We have reached episode four of Netflix’s Heartstopper. The live-action adaptation of Alice Oseman’s coming of age graphic novel has been nothing but extraordinary up until now! The journey continues in “Secret” as Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie (John Locke) sort through their feelings and decide to keep their budding relationship a secret. But is that something either of them really wants? Let’s find out!
DISCLAIMER: This is a recap and, by definition, contains spoilers. If you haven’t watched Heartstopper yet, I suggest checking it out first! Also, be mindful that this series deals with heavy themes that will be discussed below.
“Secret” opens up with Nick standing on Charlie’s doorstep in the rain. Nick apologizes for not messaging him and just wanted to talk in person. The two head upstairs to chat as Charlie tries to apologize for pushing Nick to kiss him last night. My romance weakness is when one character rambles on and the other softly says the other’s name. Charlie is worried that last night has officially ruined their friendship, but then Nick kisses him again.
Nick apologizes for how he acted after their first kiss and opens up about his full-on gay crisis. He is torn up because he is confused about his feelings and doesn’t know what to do. Charlie doesn’t try to give him any advice or pressure Nick into anything else. He even promises not to say anything at school until Nick is ready to come out to the world. The two say goodbye before Charlie chases Nick out into the rain for a proper goodbye kiss.
The next morning at school, Nick runs into Imogen (Rhea Norwood), who can tell something is different but blames his hair. Charlie is all smiles as he walks through the hallway and the two of them just can’t keep from smiling while sitting next to each other in form. At Higgs, Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) continue their “no more hiding” policy while Elle (Yasmin Finney) and Tao (William Gao) make plans for the future. It seems that everyone is heading towards their happiness.
“Secret” jumps to Charlie, who is spending his lunch hour with Nick in Mr. Ajayi’s (Fisayo Akinade) classroom again. Nick is worried that Charlie’s friends are going to be mad that he is ditching them, but Charlie really needs those rugby tips. The moment between them is cute until Nick asks about Mr. Ajayi. Charlie opens up about how he was the only teacher who cared to help him with the bullying last year. When Nick mentions that he was getting the evil eye before Charlie arrived, Charlie believes that he must have thought he was Ben (Sebastian Croft).
Mr. Ajayi knew about Ben trying to force Charlie into keeping their relationship a secret. When Nick realizes that he is doing the same thing, Charlie tries to get him to understand that this is completely different. He isn’t like Ben at all.
Later, at rugby, Charlie is still struggling with the contact portion of the sport. After practice, coach Singh (Chetna Pandya) tries to give him some encouragement. They are going to need him for the next match since someone is going to be out. He finds it is hard to be confident when the rest of the team (minus Nick) only sees him as the stereotypical gay boy that isn’t good at sports. But, coach Singh reminds him that there are plenty of gay people in the world who are great at it. Kick off the montage of Charlie practicing his tackling skills!
“Secret” cuts to Higgs, where the entire school is gossiping about Tara and Darcy kissing at the party. Even Imogen feels the need to question Tara. But she is more interested in whether or not she has something going on with Harry. Imogen basically tells the entire table, Elle included, that she and Nick are together. A sure thing.
Back at Truham, Nick and Tao have a slight altercation in the lunch year. Tao sees Nick as a friend thief and is worried that Charlie is going to end up getting hurt. Nick’s friends are twits and chuck a rugby ball at Tao’s head and Nick tries to smooth things over by making sure he is okay. When Tao refuses to give the ball back, Nick walks away only to get nailed in the back of the head with it by Tao. Even then, Nick doesn’t fight back.
At the rugby match, Tao, Elle, Isaac (Tobie Donovan), Tara and Darcy show up to support Charlie in his big game. He promises Nick that he won’t tell them about their relationship and while Nick agrees, it seems like he might be having second thoughts about hiding it. Nick’s friends also show up with Imogen and Ben in tow. But, things are about to get much worse when the other team shows up and Charlie realizes that they look like grown men. They are about to be crushed.
The match plays through and they don’t just get crushed, they get annihilated. Charlie even gets picked on by his own teammates. Eventually, he takes a rough hit and ends up with a nosebleed and the match is called due to the weather. Nick struggles with wanting to go to him and continuing to keep their relationship a secret. He watches as Charlie is helped off the field by first aid but goes to meet up with him afterward.
Charlie apologizes for making things awkward for Nick, but Nick knows that he is the one in the wrong. He shouldn’t be forcing Charlie to hide their relationship. The moment is broken when Isaac pops in with antiseptic wipes. Nick heads out and Charlie tells him that Isaac won’t say anything. Tao and Elle are waiting outside and decide that maybe they should stop getting involved in Charlie’s relationship. Their conversation is broken up by some noise down below.
“Secret” comes to a close as Imogen asks Nick out on a date. He isn’t sure what to say, but he agrees with everyone egging him on.
I am really loving how Heartstopper is tackling the more serious themes within the series but not letting the overall tone of the show become negative. We are seeing positive and supportive friends/family while also experiencing problematic/homophobic comments. Just like Oseman’s graphic novel, the series is shining a light on all aspects of this coming-of-age story without throwing on the rose-colored glasses. We are excited to see how the second half of season one plays outs.
Time to get moving and head into our recap for episode five!