Once again, nails the landing! Dhruv expresses himself in a way he has never really done before. And Mithila finally says the thing that will release them from the biggest issue of the season. (Little Things reviews index here)
We ended the last episode frozen in the middle of a fight. Which happens a lot in real life and almost never in fiction. Fiction likes to take the fight, and then tidily resolve it. But in reality, Life Happens and sometimes you don’t get to finish your really really important conversation. Dhruv had just reached the point of asking Mithila “do you even like me any more?” and Mithila had reached the point of saying “you lied when you said you would support my dreams”. And then a knock on the door, and they have to get dressed and go to the next wedding event with those two big swords hanging over them.
Dhruv and Mithila the actors do a great job with the next few scenes. They ride down the elevator, they go to the raucous young people pre-party party in the groom’s hotel room, they stay close to each other but not talking, they smile tightly when other people talk to them, we can sense their shock and trauma from the fight lingering but in a way that wouldn’t be obvious to outsiders. It adds to the strain, we the audience want them to finish the fight already, and they want to too, but instead we are stuck at this party with a bunch of people we don’t care about just marking time until it is over. And then the groom gets involved in rough housing with his friends and sprains his shoulder. Ouch! And again, it’s this big exciting thing, but Mithila and Dhruv’s faces say “I can’t really think about or feel what is happening around me, because I am so tense and caught up in our couple fight”, and that’s how the audience feels too.
The resolution of the fight is maybe a bit too perfect. Not the actual resolution, which is how it has to resolve, both of them cool down and start feeling love and worry for this person they love who is hurting right now because of them, and ready to have a real loving calm conversation about their issues. But the magical way Dhruv gets there. Because the groom hurt his shoulder, he asks Dhruv to come help him get into his wedding suit. And he and Dhruv talk about his relationship with the bride, which makes Dhruv remember that he loves Mithila. MAGIC!
It’s a nice conversation though, and we don’t often get to see two men talking in a loving respectful way about their romantic partners in fiction, so I will allow it. To start with, the groom is delightfully different from Dhruv while still the same. In the first episode of the season, we saw a different old friend of Dhruv being cocky and confident and slightly machismo-y in a why that soft over-thinker Dhruv isn’t quite. This guy is also cocky, declares it will be fine and he can still do his dance because he is The Groom and can do anything! We can see why Dhruv and he are friends, that balance of hopeful cocky optimism with Dhruv’s instinct to talk things out makes them a nice pair. And it makes this conversation work. Dhruv asks how he knew he wanted to get married, and the groom is very sure of himself and simple in his answer. It was too hard to find a place together without being married. Dhruv laughs a little, but the groom says no really, that was it. He didn’t even think about it. It just seemed easy, no doubts, no big deal, why not get married? Because the thing is, with his girlfriend, he could always talk to her. He figured no matter what comes up for the rest of their lives, they will be fine, because they can talk. So marriage is no big deal.
It’s a bit tidy that the “we can always talk” fits so perfectly with Dhruv and Mithila’s relationship, which is also all about talking. But I will accept because it is true of a lot of relationships as well. Dhruv and Mithila have been talking this season a lot about being “ordinary”, and here is another way they are magically ordinary. The bride and groom at this wedding have the same kind of relationship as Dhruv and Mithila. They aren’t strangers in an arranged marriage, and they aren’t magical-love-at-first-sight people who rush into marriage. They met, they dated, they really really know each other, and they decided to get married together. That’s normal and ordinary and also wonderful. And then Dhruv goes out to Mithila where she is alone waiting for him and brings her biryani and she tells him she has already taken the next day off work, so they can talk. It’s ordinary and small, but it’s also wonderful, that they are a couple who love each other so much and know each other so well, a massive relationship ending fight can be over with a gesture as simple as biryani and a day off work.
And then they dance to “Chaiyya Chaiyya” which is my second favorite part of the episode (first favorite coming up). We heard in some earlier episodes about the dance video people had to practice, this isn’t a magical spontaneous moment. And the groom was bragging to Dhruv about how he was going to surprise his bride. And yet, once again, the ordinariness is what made it special. This is a big Punjabi wedding as we have seen in so many movies before this. Usually it is presented as over the top magical perfect, everyone does the dance just right on the first try, the outfits are glamorous and somehow matching color, and so on and so forth. Occasionally it is presented as a stressful nightmare, the bride and groom feel trapped, relatives are pressuring them, there is no money, blah blah. But in this, it is ordinary and wonderful together. The bride and groom decided to get married and this is the wedding they wanted. Everyone is wearing nice clothes, but normal clothes. And they dance to “Chaiyya Chaiyya” because it is an easy dance everyone knows. Nobody looks like a professional, no one stands out from the crowd, it is just happy easy people dancing to a fun song at a nice wedding for people who love each other. And that’s magic enough.
My first favorite part comes after. We go from this happy dance that is helping Mithila and Dhruv to heal, to the next morning when Mithila wakes up to find that Dhruv drove them out to the vineyard where they landed at the end of last season. Last season, Mithila was the one suggesting it and surprising them by going there, and remember it was their anniversary. This season, it is Dhruv who let Mithila sleep in the car and surprised her by bringing her there.
There’s a theory that part of the value of couple’s therapy is simply having a designated space where you can have hard conversations. You are calmer, happier, aware that this is a safe space to say these things. You talk better just because you are in that space, nothing to do with the therapist being there. And that’s what the vineyard is for Dhruv and Mithila. They had a calm loving hard conversation there before, now they can again.
They already had the fight last episode, there isn’t much more to say about where they are coming from (Dhruv is happy where they are and wants Mithila to be happy with him, Mithila is worried Dhruv isn’t worried about the future and moving forward with her). But they can talk about why they feel that way. We are 13 episodes into this series, and we know surprisingly little about Dhruv and Mithila’s backstory. And I think they know surprisingly little about each other, they have known each other so long that they just accept things without questioning them. Just like last season the final episode conversation in which Mithila explained that this relationship is exhausting her made so much fall into place, this season the conversation about their background makes so much fall into place.
Mithila says that her parents always let her do whatever she wanted, be guided by her desires to go as far as she wanted. And now she feels like what she wants is to keep going, driving ahead in her career, and she doesn’t want to stop herself (“for Dhruv” is the unspoken part). And Dhruv explains very matter of factly that he is smart, and his parents learned that when he was a small child. So he spent his childhood being trained by them for great things, never enjoying, always studying. Once he hit college, he suddenly felt free and realized he never had a childhood. So now he refuses to do anything he doesn’t enjoy.
This fits so well. Dhruv is all about living in the moment. He spent his childhood driving towards a future and sacrificing his present to get there. No more, he won’t stay in a miserable job just for the hope of advancement, he won’t stay in a PhD program just to finish his degree, if he is unhappy in the present, he will stop. And that’s also why he is so committed to this relationship. He is happy now, in the moment, and will let the future take care of itself.
Mithila is in a lot of ways the “normal” one. She is also clearly very smart, and a high achiever. But she didn’t have the pressure Dhruv did, so she came to adulthood with joy in her accomplishments and excitement for new challenges. She is ready to think about the future and moving on and sure that whatever she achieves will be worth what she sacrificed to get there. Dhruv’s reaction last season to her desire to quit surprised her, because it was unusual, this total acceptance. Her reaction to Dhruv this year was kind of “normal”, of course she would worry about the decision he made and why and if he had thought about money and so on.
And then the reach the surprising solution to all their problems, my first favorite part of the episode. Mithila says “I am going to say something and I want you to agree”, and I think it is about taking a break from each other, or that she has found him a better job, or something. But no, she says “I want you to let me help you with your parents’ loan”. That was the real problem. Mithila was worried about Dhruv because he was struggling and didn’t seem to worry about himself. Now she can take care of his biggest concern, the one they haven’t spoken of before directly because it was so big, and that will also fix her concern for him. Now Dhruv can be free to take the lower paying job and be happy, and Mithila can be free of worrying about him. A couple that knew each other less well, that cared about each other less, would not have reached this point. But for the two of them, money shared is worry lessened.