This rant comes to you courtesy of the lovely Elisabeth at longdistancewinner, who Asks:
“In the now infamous Sexy episode, after the epic version of Landslide, Brittany and Santana hug. And Santana says ‘Thank you.’ Why do you think that is? After the first 50 viewings of this, when my heart wasn’t breaking so much anymore and I could see again through the tears, those two simple words just stuck out to me so much. Because Brittany is the one pushing, she is the one that wants answers and initiated the conversation. Could it be some kind of relief on Santana’s part? She is so happy to finally get those feelings off her chest that she just thanks Britt for giving her that opportunity? I am not sure that is it really. It is has been kinda sitting with me ever since I first heard it and I don’t know if anyone else has brittanalysed this yet? But I would love to hear your thoughts either way.”
To the best of my knowledge, no one at Brittana U has published an in-depth analysis of this particular line of dialogue before, so I’ll take a crack at it.
I still cry every time I watch “Landslide,” so my apologies if this analysis comes out tear-stained…
Honestly, I find it significant that Santana is not the only one who expresses gratitude after the “Landslide” performance; Brittany likewise whispers “Thanks” to Santana following their embrace—just after Sam utters his iconic “Pretty cool that our girlfriends are such good friends, right?” line—and Santana nods in response.
To me, this simple exchange of thanks communicates something that transcends the effable… which, of course, makes it difficult for us to decode.
Like so many Brittana moments—“Songbird,” in particular, comes to mind—the hug the girls give each other following the performance is intensely intimate, almost to the point where we, as the audience, feel guilty watching it, as though we’ve intruded upon something private. For lack of a better term, it seems like a “bedroom moment”… and perhaps for good reason.
As I discuss elsewhere, Brittana hugs are a good indicator of Santana’s level of emotional vulnerability at any given time. Obviously, during that first afterglow moment following “Landslide,” Santana feels immensely vulnerable, having just expressed her feelings to Brittany for the first time in front of a crowd of peers, which is why I would argue that the hug takes on such a “bedroom” quality—namely, because, prior to 2x15, the only venue in which Santana allows herself to be so vulnerable is the bedroom with Brittany (see here and here), so her physical “vocabulary” for vulnerable exchange derives almost entirely from bedroom gestures.
Until “Landslide,” Santana never—to the best of our knowledge—acknowledges her feelings for Brittany in anything even remotely resembling a public forum, neither does she acknowledge her feelings in such a raw and honest way anywhere except through intimate touch.
Consequently, the way she hugs Brittany following “Landslide” reads almost like a post-coital moment… and this point should inform our reading of her “Thank you” line.
Of course, we don’t have much evidence, barring the Sweet Lady Kisses scene of 2x04 and the bedroom scene of 2x15, to go on when it comes to actual Brittana “bedroom moments,” but from what little evidence we do have, I would argue that, prior to 2x15, Santana has a tendency to “[make] love to Brittany without verbally telling Brittany ’I love you,’” or, in other words, to reveal her repressed feelings for Brittany through intimate touch despite her best efforts not to do so (see here).
And, for her part, Brittany, being such an astute reader of Santana—despite Santana’s efforts at obfuscation—“seems to realize… that there is a discrepancy between what Santana says with her body and what Santana says with her words” (see here); indeed, Brittany “apparently feels that something in her interaction with Santana suggests a deeper connection between them than the best friendship they already openly acknowledge,” which is what prompts her to push Santana to acknowledge her feelings in the first place.
… which is where the mutual thanking comes in, I believe.
As with so many Brittana gestures—both of the physical and verbal sort—the dual expressions of thanks from the girls represent a form of subtextual communication between them, in which one unit of expression stands in for another.
And in this case?
I would speculate that “Thank you” doesn’t just mean “Thank you;” it means something much closer to what we hear later at the Hurt Locker—namely “I love you”—but spoken in the couched Brittana dialect of substitution and circumlocution.
This is just conjecture on my part, but, honestly, it would not surprise me if Brittany and Santana often thanked each other after sex in lieu of saying “I love you” to each other, being that, prior to the Hurt Locker confession, a simple “Thank you” might feel safe to Santana in a way that “I love you” never could.
(On the one hand, it is a phrase which expresses so much—“Thank you for being my best friend, for accepting me, for showing me the love I don’t think I deserve, for being so gentle, for keeping me, for being my everything,” etc.—while on the other hand, it is a phrase which doesn’t express very much at all, as it is not actually “I love you.” It therefore falls into the realm of “acceptable best friendly discourse,” but also, of course, secretly transcends it, functioning in much the same way as the famous Brittana pinky-linking behavior, as thejollyape discusses here.)
So in answer to Elisabeth’s original question, yes, I think that the “Thank you” represents Santana’s way of acknowledging the ways in which Brittany moves her, maybe not explicitly for Brittany pushing her to access her feelings—being that I don’t think Santana really starts to feel grateful to Brittany for offering her that encouragement until “New York,” and even then she only feels it on a rudimentary level—but definitely in response to how well Brittany knows and how willingly Brittany accepts Santana, which is something that a vulnerable Santana can appreciate.
That being the case, I think that Brittany’s quiet “Thanks” represents her gratitude that Santana willingly makes herself vulnerable—because Brittany realizes what a grand gesture that is for Santana and knows that it changes something between them.
In any case, I’ve blathered enough about two little words.
Moral of this story?
1. “I wanted to thank you for performing that song with me in glee club.”
2. “When you told me all that stuff the other week, it meant so much to me to see you be so honest, and especially because I know how bad it hurt. I was so proud of you.”
Thanks for writing in, Elisabeth!
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