One of the disadvantages of recapping a show that’s clearly been designed for bingeing is that while you can sense the drama building across multiple storylines, it’s with the knowledge that major developments are clearly on the horizon. Because the first two episodes of the season seemed to serve largely as set-up, episode three of Sex Education is where the season’s major storylines really start to coalesce, especially the evolving conflict between Jean and Otis, now that Jean has truly embedded herself in the school.
Sex Education does have one recurring element to help differentiate its episodes, and so Otis’s new client of the hour is Olivia, whose parents don’t know that her boyfriend Rahim’s parents aren’t Indian, and that Olivia and Rahim’s “dance practice” is actually spent having very enthusiastic sex. Olivia, though, has one kink that’s proving to be a turn-off for Rahim: She likes to cover up his face with a pillow while they’re having sex, something which freaks him out.
However, the catch is that with Jean now establishing a presence at the school, the students (and adults!) now have another potential avenue for pursuing advice on their sex lives, and so Malek goes to her, as opposed to Otis, in search of advice. Unfortunately, Jean’s counsel leads Malek to accuse Olivia of some ugly things, which is what leads her to coming to Otis for his advice about the fact that she’s self-conscious about her… what is the preferred nomenclature these days? Eh, “o-face,” as coined by many different media properties including Office Space, will do nicely. Otis’s advice, for Olivia to be open with Malek and for them to try to see each other “at their ugliest,” seems to do the trick. It’s not a seismic development, but it does point at the potential for Jean and Otis to butt heads as the season continues.
And at the moment, things between Jean and Otis aren’t great in general, because with Jean and Jakob’s relationship now out in the open, Jean is trying to get her new boyfriend, her son, and her son’s girlfriend/her boyfriend’s daughter bonding together. This leads to the unconventional foursome having dinner and playing board games, which proves to be a disastrous evening, largely due to Otis struggling with Jakob’s table manners — and more importantly his struggle with seeing his mother in an actual relationship with a man, as opposed to just having casual sex.
But Otis’s problems are nothing compared to those of poor sweet Aimee, who starts off the day in a great mood, thrilled to be pursuing her new plan for a career. However, transporting her homemade cake via bus isn’t the easiest thing on a normal day, and when an asshole passenger chooses to jerk off onto her leg, the day gets even worse for her.
Aimee’s more upset about messing up her cake and her favorite jeans getting stained by the asshole’s ejaculate than the fact that she was violated by a stranger, but when Maeve hears the story she tells Aimee that she needs to report what happened to the police. And because it’s Maeve’s birthday, and Maeve’s birthday cake that got messed up, Aimee agrees to do so. (Maeve hates her birthday, but doesn’t mind using it as an opportunity to force her friend to do the right thing.)
Nothing comes of reporting Aimee’s assault, at least right now, and Maeve goes home — where her mother is waiting, having gotten beaten up by the boyfriend who didn’t know that Erin had older children. Maeve reluctantly lets her mother come in to stay, and maybe that’s what leads to the karmic reward of Otis, the next day, giving Maeve the thoughtful gift of a five-year diary with the day for Maeve’s birthday ripped out, every single year, “so you don’t have to celebrate it.” Yeah, Maeve’s still really into Otis, and that doesn’t help matters.
One character these recaps haven’t mentioned up until now is Jackson, largely because like many character stories on this show, his moments have been parceled out over the course of several episodes. But at the beginning of the season, the pressures of the massive expectations heaped upon him hit the breaking point, and he deliberately breaks his hand in the weight room.
With six weeks off from training, he’s now considering a big change in his choice of extracurriculars, thanks to encouragement from Lily, who is taking a break from sci-fi erotica to work on the school’s musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. With some coaching from his tutor Viv, Jackson nails his audition — though now we get to worry about how his mothers react to the news that he’s found a new potential passion.
Where that storyline goes is left to the next episode. Meanwhile, it’s worth acknowledging here that the clunkiest part of this episode is an unfortunate mishmash of timelines that fails to feel comprehensible; intercutting Aimee and Maeve’s trip to the police station with the play auditions with Otis, Jean, Jakob, and Ola’s terrible dinner simply doesn’t make sense chronologically.
That’s a nitpicky detail, as long as you’re able to accept that all of those scenes may not be strictly accurate chronologically, but do all take place on the same day. And if you’re bingeing the season, it’s highly likely that you’re already looking toward the next episode, and who can blame you? There’s already been plenty of sex this season, but in many other ways, things are heating up.
All the Good Things and the Bad Things That May Be
• This is my third recap of the season, and so far I have shown a lot of restraint so far in making any references to Gillian Anderson’s past roles, but I’m going to ruin that now because HELL YES, Scully finally got herself a desk! (This is an X-Files deep cut, and I am not sorry about it.)
• Otis’s blow-up reflects one important truth about the world: Monopoly is the worst board game and no one should play it.
• Oh, an important thing that happens is that Eric and Rahim go on their first date! And kiss! Which is great! Less great, though, is Eric discovering that Adam is back in town, which certainly won’t present any problems down the line.
• The more we learn about Aimee and her home life, the more sad and sweet things seem. Her mother’s wine-fueled attempt to remember “which Ryan do I like?” speaks to a lot of issues under the surface.
An earlier version of this recap referred to Malek by the wrong name. It has been corrected.