In the middle of a brilliant season, it’s telling that a melancholy, drifting episode like “Video Games” is easily the weakest episode so far. It’s certainly not a terrible episode, shifting from the usual setting of New York City to the quieter, pastoral regions upstate. There’s a gentle, half-asleep feeling here, and this is reflected in Hannah’s quieter demeanour.
The purpose of the change in locale is a visit to Jessa’s family, and the plot reveals the shaky scaffolding beneath Jessa’s character. She’s a good character when used sparingly, with her uneasy balance between worldly insight and hopeless naivety, but shining a spotlight on her family doesn’t really help to understand her flightiness, and just makes me wish we were spending time with other characters. Rosanna Arquette and Ben Mendelsohn are both good actors, but I felt like lines like “Love is just a Western construct…” betrayed a trite dismissal of Jessa’s family, which was a shame, as there was real potential there to dig into the why of Jessa.
“Video Games” threatened to gain deeper insight before retreating to easier, simpler fictions – just as Jessa did. And just like her, it carried a drowsy charm but too little substance.