Thursday, August 3, 2023

REVIEW: 'Heartstopper' - Nick and Charlie Share the Uncomfortable Secrets They've Carried for Awhile in 'Heat'

Netflix's Heartstopper - Episode 2.05 "Heat"

Rumors spread when Charlie wakes up with something on his neck. A group tour of the city's most famous sights reveals more than one major secret.

"Heat" was written by Alice Oseman and directed by Euros Lyn

Charlie never wants to bother others with his problems. Instead, he carries that burden himself. It's an unhealthy mindset. It carries major consequences too. Charlie has an eating disorder. This is the first time he has ever been verbalized those feelings. He and Nick don't even realize that's what he is describing. Instead, it's a conversation about control. When his life feels chaotic, Charlie believes food is the one thing he has complete control over. He immediately expresses these emotions and then tries to backtrack in believing it doesn't make any sense. He always wants to project that he is fine even when he is obviously upset or struggling. He woke up to a hickey on his neck. Charlie and Nick enjoy getting more intimate. Their bond continues to exist in this little bubble. And yet, it bursts through the sheer anxiety and dread of how they are perceived. Charlie doesn't want Nick to get bullied simply because their closeness will lead others to speculate he left the hickey. That's not the conversation amongst their peers though. Instead, James is singled out simply because he's the only other out gay kid at school. That connection provides some comfort as Charlie tells James that it wasn't Isaac. Their conversation is allowed to be relaxed because they understand the struggle of being out amongst these people. That also leads Charlie to believe a simple tap of the finger is all the intimacy he can show with Nick in public. They literally run up the Eiffel Tower holding hands. Once at that peak though, Charlie looks around in fear of how others will react. Nick has grown more confident. He stands up for himself when someone suggests he produced the hickey. That's charming and empowering. It's still not enough to change Charlie's mood. He's depressed. Sometimes all it takes is seeing Ben or Harry to alter his well-being. Ben will never get back together with Charlie. Nick shares that confession with his boyfriend. It's nonsense. It's also a reminder of a previous time when control was taken away from Charlie. He was assaulted by the person he thought was his first boyfriend. Now, he has a loving and genuine relationship with Nick. Their lives still feature so much pressure. It's all about this perceived understanding of conformity. It doesn't actually matter. That stress still seeps into Charlie. He internalizes so much. His lack of eating is the one physical manifestation of his issues that others can pick up on. The audience probably saw the pattern. He makes excuses for not being hungry. He tells different stories to different people about what he's eaten. He wants to appease everyone. It can't come at the expense of his own health. Unfortunately, that's jeopardized here.

Charlie faints while exploring the Louvre. It stems from him not eating enough during the day. It wasn't something he forgot to do. He was exerting control and believed he could overpower these feelings of discomfort. Nick is there to catch him. Darcy notes how romantic it is. Charlie's boyfriend was there to save him when he needed it the most. He's only unconscious for a few seconds. It's still scary. The teachers must be found. Charlie is surrounded by the people who know about his relationship with Nick. And yet, he still looks around to see who witnessed this embarrassing moment. He fears this will be the latest incident to tease him over. Nick wants to know what's going on in Charlie's life. He cares if his boyfriend is having a bad day. He pulls the truth out of Charlie. It's something that needs to be monitored moving forward. Nick was compassionate enough to wrap up a croissant when Charlie wasn't hungry for breakfast. Of course, it's dry by the time he needs it. That gesture shows how much Nick cares. Moreover, Nick has kept to himself about his frustration with his father. He wants to meet up with him during the trip. They aren't close. Nick still wants to make the effort because he's his dad. Charlie is amazed and impressed to learn Nick is fluent in French. That too is part of this reveal of him containing multitudes that have been hidden during this trip. Nick and Charlie yearn to be vulnerable with one another. That's simply difficult to do. They seek that intimacy. They understand that the other will support them no matter what. They have to be confident enough to speak about their feelings themselves. It's so much easier to deflect. Nick is frustrated by how unreliable his father is. He has never spoken about him before. But now, this opportunity presents itself. Nick and Charlie have a joyous time exploring the Louvre by themselves. However, it's just as thrilling as they run the streets of Paris in the hopes of making it to the cafe in time. They only have twenty minutes to make this meeting happen. It's somewhat a return to the pattern of Charlie supporting Nick. However, they are enlightened and made stronger in their relationship because they open up. They possess that strength even when their friends reveal their own secrets. Tao blames himself for Charlie getting outed at school. That news could absolutely devastate Charlie. It probably does contribute to his depression. Charlie immediately accepts it as a mistake. Tao didn't intend for it to happen. Their friendship is strong because they love each other. That's more powerful than any romance they may have. It's just as special. They need to nurture that too. That can't be lost in all of this even though the romances are central to so much of the drama in these teenager's lives.

All of this pivots around the observation Nick makes while admiring art alongside Elle. People don't have to fully understand their feelings in order to feel them. This is just the start of a much larger conversation about Charlie's eating disorder. This is an incident in which Nick and Charlie can treat it after something bad happens. They will have to continue dealing with this. That support is needed. It's also crucial for people to be themselves. That's what makes them lovable and endearing. Elle feared this trip would be terrible. It has actually been remarkable. She rediscovered her friendship with Tao. And now, the two of them act on their romantic feelings. They dread screwing it up. It could be a mistake. The passion and interest is still there. They like each other for who they are. They don't know what the future holds. However, it's a blast to explore the Louvre together. Elle is inspired to draw. Tao loves watching Elle do what she's passionate about. The spark between them can't be denied any longer. They kiss. It's an eruption of love. It's a perfect and private moment. It's not built up with the pressure from their friends. This is them embracing their feelings. Tara embraces that sentiment as well. She wants to have a discussion with Darcy about the declaration she made before the trip meeting. Tara expressed her love. She wanted Darcy to say it back. Darcy has been weird about doing so. She would rather joke around and be silly. Tara fears Darcy is pulling away from her. She is keeping part of her life a secret. Tara has never met Darcy's family or been to her house. Their fun bond shifts the moment a text from Darcy's mother appears. She is hiding something. She doesn't want to share that with her girlfriend. That only makes Tara feel worse. She knows it's happening. She pushes Darcy to share it with her. She can handle it. Darcy just can't do it. She can't express how she's feeling. It's better to keep it inside. Again, that's not healthy. It's the choice she is making. It disrupts what Tara wants from this relationship. It's a hurdle that has suddenly appeared. It can't be avoided either. The two are simply too close to get away with a false appearance of everything being okay. They aren't the only couple dealing with these issues. These stories are relatable across the board. The situations are different. The solution is always the same. Trust and communication must happen. That's scary for people so young. They want to maintain these perfect and loving connections. They need to be nourished over time to ensure the relationships remain strong the more each person gets to know. It's simple in the beginning. It's about the initial connection. It takes strength to ensure it blossoms into the best relationship it can possibly be. Everyone wants that. These teenagers are uncovering these issues for the first time. They struggle with how to handle them - especially given how they are of the age where anything could produce lifetime consequences if they aren't too careful.