“Every time you hear this song, think about how I’m breaking up with you. ’Cause that’s what I’m doing now.”
Has there ever been a more unhinged way to dump someone? Barring murdering one party? Not even Jake Gyllenhaal has it in him to be this casually cruel. Things never go smoothly for Maya. Life isn’t easy for Anna, but it’s borderline catastrophic for UGIS. Anna’s first kiss was awkward; Maya didn’t even get her order of operations right.
After their day on the run, Maya and Anna are brought to Derrick’s house, one of those huge new-build suburban farmhouses that, in my town, were occupied only by families with big, fat military-subcontract money. Immediately, it’s horror-movie vibes. Wood-paneled basements have seemed sinister since at least American History X, and Derrick’s house does nothing to fix their rep.
The boys resume what they had presumably been doing before going to get the girls — namely, jamming. Get ready for about a decade of sitting there while boys dick around on the guitar, ladies. It does not get better. Derrick doesn’t want to let Maya drum along despite her father being a professional drummer. This irks Anna, sowing the seeds of the breakup to follow. But even musical brotherhood can’t combat teen horniness. Anna and Steve hide their shame under a blanket, ortolan-style. Derrick invites Maya to his room, which, of course, is in the basement. Derrick has big basement-kid vibes.
Maya thinks she’s getting her first kiss, but Derrick is interested only in a blowjob. Poor Maya, confronted with a wang before even kissing one boy. And Derrick is kind of repulsed by Maya, needing to focus on an anime babe he drew to finish. Props to PEN15 for depicting the horrors of a teen BJ: the gagging noises, the mystery of balls, the deliberation of whether to spit or swallow. Spitting means it’s in your mouth for longer, but you also don’t wind up digesting jizz. It would be doubly upsetting for Maya to digest Derrick’s protein and make a fingernail out of it or something.
Maya says she’s okay, and Anna thinks she’s cool and brave for going through with the blowjob. But we all know better. The girls call Shuji, who bikes up like a real ally, and Maya ends the night crying alone in her room.
Meanwhile, chez Anna, Kathy and Curtis are doing some actual parenting. Co-parenting, no less! Anna apologizes for Daddy’s death, and Real Daddy does his best to ease her pain/guilt. The conversation turns inevitably to Steve. Anna feels that Steve doesn’t take her seriously enough but also that she wants to marry him.
Okay, here’s the thing: Steve’s days are numbered, but I’ve actually come around on him. I’m Team Steve? He does respect Anna. He saw greatness in her when she couldn’t see it in herself and made her a stage manager. A boyfriend can be so much worse. Observe D.
Derrick dumps Maya to the sounds of “Smooth,” by Carlos Santana ft. Rob Thomas. Maya makes it her mission to listen to the song until the association with D is purged from her mind. Sam has a better idea: egg the fucker’s house.
Can I just say I’ve missed the Real Teens? Having 20-somethings to do the non-body-doubled kisses was kinda necessary, but Sam, Gabe, and the homophobic one are legends. Glad to get a proper good-bye to them.
Once again, Shuji shows up for his sister, ready to egg Derrick’s gigantic farmhouse. Who isn’t showing up for Maya, however, is Steve. Steve recognizes that his boy did something fucked up, but still he cannot betray him. “Whose back do you have?” asks Anna. And, of course, Steve chooses his friend, just as Anna chooses hers. They part ways, which almost seems like a relief to Anna. She really doesn’t need another person’s feelings to put ahead of her own.
The Ishii-Peters house is out of eggs, so the kids resort to using baby squid. Solidarity squid-ever! It’s a nice coda to both the season and the series as a whole. Anna and Maya started seventh grade with only each other to rely on — slut-shamed and deemed ugly by the middle-school glitterati. Now people are helping them achieve vengeance. Beautiful.
Derrick’s oft-absent mother comes out to holler, scattering the squid-throwing youth. Shuji and Anna go one way; Sam and Maya go another. And it’s during this fugitive moment that Maya actually gets her first kiss. Sam even asks first! We stan a teen boy with even the flimsiest grasp on consent.
It speaks to the storytelling abilities of Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle that I legit ship a grown woman with a tween boy. But Sam has put in the work. Taj Cross has been serving nuanced face all season; you can’t help but be in his corner. And Maya is finally in a place where she can maybe accept affection when it’s freely given.
After reconnoitering, Maya and Anna go through old baby photos and pictures. It’s almost as if they know their show is ending. The girls worry about the very plausible reasons the two could fall out later in life, and it’s almost as upsetting as the blowjob scene. Not many people are still super-close with their middle-school BFF, but you want these two to make it. The idea of their falling out is terrifying, more panic-inducing than Anna’s brush with existentialism.
These girls’ lives have been so hard, and they’ve often had only each other to rely on. What would have happened to Anna if Maya weren’t there to distract her from family stuff with a witchcraft phase? What would have happened to Maya if Anna hadn’t been there to support her through the racism of their classmates? But conversely, will they feel as bonded to each other if life ever gets easier?
Maya and Anna plan a future together up to their death, rather than even consider a future in which they won’t be as close as they are now. They’ll go to college together, have a joint wedding, and raise their kids in a staggered fashion because Maya knows she’ll struggle with motherhood. (Of course, we know that part isn’t true. Real Maya and Real Anna are doing Real Motherhood simultaneously, right the fuck now. Try not to cry so hard you barf.) They even imagine their future divorces. And Maya will take care of Anna when she gets sick. Maya says she will arrange for angels to come down and ask if they need anything, but they won’t because they’ll have each other. And we don’t need to question whether that future will ever come to pass because fuck you, that’s why. If there’s anything we should learn from PEN15, it’s that life is hard and we should accept true companionship whenever we can. Don’t worry about if it’ll change; there’s literally everything else in the world to worry about instead. Trust that your friend has your back.