Okay, season 2 was twice as good as season 1, and season 3 looks to be doubling in quality again. This episode is so lovely and loving and scary.
Okay, raise your hand if you’ve picked a fight with someone right before a separation because it is easier to focus on the things that irritate you than the things you will miss? That’s what this episode is about. Sort of.
There is big BIG plot in this episode, just like there was in the season 2 opener. I’m sticking with my theory that we just duck in and out of watching this couple during times when their relationship is in trouble. So every season starts with the beginning of a problem (last year, Dhruv’s sudden decision to quit his job just as Mithila got a promotion at work), the problem builds and builds, and then finally they solve it in the last episode. And in between seasons, their relationship moves along smoothly based on the solution they found.
This is just relationships, right? You find a good place, you stay there, and then you change or life changes, and you lose that place and have to grapple around to find a new good place. Or, if it is a bad relationship, you don’t care enough to do the work and things just fall apart.
Anyway, this season the issue is going to be long distance and all that comes from it, and all that leads to it. Dhruv has an amazing new job opportunity but it is going to take him away from Mithila in ways beyond geography. And they are both afraid of what will happen as they go through this change.
In the physical realm, Dhruv is moving to Bangalore for 6 months to be part of a mathematics study team at the Indian Statistical Institute (if you don’t know India stuff, this is the premiere pure research institute in India, working there is a very very big deal even just as an assistant part of a team). Dhruv will be living in grad student housing on campus, while Mithila will be staying in their Bombay apartment alone. The two cities are a short flight apart, or a longer drive, they are still in the same country, the same time zone, the same everything. Just two different places.
In this episode, Mithila surprises Dhruv by coming with him to Bangalore instead of saying good-bye at the airport, to spend the day and help him get his room set up. They arrive at the campus, find his room, clean it and set it up, go out for lunch at a temple nearby, then go for dinner in the canteen and Dhruv meets his new team there. They go out clubbing and get drunk and talk about how hard long distance will be, then return to his room and have a serious conversation about Dhruv wanting independence. Next day, they say good-bye at the airport, and Dhruv returns to his empty room and Mithila to their lonely apartment.
The geographical difference isn’t huge, but the emotional and mental difference is. Dhruv is moving into the world of academia and on campus living, retreating to an earlier time in his life as a single college student. And Mithila is going to be moving forward, living alone like the successful career woman she is for the first time. In the episode they joke about it a little, call Mithila a “cougar”, but it’s also scary.
I like that they articulate that scariness. Mithila reminds Dhruv that he went away from Delhi to start college and never really came back. Will that happen again? Will he leave her and never return? Dhruv talks about being worried he can’t do it. Mithila takes care of everything “from eggs in the fridge to my amazon packages”, he just sits at home, can he survive on his own any more?
The other theme that comes up this episode is the last time each of them had a break like this, leaving their family homes. Mithila and Dhruv acknowledge that they are each other’s family in this episode. That’s what a lot of the scenes are dancing around, Mithila has to pay off the guard at the gate not to report her for staying in Dhruv’s room, they go out to the temple to eat and the Priest assumes they are married. They aren’t married, and yet they are each other’s family, more than anyone else. Of course they didn’t think twice about Mithila staying in Dhruv’s room, or feel ashamed in front of the priest. And of course Mithila wants to take care of Dhruv and make sure he is safe.
But they also aren’t each other’s family. Mithila mentions she has never been alone, not really, she moved to Bombay and met Dhruv immediately. And Dhruv finally confesses that he is terrified of failing ever since learning his father is planning to sell the house to clear their loan. That’s from before they met each other, before they started their new family together. And it’s a reminder that there could be an “after” to this too, maybe this Dhruv and Mithila world is something that will someday fade away and be replaced.
There are two backstory details we never explicitly got before in this episode, but which I suspect Dhruv and Mithila as actors had already worked out as backstory for their characters because they fit so well. First that Dhruv never returned home after college. We saw that, he is a Delhi guy, he wears that identity proudly. But he is so clearly in love with Bombay, loves the food and the street life and his apartment. His family is someone he talks to on the phone, but they aren’t part of his life really. Heck, just living openly with his girlfriend before marriage is something that it would be strange to do if you cared what your parents’ thought instead of seeing yourself as totally completely independent (we already had that question answered for Mithila by seeing how she is generally so bohemian and how accepting her mother was last season).
And Mithila’s up and down growing up we have watched over the past few seasons, and the way she started out clinging to Dhruv and following his plans and only slowly grew into her own person. That fits with a young woman who arrived in a strange city away from loving supportive parents and immediately found a loving supportive boyfriend to be a new family.
This episode spends a lot of time on how Mithila cares for Dhruv, how will he survive without her? But the reality is that Mithila needs Dhruv (or someone) to need her, and Dhruv needed someone to care for him. If that makes sense. Mithila clearly came from a loving warm family, she arrived in Bombay and missed having someone of her own. Dhruv enjoyed the experience of having someone who loved him for himself without pressure. It’s an exciting start to the season, where we will see Mithila discover how to live alone, and Dhruv perhaps to realize how much he has changed and grown thanks to living with Mithila.
Oh, and a final thing, this episode also firmly indicates that last season’s problems are gone and we are starting fresh. Mithila casually offers to send Dhruv money if he needs anything, and he says of course. No weirdness. She is rich (they joke about it) and he is retreating to being a poor student. If he needs money, he will ask. She pays for his first week of groceries, and then he is going to try to make it on his own because he wants to. No biggie.