The aftermath of Otis’s party means complications for everyone, while Headmaster Groff’s revenge unleashes chaos at school.
On Sex Education Season 2 Episode 7, Headmaster Groff spreads Dr. Milburn’s personal notes all around the school. The girls land themselves in detention, while Otis and Ruby deal with a pregnancy scare.
Ruby and Otis
Otis made a long list of mistakes at his party. He’s ruined several of his friendships and completely trashed his house. But perhaps the most egregious mistake was drunkenly losing his virginity to one of the popular girls in his year, Ruby. To make matters worse, neither of them can remember using a condom. Together, they have to go on a quest to buy her the after-morning pill.
They run into a few complications at the drug store when Ruby has to buy the pill herself. When the cashier asks about her medical history, Ruby admits that her father was recently diagnosed with MS. It’s a brief flash of emotion that we rarely see from the closed-off popular girl. Otis tentatively brings it up again later, when they’re safely tucked away on a kind of morning-after pill picnic. He comforts her, and in return, she reassures him that he wasn’t terrible at sex. At least, not bad for a nerd on his first time.
I actually liked this plot line a lot more than I anticipated. Most pregnancy-scare subplots in media are full of drama and sentimentality. But much like Maeve’s abortion in Season 1, Sex Education handles the situation pragmatically. Instead of fear, the focus is on characters supporting each other through life’s varied troubles. Ruby and Otis share an unlikely connection that felt believable and fresh.
I’m still not a fan of blasé way Eric reacts to the whole situation. When he finds out that Otis drunkenly lost his virginity, there is very little sympathy or concern. He reacts with pure excitement at this juicy gossip. It gives him some wonderful time as comedic relief, but felt out of place for his emotional friendship with Otis.
Jackson Speaks His Truth
Last episode, Viv told Jackson’s parents, Roz and Sofia, about his self-harm. In Sex Education Season 2 Episode 7, his mothers force him to see a counselor. On the stressful car ride, their conversation tells us that Jackson’s already a few meeting in, and has been prescribed some kind of medication. Anti-depressants don’t affect the stressors in his life, however. The car ride also shows us that Jackson’s mothers are still fighting constantly—the only thing he hates more than swimming.
After their car gets a flat on a country road, the sniping only gets worse. Jackson snaps that his mothers should just get a divorce, which shocks them. Much like breaking his hand, Jackson makes a knee-jerk decision to take care of one problem and land himself in another. His parents stop fighting, but his jab about Sofia not being his biological mother wounds her enough that she storms away. Jackson has to trail after her to pick up the pieces of their argument.
Sitting together on a bench, Jackson and his mother get a chance to communicate freely. Sofia pushes Jackson into swimming because it’s what she knows, what she did when she was in school. She was so desperate to have a real connection with him that she never noticed he wasn’t enjoying himself. Jackson assures her that blood or not, she’s always going to be his mum. She’s still his mum if he quits swimming. And she’s still his mum when he admits he’s in the school play instead.
Again, this was a really heartfelt way to deal with this plot line. I didn’t care much for Jackson last season, but I was on the edge of my seat in this episode hoping things would go well with his parents. I’m so, so glad they did!
Headmaster Groff’s Revenge
Last episode, we saw Headmaster Groff photocopying all of Dr. Milburn’s personal student notes. In Sex Education Season 2 Episode 7, we find out why. In the style of the great Regina George, Groff posts the notes all around the school for students and teachers to find. Students break into fights, write on the falls, cry to their parents. In the ensuing chaos, Headmaster Groff positively thrives. Also like the great Regina George.
In a plot lifted straight from Mean Girls, Headmaster Groff frames the chaos to reflect poorly on Dr. Milburn. She’s brought into several meetings with upset parents and criticized for the advice she gave. The student body is outraged by her notes, which effectively ruins her professional reputation. Her position at the school ruined, Groff finally gets what he wanted all along: Jean Milburn off his campus, and revenge for his ruined marriage.
On some level, the chaos is amusing to watch. On another, the situation is blown out of proportion without any kind of grounding. The fiasco is used mostly as a plot device for other characters’ situations. Namely, so that Jean could be summoned to the school and dramatically discover the truth about Otis’s sex clinic. At no point does anyone look into who is responsible for distributing the information. At no point does anyone find it peculiar that Jean’s personal notes were stolen and distributed around the school.
I understand to some extent that some actions must be included to further the plot. I always knew Jean was going to find out about Otis’s club, and that he was going to be in an enormous amount of trouble when she did. But Groff’s tantrum seemed a bit outlandish to me, and I don’t think the show handled it all that well.
The Breakfast Club
To complicate matters further, Dr. Milburn’s notes contain information about the staff as well as students. One page, for example, discusses Ms. Sands’ passion for dirty talk. When someone graffitis the information in the girls’ locker room, Ms. Sands’ places the whole room in detention. Maeve, Ola, Aimee, Lily, Viv and Olivia are confined to the library and given busy work until one of them confesses to the crime. To further their punishment, Ms. Sands asks them to collaborate on a presentation about what binds them together as women.
The girls spend ages in the library debating their common interests. Some want to lie to get the project over with, while others only want to complete it in earnest. An argument sparks up between Maeve and Ola, who are still fighting about Otis even now that he’s out of the picture. However, the conversation is diverted by Aimee bursting into tears. She’s been struggling the entire term since being assaulted on the bus. She can’t bring herself to use public transport, can’t touch her boyfriend, and no longer feels safe in crowds.
As the girls talk it over, they find that fear is really what binds them together. What woman hasn’t been harassed or pressured or lived in fear of one or the other? After detention, Ola leads them to the junk yard, where they bond over destroying a car and symbolically breaking down their problems. It doesn’t erase all the differences in the group, but even Maeve and Ola walk away with a new appreciation for each other. In the morning, all of them commune at the bus stop to support Aimee, and she successfully takes the bus to school once more.
This is easily—easily—the best subplot in the episode. It might even be my favorite storyline in the entire series. Showing that girls need to support each other, even through their own individual problems and struggles, felt like an incredibly important message. Not just within the show, but also as a timely lesson in the real world.
Relationships Come, Relationships Go
The romantic status quo changed so often in this episode that it’s hard to keep track of it all. After discovering Otis’s secret, Jean turns to the most grounded parent she knows—Jakob. He’s happy to comfort her and give her advice about her son. However, when the conversation leans back toward their own relationship, Jakob stays firm. Jean hurt him, and he’s not ready to be hurt again. He tells Jean that she’s not ready for the kind of commitment he’s looking for, and she leaves broken-hearted and in pain.
Meanwhile, Eric takes Rahim to church with his family, only to find that Rahim is an atheist. He thinks believing in God is silly, but he also says he’s ready to accept Eric either way. Still, the situation is palpably awkward. Eric’s mother warns him that Rahim may not be the boy for him.
On the other end of the spectrum are Lily and Ola. After Ola’s confession, Lily shunned her entirely and didn’t even feel comfortable being friends. However, hanging out in the library and in the junk yard seems to have nudged Lily in a different direction. Ola walks her home, where Lily admits that Ola was never “part of her plan.” Nevertheless, she really likes Ola and wants to be more than just her friend.
This conversation was especially well-written in my opinion. Some characters, like Adam and Ola, have done enough exploring that they feel comfortable using labels for their sexuality. But Lily is completely blindsided by her attraction to Ola. She’s not yet sure if it’s just Ola she’s attracted to, or if it’s girls in general. Lily doesn’t use labels, but is just struggling to articulate her feelings, which is another realistic situation I’m glad the show decided to depict.
Sex Education Season 2 Episode 7 is, by and large, my favorite episode of the season. I love the completeness of the Breakfast Club plotline, and how it led to a deeper understanding of all these different female characters. I was happy to see Ola and Maeve put their feud aside after all the arguing. And of course, I was especially happy to see Ola and Lily come together.
Even some of the less happy plotlines were really well handled. I was surprised by Otis and Ruby’s connection, and liked the discussion of religion between Eric and Rahim. It wasn’t overly theological, but it’s an important part of relationships that is rarely discussed pragmatically in shows. Believer or non-believer, religion is important to Eric, and it’s nice to see that value discussed without anyone being framed as crazed or heretical.
I don’t like the way Headmaster Groff’s antics were handled, though. And if we’re being honest, I don’t love the way Adam’s plot was handled this episode either. For all the subplots the show is juggling, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to discuss all of the consequences.
All episodes of Sex Education are currently available for streaming on Netflix.