In the first episode of this season of Sex Education, we learned about Jean’s three key tools for good sex: trust, talking, and truth. Episode two, it turns out, is all about the second one, as talking plays a major role in many of these characters’ fates.
Things begin with a break from the horny teens, and the revelation that Mr. Hendricks, whose first name is revealed to be Colin, is sleeping with his fellow teacher, Emily. Unfortunately, the sex they’re having isn’t great because Emily wants dirty talk, and Colin can’t just deliver.
No points for guessing that later in the episode, Colin might go asking Otis for advice, even though a far more qualified expert is about to enter the scene: specifically Jean, who is fully committed to the task of reinventing the school’s sex-education program despite Otis’s deep reluctance. And Otis, frankly, has reason to be worried, because when she faces the entire student body and tries to ask them to talk about what they want out of a new curriculum, she’s reduced to awkwardly singing “let’s talk about sex, baby,” before the students start calling her a “courgette wanker.” (If you need a reminder of (a) what a courgette is and (b) what Gillian Anderson did to it in season one, Instagram is here to help.)
Otis’s focus, though, is on his relationship with Ola, because while they’re taking things slow, he still wants to please her after their disastrous hookup in the previous episode. Thus, he’s been researching fingering on the internet, landing on a technique he’s sure will work. Unfortunately, he is very, very wrong about it, though Ola can’t bring herself to tell him the truth, faking her way through what appears to be a really awkward bout of poking.
Fortunately, that evening there’s a local fun fair, which serves largely as an opportunity to switch up the background for uncomfortable interactions as certain people run into each other. Maeve has been having a hard time settling back into school, in part because she’s been enrolled in a “brains of the future” program that intimidates her, and in part because her affection for Otis is coming out in the form of deep resentment for Ola (and Ola, of course, shares her dislike). The two of them face off at the fair, with Ola winning a charged bout of BB gun target-shooting, but that’s also where Ola tells Lily about Otis’s poor fingering technique.
Meanwhile, Eric ends up sharing a strange Ferris wheel ride with new student Rahim, who Otis thinks is pretty clearly interested in him. But Eric isn’t sure, because while Rahim is very attractive, to him the intense stares and blunt jabs about how “only boring people get bored” are off-putting. However, when Rahim openly talks about anal sex later, Eric maybe begins to see that Otis has a point.
Mr. Hendricks asks Otis at the fair if he has any advice for his own adult sex issues (which, good God, inappropriate on so many levels) and Otis awkwardly offers up the suggestion of rehearsing Emily’s desired dirty talk so that he can get comfortable with it. It’s not good advice, though, which Otis realizes after Lily tells him that he’s bad at fingering, because she’s not exactly the “keep it to yourself” type.
After the fair, Ola’s avoiding Otis, and so Otis turns to Ruthie, the lesbian he helped with her own sex issues last season, for advice on vaginas. The answer, she graphically reveals with the help of a peeled orange, is to communicate with your partner to find out what feels right to her, which frankly Otis should have already known. But, hey, not only does it set him on the right path, but he gives Mr. Hendricks similar advice, and Colin runs with it — asking Emily why she likes dirty talk. She tells him that after a long day of feeling like a “dowdy teacher,” she wants to feel desirable, and Colin realizes that the words don’t matter, just the tone does. (After watching that scene, good luck ordering baba ganoush with a straight face ever again.)
Colin might get a win in that department, but after sitting in on one of his classes, Jean is not impressed with his sex knowhow as a whole, and tells Headmaster Groff that she plans to spend the next few weeks getting to know the students and their needs better.
Separate from all of this, it’s time to find out how Adam is doing, and the answer is not great. Military school isn’t the easiest place, though he likes the part where he’s been separated from his father, and he also makes a couple of friends who help him with his fancy rifle-dancing maneuvers. (I do not know a lot about military protocol.) Unfortunately, when Adam catches said friends enjoying a mutual wank-off, they plant pot on his bunk to get him expelled. Adam’s now back under his father’s thumb, with the warning that if he steps one foot out of line, he’s out on the streets.
At this point, Headmaster Groff is evolving as a villain on two different fronts, and how the show chooses to deal with that is an important question — Sex Education has done well when it comes to finding the human side of many of its more stereotypical characters, but Groff is perilously close to sinking into “crusty old dean” infamy. Also, hopefully the rivalry between Ola and Maeve is short-lived, as watching intelligent young women battle each other because of a boy isn’t exactly the most empowering of messages. However, Maeve’s realization that she’s not over Otis probably won’t help matters there.
Still, we’re only a quarter of the way through the season. And things move fast, especially for the sexually consumed.
All the Good Things and the Bad Things That May Be
• Otis claims that he’s gotten a handle on his masturbation problem from the previous episode. Famous last words.
• Gillian Anderson pondering the question “is my labia a normal length?” is not ever something I expected to witness in my lifetime. This is not a complaint.
• Aimee decides that she wants to be a baker because she really likes toast. People have made major life decisions for worse reasons.
• Please, Hollywood, give Lily $100 million so that she can go make her movies. The world needs her vision of “purple penis hands.”