Sex Education Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: Abstinence, the Gender Binary, and Mangoes

The episode opens to Anwar and his boyfriend having sex and suddenly he gets a swollen face, while Olivia is having sex with her boyfriend, who asks not to use a condom, and she tells him he has to pull out before finishing. Not the best start, that’s for sure!

We go to Ruby and Otis, who are in his room. He invites her to stay over , but Ruby says she has to go home. He asks if everything is alright and if she’s annoyed with him, and she answers with a rhetorical question: “What would I be annoyed about?” She takes off, leaving Otis to sit with his feelings.

Maeve is at Anne’s, visiting Elsie, and Anne invites her to stay for dinner. Maeve, who already isn’t the biggest fan of her, comes up with the excuse that she has to be up early to use the computer at school to apply for an international school program. Anne tells her she can use her computer, and that way, also stay for dinner. So, Maeve gives in, and fills out the application before staying for dinner. Later on in the evening, as she leaves, she tells Anne she’ll see them on Saturday. Anne asks her about the school trip, but Maeve says she’s not going. Anne offers to help pay for it, but Maeve shoots back that she doesn’t need charity and leaves. Outside, she finds her mom hiding in the bushes. She tells Maeve that sometimes she walks by the house to make sure Elsie is safe. Her mom asks her if she thinks Elsie misses her, and Maeve says of course she does, she just wants her to get better.

Over at the therapist’s office, Jean and Jakob are asked about what it’s been like living together. Jean talks about how her son, Otis, has a girlfriend and has been living independently from her, which has been hard, but she’s trying to respect his boundaries. Whereas, Ola, Jakob’s daughter, might be feeling uneasy around her. The therapist asks about Ola’s mother, and Jakob says she died a few years ago from cancer. The conversation doesn’t really move forward after that, and the couple leave the therapist’s office and head to their car. Jakob doesn’t believe that this is working because he doesn’t believe in therapy, because talking can’t fix everyone. That gets Jean upset, since she herself is a therapist, and they drive away, both indifferent towards the other.

Maeve gets home and gets a text from Isaac if he can make her dinner. She says okay, and falls asleep in her clothes, waking up the next day and realizing she’s running late for school. As she runs out, Isaac comes by asking about dinner, and she says several foods as she leaves

Otis and Eric arrive at school, and Eric asks what’s up with Ruby, since she normally drives them in. Otis explains what happened and his friend laugh’s, because his reaction to Ruby saying “I love you” was so bad. Otis tells him that it’s a big thing to say, and he hasn’t loved anyone—except Maeve, Eric points out. “But that’s over,” Otis responds. Eric tells him that he needs to tell Ruby the truth, otherwise it won’t help her.

Adam is in Ms. Sands’ classroom, going over an essay with him. He exits and runs into Anwar and screams. Then Ruby and Olivia see Anwar, and Ruby says he looks awful. Anwar says it’s stress hives. Eric and Otis then run into them, and Otis asks if he can hold her bag and have a chat. Ruby gives her bag to Olivia instead and they all walk away, middle fingers in the air.

In the library, the teachers all have a meeting with Hope in regards to the article that has come out about Jean Milburn and her book. Hope isn’t happy at how the students and Moordale is perceived, and tells the teachers that there will be a new SRE curriculum implemented. She also warns the teachers to not talk about personal things with the students, as “school is not a place for personal questions.”

Jackson goes up to Viv in the hallway and suggests that they should set up a forum so students can voice their opinions. He tells Viv that he didn’t care about head boy, but now he wants to be better—so, Viv says she’ll think about it.

Ola then runs up to Lily, who is void of makeup or eccentric hair, in the hallway and tells her that she read her story and that it’s amazing. As they walk, Lily says she sent it in for the Moordale Gazette competition. Eric and Otis join them in the line that has been made outside a classroom, and tell her how she looks so normal. Anwar and Olivia then tell her that she looks nice. Lily questions if she looked weird before. Viv then comes out and tells the students that if they haven’t paid for the France trip yet that they need to see Hope today. “I can’t wait to eat baguettes with you,” Aimee says to Maeve in an awful French accent. Maeve tells her she’s not going, it’s too expensive. Then, at the front of the line, Viv tells the students to form two lines, boys to one side, and girls to another. Cal asks Jackson which line they should join, so Jackson goes to ask Viv, who doesn’t have the right answer. Hope comes over and asks what’s wrong. Cal tells her, and Hope tells them to go in the girls line. “So it’s the penis or vagina line,” Cal retorts. Hope ignores that and tells them that they’re out of uniform again, and then asks, “Is there anything else, Cal?” “Yeah, this is complete bullshit,” they say. And they’re right to say it, because Moordale is receding into medieval times with this new SRE curriculum, and they haven’t even gotten into the class yet.

In the boys class, Collin plays a seemingly old video tape that is incredibly homophobic and spewing incorrect facts. In the girls class, they have a woman talking about sex ruined her life because it got her pregnant. In the boys class, Otis speaks up about the video being unacceptable and that it is filled with misinformation. Collin kicks him out, explaining to the class that he could lose his job if they ask him questions. Back in the girls class, Maeve asks if the boys class is learning about pregnancy or just the girls class. Hope tells her to be quiet, and the woman continues to preach how sex is bad. Maeve speaks up again about how everything coming out of her mouth is wrong, and Hope tells Maeve to leave. She happily leaves, and Aimee claps for her—quickly stopping when she realizes no one else is.

Maeve sees Otis on the stairs and tells him they need to do something about Hope and how she can’t have them being taught this stuff. They start arguing about re-opening the clinic, Otis saying it’s not his problem anymore. Maeve asks if he’s too cool now, and Otis just says that she didn’t want to do it either, so it’s all mute. Angry, she heads off to the library.

The girls class exits and Ruby and Olivia are freaked out about what the woman told them, while Anwar tells them he thinks the swelling on his face is an STI. They all agree to swear off sex, when Ms. Sands comes up to them quietly and tells them, not before saying she could get fired for this, that they will have sex again in their life, and that they should talk to a sexual health doctor about contraception. Otis comes in at the end of that conversation and asks Ruby if she can talk, and she says no, that “she has to protect herself from his penis.”

We go to Jean, who is in pregnancy yoga with Maureen, and starts to freak out. She leaves the room and Maureen runs after her. Jean tells her how she though having Jakob with her was right for the baby, but now she feels like she’s losing control, and that it wasn’t the right decision to have him involved, because her and Jakob don’t have a lot in common. Maureen calms her down and reassures her that she made a good decision, and that it will take time to build their relationship.

Meanwhile, Jakob is making good progress on the tree house he wanted to build for the baby. He goes inside for a glass of water and drops one of the tools under the sink. When he goes down to grab it, though, he finds a cuff link, and his suspicions of who it belongs to start to arise.

Back at Moordale, Eric is walking down the hallway with Rahim and tells him that he has his things. Rahim asks him why he kept the poetry, and Eric tells him it was because no one ever wrote him poetry. Rahim responds, “Doesn’t Adam?” Eric laughs at that, saying no, he doesn’t, just as Adam leaves Ms. Sands’ classroom. Rahim takes his things and leaves, and then Eric and Adam begin to argue, because Adam told Rahim that Eric didn’t like poetry, when it isn’t true. He tells Adam that it will be good that they’ll have space when he’s in Nigeria, to which Adam responds that he wants to get away from him. They both leave, upset. 

Viv enters Hope’s office to talk about what happened at SRE class earlier. She says how the boys and girls lines didn’t make some of the students comfortable, and brings up Jackson’s idea about doing a forum to see what students want implemented on campus (she doesn’t mention it’s his plan though). Hope agrees to it, and then asks Viv to keep an eye on the students during the France trip and asks for her number to text her during it. Maeve then walks in and Hope tells her that she needs to reign in her outbursts, especially if they’re to find funding for the program. Maeve then says, “You wanted to see me about the trip? I can’t go.” Hope tells her that the fees have been paid through an anonymous payment, so she’s able to go. She doesn’t forget to tell Maeve once again that she’s serious about the hair and that she needs to change it immediately.

Maureen is in the grocery store and runs into her ex-husband, Michael, who is there shopping for the dinner he will be having with Collin and Emma. He asks about Adam, and she tells him that he needs to ask him for himself and that he should reach out to him, that it’s not too late to fix things. She says goodbye, leaving him having misinterpreted what she said.

We go to Olivia and Anwar, who are talking to a doctor. Olivia is asking about sex without condoms, and Anwar is asking bout his swollen face, and they get their questions answered with actual facts. After they’re done, they go out to the waiting room, where Ruby is. It’s her turn next, but before she goes in, she tells them that Otis doesn’t love her and now she’s confused. She leaves, saying this isn’t for her.

Returning to Maeve, she goes over to Isaac’s for dinner, and he took her words to heart, and made ALL the foods she had listed off in the morning. She tells him she thinks Anna paid for her France trip and is angry about that. She also tells Isaac that it was easier to be angry at him than to like him. She asks him why he deleted the voicemail, and he tells her it was because he was threatened and didn’t want to give up what they had, and tells her he’s truly sorry. Maeve goes into kiss him, and they kiss before pulling away. She starts to say something but stops, and he says, “You wanna know if I can feel?” He tells her that he can’t feel anything below the injury, but if she puts her hand on his chest he’ll show her where he can.

She places her hand on his chest and begins to move her hand around. Isaac tells her that he can get hard, he just needs help, and it just takes touching where he can feel.  She runs her finger across his face and then sits on top of him and kisses him. She asks if she can take his shirt off, and he consents. She then takes her shirt off and Isaac asks her where she likes being touched. Maeve tells him her ears, so he starts kissing her on her ear, but they suddenly get interrupted by the smoke alarm, as smoke billows out of the oven. “That would be the other lasagna,” Isaac says, both of them laughing.

Going over to Ruby, we see her at home with Otis. He tells her that he knows why she’s angry with him, and tells her that he really does like her. “But you don’t love me,” she says. “I just have to say that in my own time,” he replies. He might not feel that now, but he might later. Ruby tells him how she’s never said that to anyone, and had never introduced him to her dad. She asks Otis to leave, for good, and is left on her bed crying. She ends up texting Olivia and Anwar to come over, and they both leave their partners to come be by her side and console her.

Otis gets home and tells his mom that they’re teaching abstinence in school, which Jean isn’t too happy to hear. He asks where Jakob is, and Jean tells him he’s outside building a tree house. He goes outside to see him, and asks if he needs help. Jakob gives him something to do, then asks if he’s okay. Otis tells him that he hurt someone badly and feels like shit. He goes into detail about Ruby, and Jakob tells him, “People deserve your whole heart, Otis. If you can’t give them that, it’s better they know. It’s the kinder thing to do.”

Over at Collin’s, him, Emily, and Michael are all eating the fajitas. Michael mentions how he ran into Maureen at the store and their interaction, and that it seems like she wants to get back together with him. He wants to do something for her or get her something, and Emma suggests to get her something personal. At Adam’s, he’s reading Pablo Neruda when there’s knocking at the door. Maureen answers it, seeing Michael. He had brought over mangoes because they had gotten separated because of it, and he knew she wanted to fix things. She tells him that she had meant that about him and Adam, and that they hadn’t broken up because of mangoes, it had been much more than that. A man inside then calls out, asking if everything is okay. Maureen tells Michael she’s seeing something new, and he congratulates her and hands her the mangoes. Upstairs, Adam opens his door and looks out the hallway window to his dad down below, then goes back in to grab his jacket.

Eric is in his room packing for his trip to Nigeria and dancing to music when he suddenly hears rocks at his window. He pauses his music and looks outside to see Adam, and goes outside to see him. Adam apologizes for losing his temper, and Eric tells him he wishes he didn’t get jealous, because he had chosen him. Adam tells him he doesn’t want them to have space, “cause I love you.” Eric smiles and says, “I love you too.” They kiss and hug each other tightly.

The next day, the students are getting on the bus to go to France. Hope commends Maeve for fixing her hair, then goes to Cal and tells them that their uniform is still shabby. Jackson tells her he doesn’t see why it’s such a problem, and Hope tells him he can voice his opinions at Vivian’s forum. Jackson turns to Viv, wondering why she didn’t mention it had actually been his idea. 

As Adam walks up to the bus with Ms. Sands, he asks how he did on the test. He didn’t do too well, so he says what’s the point, he’s not good at anything. She tells him, “Maybe start by thinking about the things you like doing,” because she’s sure there’s something he is good at. 

Hope tells Collin and Emma, “I’m trusting you to maintain some discipline,” since she is not coming on the trip. On the bus, Vivian looks back at Jackson and Cal in the back, and doesn’t look too happy that they’re friends. Adam goes to sit next to Rahim, which is sure to be an awkward bus ride. Otis, not sitting with any of his friends, looks at Ruby and then Maeve, and is definitely looking conflicted. 

I’m sure this trip is going to go off without a hitch. En France on va!

Isabel Maina

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