I feel like people don’t fully grasp the weight behind this scene. People just write it off as El wanting to be pretty in Mike’s eyes, and him admitting he thinks she’s cute or whatever. But it’s so much more than that.
This is the opening scene to episode 7, so we’ve nearly reached the end of the season. Throughout the show, we’ve seen El make all of this progress from when we’re first introduced to her. She starts off as this broken, dirty, weird little girl who feels barely human. She doesn’t know how to interact with people properly. She doesn’t look normal or fit in. She doesn’t even understand what the word ‘friend’ means. Then she gets a make over; she gets this pretty dress, she gets a wig. She’s talking more, she’s making friends, she’s learning how to trust. Hell, she goes to school and she blends in. She’s changed.
And then, after everything that happens leading up to this scene, it’s like she reverts back to the old El. 011- the weird science experiment. She looks in the mirror, and it’s like the last few days never happened; she’s lost everything that made her normal. Her dress is dirty, her face is dirty, her hair is gone again, and to top it all off she hurt her friends. And it’s worse than before. It’s like she took one step forward and two steps back, because she’s changed. Now she knows what she’s missing - friendship, normalcy, even something as silly as long hair.
And then there’s Mike - her first friend - telling her she doesn’t need any of that. She’s ‘still pretty.’