As the family settles down for dinner, things start to unravel quickly. Jessa's dad announces he's leaving for a lecture with Petula, and she's very pissed off and insulted he couldn't change her plans since she was coming to visit. She barks at him and he tiredly replies, "You've cancelled on me for the last six occasions, how was I to know you were even going to show up?"
The surprise and hurt in Jessa's eyes register that he has a point -- and in that beautifully acted moment is why I love this show -- no character is perfect. Yes, Jessa's Dad has been a dreadful father, but he's quick to point out she is not exactly reliable, either.
In some sort of weird revenge-at-her-Dad plot, or perhaps because there was simply nothing else to do, Jessa and Hannah go joyriding with Petula's awkward teenage son Frank and his chiseled schoolmate, Tyler.
The boys and Jessa pass a can of whipped cream around, which Hannah nervously declines: "Whippets are what killed Demi Moore, okay?"
Jessa covers Tyler's eyes as he speeds down the road which sends Hannah into a terrified tantrum. She gets out of the car (once it's stopped) and Frank runs after her. Moments later, (no surprise) they're engaging in very awkward, brief sex in the dirt. Hannah tells Jessa, who berates her ("That is disgusting, He is a child.") and she admits she only did it because the thought they were all coupling off.
"I thought you brought me on a sexcapade," Hannah says. "That was just me trying to have continuity with you. I am disgusted with myself." Jessa seems amused as Hannah stomps off.
The next morning Jessa and her father have a brutal heart-to-heart on the backyard swingset. Jessa minces no words and gives him a laundry list of Things You Did Wrong.
"You think I can rely on you?" he counters.
"You shouldn't have to!" she cries. "I'm the child! I'm the child." He is contrite, and asks her to stay late so they can have another evening together.
Jessa's dad drops the girls off at the grocery store to pick up food for dinner and as they sit, waiting for him to return, Jessa mutters, "He's not coming back. This is what he does."
The girls silently walk home. When Hannah finishes packing, she finds Jessa gone, having left only a note. Hannah waits for the train back to the city by herself. She calls her parents, to thank them for being so supportive and stable Her mother, though at first touched, then decides she's "not falling for this crap." Hannah is left alone, urinating in the bushes at the trainstop.
This episode was a bit heavy-handed. The father-daughter scene with each of them swinging in opposite directions on a rusty, creaking swingset; the one-two punch of Jessa announcing it the most noble thing for a woman to help a boy discover his sexuality and then Hannah deflowering Frank -- all of it felt rather hit-you-over-the-head-with-the-metaphor for this show.
But I will say that Jessa's character was beautifully rounded out by the end -- her selfishness and petulance has an origin now, and I so enjoy her wicked naughtiness with teasing Hannah. I hope Lena Dunham gives equal development opportunities for the rest of her cast in coming episodes. It's the noblest thing she can do.