As expected, Up Here 1×02 “Miguel” was all about the other half of the couple in Hulu’s new rom-com series. In the premiere, the titular character, played by Carlos Valdes, appeared confident and smooth. Even if certain aspects of his pickup game could use a little work. (Though maybe not. The amputated toe story clearly worked well enough.)
But just as Lindsay (Mae Whitman) hides the fact that she’s a bit of a mess, Miguel is doing the same. Like Lindsay, he has voices in his head. Voices that are not always kind. He is also putting on an act, pretending to be someone he isn’t. Not just pretending to have a corner office and a different name. But also in pretending to be totally okay with the fact that he works with racist douchebags who call him “Jimmy” because they can’t be bothered to pronounce his name correctly.
“Miguel” os interesting from a character perspective, because the character had seemed so instantly likable in the prior episode. But as we delve more into his story, it seems for a moment like the writers might take Miguel’s character a different direction. Yes, the flashback to his days in college make him appear sympathetic. But his banking friends now are such over-the-top doucebros, it’s hard not to wonder how much he should be painted with the same brush. Particularly when we see the conversation that led him to approach Lindsay in the first place.
And, to be fair, we aren’t the only ones left wondering. When Lindsay discovers the truth – that he hasn’t been entirely honest with her about some pretty basic things – she’s clearly left wondering here. This is sort of a “make-or-break” moment for the series. To root for this ship, you have to root for Miguel’s character as he is now enough to want him to get a Happily Ever After.
It’s in this second half of the episode that Miguel’s character truly shines. Helped in large part by Valdes’s ability to employ nuance in his acting. His ability to make the most out of little moments is one of the things that impressed me the most about him as an actor during his days on The Flash. So it really isn’t that surprising that Valdes takes every opportunity to steal Lindsay’s – and the audience’s – heart over a series of phone calls.
Someone who would stay up all night to make hourly phone calls to a near-stranger (who isn’t his biggest fan) to make sure they’re recovering from a concussion? Can’t possibly be all that bad. The pseudo-anonymity of the phone calls also allows Miguel to be vulnerable and honest in a way he probably couldn’t if they were standing face-to-face.
In the end, Lindsay’s realization (or the declaration from one of her inner voices) that she’s falling for Miguel might be a little rushed. But in a season with only eight half-hour episodes, there really isn’t a lot of time for the slow burn. And, anyway, I was half in love with Miguel after his all-nighter of phone calls, so I buy it. Giving Valdes one last chance to break my heart before the end of the episode. Even though her reaction made total sense for her character, it still hurt.
Up Here 1×02 “Miguel” builds upon the strengths of the premiere e and makes us fall a little bit in love with the central pairing of the story. The songs are a little more memorable than in the first episode, and we are given reason to really root for Lindsay and Miguel to realize all they have in common. And, with both characters now well-established for the audience, the series is free to explore where they go next. And how Lindsay now makes things up to Miguel.
And she better make things up to Miguel.