Let’s start with this: At least two stars of my rating for the season finale of Sex Education are attributable to the fact that we finally get to see Lily’s magnum opus, and it is frankly EVERYTHING that we might want it to be. There’s a live band. There’s the Bard’s words. There are the costumes. The moaning dancers. “Dick hands, enter!” Aside from the part where one must ask the question of “holy crap, what kind of budget did Lily get to put this show on?” Romeo and Juliet: The Musical is a masterpiece, and both Groffs should go to jail for interrupting it.
But that’s getting ahead of things. The episode truly begins with Lily and Ola trying to take their new relationship to the next level — only for them to discover that Lily’s first-season vaginismus condition is still a factor. After Ola asks a couple of questions, specifically about whether Lily can still pleasure herself, the two of them find a most adorable compromise: a mutual masturbation session that ends in a high five.
Meanwhile, Otis and Jean are back to fighting over Jean’s discovery of the sex clinic, which she makes very clear to Otis is simply not okay on ethical levels — something Otis disagrees with. But the argument becomes about more than the sex clinic, as Jean confronts the harsh reality of being a single parent to a teenage boy: “I always get your worst and I’m tired of it.” Otis points out that it’s not his fault that Remi left, and also encourages her to come to the school play that night; even though Headmaster Groff has kicked her off campus, Otis thinks that she shouldn’t let them bully her.
Other home fronts are on the precipice of chaos: Adam’s bringing clothes and food to his still-banished father (and not telling him about getting fired from the drugstore), while Maeve grows suspicious that her mother is using again, which is a major issue given that at the age of 3, her half-sister Elsie is not quite able to start raising herself.
Has it come up before that as a member of the swing band, Eric’s a part of Romeo and Juliet: The Musical? Maybe not. But he is, and so he asks Rahim to come see it — and learns that his boyfriend hates musicals, which is the worst news possible. Eric also tells Adam about the musical, and the two of them share a laugh, which Rahim sees. Between this and Eric’s mother not so casually telling her son that she doesn’t like him being with Rahim because “he doesn’t make you sparkle,” the writing is on the wall for this relationship.
At the quiz championships, it’s a tough match (I guess there was a question about RuPaul, because one correct answer is “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent”), but by working as a team, they triumph! The only bad news is that Maeve is a bit off her game, because Joe and Isaac snoop through her caravan and find proof that Erin is definitely using again — and right beforehand, Maeve makes the incredibly tough decision to report her mother to the authorities as unfit. Erin does show up for the competition, after previously saying she wouldn’t be able to, but that doesn’t change the fact that Erin slipped. As Erin and Elsie are taken away, for their own ostensible good, Erin tells Maeve that she’ll never forgive her, which is devastating.
Also, after her conversation with Otis that day, Jean’s worried that her exhaustion and other physical symptoms might be actually a sign of her being perimenopausal, something her doctor initially dismisses but agrees to run tests. Turns out those tests reveal that Jean was right about being perimenopausal, but Jakob was wrong about his vasectomy being effective — because she is also pregnant.
There’s a ton of plot brewing, is the point, just in time for Romeo and Juliet’s opening night. The school administrator has popped by after hearing that Groff sent Jean away, because unlike Groff she believed that Jean was actually going to be able to help the students. Groff’s attitude — that Jean was corrupting the students, clearly a projection reflecting upon how Maureen only left him after talking to Jean — is once again illogical and off-putting (and man, it’s only going to get worse).
Finally, it’s showtime. Jackson gets off to a bad start, initially freezing after making his first entrance, but thanks to some eye contact with Viv in the audience, works through the moment and the play goes forward. Again, Lily is a genius and this is all amazing, but Groff doesn’t agree, running backstage to try to shut down the show.
What really derails things is Adam running onto the stage, specifically to declare his love for Eric — which Eric reciprocates, even though Rahim is right there. It’s extremely schadenfreude-y, but not quite as offensive as when his father subsequently interrupts, determined to end it. “You have all been corrupted by [Jean],” Groff shouts at the crowd, before Otis interjects, taking responsibility for his own bad advice, telling the audience that Jean is a great therapist, and perhaps most importantly pointing out that the school should have been providing these services the whole time.
The administrator pulls Groff out of the theater and puts him on leave, while the show peters to an end. (Lily is understandably sad, but Ola tells her it was perfect, and the two of them kiss in the sound booth.) And then it’s time for a steady stream of Characters Talking About Their Feelings, as the season also peters to an end.
Otis doesn’t know about Jean’s news, but he does tell her that if she wants to be with Jakob, he’ll support them. Jackson and Viv make up and reaffirm their friendship. Aimee and Steve hug. And Isaac tells Maeve that she did the right thing in reporting her mother to social services, though Isaac’s moral authority is pretty questionable: When Otis comes by to see Maeve that night, Isaac tells him she’s gone, and Otis asks Isaac to tell Maeve to check her messages. Isaac agrees, but when Otis leaves, Isaac listens to the message, in which Otis confesses his love to Maeve.
Naturally, Isaac deletes the message, and that’s essentially where things end for the entire season, with a fair amount resolved but plenty of open-ended questions left to be addressed by future seasons. It’s not the most satisfying conclusion, as the emotional heft of knowing that season three would likely revolve around an Otis-Maeve-Isaac love triangle is nothing in comparison to the truly cathartic end of the previous episode. And perhaps that speaks to the most important thing Sex Education revealed about itself in season two: Despite the title, the show is at its strongest when its characters, instead of pursuing romance, focus on friendship.
All the Good Things and the Bad Things That May Be
• One element of the season that goes relatively underplayed, and maybe for the best, is the low-key way in which Otis lost his virginity — it almost didn’t really count. Perhaps there will be further repercussions, should the show move forward with a third season, but right now it’s nice that what the show is emphasizing is Otis’s emotional journey, not the physical one.
• Stephen Fry being cast as the quizmaster is an incredible choice for those who appreciate British comedy, specifically the 1980s series The Young Ones, in which Fry made a cameo as part of a quiz team. You can watch the clip here, and yes, that is also Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie!
• Coming into this season, there was good reason to be concerned about Adam and Eric’s relationship, given their past. But the fact that Eric was able to confront Adam about their behavior in previous episodes, and that Adam has done some work in trying to grow past his abusive behavior, makes a big difference.
• And that’s a wrap on Sex Education season two! Whether you binged or savored this season, I hope you enjoyed it! I’ll take this moment to apologize now if any of these recaps overlooked a moment or character you really liked, but know that for a relatively simple show, there is a lot going on.