So remember when Isabel walked in on Victor and Benji having sex? We now have to relive that mortifying moment from the perspective of the two horned-up teenagers, and things quickly snowball out of control. When a horrified Isabel asks Victor, “what excuse could you possibly have for doing that in my house?” with Adrian sleeping in the next room, Benji tries to defend their actions, insisting that she wouldn’t have reacted like this if she had caught Victor with a girl. The commotion eventually wakes up Adrian, and when Isabel tries to downplay the incident by saying that Victor simply isn’t allowed to have friends over without asking, Benji jumps in and says that Victor isn’t his friend — he’s his boyfriend. (Keep in mind that Adrian has been kept in the dark about Victor’s sexuality, so Benji just outed both of them intentionally and got kicked out of the Salazar house. Yikes.)
The next morning, Armando comes over, not to ambush Victor with an expected lecture but to help Isabel with the follow-up conversation about Victor being gay. To Isabel and Armando’s surprise, Adrian, who knows a classmate with two gay moms, is extremely progressive and accepting of his brother’s sexuality, but he poses a valid question when he asks why Victor had a girlfriend if he was gay. “Sometimes, people don’t know what they like until they try it,” Armando explains. “Like, when you thought blueberry pancakes were the best until you tried your mom’s french toast,” (In one of my favorite lines of the episode, Adrian says he is glad that Victor found his “French toast,” which shows the innocence of youth and how hatred is, unfortunately, taught and learned as people grow up.)
But when Victor goes to meet Benji at Brasstown before school, it’s clear that there is a lot of unresolved tension between the two boyfriends. When Benji asks if Isabel apologized for the way she reacted last night, Victor immediately comes to his mother’s defense, insisting that she was getting ready to tell Adrian and that it’s embarrassing to catch anyone with their pants down, let alone your own child. “You have no idea where she’s coming from. And I’m sorry that we can’t all have totally supportive, liberal white parents like you do,” Victor says, playing the race card for the first time this season. “You have no idea what it’s like to come out in my family — and you never will, okay? So the last thing I need is your meaningless opinion on how to deal with my shit.”
Meanwhile, Felix and Pilar wake up next to each other on Felix’s couch after an intense night of eating Doritos and watching game shows. “Between my mom and the break-up [with Lake], this week has been hell. But last night was, like, more fun than I’ve had in… forever,” Felix tells a doting Pilar before he unwittingly friend-zones her by calling her “senator.” (I mean, senator?! Come on … that’s just cold. When has “senator” ever been used as a term of endearment?!) Despite this roadblock, Pilar can’t seem to hide her affection for her brother’s best friend. And after Rahim insists that Felix is giving her “all the straight boy signs,” Pilar works up the courage to text her latest crush and ask him to meet up with her at the park after he goes to see his mom in the hospital.
Things, however, don’t seem to be looking up for Mia, who walked into another ill-fated “breakfast burrito” meeting with her high-achieving father, Harold. When Harold breaks the news that he has been offered the title of president at Stanford University, Mia knows that a cross-country move from Georgia to California is all but imminent, as she knows that her father has always prioritized his career over her. The news leaves her friends and her boyfriend, Andrew, feeling stunned and helpless, especially when Mia reveals that she learned that ugly truth about her father — who will likely become one of the few Black university presidents in the country — a long time ago.
Later in the day, when he discovers that Benji didn’t show up at school and turned off his phone after their latest argument, a worried Victor hides out in the darkroom and leaves an emotionally charged voicemail, but he doesn’t realize that Rahim is also hiding out in there to work on pictures for the yearbook. Believing that the darkroom is a safe space, Victor confides in Rahim about the cause of his relationship issues with Benji, which he thinks has to do with Benji’s past as an alcoholic but actually has to do with the cultural implications of coming out in a non-white, immigrant family — something that Rahim understands, but Benji can’t. “How can you love your parents when you hate a lot of what they believe in? But you do, because you know how much they sacrificed to build a life for you,” Rahim says, and for the first time ever, Victor feels like he feels seen and heard about something that he hasn’t been able to articulate since coming out. While Rahim says that he thinks Victor will eventually work things out with Benji because they are “annoyingly perfect for each other,” it’s clear that they share a very natural chemistry — and part of me thinks that this could evolve into another love triangle on this show.
After school, Victor decides to visit Benji’s (lavish) house, where he sees his boyfriend hugging another man who turns out to be his sponsor. They have their first serious conversation in Benji’s kitchen, where Benji says that Victor’s worried reaction is precisely why he didn’t want him to know about his involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous. Since taking their relationship to the next level at the family cabin, Victor and Benji can’t seem to stop fighting over Isabel. And while they seem to make up briefly, bonding over a perfect day that they had together last summer, things quickly blow up again when Benji discovers that Victor told Rahim about his alcoholism. Believing that he can no longer trust Victor, Benji says that they need to take a break from their relationship.
Victor isn’t the only Salazar sibling who realizes that he has made a big mistake; Pilar, as it turns out, lets her feelings get the better of her during an unofficial coffee date with Felix in the park. After Felix reveals that his mother, Dawn, has been doing better with a new hospital therapist and says that he’s proud of her for really putting in the work this time, Pilar (cornily) says that Felix should be proud of himself, too, for being so strong the entire time. The suggestion prompts Felix to say that Pilar “might be one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met,” but he is completely blindsided when Pilar leans in, kisses him, and runs away.
At the church, the other Salazar sibling, Adrian, has an awkward conversation of his own with Father Lawrence that leaves him questioning if Victor — the person he loves more than anyone in the world — is going to hell. “Adrian, look at me, okay? Victor’s not going to hell,” Isabel tells him before returning to the church to have a little chat of her own with the priest. “Your brother is one of the most generous and loving people I know. … The Bible can be interpreted in many different ways. But in this family, we believe that Jesus knows who has love in their hearts, and he would never punish people for that. Okay?”
In contrast with her reactions at the start of the season, Isabel’s important growth is underscored in her heated exchange with Father Lawrence, which seems a little more narrative-driven than character-driven but still hits the mark and shows that she is willing to accept Victor for who he is. “Today, I saw Adrian accept his brother without a second thought. I have been raised to believe a lot of ugly things, Father. Things that are probably gonna take me the rest of my life to unlearn, but I will unlearn them, and I won’t pass them on to my kids,” she says before quitting her job as the church’s music director. “And no matter what you or the church say, I know, in my heart, that God loves my son — my beautiful, perfect gay son.” (Ana Ortiz continues to shine with these standalone speeches, and it is so great that the writers have given her much stronger material to work with this season to show off her talents.)
Finally, after being urged by Andrew and Lake to fight to stay in Atlanta, Mia has a private conversation with Harold and reveals that her estranged mother, Naomi, emailed her a few days ago, but she hasn’t emailed her back yet because she feels like it would be a betrayal to him. “She left; you stayed. You’re my family, not her. I choose you. So how come you never choose me?” she says in arguably her most heartbreaking speech of the season. “I never ask you for anything, [but] this is me asking now — this is me saying, just please don’t move us, okay? Just this once. Choose me.” (Rachel Hilson has been able to showcase her range on NBC’s This Is Us for the last few years, but I feel like her strongest work has come this season on Love, Victor, as Mia grapples with the feeling of abandonment that she has tried so desperately to hide from others.) While Harold tells Mia that he won’t uproot their family again, he actually has a change of heart and the bastard takes the job after all! This is definitely going to make Mia reach her breaking point …
• Before Pilar kissed him, Felix mentioned that he thought the hospital environment was extremely sterile because Dawn isn’t allowed to have anything that she loves, including Swedish Fish. Part of me thinks that Pilar will try to use those chewy candies to win Felix over, if they can salvage their friendship after the kiss.
• Mia overheard a conversation between Lake and Andrew where Andrew admitted to loving Mia, and she couldn’t help but reveal how she felt as well. These two have had such a long family friendship that it feels like things have gotten serious relatively quickly, and I want Mia to fight to stay in Atlanta.