×

By now most people who want to have probably seen the latest episode of “Girls,” and if you haven’t, read no further.

GirlswilsonOK? Good. Because the fifth installment, guest starring Patrick Wilson, is one of those odd detours the show has begun taking, and reflects Lena Dunham’s creation at both its best and worst.

In the episode, Dunham’s character has an impromptu run-in with a neighbor of the shop where she’s working, played by Wilson. He comes in to complain about someone dumping trash in his cans, and she goes to his place to confess.

In an impulsive moment, the two of them pounce on each other. He’s 42 and separated; she’s 24 and confused.

In a weird sort of way, WIlson almost seems to be the same character he portrayed in “LIttle Children” (a movie I really like) — the suburban dreamboat who outwardly appears to have it all, yet who isn’t happy. What’s interesting about the episode is that seeing the world even temporarily through his eyes — or at least his lavish belongings — prompts Dunham’s Hannah to begin questioning her life and what she wants out of it.

GirlsdunhamAdmittedly, it’s all a little too writerly and precious. People don’t articulate “I want more” in quite the way Hannah tearfully does. That said, the confession does bring some depth to the show that has often been sorely lacking in its preoccupation with what’s on the surface.

If only Dunham sustained that. But watching ahead to episodes six and seven, “Girls” takes off on other tangents. It’s back to business as usual.

Perhaps that’s why seeing the show and Dunham pick up awards and critical accolades, while generating exhaustive think pieces like Emily Nussbaum’s analysis in the New Yorker, frequently feels like a painfully modern case of the Emperor’s (or in this case, empress’) new clothes. And the more people seem to hang on her every word looking for generational insights — hell, the Dunham moment is such if you flipped away from “Girls” on Sunday you were likely to run across her at the Grammys — the less she seemingly has to say.

As I stated in my review when the second season began, Dunham is frittering around the edges of something interesting, and she’s obviously a talent who bears watching. That said, it’s beginning to appear increasingly unlikely she’ll ever reach that plateau in the context of “Girls.”