Be warned, the following review has spoilers strewn about like New York fire hydrants. So if you haven't seen the episode, try not to trip over them.
Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna are back - and they’re exactly how we left them. (Save Sho’s new haircut. That’s definitely new.) Yes, as the episode title unsubtly points out, Marnie’s surely ill-fated wedding to Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) has finally rolled around, with the gang acting exactly how you’d expect: Marnie’s neurotic; Hannah’s pessimistic; Shosh has her head in the clouds; Jessa’s a sartorial dream (“I just bathed in the stream and then ran through the fields”). But relationships are shifting. And not just in the bride’s cabin.
After an ill-judged invitation into the girls’ chambers, Fran (Jake Lacy - remember him, the nice, normal teacher Hannah ended up with at the end of Season 4?) heads to the groom’s quarters. And, as soon becomes quite evident, it’s the men who are falling apart on this meant-to-be-joyous day.
“Let the nightmare wash over you”, portends a deadpan Ray, still pining over Marnie. All pre-nuptial meditation and emotions, Desi seems genuinely happy that Ray is along for the ride, but how long can that honestly last this season? It’s hard to imagine Ray standing up to Desi again, but if he’s done it once already (his “I would never treat her like shit” speech from the Season 4 finale), well, maybe Ploshansky has more fire in him yet.
Desi and Marnie make Jessa and Thomas-John’s wedding look like a good idea. And that’s not something we ever thought we’d say.
In fact, Ray does get close to giving Desi what for again, but as he says earlier in the episode to Hannah’s puppy-eyed placeholder Fran, “I don’t have the guts to pull a Graduate”. Pull yourself together, Ploshansky (even if a potential Ray/Desi-off would surely be more Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy than actual Mr. Darcy. And nobody wants to see that).
The inevitable crossing of Adam (Driver’s Kylo locks in full flow) and Fran (a name no one can seem to remember) is also a source of comically painful delight as the pair struggle to string a sentence together in each other’s presence. The make-up dramas of the girls’ cabin seem like a far better option than the guys’ wooden cage of emotion at this point… Though would perfectionist Marnie really employ a make-up artist without testing her to her absolute limits before the wedding? We think not.
Thankfully, respite is found from both farcical scenarios in a sort of ‘smokers’ no man’s land’, as Jessa sums up exactly what we’ve all been thinking (“who’s Fran?”; “Hannah’s being Hannah”) during a talk with Adam. Call us crazy, but it felt like subtle seeds were being planted between the pair during Season 4, and, though it may appear to shock Jessa in the moment, it doesn’t actually feel completely left field when Adam kisses her in that space between the two cabins. In fact, it feels right. Let’s hope this progresses, as the pair really have come to feel like the most alike - and sane - of the bunch.
As for the insane, we discover this is Desi’s eighth - EIGHTH - engagement. As Fran post-coitally delivers this nugget of valuable information to Hannah, she has the potential to go full Horvath and ruin everything for Marnie, just as the heavens open (“now I don't have to tell her anything because [Marnie’s] going to kill herself”). But in a surprising turn of events during a Marnie make-up meltdown, Hannah tells the bride that her wedding isn’t a mistake. Sucking it up for the sake of someone else’s happiness is not something we saw for Hannah, let’s be honest!
As the rain clears and Jessa sorts out the hair and make-up issues (though her personal life is clearly starting to once again get rather messy behind-the-scenes), it’s hard to tell whether this is an episode more about new beginnings or new problems: Marnie is blinded by her vision of who she is when with Desi, Hannah surely can’t remain satisfied with straightlaced what’s-his-name for long, and how on God’s green earth have we got to the point where Adam and Jessa feel like the most normal characters here? Do we get a hint that something has happened between the pair during the interim? It certainly doesn’t feel like they haven’t seen each other for months. (Note also how Jessa’s failed protestations when Adam kisses her spookily echo Hannah’s “I can’t do that” from the Season 4 finale.)
Two things are for sure, however. One: there isn’t enough Elijah. Andrew Rannells would have been so much more fun in the girls’ cabin, especially when his history with Marnie could have led to some rather explosive situations. Two: Desi and Marnie make Jessa and Thomas-John’s (Chris O’Dowd) wedding look like a good idea. And that’s not something we ever thought we’d say.
Not a lot happens in Wedding Day (we don’t even see Marnie walk down the aisle), but the pleasure is in knowing that things are almost certainly about to go awry. And in spectacular fashion.