It’s Victor’s second first day of school at Creekwood High, and he’s ready to tell everyone the truth — or so he thinks.
After spending most of his morning trying to find the perfect “coming outfit,” Victor is stopped on his way out the door by Isabel, who acknowledges that things haven’t been the same between them for a few months and reiterates that she loves him so much. So when she tells him about “how unkind kids can be in high school when you’re … different,” Isabel thinks she’s doing Victor a favor, when she’s actually getting into his head. “And once you start telling people, you know you can’t take it back. People are gonna hear your name — it’s the first thing they’re gonna think about. I just want to make sure that that’s something that … you want,” she says before an agitated Victor retorts, “It is,” and walks out.
When he meets Benji at his locker later that morning, Victor insists that he’s not stressed about telling everyone, but things fall flat the minute he tries to have his first conversation with Mia in months. To her credit, Mia — who was driven to school for the first time by a newly licensed Lake in a ride that “felt like Ford v Ferrari” — tries to take the high road, insisting “the sooner that everyone knows that Victor is with Benji, the sooner we can move past it.” But when Victor’s basketball teammates confront him about his rose-colored relationship with Mia, Victor says they broke up because … they couldn’t make it work long-distance over FaceTime. That prompts one of his teammates to start a nasty rumor on Creek Secrets, the school’s gossip website, that Mia had cheated on Victor and undergone a “bizarre s’mores sex ritual” at camp.
When the same slimy teammate tries to slut-shame her during lunch, Mia is tempted to tell the truth about the breakup, but she (thankfully) decides not to out Victor. Instead, Victor — who still isn’t ready to come out publicly — steps in and shoves the rumor-spreading teammate, causing a commotion that results in a call to his parents. Armando and Isabel are dismayed to hear what happened, but they blame Victor’s behavior on their separation and not on his decision to come out, which only angers their son more. “Do you want to know why I’m so upset? [It] is because all day, I could hear your voice in my head begging me to not tell anyone that I was gay,” Victor says to his mom before ultimately storming out when she can’t bring herself to say she supports his being gay. (We have seen this scene in so many coming-out stories over the years, but there’s something heartbreakingly honest about the way Michael Cimino and Ana Ortiz go toe-to-toe in this scene between the lines of dialogue because there’s so much that both of their characters aren’t ready to unpack. Seeing them grow back together — or further apart — will be a gripping cornerstone of this season.)
Later that night, Mia finds herself the plus-one of her high-achieving father at a university gala, where she meets a college freshman named Tyler (Daniel Croix). With her dad once again prioritizing his work over her, Mia, pretending to be a college freshman, joins Tyler and two of his roommates for a night of wine and cheese and ranting about Victor, all while ignoring texts from the guy in question.
When his attempts to reconcile with Mia go unanswered, Victor decides to come clean to Benji while cleaning up for the night at Brasswood, explaining that he was embarrassed for letting his mom get into his head. To illustrate how his own parents didn’t always accept his coming out, Benji tells Victor about the time his dad tricked him into going to a strip club and paid a female stripper to give him a lap dance. Benji tells an incredulous Victor that he ended up giving the stripper a nice tip, told her he was gay, and marched out immediately after telling his dad that nothing was ever going to change who he was. “Victor, I don’t think I could give up on you … even if I wanted to. We’ll tell the school when you’re ready, okay?” Benji says, when Victor bashfully asks him not to give up on him. (Cimino and George Sear have always had a magnetic onscreen connection, but with Victor and Benji at a new stage of their relationship, their chemistry still feels a little too toothless and will likely leave viewers wanting more. As the season progresses and Victor and Benji’s relationship is tested, this connection will need to improve to make this love they have more believable — or it will fall as flat as Victor’s recent conversations with Mia.)
Meanwhile, back at the apartment complex, Pilar finds Felix doing his homework outside in the near dark. In an attempt to get her brother’s friend to open up, Pilar says she goes outside to escape the tension between Victor and their parents and subtly asks what Felix is escaping. What he doesn’t immediately realize is that Pilar knows about his overdue rent because she inadvertently walked in on a conversation between him and his landlord earlier that morning. Feeling as if he can’t even talk to his girlfriend, Lake, about his financial struggles, Felix confides in Pilar that he and his mother are $200 short on their rent because she stopped going to work and lost her job owing to her manic depression. Without any hesitation, Pilar selflessly offers to lend him the money she earned selling mall pretzels during the summer. “You’ve been a good friend to my brother, and if you can’t pay rent and had to move out, he’d really miss you,” she tells him in an unexpected but moving heart-to-heart. (Part of me thinks Victor wouldn’t be the only person who would miss Felix … and I have a feeling Pilar may have a little crush on Felix now. Mark my words.)
The next morning, after having another unsuccessful confrontation with Mia, Victor decides to rip off the Band-Aid and come out to the entire school while standing on a chair in the middle of the hallway, making it feel almost like a press conference. “So not that it’s anyone’s business, but Mia didn’t cheat on me. And it’s also not her fault that we broke up. It’s not anyone’s fault. The truth is … I’m gay, and I’m with Benji now. I don’t want it to be a secret anymore because I’m happy about it — like really, really happy. So yeah … we won’t be taking any questions at this time,” he says with a laugh before getting down, grabbing Benji’s hand, sharing their first public kiss, and walking down the hallway together.
• While Victor is coming out to the rest of the school, Armando tells Isabel that he found a support group for parents with gay kids called PFLAG. Although Isabel says she doesn’t “want to air our family’s dirty laundry in front of a group of strangers,” Armando insists that something needs to change because Victor is growing apart from them.
• After exchanging numbers with Tyler, Mia says she is “over the high-school drama,” but I am particularly interested to see how her relationship evolves with Victor now that he has come out publicly. I don’t think she can stay mad at him forever, but that “You’re not my boyfriend … anymore” line felt really cold.
• In his latest message to Simon, Victor says, “To be honest, I don’t know how people are gonna react, and I don’t care. You taught me everything I know about being brave, and who knows? Maybe one day I can inspire someone to be themselves — the same way you inspired me.” As Victor and Benji walk down the hall, the camera focuses on a student named Rahim (Anthony Keyvan), who is a friend of Pilar’s and will play a major part in the rest of the season.