Lena Dunham shot her load too early; the Season 3 final image of “Girls” should have been the final image forever

Spoilers and whatnot follow.

At the end of Sunday night’s Girls season finale — which lost a pop culture canon it should have won because The Good Wife went and did the damn thing — we see Hannah and Adam essentially broken up, or at least at a deep crossroads, and Hannah back in her apartment hugging her Iowa MFA acceptance letter, hours after telling her parents that the last 3-4 years of her life were kind of a blob that didn’t accomplish anything. The basic idea is: she’s going to leave Brooklyn for Iowa, and why not? Marnie has other pursuits (Desi), Shoshanna needs to focus on graduating, Adam and her are drifting, and Jessa is, well, essentially a cocaine addict who may now be a murderer (odd twist). It was a great ending in some ways for Hannah, who became more of a sociopath this season than probably any “endearing” character on TV ever should — problem is, though, it’s not the ending: Girls is coming back for Season 4, and the whole crew (Adam Driver included, despite his potential new future in Star Wars) is supposed to be back.

This means we can only open Season 4 in 1 of 2 ways: either Hannah lives in (or is about to move to) Iowa, or there was a plot device that allowed her to stay in Brooklyn. The latter is more logical, although if Lena Dunham wants to quit acting, being the writer/director and only being in a few scenes — phone calls, a visit — would be interesting and would allow some other character arcs to shine. Shoshanna was buried this season, Jessa was kind of a cartoon, and Marnie essentially went through the same storyline two seasons in a row. At this point, it’s pretty clear that the “breakout star” context from Girls will be Driver, and seeing how Driver intersects with the worlds of the other three girls — who never really knew him/gave him much of a chance — in Brooklyn with Hannah in Iowa would be kind of interesting. I’m not sure that’s 10-12 episodes of interesting, but it’s something.

This is pretty clear: although HBO might want five seasons and Dunham/Judd Apatow might want five seasons, Season 4 pretty much needs to be the last. If this is a story about four girls, their corresponding flings, and journeys into adulthood … it’s starting to run its course, especially if Hannah does move to Iowa (almost everyone I know has left NYC in the past five years for similar-type reasons, myself included). The Wire probably should have ended at four seasons, and you can make a case that’s the best HBO show of all-time. The Sopranos went longer, but no one should be confusing The Sopranos and Girls. We have no idea what future seasons of True Detective will look like. Breaking Bad exited stage left at the right time — honestly, maybe a season too late because the neo-Nazi stuff got a little overplayed — and Girls should do the same. Driver can go be one with J.J. Abrams, Dunham can write another movie/New Yorker essays, Alison Williams can live blissfully on the New York social circuit with her dad and Ricky Van Veen, hopefully Zosia Mamet can re-appear on the final arc of Mad Men, etc, etc. Point is, end it.

If you need any more context around how this arc is essentially ending, consider how Hannah and Adam ended Season 2:

Then think about how they ended Season 3:

That’s a narrative arc, and a great one, but the arc only has so much time left. I wish the final shot of Girls forever had been Hannah clutching that letter, knowing she was done with New York, thinking leaving would solve everything (“We could be one of those artist couples!”). But instead, we’ll get 10-12 (20-24?) more episodes of her sociopathic wanderings, and, per usual, I’ll be glued to the set for them. In weaker moments, I think I’m as bad as Hannah Horvath, you know?

Ted Bauer