,” this one skillfully removed Hannah (Lena Dunham) from the hyperbaric chamber of her own head -- a newborn will do that -- and concluded in a surprisingly sweet, genial place. Some viewers always suspected “Girls” was a sentimentalist at heart. Sunday was confirmation.

If you haven’t seen, and want to avoid the spoilers, then avoid this review. (But just in case you do care to proceed, I will try to be somewhat vague.) Otherwise, onward: “Girls” ended as “Girls” began, but with the circle of life turning to reveal a fresh perspective, along with a new point of view that enriches the newfound perspective. “Girls” couldn’t go on beyond Sunday night because Hannah is no longer a “girl” but a mom, woman, and an adult finally embracing adulthood.

Vague enough?

Now, to specifics: “Latching” was about latching with her baby, Grover, who refused to accept her nipple to breast feed, setting in motion all of the inherent, neurotic impulses that make Hannah so uniquely Hannah. At first, she’s concerned, then fearful, finally resentful. (How DARE he). The series began with Marnie (Allison Williams) in bed, asleep, in a spooning position next to Hannah, and the series ended on the same image. Marnie awakens to tell Hannah she’s her one true friend because she’s the only one actually there in bed with her. She wants to help raise the new baby with Hannah (who knows a good deal when she hears of one). All three then head upstate (I’m guessing somewhere north of Rhinebeck and south of Hudson, on the eastern side of the river) where they proceed to nest.

Getting Hannah out of Brooklyn to a bucolic upstate idyll is the metaphoric equivalent of getting her out of that cluttered head of hers. But also recall that like “Seinfeld,” every time “Girls” left the city for the country, disaster followed. This time was different. The farce -- a good one -- was watching Hannah navigate the complexities of new motherhood and breast-feeding.

The enduring image -- a funny one -- was the sight of Hannah outside her house, outfitted with a pair of breast pumps that looked like a couple of flugelhorns sticking out of her chest. Marnie got the best line out of the moment, and one of the best lines of the episode: “Alright, Ghostbuster ... . ”

“Girls” wrapped with just three key cast members -- Hannah, Marnie and Hannah’s mother, Loreen Horvath (Becky Ann Baker) – and in hindsight, it’s easy to see why. Marnie and Hannah were always best together, or funniest together. Their intimacy and friendship were bonded by a sense of mutual inadequacy. In Marnie, Hannah saw the “perfect girl,” with the perfect face, perfect life, perfect body. In Hannah, Marnie saw someone with brains, substance, gravitas. The joke was just how wrong each of them was about the other.

But the story of “Girls” was also the story of Loreen. This all began with her, as well, sitting across Hannah at a dinner in some New York restaurant and informing her that the purse strings were about to be finally severed. Over six seasons, Baker skillfully morphed Loreen into “Girls’” most fully realized character after Hannah -- her alcoholism, her rage, and finally, Sunday night, her wisdom were all part of a portrait that grounded this series, and made it better than it sometimes was. She wasn’t just Hannah’s “future foretold,” but Hannah’s mother, and in some elemental way that only mothers can be, she was Hannah herself.

There were two great scenes Sunday. The first: Hannah offers her jeans and shoes to a girl who has come running, screaming, out of a house half-dressed, and who -- it turned out-- had been running from a tyrannical mother demanding she finish her history homework. Hannah then demanded back her jeans. How dare this callow ingrate and brat not understand what mothers must do for their children? And when the teen took off with her jeans and shoes, Hannah offered this parting shot: “So you run, you little harlot, but life is going to chase after you with problems you can’t even imagine ... .”

The other scene followed immediately, when Hannah -- pantless, shoeless-- arrives home, with Marnie and Loreen seated on the doorstep.

Mom: “What happened to your pants?”

Hannah: “I know what you think.”

Loreen hands her glass of wine to Hannah, who then goes inside to attend a crying baby. “Latching” in this episode was really about the bond of a mother to a daughter, conferring dignity and beauty to that most special of relationships. “Girls” was always about growing, and becoming, but growing and becoming who? A self-aware, empathetic adult, of course. It was a lovely way to end this journey.

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