I’ve just recently watched “Hey Arnold! The Movie” and, considering that the plot was supposed to be only 22 minutes long, I thought it was pretty good. The main plot was simple, right? A large corporation threatens to tear down Arnold’s neighbourhood, and Arnold/Gerald (and in the background, Helga) manages to save the neighbourhood. What is less simple is the large turn that Arnold and Helga’s relationship has taken.
The confession only took up a fraction of the movie’s time, but it was indeed a very important scene regarding Arnold and Helga’s relationship. She finally confessed (although not in the best manner) and in the end, both agreed that the confession was just “in the heat of the moment”. Some people hated the part where Arnold and Helga denied the confession, saying that Arnold should have reciprocated Helga’s feelings. But, in a way, Arnold did. He didn’t reject her. During that conversation, Arnold did not mention anything along the lines of “I hate you” or “I don’t like you at all”. Arnold, who led the last half of the conversation, allowed Helga to take back what she said at the top of the FTi building to save her dignity. Keep in mind that the main reason that Helga keeps her love for Arnold a secret is because 1) she fears Arnold might reject her and 2) other kids might make fun of her crush (this belief was reinforced when her classmates in preschool laughed at her when she showed a sign of liking Arnold as a toddler). The confession incident has shown that Arnold won’t reject Helga, but has not disproved the latter. It would be best if they were both more emotionally mature and older before they got into a romantic relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. The thing that makes Hey Arnold! very unique from many other cartoons is its realistic element. Arnold, who is a patient person, would be very out of character to impulsively love Helga back after the confession incident. Instead, it is mature of him to allow Helga and Arnold to (somewhat) return to their status-quo relationship so they can be more ready before moving onto the next step of their relationship.
And this take-back-of-Helga’s-feelings is what would give a 6th season of Hey Arnold! a new twist. How would Arnold and Helga’s relationship change now that Arnold is aware of Helga’s feelings for him, and Helga knowing that Arnold is aware of her crush? The following is my opinion of how Arnold and Helga have grown from the confession incident:
1. As said earlier, Helga’s main reason for keeping her crush a secret was due to fear of rejection by Arnold and her peers. Now knowing that Arnold hasn’t rejected her after confessing, her reasons have now shifted to fear of humiliation from her classmates. This means that Helga would most likely act like her true self (i.e. the kinder, artistic romantic) more frequently when she is alone with Arnold, compared to when is around with others. When around others, Helga would probably bully Arnold like she would before “Hey Arnold! The Movie” to avoid being made fun of by her classmates. In other words, Helga would most likely bully Arnold less often, but only when she is alone with him.
2. In regards to Helga’s soliloquies, there’s most likely to be less “why does Arnold have to be so dense? Can’t he see that my actions are so that I can get him to like me?” because Arnold now knows why Helga acts that way.
3. Because of the confession, Arnold has gained some insight into Helga’s personality. Which means that Arnold can’t ask, “I don’t know why she [Helga] picks on me, in particular” or “why does Helga have to act so mean?” without knowing the answer in the first place. I can’t say that Arnold knows exactly why Helga kept her crush a secret, but I’m sure that he has some suspicions about it, given his mature response to allow Helga to take back her confession until she is more emotionally mature. Therefore, I don’t think that Arnold would completely retaliate at all of Helga’s bullying, because he knows why Helga bullies him.