Thursday, August 3, 2023

REVIEW: 'Heartstopper' - Darcy Throws a Surprise Birthday Party for Tara and Nick Meets Up With His Father in 'Truth / Dare'

Netflix's Heartstopper - Episode 2.06 "Truth / Dare"

On their last day in Paris, Nick introduces Charlie to his dad. Elle and Tao make it official. The truth comes out at a party that's full of surprises.

"Truth / Dare" was written by Alice Oseman and directed by Euros Lyn

Nick and Charlie run through the streets and metro of Paris to meet Nick's father at a cafe. And yet, he's not interested in spending more than a few minutes with them. Nick laments how his father doesn't really know anything about him besides his interest in rugby. Nick wants to come out to his father. He believes his parent deserves that. So much of this interaction is the two going through the motions. Stephane has excuses for why he doesn't invite his family to the city during the summer and why he has to suddenly leave. He likes the idea of family. He doesn't show an interest in their humanity. Nick wanted this meeting to occur. This is how every interaction with his father apparently goes. They make plans to talk later. That doesn't happen. Instead, it's once again Nick and Charlie against the world together. Nick didn't realize how much his stress was affecting Charlie. Charlie's anxiety went up because he was trying to protect his boyfriend. They didn't want to engage in that conversation. They each recharge each other's souls. They rely on this relationship to handle the rest of the world. They want to enjoy and relax in the comfort of this bond. But they can't hide out together in the hotel room. They have the support and encouragement of their friends. They reciprocate that compassion too. Everyone is thrilled to hear Tao and Elle talk about their kiss. The two are dating now. The group officially has three couples. Romance is blossoming. They are each at different stages too. Nick and Charlie face the pressures of coming out as a couple. Tara and Darcy are awkward about declaring their love. And finally, Elle and Tao are tentative about even exploring a romance. Each of these stories are incredibly relatable. In fact, that extends beyond the core group as well. It's wonderful seeing romance development between the teachers. They have different experiences coming out as gay men. Mr. Farouk didn't come to that realization until he was in his twenties. He's afraid any suggestion of getting closer to Mr. Ajayi is silly. It isn't. This is something they should explore. They have the maturity to handle it better than the teenagers do. Moreover, the students trust them and start running for their help when it's needed the most. Farouk and Ajayi provided that care to Charlie after he fainted. And now, they support Darcy after she gets sick from drinking too much alcohol. They know precisely what's going on. They remember their days in school. These experiences are common. No one should be ashamed or punished for what they do. It's simply annoying considering they are the only two adults trusted to supervise all of these teenagers. That's a lot to handle. Fortunately, it doesn't get in the way of them exploring what matters to them as well.

The last day in Paris happens to be Tara's birthday. Darcy believes her girlfriend's party has to be perfect. That means decorating their room and providing alcohol for the group. Of course, Tara would rather have more vulnerability with her girlfriend. She receives a glimpse of that after the party takes a sudden turn. Until that point, Tara notices how Darcy is filling everyone's cups up. She wants everyone to get drunk. That's how she hopes to make people happy. Sure, the alcohol is disgusting for those who try it. It's still freeing in its own way. Tao and Elle want to sneak off together to continue exploring what this connection is. Meanwhile, Nick and Charlie make a habit of sneaking away from parties to hang out together. Again, Darcy doesn't have a problem with any of this. She's supportive of her friends expressing themselves however they want. She also has a firm stance against homophobes coming to Tara's birthday party. Harry wants to be included. He's afraid of missing out. He feels entitled to this space. He isn't welcome. He apologizes to Nick and Charlie. He realizes he made homophobic comments. He promises not to do so again. He stood up for them at the top of the Eiffel Tower. That action proves his willingness to do better. Not everything can be easily resolved immediately. And so, the door gets slammed in his face. That's honestly what he deserves. This is a party for those who know how to celebrate queer love. That makes it a more welcoming space for Nick to come out. A simple party game quickly pivots to more questions about Charlie's hickey. People want to fulfill the narrative of Charles and James being together solely because they are already out. James has a crush on someone else. In fact, it's sweet how James and Isaac's first kiss mirrors the same moment at Harry's party between Nick and Charles. It has a different outcome because Isaac is still weirded out by kissing. He doesn't understand it. And so, he's the one ultimately isolated from the rest of the group. He was so fulfilled earlier when he was exploring a bookstore and finding so many stories to read. That brings him so much pleasure. That also makes him stand out. His interests don't align with his peers. That extends to his friends even though they would never ask him to change to fit in with them. They are all wonderful that way. However, it's simply a matter of recognizing when someone else is struggling. Nick saw the signs in Charlie before. He didn't know how to respond. Now, he does. He is aware of how difficult this secret has been on both of them.

Nick confesses to giving Charlie the hickey. He takes control over the conversation. He does so out of love. Charlie wants to participate in the game. People are genuinely curious about his life. Many in the room already know the truth. In fact, Ben's presence amplifies the anxiety further. He is full of so much self-hatred. He wants to spread it to the other queer people around him. They don't have to feel that way. It's ultimately better that he leaves. He misses out on an example of someone coming out and everyone being full of joy for him. That's the response Nick deserves. Sure, it produces the inevitable assumption of him being gay. He always has to clarify he's bisexual. That's repeated every time he shares his relationship with people. Charlie wanted to be out in Paris with his boyfriend. That finally happens. It was a power they took ahold of when exploring the city's gay neighborhood. They didn't have to feel any shame. They don't during the party either. It's still ultimately perfect when they are simply together no matter where they are. They stay up for most of the night just talking and cuddling. Kissing is involved too. They aren't ready to take things further. They can't imagine having sex with anyone else. They just aren't ready for that. That's okay too. It's a conversation they have. People need to share their expectations. That empowers trust and honesty. Darcy put on an act throughout the party. In fact, that's been her behavior throughout this trip. Tara loves how silly and annoying her girlfriend can be. She also wants them to have a deeper bond. She was ready for more. Darcy pulled back. She never wanted to end the relationship. She just couldn't offer Tara what she needed. Perfection isn't obtainable. Darcy won't be punished for drinking. She appreciates having people who care for her. In this fragile state, she lets down her barrier. She loves Tara too. She just doesn't know how to express it. Tara isn't perfect either. She doesn't have all the answers. She will still kiss Darcy even though she just threw up. That's disgusting while also revealing how close the two of them are. Nothing can break them. The couples spend this night together basking in the resolutions of their individual journeys. It wasn't easy getting to this point. Some of this drama won't remain in Paris for them to fondly remember. Some baggage will be carried back to their regular lives. That's thrilling and exciting in some ways. It's terrifying in others. Charlie still has an eating disorder after all. It doesn't flare up again after he fainted. Nick is aware of it. The anxiety they feel may still produce an uncertain outcome from time to time. People are already commenting on Nick's Instagram about him dating Charlie. The couples sit next to each other on the ride home. No one seeks to comment on that in a dismissive way. Charlie is happy with his intimacy with Nick in public no matter what others might think. That's only one source of his anxiety though.