Heartstopper 2×08 “Promise” hurts. And it’s not because I didn’t enjoy the season. No, it’s because like other viewers, I’m saying goodbye to our favorite group of teenagers and their queer lives until season 3 comes around. But even with this pain, I have to admit that the season 2 finale gave us some beautiful moments. From Charlie and Nick’s conversation post-prom, to Darcy being honest to Tara, and Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk getting their own sweet moment. It all matters and paints a vibrant and much-beloved tapestry of what it is to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. So without further ado, let’s dive into Heartstopper 2×08 “Promise”!
Charlie and Nick Making a Promise to Each Other
Charlie and Nick have come so far in season 2 of Heartstopper. In the beginning, they were just trying to figure out the ins and outs of being together and what that meant for them since Nick wasn’t out. And then it became a journey of Charlie supporting Nick in any way possible so Nick wouldn’t get bullied like Charlie did. But that led to Charlie ignoring his feelings. Now that Nick is out, Charlie can’t hide anymore the things that are plaguing him. It’s because Nick sees him for who he is and isn’t afraid. Even though they’re young, Nick sees Charlie as his partner. And in the same way that Charlie supported him throughout the season, he wants to return the favor. Not because it’s owed. But because they’re in this together.
The conversation that they had in “Promise” is a huge setup for what is going to come in season 3. Nick is in it for the long run and he wants Charlie to lean on him. He makes that abundantly clear and I think that kind of scared Charlie. You could see it when Nick was asking Charlie to promise that he would come to him if he felt like hurting himself like he did in the past. There was hesitation on Charlie’s part. And it’s totally understandable. Charlie has become so used to putting his issues on the back burner. And it doesn’t help that the bullying and Ben made him feel like he was worthless and that he should just accept what he got without any complaints. Basically, Charlie has a lot of healing to do and that is going to take time.
I really think that Charlie and Nick are going to be in for a bumpy ride when season 3 comes around. Charlie has spent so much time repressing what happened to him to the point where his best friend Tao doesn’t even know the true details of his bullying. And because he is slowly but surely opening up to Nick, it’s going to open up old wounds and possibly make him retreat. But the only way through this is forward. Even if he stumbles a couple of times, I know he’ll get back up. And it’s because he’s not alone and he’s not with an asshole like Ben who makes him feel worthless. Nick empowers Charlie in the same way that Charlie empowers Nick. And I can’t wait to see how they are going to lean on each other. Because Charlie deserves to heal. Like Nick, we will be right there for the journey.
Darcy, Tara, and Their Relationship
Everything that has happened to Darcy and Tara has led to this point in Heartstopper’s “Promise.” In season 2 they were fully integrated into the core main group but they weren’t forgotten. Their relationship was just as important as Charlie and Nick’s or Elle and Tao’s. And you could see it in the way that the show slowly but surely built on the way that they are relationship was changing. Primarily from Tara’s point of view with her confession of love being the catalyst for some tension. And we got to see Darcy purposefully be obtuse about what her girlfriend was saying. We weren’t sure before as to the reason why, but now we know.
Tara going to find Darcy in “Promise” was a powerful move for her. She noticed that someone she loved was going through something and went to find them. It’s not that she was intruding in any way, shape, or form. And when she got to Darcy’s house she realized why her girlfriend has been truly cagey about meeting her mom or going to her house. Her mom is an ignorant monster. And that’s further cemented when she has a conversation with Darcy. Within the conversation, you get to see and feel Darcy’s pain. She’s been so out and proud supporting Tara while suffering in loneliness because her home life was a contradiction to her real life or the life she wanted. And her questioning if Tara loved her is a result of the trauma that she has faced with her mother who makes her feel worthless.
In many ways I think that Tara and Darcy’s relationship is kind of a mirror of what happened with Charlie and Nick. All season long Charlie has been there for Nick while setting his own problems aside. And I feel like Darcy has been helping Tara but also just being more present and trying to ignore the things that are going on at home. But if you’re going to be a partner with someone, even when you’re a teenager, you need to understand that this is a partnership. And realizing this at a young age is going to form a strong foundation of trust where you don’t feel alone with your problems. You have someone that you can confide in and who will help you figure out what is going on. And I’m so proud that these young women are figuring that out together.
What Comes Next for Elle & Tao?
I have had my ups and downs with Elle and Tao in Heartstopper season 2. More leaning towards Elle annoyance because I was having a hard time understanding her. But ultimately I did understand that her hesitation was coming from fear more than anything else. But I think Elle and Tao have moved past all of that into a place where they feel more comfortable with each other. They had the boyfriend and girlfriend conversation, they went to prom together, and Elle felt comfortable enough to tell Tao that she wanted to go to this prestigious art school. So that means that they will be doing long distance. But I honestly feel that everything that has happened to them this season has already been a test as to how they work and could work in the future.
My belief in them being in it for the long haul is that they see each other as people. In a world where there are so many assholes when it comes to someone living their true transgender experience, the way that Heartstopper has written Elle and her journey has been refreshing. In addition, Tao knew her pre-transition and he still wanted her in his life. This isn’t me celebrating the bare minimum of being a decent human being. This is me pointing out that even without reading the comics, I feel like that knowledge is a watershed moment that speaks to who they both are to each other. They are a safe space in a haven from all the crazy in the world. And something as trivial as distance isn’t going to bring them apart.
And I feel like a broken record saying this, but we learn so much from the TV we consume. Or any medium if we’re being honest. You learn about life, where you fit in, and how to handle specific situations. That’s why Heartstopper is so important. They have put a spotlight on an interracial relationship where one of the people in question is a transgender woman. And relationships like this exist. Some people might be in them right now and others are contemplating entering into a relationship like this. It’s even more important for transgender people who have the anxiety and doubt that comes with change where they wonder if the people in their lives will still be there when they transition. And Heartstopper acts as a mirror for people to see themselves but also so people can learn about themselves, others, or just the world in general. There is power in this show and I will continue to harp on about it into season 3 and beyond.
Random Thoughts from Heartstopper 2×08 “Promise”:
- Even though Isaac didn’t have huge moments in this episode, the moments he did have mattered. He went after knowledge, found a source, and is going to work on figuring out where or how he fits into this world. And that matters.
- Is…Imogen having a queer awakening? Because I don’t look at other girls like that and she was protesting a little too much.
- Mr. Ajayi asking Mr. Farouk out for dinner and drinks destroyed meeeee.
- And even more so Coach Singh. Yessss for elder gays still teasing each other about possible allies. This is the future for all our baby queers.
Heartstopper season 2 is now available on Netflix.
What did you think of 2×08 “Promise”? 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.