"Birthday Party (Part 1)" Synopsis
Written by Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner
Directed by Jude Weng
After a long day of searching for Carleen, Kathryn tries to get the group in the party mood for Walt’s birthday celebration as she decorates the barn. Everyone insists it feels wrong to have a party but Kathryn stands by her opinion that Carleen is trying to get attention. Kathryn reminds them that Walt’s birthday was the reason they all made the trip; to help dissolve the tension, Jandice agrees.
Kathryn desperately tries to energize the group, finally giving up saying they would all rather just be high. Janice echoes Kathryn’s vague notion and suggests the group take drugs — she’s been saving a batch of ecstacy for a special occasion. Kathryn cedes control and agrees it’s the only way to salvage the party.
The mood improves when the gang is high. Nina-Joy tries to get George to forgive her and he claims he’s not longer mad, especially since he’s allowed to have sex with someone else. George attempts to hit on Jandice, but she laughs him off. Miguel sulks when Jandice tells him she’s “emotionally back on Tinder.”
Kathryn crawls over to Nina-Joy and sincerely apologizes for telling everyone about her affair, admitting it came from a place of jealousy. Nina-Joy accepts her apology and the pair share a cigarette outside. Nina-Joy talks about fixing her relationship with George and Kathryn laughs at the idea of having sex with Walt. Nina-Joy admits she doesn’t want to have sex with George. They both laugh and make amends.
An unknown man drives up on a motor scooter with Carleen in tow. Relieved, Kathryn and Nina-Joy welcome her back. Carleen explains she was saved by the kind man and when he takes off his helmet, Nina-Joy realizes it’s Braylen, the man with whom she had an affair.
They all head back into the barn, where Jandice is pouring wine into Joe’s mouth. He sees Carleen and rushes to embrace her. She notices immediately he’s high but Kathryn blurts out they all are.
George immediately recognizes Braylen. Nina-Joy tries to tell Braylen she chose George and must see it through with him, but George interrupts by attacking Braylen. Joe breaks up the fight and Nina-Joy decides she’s finished with George’s rage issues, leaving the barn with Braylen. The group is left rattled. Jandice offers Carleen drugs to relieve the tension.
George approaches Carleen, but she interrupts his advances saying it’s time for a talent show. Carleen starts to sing “Cups,” inserting Walt’s name awkwardly into the lyrics.
Carleen and Kathryn dance; Carleen spins and her hand lands in some frosting on Walt’s cake. She giggles even though Kathryn is less amused. Carleen smudges cakes over Kathryn’s face saying: “This is funny.” She finally stands up to Kathryn as they fire insults and cake at each other. The fight ends with Kathryn asking why Carleen moved to Arizona, and she replies: “To get away from you.”
Later, Walt enters the barn to find Kathryn alone and covered in cake. They kiss and share a tender moment as they marvel how successful the trip was. She updates him that she and Nina-Joy are good, having both realized neither want to have sex with their husbands. Walt, devasted, fires back,“Go f**k yourself,” and storms out.