Little Things Episode 5: The Slow Build Pays Off, Turns Out Mithila Was the Main Character All Along

Such a brilliant final episode! Pulls into focus everything from the last 4 episodes, and makes you go “ooooooo! I see what you did there!” And also, retroactively, turns Mithila into the lead character. Which is especially interesting since Dhruv Sehgal wrote the show, and plays the other character. But turns out, his character isn’t that great and Mithila is the important one! Oh, and also we get a flashback to how they met. (index of all Little Things reviews here)

The first episode was about them oversleeping and Dhruv missing out on the long early morning drive to go to this out of town roadstand and get a special meal. And now we come full circle, Dhruv is trying to go on this drive again, and this time he wakes up and Mithila rushes to join him. They drive out there to learn that the woman isn’t cooking this week, because her daughter had a baby. Mithila suggests instead they walk over to a nearby vineyard. Turns out there is a wine tasting and tour going on, they join in. And then they go and sit on a hill and talk, and Mithila explains how unhappy she is with her life and how, maybe a little bit, that is because of the work she has to do in their relationship. And that this is the 2 year anniversary of the day they met. At the end of the episode, we see a quick flashback to how they met and this story started.

Little Things | Netflix Official Site

I want to start at the end and the flashback. The lead in is them fighting about if this is the day they met or not. Dhruv isn’t totally unaware, he had it saved in his phone, just on the wrong day. To check, Dhruv offers to pull out “the ticket”, which he has saved in his wallet. Again, he isn’t unloving or unaware, just not good at taking the extra step to confirm the date and plan something (like Mithila did, rushing to join him and insisting they make the day special). And then we see what “the ticket” is. 2 years ago, Mithila and Dhruv both went to the movies alone. They saw each other in the ticket line but didn’t talk. Dhruv sat behind her in the theater, but didn’t say anything to her. They got popcorn at the same time and made eye contact, but didn’t speak. And then they were waiting for a rickshaw at the same time and Dhruv offered Mithila the first one, and she asked where he was going and suggested they share. Then asked if she could use his bathroom and went up to his apartment (the apartment they now share). And they talked. And then we quickly flashforward to her moving in.

Even back then, Mithila had to do the work. Which maybe is what she found appealing, this awkward cute guy in glasses who kept looking at her but not talking, who was a gentleman enough to offer her the rickshaw, but too shy to try to capitalize on that. That’s all fine, a cute meeting, but it also set a pattern. Dhruv just has to be there and be pleasant, Mithila makes things work.

Mithila was sleeping late and making them late again at the start, but then she is the one who cheers Dhruv up when the cook isn’t there, she is the one who insists on going for a walk, she is the one who finds the vineyard tour, and so on and so forth. And she was the one who correctly remembered the day they met. This is a small sample of what we saw again and again in the last episode in particular, Dhruv is upset because plans don’t go exactly as he wanted, and Mithila comes up with new plans and cheers him up. Through out these 4 episodes, that is what we have been seeing. Mithila does something “wrong” (oversleeps, takes time in the shower, whatever), Dhruv is upset, Mithila cheers him up.

And finally, in this episode, Mithila articulates it, starting by just talking about her job. It’s a good conversation about her job, Dhruv listens and is helpful and supportive, says that he has been observing and wondering for a while if she is happy, that behavior indicates feelings and her behavior was saying she didn’t like her job. They talk about pros and cons, Dhruv lets her guide the conversation, and when Mithila decides that there are more cons to quitting than pros, but the pros are more important to her, Dhruv agrees and is excited for her. The whole thing is a very good conversation with a significant other about a life decision, and Dhruv does everything Mithila needs.

Get Mithila Palkar Curly Side Part Hairdo hairstyle in Little ...

But then, finally, Mithila works her way back to the real issue. She remembers how excited she used to be about everything, how hard she worked, how busy she ways morning to night. And then she gently says that, sometimes, it seems like they do more things that Dhruv likes than she likes. And it’s fine, she likes being with him, she has a good time. But maybe it is more work for her than for him. Maybe she is tired all the time because this relationship is tiring. And Dhruv listens. And respects what she is saying. The episode ends on a hopeful note, Mithila will quit her job and find something she loves doing and Dhruv will support her (emotionally and financially) while she does it. And Dhruv will understand that Mithila is tired from this relationship and he has to do more work.

Doesn’t this put a fascinating light on all the other episodes? The first episode it all went wrong because Mithila overslept. But maybe she was tired because she had just spent a Saturday keeping Dhruv happy? The next episode, she was stressed and making mistakes at work, and it all started when Dhruv gave her a hard time in the morning. The next episode, they were up at 3am getting mosquito repellent and then having sandwiches, although at first Mithila just wanted to cover themselves with a blanket and keep sleeping because she had to get up early the next day. And in the last episode, they were up late again, because Mithila had to work hard and jolly Dhruv along after he didn’t have fun that night. She works SO HARD at this relationship. And then she has to get up early and go to the office and work at her job too. While Dhruv plans out what he wants to do, thinks about Mithila and tries to make her happy but only if it requires no extra effort on his part.

A relationship is made up of “little things”, but those little things can add up to something big, like a woman being so tired from all her relationship work, that she can’t seem to figure out how to be happy and fulfilled within herself.

8 thoughts on “Little Things Episode 5: The Slow Build Pays Off, Turns Out Mithila Was the Main Character All Along

  1. I never thought about their relationship and tbh this series in such a way..so I’m really glad that you’re reviewing this..Can I suggest TVF’s Permanent Roommates next

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  2. I don’t think it’s quite as lopsided as you do, but I do think she was expressing a sense of being consumed by the relationship, because she had taken on a more passive mindset (“lazy in the mind”) and spent time and energy adjusting to his life and his choices, where he did much less adjusting for her. His response was lovely (“it’s good to hear you expressing your feelings like this” is not a phrase I think any male person has said to me ever, even the most enlightened men in my life). I was kind of shocked that was the end of the season. Five short episodes! They did a lot within that very limited scope. It made me want to keep going to see what happens with them. I let the next episode play and it’s my favorite so far, so now I’m into season 2 :).

    One Mithila note: I wasn’t sure about her in the first couple of episodes, but agreed that the character came into her own in this episode, and it felt like Mithila found her bearings too.

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    • Yes! Dhruv was excellent in this episode and that conversation. It really changed how I saw both characters. He was kind of unaware and privileged all season, but once she actually spoke about her feelings, he was accommodating and understanding and wonderful. It’s not that he is innately selfish, just didn’t see what was happening because Mithila made it easy not to see. And now that she is explaining the situation, he is great about it! And loves her and cares about her happiness and is interested in listening to her work things out!

      I am two episodes in to the second season, and fascinated with how Mithila has shifted her performance. She seems so much calmer and stronger within herself, reflecting all the work she did after this episode.

      On Wed, Apr 8, 2020 at 12:12 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Now that I’ve seen this I can see your point about Mithila having to accommodate to Dhruv’s likes more. Which isn’t exactly his fault since she never really made it clear, but it is also his fault because he also never really asked her. And I guess since he is more passionate about food than she is, he could think of other things to do that they both enjoy (like going to the movies) instead of only making plans to eat out that she then feels obligated to join in on, even if its not something she’d really want to do that day, because that’s the only way they get to spend time together. The writing and acting is really good. It feels like a very typical problem of miscommunication that all couples (or even between siblings, friends, family) face. She should be more clear and he should be more inquisitive like “what would you like to do?”.

    You’re right, this does put an interesting light on the other episodes. Like maybe the reason she ate at work even though they had planned to go to the restaurant and didn’t care about sleeping early to make it to the bhajji stall early (in ep 1) was because on some level she’s disconnected from the plans Dhruv makes because he’s been making those plans for the past 2 years and she is tired of going along with them. The better thing to do would have been to probably tell him clearly instead of half-heartedly going along with him but I think she was afraid of hurting him. Even though he clearly wasn’t hurt, just surprised, and is a pretty understanding partner, I guess we all worry more than we need to about how people react to things and because she was scared of hurting him she was bottling this in for a long time, maybe even months. Interesting because she didn’t really seem like the kind to bottle things up but maybe she didn’t really understand what was making her unhappy for a long time, since they have a lot of other happy moments through the day, this got hidden underneath.

    Now that you’ve reminded me of the mosquito repellent episode too, I can see that Dhruv does also have his moments of ignoring what Mithila wants. I guess they both do that in different ways. Mithila was kind of confusing until now, but now I can understand what she’s feeling. I related to it a lot as she was talking too. Is the 2nd season as good as this one? I don’t have netflix right now but I’ll try to watch it when I do.

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    • The second season is so good! Better than the first, by far, a lot more complex. Every episode is on the level of this episode in terms of weaving together casual hang out time with serious conversations. And just like this season, it shows them having problems straight through without really being able to see and understand the problems they are having until the end fight.

      Like you say, I think that’s how it is in a lot of relationships. You go along not even aware of what you are feeling and why you are doing things until suddenly it all becomes clear. It’s a fascinating show if you think of it as “the little things that show what is happening underneath and the flaws that are in the relationship until they explode in one big conversation”. Usually art just gives us the big conversation, not the little things that lead up to it.

      On Wed, Apr 15, 2020 at 5:54 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • True, I really agree with that last part. this series so far seems to be doing a really good job with showing those little moments in a very natural way. Does the direction style in s1 and s2 seem different in any way? Because of the director change. It would be interesting to see what Dhruv Sehgal and the S1 director Ajay Bhuyan (or the s2 or 3 director but I’ll go with s1 since I didn’t see those yet) could come up with for a full length film. The writing is refreshing.

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        • Wow, I hadn’t thought about the direction. But yes, it did change. They kept the improvised loose feeling and a lot of handheld camera. And the editing stayed the same, where you just jump from one small moment to another. But the visuals feel bigger, and cleaner. Like a shift to a better set and lighting set up, and an actual camera, and stuff. And there’s some subtle pretty visuals, like a shot through the window, or in the finale a shot of Mithila in the distance as Dhruv looks at her. Just stuff I think an actual professional director would do with the money to use a full set of tools. But the feel of it is the same.

          On Wed, Apr 15, 2020 at 6:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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