Never Have I Ever Recap: Parents Just Don’t Understand

Never Have I Ever

…had an Indian boyfriend
Season 3 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 5 stars

Never Have I Ever

…had an Indian boyfriend
Season 3 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Netflix

After the last episode’s cliffhanger, Devi and Des have to face the music. Even though Des has had girlfriends before, Rhyah reminds him that Nalini doesn’t allow Devi to date. Rules are rules. Devi’s bracing herself for the worst punishment. But then Nalini utters words nobody could ever expect from her unless she was a sitting judge: “I’m going to allow it.” Her reason is simple: Des is a much better suitor than the “riff-raff” Devi’s clung to in the past, plus he’s a good influence.

At school, Devi can’t help but hang this over Ben’s head, and so Ben can’t help but take a dig at Devi’s beau. “If your mom’s not worried at all about you being with him, then he’s gotta be a real dickless beta. Like a full Ken doll.” (I guess Ben isn’t down with the Ken-ergy?) Devi calls Ben out on his jealousy and says he’ll eat his words when he sees them together at Friday’s spring concert.

Eleanor reveals she and Trent still haven’t had sex despite dating for over a year. She’s the one holding out; she may be ultra-horny, but she’s also a romantic. What does she envision for her first time, you ask? She wants a caped nobleman making passionate love to her bodiced body against an old, bricked abbey. You know, standard stuff. Fabiola suggests Eleanor tell Trent about her fantasy, but Eleanor says that would kill the romance, and she’d rather remain a virgin forever. Fair enough. You do you, El! Pun entirely intended.

As the school year rounds out, college acceptances are making their way to students. Paxton gets the great news that he got into Cal State Long Beach and Arizona State University. Trent’s decidedly less psyched about the latter — he didn’t know Paxton might be going so far away. When Paxton accepts the spot at ASU, Trent’s pissed. Eleanor tries to comfort her man while reminding him that he should be happy for Paxton — good friends support each other. But when Trent accuses her of being on Paxton’s side, Eleanor calls him out on being selfish and unsexy. (Not the kind of guy you’d want in bed!)

Time for the spring concert! It’s been two years since the last one at Sherman Oaks … which means it’s been two years since Mohan had a fatal heart attack. With all of her excitement over having a new, hot, sweet boyfriend, Devi had overlooked this fact. That is until she has a vision of her dad sitting in the audience. Shaken, Devi heads to the bathroom, where Rhyah happens to find her on the floor, panicking and hugging herself. Rhyah coaches Devi through some deep breathing until she calms down. Devi apologizes, saying she’s embarrassed, but Rhyah tells her that grief comes in waves, often unexpectedly, and it’s also worth remembering that “grief is an expression of love.” (Is Rhyah coming for Dr. Ryan’s job?) Feeling better, Devi goes back to get ready to play. She exchanges a smile with Rhyah from onstage. But while Rhyah plasters on an encouraging grin for Devi, she’s not so confident herself.

At the concert’s end, Rhyah pulls Des aside (and Ben, operating coat check, just happens to be within earshot). She talks about how Devi sees dead people and how she found her on the bathroom floor: “Honey, that girl has a lot of problems.” Des says she’s overreacting, but Rhyah’s not hearing it. She says he’s too young to deal with that and must end things.

The following week, Des is being distant with Devi. Ben approaches her with dread in his eyes. He tells her what he overheard at the concert and suggests Des is pulling a slow fade. Unfortunately, Devi’s in denial and criticizes Ben in retaliation.

The next day, Devi seeks reassurance from her besties that Des is still into her. But thanks to insta stalking, er, sleuthing, Fabiola notices in Addison’s story that Des is still in town, not visiting Stanford like he’d told Devi. When she texts him asking how Stanford is and he sends a non-placeable selfie while exalting the school’s architecture, Devi knows she has to confront him.

Devi and Fabiola find Des and Addison grabbing coffee. Busted. Des apologizes for lying but says he’s not sure what to do; he doesn’t want to end things, but he can’t disobey Rhyah. “You’re cool and all,” he tells Devi, “But dating you isn’t worth pissing off my mom. I mean, she still pays for my phone.” Ugh, Des, I go to bat for you and this is how you repay me? Devi grabs his iced coffee and throws it in his face, with Rhyah arriving just in time to witness her son’s caffeine bath. You know, we haven’t really seen as much of Devi’s trademark hotheadedness this season — that’s growth! She’s learning to pick her battles, and I totally approve of this selection.

Rhyah takes the kids to Nalini’s house and informs her of what she just saw. Rhyah says, as much as she loves Devi, she thinks the kids need to end things. But Devi calls her out on the lie: “You don’t love me. I heard what you said.” Devi points out that Rhyah wanted Dev to break up with her because she has too many problems. Even Des wants her to admit it. Rhyah says she doesn’t want anything messing with Des’s future. But Nalini’s not having it: “How dare you come to my house and talk about my daughter this way.” She says Devi doesn’t have problems, she’s persevered, and that if Rhyah went through what Devi had, she’d be broken. She shows them the door, but not before Des apologizes one last time.

Later, Nalini checks on Devi in her room. Devi tells Nalini how she thought she saw Mohan at the concert. But Nalini smiles and says she sees him everywhere too. Devi asks what if she’ll always be too much for someone to love, and Nalini says she’s never too much and always enough — a perfect line that made me tear up. “One day you will find someone who loves you exactly as you are, just like I do,” she tells Devi.

The death of a parent can be difficult in so many ways, but I think a lot about how the loss of a guaranteed source of unconditional love is particularly devastating (especially for young people). I know Devi’s sadness is over romantic love here, but the pairing of these topics seems natural, if not intentional. So it’s touching to see Nalini reassure Devi in a moment where she doubts her capacity to be loved the way she deserves. This gorgeous moment was also a reminder of Nalini’s ongoing relationship with grief and how she’s finding some peace — and self-aware levity — amid its peculiarities.

Speaking about finding peace, Trent decides — with a crack in his voice — that he’s cool with Paxton going to ASU, provided he doesn’t make a new best friend there. Paxton assures Trent that he’s irreplaceable and they hug it out. Trent says he’ll need some “Mentos” to remind him of his BFF and proceeds to pile on Paxton’s swim parka and rubber boots in exchange for his hat. (Reminder to self: never invite Trent to a clothing swap.) Paxton says they’ll always be friends, Trent admits that Eleanor said the same thing, and Paxton tells him not to mess things up with her.

And so, back at school that evening, while Eleanor’s being fitted in a dress for an upcoming play, Trent strides down the unlit hallways of Sherman Oaks High on a mission. His cloak (i.e. swim parka) and loose, side-parted hair are blowing in the (somehow existing) wind. Bro is brooding (and hot). “Eleanor,” he says, upon finding her, “Forgive me for I have been a dick or whatever … I can say goodbye to Paxton because everything I need is right here.” They start making out against the set backdrop. The camera pans up to give them their privacy and lands on a photo of Lin-Manuel Miranda, watching over the room where it happens: Eleanor and Trent have sex.

At school the next day, Devi apologizes (poorly) to Ben, admits he was right about Des, and clarifies that she only lashed out at him because she was embarrassed. Devi makes a crack about how she’ll die a virgin, to which Ben dismissively responds: “If you’re still a virgin on your deathbed, I’ll come and have sex with you.” (This is coming from someone who once called Devi an unfuckable nerd!). Ben the Benevolent passes her a piece of paper that reads “ONE FREE BOINK,” and then Paxton joins them to announce his exciting ASU news.

As the episode concludes, and we watch Devi chat with her two exes, the narration drops in: “She would find love again. She just had to look to the future. Or maybe to the past. XOXO, John McEnroe.” TO THE PAST?! And what’s with the cryptic Gossip Girl–inspired sign-off?! What does McEnroe know that we don’t?! Talk about a hefty build-up leading us into the season finale. Bevi or Daxton — what will it be?!

Extra Credit

• “Whatever. He sounds cool.”

• I thought two Jonah moments were so funny: His eye-roll at the beginning of the episode and his “Oh, that’s beautiful” to Trent. Two different sentiments, but both excellently executed. He (Dino Petrera) does a lot with little material!

• Fabiola and Addison end up having an impromptu coffee date.

• Where is Aneesa?!?! Should we start a search party?

• Trent’s entrance into Paxton’s garage is very funny as if he just stumbled there by accident while window-shopping.

• Before this season, for whatever reason, I had been pretty neutral on Eleanor as a character, but I feel like she’s really found her footing and been super fun to watch this time around. I’m invested!

• Speaking of investment, I am considering sinking money into Trent’s taco truck business (“where the meat’s on the outside of the tortillas”). Big risk, big reward? Is that a saying?

Never Have I Ever Recap: Parents Just Don’t Understand