We’ve reached the halfway point, and the core conflict of season two of Sex Education is beginning to truly take shape as that most classic of narratives, a love triangle — and a relatively conventional one at that. Ola and Otis are getting serious enough that Ola thinks they’re ready to have sex, and Otis is more than game, if a bit nervous.
But it’s another bad day for Maeve, as she has to deal with her mother asking her to babysit her half-sister, and then a string of rejections: First, she helps the quiz team win their match, but they ask her to leave after she proves incapable of collaborating. And then she ends up confessing her feelings to Otis, which goes incredibly badly, because Otis had done his best to move on from his own crush for her.
Otis shuts her down, but later when he and Ola are on the verge of taking off their pants, a very badly timed text from Maeve shuts things down. (It doesn’t help that Otis initially lies about it being a text from his mother.) And that leads to the end of the episode, when Ola tells Otis that he has to stop spending time with Maeve. It’s a cliché that is honestly a bit beneath this show’s typically nuanced relationships, especially because it paints Ola as more unreasonable and insecure than she has seemed in the past. (That being said, being uncertain that your boyfriend actually wants to be with you can do a number on a girl’s self-esteem.)
Jean’s love life also hits a snag with the unexpected return of her ex-husband Remi, who claims to be just dropping by to visit Otis, but ends up crashing Jean and Jakob’s night in. Jean’s already feeling a bit nonplussed by Jakob’s presence in her life — after all, she hasn’t exactly been the boyfriend type for some time — and that may be part of why she ends up getting drunk with Remi, and even sharing an ill-advised kiss with him before getting interrupted by Otis coming home.
While Otis and Jean deal with their messy personal lives, they do also try to maintain their typical routine: This episode’s primary client is Florence, who’s playing Juliet opposite Jackson’s Romeo, but Lily is displeased by her performance because “this is a play about horny teenagers, and I don’t believe you want to have sex with him at all.” (When her cast questions her harsh manner of criticism, she simply responds “I’m not a teacher,” because Lily is pretty baller.)
Otis tells Florence that it’s okay if she’s just not ready, and that she’ll eventually meet the right person — which doesn’t exactly help. However, Jean has settled into her new role as school sex adviser (official or not), and the dizzying montage of questions she gets makes it clear just how badly her services are needed. This comes into sharp relief when Florence gets far better counseling from Jean than from her son; shockingly, it turns out that a trained professional who is also an adult is better equipped to handle complicated issues like the spectrum of sexuality that includes asexuality.
The immediate ramification of this moment is simply that Florence tells Otis that she wants a refund. But it’s clear that Otis’s sex-clinic business is in jeopardy, if not totally dead, especially when Ola’s ultimatum about Maeve gets thrown into the mix. This is a pretty big deal given how “teenage boy gives sex advice to his classmates” was, basically, the entire original premise of this show.
Beyond those in the immediate vicinity of the Milburns, there are some big developments. Lily, for the record, has even harsher criticism of Jackson’s acting, and so Jackson turns to Viv for yet more help. Initially, she tells him no, but then they strike a deal: She coaches him through Romeo’s monologues, and he’ll help her “get jiggy” (her very embarrassing choice of phrase) with Dex, her quiz-team crush.
Also, while in the previous episode Eric and Rahim’s first date was disrupted by encountering Adam, things get even more complicated for them when Adam lures Eric out in the middle of the night for some good wholesome fun — specifically, smashing pottery in a local junkyard. It’s actually a sweet night for the two of them, ending in a tender kiss at daybreak, so of course it’s followed by Rahim asking him to be his boyfriend. Messy times, indeed — and with four episodes left in the season, they’re only going to get messier.
All the Good Things and the Bad Things That May Be
• The episode’s opening fake-out is enough to make us all self-conscious about what we sound like when playing video games (or, presumably, what we sound like doing other things).
• Damn, but James Purefoy is charming. Also, he and Gillian Anderson both prove to be great at drunk-acting. (In fairness, we already knew this about Anderson.)
• Poor Aimee, still struggling with the aftermath of her assault. (This is becoming an evergreen comment, and hopefully the show moves this story forward in a positive way soon.)
• Lily might be a harsh director, but she’s a great friend. We all deserve someone in our lives who will take the time to draw you as a sci-fi heroine vanquishing your enemies.
• But was there a spark of sexual tension between Lily and Ola? Well, if any show was going to explore that, it is definitely this one.