Heartstopper 2×03 “Promise” starts peeling back the layers of Nick’s fears in coming out. At the same time we see Charlie standing up for Nick but also opening up about how he’s feeling in this dynamic. We also got to see Tao get a haircut and take his mom’s advice because he doesn’t want to lose Elle. And my baby Isaac is smiling like a goofball with a possible future love interest. This is all happening as they prepare for the infamous Paris trip. So without further ado let’s talk about Heartstopper 2×03 “Promise.”
Nick Trying to Come Out & Getting Advice from His Elders
As a fellow bisexual, I feel for Nick. Oftentimes you’re told that you’re being greedy or you’re just indecisive. Other times you’re told that you should just admit that you’re gay or a lesbian. And then there are other times when you’re told that you’re most likely going to cheat on your partner because everyone is “fair game.” And it comes from a dangerous and problematic understanding of what being bisexual is in the first place aka not limiting yourself to finding a connection with someone based on if they are a man or woman. That’s it. There’s no secret or something that we’re hiding. Just like anyone else we are looking for connection and it can be monogamous.
So seeing Nick struggle with coming out and having a visual representation of his insecurities on screen was important. There are young teens that are going through the same thing that Nick is. You’d think that they wouldn’t in 2023. But there are ignorant people all over that perpetuate negative stereotypes about being bisexual. And you can tell that Nick has experienced that because he didn’t even know what being bisexual was in the first place. But luckily for him, he has people around him that support him like Charlie. His boyfriend especially was brave in 2×03 and told Harry to fuck off before comforting Nick when he wanted to get out of there because he was overwhelmed.
Then there’s Coach Singh, played by Chetna Pandya. I’m going to have to take a moment and go back through season 1 to see if there were hints of her being into women or with a woman. But it was such a heartfelt moment to watch what is essentially a baby gay talk to an elder gay and get some understanding, honesty, and connection that things are different and it’ll be okay. You could literally see the weight come off of Nick’s shoulders when he saw the photo of the coach’s wife and how happy they looked. I think it was a reminder to him that there have been others who have gone through the exact same thing he has and that he is not alone in his experience. They got through it and so will he.
Tao Making His Move & Elle Botching It
Tao deserves his own flowers for doing the research, taking the time, and showing up for Elle in “Promise.” When they were wondering where he was I knew that he had gotten a haircut. But I wasn’t expecting Tao to be standing there in a nice outfit, shades, holding flowers, and looking like something straight out of a rom-com. And sure he was dressed up a little bit and looked different, but it was still him. Basically, he took his mom’s advice and he decided that he was going to fight for the girl that he liked and see where it went. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that well and Tao ended up feeling like he was the problem because insecurities are a bitch.
Elle didn’t help things because she was acting a little bit more weird than the general weirdness that would happen between two friends who are going on a first date. She was in the right to tell him that they should do something on a date that both of them would enjoy. And if she really liked him that was her opportunity to say that next time they would do something that they both liked. But instead of doing that, they went to the party and words were had between her and Tao. He was being jealous but she was also acting like he was completely different. And personally, I think it comes from her not understanding that relationships change when they turn romantic. Not everything. But some stuff like holding hands, flirting, and all that jazz. And if your partner REALLY changes, you tell them, they right themselves, and you work on moving forward together.
The saving grace of what happened between these two is how Charlie was there for Tao. Sometimes insecurities eat at us and we can’t see what’s right in front of us. And we need support from our friends and loved ones to help us get through it and maybe get them clarity. Tao has that and I commend the writer Alice Oseman for creating something that feels so honest and real to the experience of changing relationships matched with and securities about oneself. That happens to everyone, even best friends who get a new haircut and ask us out in the style of an ’80s rom-com.
Charlie Speaking His Truth
With everything that’s going on with Nick, it’s really nice to see that Charlie is taking the time to speak his truth in 2×03. Sure Nick had fallen asleep after a long and stressful day in his arms and probably didn’t hear him. But the matter of fact is that Charlie said the words out loud. And saying them out loud makes them real. And I don’t think this fear comes from him thinking that Nick is just like Ben. He knows that Nick isn’t like that. Personally, I think the fear comes from Charlie thinking maybe “Nick doesn’t want to say anything because everyone was right when they were bullying me and Ben was right about me too.” It’s insecurities.
My hope for the rest of Heartstopper is that we get to see a little bit of what Charlie had to deal with when he came out. It would be great context to understand how Charlie ended up in this place. And it doesn’t have to be anything actually triggering for viewers. It could be conversations between the core friends or a recounting by Charlie. I just want to know a little bit more because it will help me understand the insecurities that Charlie has now when he’s with Nick. It will also help me understand why he’s so understanding in the first place. Which deserves a whole paragraph by itself.
The level of maturity that Charlie was showing when he had Nick wrapped up in his arms should be admired. He does feel a little let down that Nick isn’t ready to come out. Charlie wants to show off his wonderful boyfriend and show how happy he is. But he understands that coming out is a personal thing and no one should make the choice for you. It’s your choice. And he doesn’t care if Nick made a promise that he was going to come out. Nick can change his mind and I think Charlie will let him know that as many times as Nick needs to hear it. Because at the end of the day, Charlie wants Nick’s coming out experience to be better than his own. And that’s why I love Charlie.
Random Thoughts from Heartstopper “Promise”:
- I want Olivia Colman to be my mom. Both her and her character honestly. Sarah especially in this episode was understanding. She knows that Nick and Charlie are boyfriends. And I think that she remembers the fact that she was a teenager once so she doesn’t treat them like they are doing something horrifyingly unresponsible. Because of that, they trust her and they ask her if one can check on the other. That trust matters and I think other parents on the show could learn a lesson from her.
- I kind of feel really really bad for Imogen. When she was hanging out with everybody during the sleepover you could tell that she was happy and maybe felt like she felt like she belonged. And in “Promise” you could see her clinging to Ben for him to basically abandon her when everybody was matching up and trying to find hotel roommates for Paris. He doesn’t care for her and I hope that she realizes that soon.
- I love how Nick and Charlie think they’re being subtle but the other players know that they’re more than just “good mates.”
- We really need to see more of Tori. And the small amount of time that we’ve seen her she has been dark and broody but she has shown that she cares. And that is especially true in season two of Heartstopper. She remembers what happened when Charlie was being bullied and she will destroy anybody who comes after him.
- I will give everything in my life to see Isaac and James have more cute adorable moments. Like seriously, I did not realize that Isaac had such a cute smile and he lit up so much when he was making that LGBTQ+ display in the library or when he was hanging out with James at the bonfire. Which, I also love that he doesn’t seem to be afraid of being with another guy romantically in public. And I know it’s different strokes for different folks. And everyone does everything on their own time. Keeping that in mind, Isaac had no problem holding James’ hand. Makes me wonder how many more queer people are at this school.
- Ben you better keep away from my babies. Just hover in the background and look like a douche. I’m watching you!
What did you think of episode 2×03? Let us know in the comments below!
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, Heartstopper being covered here wouldn’t exist.