'Girls' Director Jesse Peretz on Hannah and Adam's Big Cliffhanger

He also discusses what Desi and Marnie's big moment reveals about his character and their relationship and provides insight into where the show’s going from here.
Mark Schafer
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in Sunday night's 'Girls'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday night's episode of Girls, "Cubbies."]

Looks like Adam (Adam Driver) has met someone new.

Sunday’s episode of Girls ended with Hannah (Lena Dunham) leaving Iowa and returning to Brooklyn, but when she gets back to her apartment — which now looks quite different — another woman, Mimi-Rose Howard (Gillian Jacobs), opens the door. When Hannah asks Adam if she’s his roommate he hesitates and says, "no."

See more 'Girls': Most Memorable Friends, Relatives and Mistakes

It seems quite strongly implied that Adam’s in a romantic relationship with her, but viewers will find out more about who Mimi-Rose is, what happened while Hannah was away and what the status of her relationship with Adam is in the next episode.

Jacobs teased Mimi-Rose, without revealing exactly who her character is and what role she plays in the Girls universe, when The Hollywood Reporter spoke to the actress at the show’s season-four premiere.

“I would say there are a lot of characters on this show who are not happy to have me around,” she said. “I’m a pain in the butt. I'm an annoyance, and some women just wish I would go away.”

Read more 'Girls' Season 4 Preview: Cast, Showrunner Talk Going to Iowa, "Building a Shoshanna"

Earlier in the episode, Hannah continued to struggle in Iowa, having a hard time writing. She finally seems to get a burst of inspiration and starts typing. But it’s revealed that she wrote what she thought was an apology letter to her classmates, which she places in the cubbies of the episode title, that creates even more problems in the group. Her father later urges her to just do what she thinks is right, saying she’s the only person who has to live in her head. During her next writing attempt, she gets up and leaves and is shown in a cab going back to New York.

Meanwhile, Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) finally breaks up with Clementine (Natalie Morales) (or maybe she broke up with him), showing up at Marnie’s (Allison Williams) in the middle of the night, seemingly tormented by what happened. She consoles him and smiles as they continue their no-longer illicit relationship.

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) is having a tough time finding a job. She also wanders over to Ray’s (Alex Karpovsky), where he’s yelling at the honking drivers of cars stuck in a traffic jam on his street. They then go on a shopping trip where she proposes that they be friends. They also offer each other some good advice on how to deal with their respective frustrations.

Read more 'Girls' Showrunner on Marnie's Risque Sex Scene and Hannah and Adam's Relationship

THR talked to the episode’s director Jesse Peretz, who has helmed some of Girls’ big episodes in past seasons, about all of that and more.

There’s a big cliffhanger at the end of the episode where Hannah meets Mimi-Rose Howard. How was the decision made to end with that? I mean, it’s a nice cliffhanger, but she could have been revealed earlier in the episode or at the beginning of the next episode?

There was a discussion of just having her open the door and then not really meeting her until the next episode. I think it’s on some level, old-school, which is not really how Girls tends to work that much, but that old-school TV trick of in terms of episodic, sort of leaving that cliffhanger that makes you need to go to the next one. Originally, we were just going to have her open the door, meet her and just give it enough of a beat that Hannah understands what’s going on. We decided that it was better to have a scene and satisfy that moment by going a little bit deeper into the complex emotions that you go through in that first 10 minutes of trying to process what this relationship really is and what it really means to Hannah in terms of what she thought the vestige of the relationship she thought she still had with Adam actually means now.

Hannah leaves Iowa and goes back to Brooklyn. Are we supposed to think that she quit the program?

I think so. That’s what I sort of imagine it as. I hope I’m right in answering that question that way. But there’s no sense as you go further into the season that she’s going to go back. The way that her professor leaves her, with figuring out whether this is the right place for her and her father really encouraging her — and he’s really trying to work out his own demons, as you soon will see — he’s really encouraging her to be herself and do what she needs to do for herself. I think you should come away from this episode with a sense that she’s decided that a graduate program in the Midwest is not for her. And really, in a sense, it’s like she’s questioning her whole choice to be a writer.

Read more 'Girls' Boss Jenni Konner Talks Hannah's Iowa Expectations: "She Has an Authority Problem"

There’s also a big moment with Desi and Marnie when he tells Marnie that he’s broken up with Clementine. When he tells her that he’s really tortured by it and expresses that physically, why did you decide to have him be so tormented by that? 

In the script he was even more upset than the way that we ended up playing it. But to me I think it works really beautifully because I think you’re seeing what a kind of duplicitous and f—ed up character Desi really is. At first he’s misleading Marnie into thinking that he’s all emotional and upset in this positive way because he’s freed himself to finally be with her and then it sort of slips out and he never really answers her questions about it that there’s something a little more complicated going on and he’s experiencing his own loss at the same time. And it’s another beat of Marnie knowing that something’s wrong and ultimately making the choice to go with what she wants as opposed to following the thread of what feels wrong in that moment.

Viewers also see the roots of Ray’s political development when he starts yelling at the cars. Can you talk about the construction of that scene with the traffic jam and him yelling at the cars?

We’re trying to find that right balance where you see that irritable side of Ray and a guy that has this combination of a guy who’s dealing with a certain kind of anger that the world is not a moral place. Where Ray really exists, especially this season it becomes super clear, is that he has the most sound moral compass of any character in his world. But that doesn’t keep him from overreacting or being an asshole or not being able to see things from other people’s point of view. This is a step of seeing this his extreme sense of right or wrong. You’re definitely onto where this arc is taking him. This is all about setting that up. There’s also a second thing going on in this episode, which is resolving some not fully explored issues with Shoshanna. From a director’s standpoint, there’s something that I always really liked about their relationship, and it was really satisfying to get this episode to work with them to get to a more mature place and a deeper understanding of what they mean to each other.

What did you think about "Cubbies"? Sound off in the comments. Girls airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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