Otis and Maeve each have their own troubles with Ola, and the show brings Adam Groff and Jackson Marchetti back into focus.

On Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2, Otis researches the next the next physical step of his relationship with Ola. Maeve confronts her insecurities while Jackson goes to extreme lengths to avoid the pressure of competitive swimming. Adam is doing surprisingly well at military school…until he isn’t.

Otis’s New Skill

By the start of Episode 2, Otis has already “got a handle” on his wanking problem. What that solution may be is not discussed. Otis is already onto bigger problems. Namely, he’s thinks he’s ready to take the next step in his relationship with Ola. The thought makes him more nervous than anything, because while ne knows a lot about sex in theory, he knows nothing in practice.

Things go about as well as you’d expect. Well, as well as you might expect, but much worse than Otis realizes. When Otis finally gets the nerve to touch Ola, and put all his fingering research to the test, it goes so poorly that she fakes an orgasm just to make him stop…after a whopping thirty seconds. Otis leaves feeling masterful and incredibly proud of himself. Ola runs to her new friend Lily for advice on what to do.

Ola is worried that telling Otis the truth will discourage him and make him overthink sex even more. Strange enough, Lily is the only one talking any sense. Fragile as masculinity may be, Ola has to tell Otis the truth, or he’ll never get any better. When Ola is still reluctant, Lily takes matters into her own hands and bluntly tells Otis to “sort it out.”

The whole subplot revolves around the same issue as the first: communication. However, in this episode, I felt like the writers did a much better job of seeing the subject through. We actually see Otis work to fix his mistake. He talks to another student at school for advice, an open lesbian who he helped in the previous season, then apologizes to Ola for not listening to her. I thought this was an especially important plot, and was glad to see it handled so well.

Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2

Not-So-Fearless Maeve

Now that Maeve is officially back at school, she must face a lot of the problems she’s been avoiding. For one, she has a growing rivalry with Otis’s girlfriend, Ola. Maeve would love to avoid her, but she must comply with Ms. Sands’ condition that she join the aptitude scheme, where Ola is also a participant. This is essentially a fast-track program for the smartest people in the school. There’s no question that Maeve is smart enough to be there. Unfortunately, fearless as Maeve likes to appear, she’s deeply worried that she doesn’t belong.

This comes to a point when all the students are asked to write an essay about where they see themselves in ten years. Maeve is horrified to discover that they’re meant to read their papers out loud to the rest of the students. As her classmates talk about the schools they want to get into and the complicated careers they want to pursue, Maeve pretends that she forgot her essay. It’s only later at the fun fair that she confesses to Ms. Sands the real reason she didn’t want to read her essay. Smart as she may be, she doesn’t share her peers’ ambition. Her only goal is to live in a house all her own with wide windows.

This is another issue I’m thrilled to see the show address, even though it’s not sex-related. Instead, it’s a story of privilege and opportunity. Maeve is arguably one of the most talented people in her advanced program. But no one is ready to believe it—not even Maeve herself. Because she grew up poor and in a dysfunctional family, she’s incapable of envisioning a brighter future. She desperately needs the outside support that Ms. Sands offers, reminding her that she deserves to have “more expansive dreams than four chairs and some windows.”

Maeve is my favorite character on the show, so I’m overjoyed to see her getting the support and attention she needs. With her mother in town, the issue of her abnormal childhood is sure to come up again. And I’m sure Maeve’s insecurities will come into play with Ola, as they’re both harboring feelings for Otis. I just hope the story continues to remind Maeve of her self-worth, and that no matter the outcome, she’s got a bright future ahead of her.

Jackson’s Desperation

Jackson is already in a tough situation when Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2 starts. In Episode 1, there is a scene that shows him in the weight room with his teammates, training for swim. An ominous close up of the weight machine is the only warning viewers get before disaster strikes. Jackson sticks his hand into the machine, letting the weights slam down and fracturing his metacarpal bones. While he frames it to his mothers as an accident, it couldn’t be more clear that he did it on purpose. His frustration with competitive swimming has only grown since Season 1, and he is desperate to escape the pressure.

In this episode, Jackson must deal with the consequences of his actions. His injury has earned him a reprieve from swimming, but only for a few months. In the meantime, Headmaster Groff insists that he work with a peer tutor to keep his grades up. Vivienne Odesanya is another student in Ms. Sands’ aptitude scheme—a principled, no-nonsense girl who lives by strict schedules and statistics. She agrees to help Jackson, but is reluctant and unwilling to compromise.

While studying together at the fun fair, Jackson’s teammates tease him for hanging out with “Pythagoras”—a wildly specific insult from a jock. Nonetheless, Viv is clearly wounded. When Jackson tries to comfort her, she uses her statistics as a defense. According to her, competitive athletes don’t go far in life, even when they do manage to succeed. She advises Jackson to find some additional hobbies, and though he’s offended, he takes her words to heart. Later in the episode, we see Lily hand him a flyer about auditions for the school play.

I wasn’t all that interested in Jackson last season. His anxiety about being a star athlete was relatable, but beyond that he wasn’t a particularly sympathetic character. Any guy who pays for information about a girl gets a solid strike in my book. But since his breakup with Maeve, it would have been very easy to write him off the show entirely. I’m glad the show is taking the time to flesh him out and make him a more interesting character instead.

Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2

Adam and Military School

At the end of Season 1, Headmaster Groff shipped his son Adam off to military school. His hope was that Adam might learn some respect and responsibility, somewhere out of sight where he might not have to deal with him. When Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2 starts, we see that Adam is having just as much trouble in military school as he was at home. He has trouble remembering his drills, and doesn’t know who he is now that he’s not the notorious school bully. Luckily, some of his peers step in to help.

Two boys take Adam under their wing to help him adjust. With their advice, he learns how to complete his drills properly. He’s praised for his progress by his instructor, and finally gets some positive influences in his life. Later, the boys all sneak out together so they can talk about their lives and hang out without supervision. It almost looks like Adam is on his way to making friends.

Unfortunately, even that was short lived. When Adam walks in on the two boys having sex, he promises not to tell anyone what he saw. The boys, however, aren’t willing to take him for his word. They frame him for drug possession, and swiftly get him kicked out of the school. Even then, Adam keeps their secret and accepts his punishment. He’s shoved in the back of his furious father’s car, and dragged back to the toxic environment he grew up in.

If I wasn’t a fan of Jackson in Sex Education Season 1, you can bet that I wasn’t a fan of Adam. Even so, I really hoped things would turn around for him this episode. It was difficult to watch him find that little piece of freedom, only to be dragged down once more. That said, it was only a matter of time before Adam headed back to town. With the narrative set, now he’ll have to confront Eric and his actions from the end of last term.

Overall

I liked Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2 a lot better than the first of the season. Now that the viewers remember where everyone is, hopefully the show can stick to its newfound rhythm. It’s nice that show is covers important social topics, even when they’re not sex-related. Maeve’s self-consciousness, Jackson’s anxiety, and Adam’s toxic home life are all insightful stories that I’m excited to explore. I’m glad some of the supporting characters from Season 1 are getting more prominent roles as the show goes on.

What did you think of Sex Education Season 2 Episode 2? Did you have a favorite scene we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments, and share your thoughts with us on Twitter!

All episodes of Sex Education are available for streaming on Netflix.