Never Have I Ever
Devi, ever the acrobat, loves nothing more than jumping to conclusions, but after the events of “… Stalked My Own Mother,” even she has to admit that her hunches have been getting her into too much trouble. Devi sets off on a mission to gather proof that her mom is dating her colleague Dr. Jackson, and while it goes about as well as any of Devi’s other gut-reaction schemes (see her first apology to Aneesa), it does eventually lead her to a new sense of understanding about both her mother and herself.
As Nalini prepares for her date, her guilt begins to manifest in daunting yet comical ways. When she takes her wedding ring off, she has to do a double-take at a picture of Mohan and Devi because their facial expressions have magically changed from smiling to disappointed. Despite her misgivings, Nalini follows through on her evening plans.
After tricking Kamala into joining her, Devi takes them both to Dr. Jackson’s house, where they spy on him and Nalini through a skylight in his house. This wacky situation is the perfect setup for a running commentary of Devi’s quick-witted quips, i.e., “That wine has a cork; it’s not a twist-off. This is definitely a date.” After her mom takes off her jacket, Devi points out that “she’s basically stripping!”
Devi texts her mom during her date to see if she responds, and when Nalini reads the text message and doesn’t reply, Devi is so exasperated that she accidentally drops her phone directly into Dr. Jackson’s jacuzzi. After climbing down to get it, she’s caught by her mom and Dr. Jackson, who both assure her (falsely) that their relationship is strictly professional. Nalini, enraged by her daughter’s foolishness, tells her to stop acting crazy. Hearing her mom use the same word that so many of her classmates use to describe her triggers something within Devi.
At her therapist’s office, Devi asks if Dr. Ryan thinks she is crazy. Dr. Ryan is the first person in the episode to show empathy toward Devi, she explains that Devi just feels emotions to a higher degree and that isn’t anything to be ashamed of. This scene, as with all of those with Dr. Ryan, is the perfect case for why all teenagers should have access to therapy. Even as a viewer it’s easy to lose sympathy for Devi’s recklessness, it’s nice to see someone validate the way she’s feeling.
Devi, in an attempt to patch things up with her mother, goes to Nalini’s office to apologize, only to walk in on her mom kissing Dr. Jackson. Later, in a fit of rage, Devi yells at her mother in front of Nirmala, Nalini’s mother-in-law, for dating again so soon after Mohan passed away. But in a pleasant turn of events, Nirmala stands up for Nalini, telling Devi that life is too short to be upset at family members for trivial things. This is a flip on the script of how Indian mother-in-laws are often portrayed in the media: overprotective of their sons, berating, and controlling. Nirmala is still grieving the death of her own son, but she doesn’t use that as an excuse to police Nalini’s life decisions. To calm her daughter down, Nalini shows Devi a video her dad took from when Nalini was still pregnant, providing a rare sincere moment between two characters who are usually butting heads.
There are a few important side-story developments as well. For the first time, we hear Kamala say out loud what we’ve suspected the whole time: that Prashanth may not be the right fit for her. This is quite the bomb to drop in the penultimate episode of the season. Meanwhile Eleanor, after getting dumped by Malcolm over text out of nowhere, apologizes to her friends for being so cruel to them. Her friends aren’t spiteful or mean to her, they don’t blame her or say “I told you so.” They accept her apology and tell her that they will always look out for her. It’s a satisfying ending to Eleanor’s romantic mishap and sends a healthy message to younger viewers: Victims of emotional abuse can become reclusive and even hostile, and they require an extra dose of patience. Friendship and support should be unconditional, especially when one friend is experiencing emotional turmoil.
This episode gives Ranjita Chakravarty a unique opportunity to shine in her role of Nirmala. After finding out her daughter-in-law is dating again, she has a split second to react and chooses (against all odds) to stand up for Nalini and her right to process Mohan’s death however she pleases. When explaining her rationale to Devi, Nirmala says, “There is no time for hanging up and not speaking in this life,” something Devi repeats word for word when Eleanor asks her why she came to the school play after all the mean things Eleanor said to her. Though the lesson comes near the end of the episode, it remains the central theme of “… Stalked My Own Mother”: Life is too short to not kiss the high-school classmate and/or rival dermatologist you’re in love with. Life is too short to stay in a relationship you’re unhappy in. Life is too short to hold grudges against your friends for saying mean things while they were going through a period of difficulty. Life is too short to not give everything 100 percent and live in the moment.
This episode also brings a happy ending for viewers who are Team Paxton. Paxton, taking Devi’s advice to go the extra mile in school, decides to do an oral presentation on the history of his family for extra credit and brings his grandfather in to tell the class about his experience at a Japanese internment camp. The presentation is a success, and everyone in class is blown away at Paxton’s sudden aptitude for school. Later that night, Paxton sneaks into Devi’s room through her window to thank her for all her help — and kisses her. No surprises there, Paxton has been looking at her some type of way for several episodes now. The episode almost ends peacefully, until Paxton passes Devi in the hall the next day and says, “Hey pal!” Devi is confused by the unexpected friend-zoning, and John McEnroe closes us out by saying what we’re all thinking: Oh shit, did Devi just get played?