and to further elaborate on my feelings on this scene: oh NOOOOOOO
but seriously, here is why i think this was particularly gorgeous:
1) up until now, the show has been giving the viewer (or at least, me) the impression of a very equal relationship between the two, perhaps even with michiru being the slightly more dominant half. while haruka is the one who’s more focused on their mission, to the point where she hardly wavers at the thought of sacrificing innocents, michiru comes off as somehow more adult, a sort of emotional buffer for haruka. when haruka is visibly, deeply conflicted for the first time by the possibility of taking away usagi’s soul, michiru doesn’t push her the way haruka always does to her, instead offering comfort, support and understanding. plus, she’s the only one who can poke holes in haruka’s super cool and nonchalant act.
but then this scene completely flips that on its head?? the last thing i was expecting from michiru, who’s practically in a league all of her own, to admire haruka to such a degree. and it’s really just this sort idol crush that’s very typical for girls her age, but when you look at michiru nothing about her is typical for girls her age, so that comes as a really pleasant surprise. it humanizes her a lot more.
2) feeding even further into my reading of (younger) michiru as someone who suffers from some serious self-esteem issues, some of them relating to her sexuality. of course, this is all subjective reading, but ugh— she’s been watching her from afar this whole time, never once having planned to come forth about her feelings, harshly mocks them in front of haruka as if talking about a third party, and when she confesses to her it’s only when she thinks she might die and then apologizes to her for telling her. she just. she feels her feelings are completely laughable, and she wants haruka to affirm it for her, because she wants the confirmation that she’s a freak with ridiculous, unattainable fantasies. and even when she finally tells her outright she just treats it as if it’s a burden for haruka.
and, okay, not in this scene— but when haruka yells at her for trying to drag her into this whole soldier thing, and tells her ‘and i’d like for you to stop investigating me!’ and michiru’s hands barely-noticeably tighten in her lap before she lashes back out at her— maybe it’s just an initial sign of anger, but rewatching it now, what if it’s hurt? she didn’t just approach haruka to ask for her help, she also approached her out of admiration, and got turned down point-blank without haruka even considering what her feelings were. that was exactly the confirmation she was looking for, but god if it didn’t sting.
and she looks up to haruka for being honest with her feelings, which is the exact opposite of what she’s been until now, and for not depending on anyone, which is just incredibly sad because michiru is such a strong, independent young woman but she feels so utterly helpless and lost and alone. after their argument, she completely gave up trying to recruit haruka to fight by her side — now she’s aiming for the opposite, to guarantee that haruka retains her safe, normal life. she would’ve liked for haruka to fight with her— she was happy when she realized she was the one, she said — but when all’s said and done, she didn’t really want it for her, because she knew it would cause her pain. so why did she approach haruka in the first place? if she was sure from the start that her feelings won’t be returned, and if she wasn’t even that adamant about having haruka join her…?
the fleeting hope that she still would, perhaps, so that she wouldn’t be alone.
and if not that, had she been able to paint that portrait, perhaps that would have been enough.
the portrait which, to this day, is all on its own in a completely blank sketchbook.