This is, in fact, the first time (I think) that we get a shot where we are in Benji’s head for once. We are right there with him, experiencing his emotional reaction to seeing Victor with Rahim. To me, this bodes well for season 3 development for Benji. Why would they spend season 2 dropping hints that the boy has depth, only to culminate in this shot where we finally get a chance to experience something through Benji’s eyes (instead of always seeing Benji through Victor’s eyes), only to throw Benji out in season 3? It wouldn’t make any sense.
Also? They spent a good chunk of s2 on a mental health plot, with Felix’s mom (my favorite plot of the season. Stellar actors, all handled with so much care and nuance. Chefs kiss.) Do we really think they’re going to throw away the opportunity to explore Benji’s addiction? I really really don’t think they’re gonna throw that out. In fact, I see that being a pretty pivotal plot point in s3. They certainly have been laying the groundwork since “What Happens in Willacoochee” or however you spell that silly name.
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In Defense of Benji Pt. 1/2
I’ve seen a bunch of complaints about how awful or OOC Benji was in the second half of Love, Victor S2. I think that’s pretty unfair and can at least partially be chalked up to the lack of Benji’s POV throughout the season. I’m going to go through episode by episode to show where Benji’s coming from and why he does what he does. This isn’t to say Benji was perfect or that Victor is in the wrong. They both made mistakes and failed to communicate. But demonizing Benji is just not in line with what happened. (Spoilers for all of S2 of Love, Victor below)
2x01-2x04: I’m not going to cover these in detail because any conflicts between Victor and Benji early on don’t amount to much and are pretty quickly resolved.
2x05 (Gay Gay): Benji and his bandmates make some nasty comments about jocks in front of Victor. Specifically Benji says “Victor’s in the early stages of jock recovery, he just escaped the cult of cheap body spray and casual misogyny” and “Thank god, I don’t have to sit with the basketball girlfriends and do the whole Go Grizzlies dance.”
Benji pretty clearly messes up here, which can be traced back to the fact that he doesn’t understand that Victor does genuinely love playing basketball. Once he realizes that, he goes to Victor’s first game, apologizes and does the Go Grizzlies dance with the basketball girlfriends, and Victor and Benji are good again.
2x06 (Sincerely, Rahim): In the beginning Benji commiserates with Victor about his mom and talks about mentoring Rahim. When Victor calls him mid-episode and talks about how cool his mom was with Rahim, Benji is wary. Isabel has treated him terribly for months and it has to hurt to hear that she’s so much better with Rahim than she’s evernbeen with him. Then, at the end of the episode, Benji apologizes for not being supportive enough about Victor’s excitement about his mom, does it again, and then apologizes again.
What I think is missing here is Benji expressing how hard it’s been for him to watch Victor go through this with his mom for months or for Benji to be repeatedly exposed to Isabel’s homophobia. Victor sees this as a conflict between him and his mom, but Benji is not just a supportive outsider. He has also been wronged by Isabel and has (at this point) received no apology from her and no real evidence that she’s going to change. Of course, he’s doubtful that this time she’s really changing.
I’ll also point out that Victor almost outs himself in front of Adrian on accident, but Isabel is able to cover it up.
2x07 (Table for Four): Benji’s parents secretly invite Victor to his birthday dinner where Victor finds out about Benji being in AA, which Benji is hugely embarrassed by. He later calls it “the part of my life that I hate.” This precipitates the worst fight the two have ever had.
Benji is clearly deeply ashamed by being an alcoholic, which I think Victor sort of recognizes but doesn’t really get because Benji’s never talked to him about it. Victor wants to know why Benji didn't share this really important part of his life with him and Benji asks him to just let it go. I’ll point out that Victor has repeatedly asked Benji to let things go (about his mom, about coming out to the school) while this is the first time we ever see Benji ask the same in return.
Victor doesn’t, and then Benji blows up at him and says some really awful things. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not making Benji out to be flawless. Throwing Victor’s early coming out experiences and his mom in his face is really shitty. And it’s clear that if Benji weren’t really embarrassed and upset he wouldn’t say those things. At the same time, he’s not . . . wrong. He has by and large been patient and understanding during a difficult time in Victor’s life. And all Benji is asking for is that on his birthday after being unwillingly outed as an alcoholic to his boyfriend is for Victor not to push him on it and Victor does anyway.
Later that night we get a rare moment of Benji POV, through Felix oddly enough, when Felix tells Victor how hard it’s been to see him struggle with his mom. Victor then texts Benji off-screen and asks him to come over. They make up, start kissing, and Victor suggests they go to his room. Note, Benji knows that Isabel isn’t there but he would have no idea if Pilar and Adrian were there or at their dad’s or somewhere else. Victor is the one who knows Adrian is in the next room.
Part 2 coming soon!
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