Anyone who reads this episode’s title (“You Up?”) can probably predict everything that’s about to go down. We don’t see Nick follow Victor back on Instagram or reply to his DM. We don’t see any of their conversations, actually. We head straight to the “you up? I’m outside” messages that slowly morph into “up?” messages and even one text that contains a question mark and nothing else.
Victor’s doing casual, everyone. And as much as he desperately needs a distraction from Benji, casual does not come naturally to him: In the midst of one car makeout, Victor asks Nick whether he’d ever like to “share a meal together,” which is a direct quote. Nick gently tells him that he’s not looking for anything serious, which is fine with Victor. At least, he’s telling himself it’s fine. In fact, he decides to pull a role reversal and send Nick a “you up?” text of his own, which leads to them hooking up in the bushes near Nick’s house.
Look, I’m not a prude, and I support Victor’s decision to try something new, especially in the wake of a brutal breakup — and especially since he and Rahim are firmly back to being just friends. But Victor is not cut out for this kind of relationship right now. For one thing, he sounds a little like he’s staving back tears when he tells Nick to just call him Mr. Casual.
And then, for another, when he lands at his doctor’s office with a gnarly rash near his genitals, he explains, “I’m monogamous, and [my partner] is not, but it’s casual. I agreed to that because I did not want to get my heart broken.” Simon, where are you? Can someone please give Victor a hug? (And maybe some anti-itch cream since, as it turns out, he got poison ivy from rolling around in Nick’s yard.)
At the present moment, Victor’s friends are all a little too busy to help him navigate the world of casual hookups. Rahim is officially tutoring Benji, and over the course of one 30-minute episode, they go from sworn enemies to reluctant friends to confidantes. Rahim opens up about the pain of going back into the closet when his relatives from Iran visit, and Benji helps him pick out a “stereotypical straight guy” costume from the café’s lost and found. He also reveals that he’s not just frustrated about the tutoring because of his history with Rahim but because he’s scared of letting his family down.
Victor’s story line anchors this show, and usually the issues he faces directly mirror or relate to whatever struggles his friends and family are going through. But this episode is a little different. Finally Victor is in a great place with both of his parents, but pretty much none of the other (teenage) characters can say the same. It isn’t just Rahim and Benji — Lake still hasn’t told her over-involved mother Georgina (Leslie Grossman) about Lucy, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep her relationship a secret.
With Mia in the picture, it’s easier to keep her mom at bay. Lake sends the two of them off on a shopping trip, but as soon as Georgina gets Mia alone, she asks about her daughter’s well-being. Mia might be Lake’s ride-or-die, but she has some parental baggage of her own, and it’s difficult for her to understand why Lake won’t give Georgina a chance; Mia’s mom, after all, can’t even be bothered to email her on a consistent basis. “The more I like something, the more she criticizes it,” Lake explains.
This isn’t coming out of nowhere: For three seasons now, we’ve seen Georgina’s direct and indirect impact on Lake’s body image, self-esteem, and even interpersonal relationships.
After a pep talk from Mia, Lake decides that she might not be ready to tell her mom about her love life, but she is ready to have a talk about their relationship. Georgina reveals that, as a local public figure, she’s gotten so used to constant feedback on her appearance and demeanor that she thought she was helping Lake avoid bullying. “But what I hear you saying is, I’m the bully,” she realizes. When she reiterates that Lake is beautiful and smart and worthy of any boy she wants, Lake takes the opportunity to tell her mom about Lucy — and it goes well! Maybe we’ll see Georgina at Armando’s next PFLAG meeting.
Speaking of, there’s one set of parents we haven’t gotten to yet: the Salazars. Even though everything’s better than ever between Isabel, Armando, and Victor, the same cannot be said when it comes to Pilar. We all knew that it was only a matter of time before Armando caught onto his daughter’s relationship with Felix, and in episode four, he finally catches a glimpse of Pilar cupping Felix’s face in their building’s stairwell.
Just as she feared, he goes into freakout mode, but Love, Victor isn’t the kind of show that ends on a hopeless note. Not only do Felix and Pilar ultimately get the Salazars’ blessing, but Pilar lets it slip that she’s in love with Felix. He says he’s in love with her, too, which would be much more romantic if he weren’t waiting with Victor outside the doctor’s clinic for his girlfriend’s brother’s STI test results.
The poison-ivy situation (and the fact that Nick won’t even get on the phone to talk Victor through it) is enough for him to learn what we loyal Love, Victor viewers learned ages ago: He’s not a casual guy. “I want something more than ‘You up?’ text,” Victor tells him over voice-mail. “I want someone who answers my calls. And I know you’ve been super clear about keeping this casual, which is cool for you. It’s just not really working for me.”
And with that, Mr. Casual is no more — though I’m sure Isabel will be devastated if she learns that things didn’t work out with Victor and that cute guy from church.
• Is Love, Victor trying to get me to root for Nick? Because I’m not, but I am not immune to a well-placed LCD Soundsystem needle drop.
• I appreciate that this show is shining an important light on how awkward it is to try dirty talk for the first time as an inexperienced teenager. “I like being bad. Did I pull it off?” is an actual sentence that comes out of Victor’s mouth. “Just pull my pants off,” is an actual response from Nick. Agh.
• At one point, when Rahim’s trying on various ugly shirts, Benji jokes that he’s trying to “seduce” him. Are Rahim and Benji … going to become a thing? This is the kind of gay mess I’m into.
• The episode ends with Victor downloading an app that is literally titled “Gay Dating and Chat App.” Is this Love, Victor’s answer to Grindr? Tinder? Unclear.