On Troy and Nick:
These two have had palpable chemistry ever since the “I think we can be friends now” scene earlier this season. I thought it was mostly wishful thinking on my part, but with each new episode I keep wondering if I’m not so off base. It’s been ambiguous and subtextual of course, but it doesn’t go unnoticed. I’d even bet the general audience has been squinting at certain scenes lately, especially during this last episode, going “…is this gay?”
Troy has a “strange fixation on [Nick],” as described by Madison. While the writers haven’t made Troy’s feelings clear, there have been moments where—either through dialogue or acting choices—it felt as if Troy harbored some physical attraction toward Nick, whether it be subliminal or conscious. Their relationship started antagonistically, so to say anything romantic was going on at the onset is out of bounds. Yet, as the season progressed, their relationship surprisingly transformed into this toxic, yet weirdly fitting friendship of sorts. Nick’s strange loyalty hasn’t been lost on Troy, and I think that’s allowed an emotional fondness to grow for him as well.
As confirmed last episode, Nick sees himself in Troy because they “share the same self-destruction.” I think he identifies with Troy because he’s mentally ill, just as he was as an addict. He’d been one to constantly make wrong choices and hurt those around him, all because he couldn’t control his mind’s urges. He sees that in Troy. He gets that. And even though he’s beyond the drugs now, he’s still doing terrible and morally questionable things in the name of survival. It’s become second nature to him. Perhaps in his mind it’s just another form of addiction. Maybe by believing Troy can get better, Nick feels that he can too.
Furthermore, I think it’s interesting that the writers had Alicia textually reveal that Nick’s concern for Troy wasn’t rooted in guilt over his father, but stemmed from the fact that he likes him. “You like him”—I mean, come on really? Of course that doesn’t mean it’s romantic or sexual in nature, but there’s definitely some interesting subtext behind that insertion, especially because later that episode they decide to parallel Troy and Nick’s relationship with Jake and Alicia’s. Before he takes off after Troy, Jake gets into an argument with Alicia about whether or not their romantic relationship was genuine, or if it was a political alliance on Alicia’s behalf. I can’t recall the exact exchange, but if I remember correctly Jake asked if she ever really “liked” him. He could have said love to hammer home the point and to make his later death even more devastating, but the writers chose to emphatically use the same word as they had minutes before in regards to Nick and Troy. In this way they aligned the two relationships instead of differentiating them.