Folks!!! Devi and Des are on a date! The conversation is cute — they bond over lying to their moms about their whereabouts — and Devi learns that Des is a fellow debate team member. They’ll even be facing each other at the Valley Regional Debate Tournament.
During the date, Devi asks Des point-blank why he ghosted her. He apologizes and admits it was shitty for him to do but says he second-guessed whether he should pursue a girl he found crying over another dude. Fair. Thankfully, Devi says she’s over Paxton and likes someone else. And that someone else is kissing her right now at a frozen yogurt spot!
Des and Devi are enjoying the perks of having overprotective moms who are friends. They can study together and kiss clandestinely without suspicion! But it also means Devi can see when calendar reminders pop up on Des’s phone: like the one for the upcoming “Easy Practice Sesh at Sherman Oaks High.” Devi’s offended that his debate team thinks hers is a joke. Des tries to make things better by explaining that his private school is just better funded (translation: it’s not your fault you’re poor), but regardless, Devi warns him that his team will be wallopped tomorrow. A (figurative) fire is ignited.
The next morning, Devi gives her teammates an intense (and threatening) pep talk. But even the formerly-cocksure Ben is doubtful of their odds: “I’m going to have to side with your Love Island-looking boyfriend on this one. Hartman Hill’s gonna crush us.” Rumor has it they’ve got paralegals, LexisNexis Premium, and their new coach is the computer that won Jeopardy. (It has a — probably legally unclearable — name, guys! Watson. Show some respect.) While I appreciate this new Zen Ben, Devi does not. She’s still determined to make Hartman Hill sweat.
While the tournament is underway, Eleanor’s attempting to nail a self-tape for a talent agent. It’s a whole-ass production: Trent’s directing, Paxton’s serving as DOP, and she has prepared Jennifer Lopez’s infamous speech from Hustlers. The problem is that Trent has an unorthodox vision for the audition, which includes his mom’s stripping pole and pyrotechnics. Eleanor runs off in tears when the latter malfunctions. A (literal) fire is ignited.
The fire alarm goes off just as Sherman Oaks and Hartman Hills have made it to the finals, and Devi’s chosen her team’s stance (affirmative) on whether outer space should be privatized. As the fire department hoses down Eleanor’s audition set and Hartman Hills goes on a matcha run, Devi devises a plan to level the playing field with her rich, resourced competitors. She runs into the (burning?!) school building, grabs a Hartman Hills binder full of research, and tosses it into the garbage just before Manish, a judge of the tournament, spots her. When Hartman Hills realizes their binder’s gone and Manish realizes that Devi wasn’t attempting to be a young firefighter, he decides it’s only fair that the schools switch sides.
As all this goes down, back at the Vishwakumar household, Kamala and Rhyah have stopped by to help sort through Nirmala’s belongings — treasured items like AOL free trial CD-ROMs and various-sized scraps of wrapping paper. (As the loving daughter of two immigrant packrats, this scene hit home.) When Kamala finds some old photos of her grandfather, Nirmala confesses that her husband was “more of a dreamer than a doer.” He often went unemployed, forcing Nirmala to stretch and pinch pennies (which explains the scarcity complex she operates under, keeping so many things). Kamala now understands why Nirmala’s so iffy on Manish — she worries he’ll be like her own husband — but Kamala still thinks those fears are misplaced.
The debate tournament is coming to an end and the teams are down to their closing statements. As Des quotes a local venture capitalist who waxed poetic about man’s “sacrosanct duty,” Devi realizes she’s heard those words before. And so, after reading directly from the Sherman Oaks Tootler — the only periodical Devi’s school has access to — she points out that the man Des quoted is actually a pervy, power-hungry maniac. Devi concludes that space should not be privatized, and maybe schools shouldn’t be either. Boom. If her mic weren’t attached to a podium, she’d have dropped it.
Sherman Oaks wins, but Manish makes Devi stay behind. He knows she cheated (when she clearly didn’t even need to!). And now he has to take her home — a place he’s not exactly welcome or psyched to go to. Manish tells her family that he figured they’d rather deal with Devi’s cheating at home, lest she be suspended once again. He could get in trouble for not reporting Devi, but he doesn’t want a dumb mistake to mess with her future. Nirmala’s touched by Manish’s selfless consideration and apologizes to him: “Despite what your haircut says about you, you are a grown-up.” (Nirmala was only trying to protect Kamala, and here Manish is trying to protect Devi. Maybe they’re more alike than she thinks.) She offers Manish her blessing to date Kamala as well as her personal tutoring services on Indian culture.
Des sneaks up to Devi’s room, where she confesses to him about her (unnecessary) cheating. Des has a confession of his own: their computer isn’t from Jeopardy; it just has a snazzy screensaver. Des admits he’s intimidated by Devi. (It’s usually kind of a red flag when romantic interests say this, especially to women of color, but we’ll let this one slide because of youth and cuteness). He says he’s never dated anybody who’s smart or possibly even smarter than him, but he thinks he likes it. And Devi says she likes it too.
There’s a lot to love about Devi as a character, but one of my fave things is how she owns her intelligence. Sure, she deals with her share of insecurities, but she refuses to dumb herself down or dim her light — no compromises on that front. Could Des be the Alexis Ohanian to Devi’s Serena Williams? Sky’s the limit for this potential power couple.
• The title of this episode is confusing and semi-misleading because Devi has cheated before! Just a different kind of cheating.
• I thoroughly enjoyed hearing John McEnroe say ‘liaison dangereux’ and ‘publique’.
• Devi’s coining of ‘blue oves’ is catchy, but there are apparently other terms established to describe this very real phenomenon: blue vulva, pink balls, blue uterus, pink pelvis, and blue walls, to name a few.
• Aneesa and Fabiola finally came clean about their relationship. Eleanor and Devi are, of course, psyched at this new-to-them development. Who needs a soft launch when you’ve got supportive friends? The pair are still working things out — what’s their goodbye ritual? — but are happy to be official. And Aneesa was so cute as Fab’s cheerleader at the debate tournament!
• While I agree that ‘Aneeola’ and ‘Fabees’ are horrible, why didn’t they consider Fabeesa? It almost sounds like a sexy vacation destination, which seems ideal for a ship name.
• “If you tried to dick-tap me right now, you’d probably break your hand.”
• Paxton has always felt very Jake Ryan à la Sixteen Candles, but especially in this episode; he’s clearly so damn unfulfilled and bored in his relationship with Phoebe! We see Trent talk about the perks of having a challenging relationship, which makes Paxton seem to reconsider the lackluster one he’s in. Sure it’s not complicated, and there’s no work involved, but is that a good thing? Effort implies investment.
• I’m getting some possible bad vibes in this episode from Rhyah, which is such a drag! I hope I’m wrong, but she seemed judgey when learning about Devi’s rocky behavior after Mohan died, as well as Devi’s recent cheating incident. And the way she responded to Nalini sharing Devi’s issues with a tone-deaf comment about how Des has always been so easy? Yeesh. Read the room!