okay, yes, so many things just happened in this update. yes i’m still crying. but I just want to take a second to really look at this panel.
Mainly, I want to look at this line: “but you told me to call if I ever…needed you”
I’m constantly amazed by how much nuance and meaning that Ngozi can communicate through just one little sentence or phrase. Every word and every punctuation choice matters, especially when you’re only amounted 10 panels each update to develop a variety of relationships, emotions, and storylines. To me, in this line, the “…” makes all the difference. All this time, Bitty has been putting his own feelings and needs aside in order to be with Jack. Obviously this isn’t Jack’s fault, because we know he would never ask Bitty to compromise his own happiness. In fact, from this panel, we know that Jack, probably closer to the beginning of their relationship, specifically told Bitty at some point: “If you ever need me, don’t hesitate to call me, okay?”
But we know Bitty. He’s selfless and kind, and so often he puts others’ needs before his own. And Ngozi has said so before: Bitty has a tendency to avoid his problems. He compartmentalizes. He distracts himself. He doesn’t like to deal with his issues head on. Concerning his relationship with Jack, we’ve seen this multiple times already too—just two updates ago, we saw him somberly murmuring to himself “right, you have to think about your career,” before distracting himself by asking Jack what it was that Jack wanted to show him.
So what am I trying to say? I guess, linguistically, the “…” in “but you told me to call if I ever…needed you” is communicating all of this about Bitty’s personality. About his recent struggle with avoiding how upset he is about having to hide his relationship with Jack. I think the pause there is showing us how hard it is for Bitty to put himself first, for once. It’s Bitty swallowing the lump in his throat, swallowing against his impulse to just pretend that everything’s okay, and forcing those words out. Jack told Bitty to call him if he ever needed him, and genuinely meant that, but Bitty, because of his tendency to put others before himself, never took that statement to heart.
(And this brings me to the image of Jack’s phone, and how he has all those missed calls from Bitty. I think you can definitely interpret that as Bitty has called him multiple times because he really wants to talk to Jack, but I’m interpreting it as Bitty choosing to call Jack, then hanging up the phone quickly because he’s telling himself “it’s nothing, it’s nothing.” But it’s not nothing. And so he calls again. Hangs up again. Calls again…until finally he lets that dial tone ring for good without hanging up.)
((EDIT: and god, I’m just rereading the update again and Bitty’s selflessness just blows me away, even when he’s trying to communicate his own feelings he’s still putting Jack first—like when he says “No one’s ever fair to you” in regards to the media…….like probably a good portion of why Bitty’s upset is also because he’s frustrated he can’t speak up/protect Jack against all those negative comments, god he loves him so much)
Bottom line: it’s clear that Bitty can’t avoid the elephant in the room anymore. All that stress and worry and sorrow has finally built up to a point where he’s finally taking Jack’s words for what they were meant for. I can’t even imagine the amount of mental strength it took for Bitty to finally follow through and admit to himself “yes, I AM worth it,” and ask Jack, “Can we talk?”
I’m so proud of him.