Sex Education Season 3, Episode 6 Recap: Power in Multiple Otherness

A young Lily reads a story of hers to another kid, who is astonished at the content of it (aliens and sex), and a teacher comes by and, seeing what Lily wrote, confiscates it, and tells Lily she’ll have to talk to her parents. In the car, Lily’s mom tells her that what she writes needs to be appropriate or she needs to keep her stories to herself, because what she wrote is not what “nice girls” do.

In the present, Hope is getting home from a run and picks up the newspaper from her lawn to see a front page article about how she couldn’t clean up the “sex school,” because of Lily’s story that she entered into the competition, which has also been published with a giant picture of her on the front page.

Over at the Milburn house, we see Jakob waking up in a separate bed from Jean. The doorbell rings and Otis goes to his mom’s room, who is still in bed, and tells her that Aimee is here from her appointment. Jean had completely forgotten and tells him that she’ll be right down.

Downstairs, Aimee is showing Ola her wonderful assortment of vulva cupcakes that she made. She offers one to Jean and Jakob, and Jakob takes one. They then go into Jean’s office where there’s a bunch of vintage men’s magazines on the tables, to which Aimee reacts by saying, “Look at all those tits!” Jean asks Aimee how she’s doing and she tells Jean that she got into a fight with her best friend Maeve. She’s sad about it, but also wants to punch her in the face.

Speaking of Maeve, we see her at Isaac’s having breakfast. He says that she seems quiet, but she says she’s just tired (when in fact, she’s just avoiding telling him about what happened between her and Otis). She then gets an email that says she’s been accepted into the international program and tells Isaac, who is ecstatic. She then gets. Text from Otis about needing to talk about what happened, and leaves for school and gives Isaac a kiss goodbye.

In Nigeria, Eric is eating with his family when they find out that there will be a man at the wedding that his mom was once engaged to, which is a shock to Eric. His mom has failed to mention that his dad has left them, and is instead claiming he’s a successful accountant. And now, he’s finding out about a life she had before him.

Back at the Milburn house, Aimee is explaining what her and Maeve’s argument was to Jean. She thinks Maeve was right about her being a people pleaser because she doesn’t like to get into arguments or make people upset, that she’s always nice to people and smiles at strangers. She then wonders if her smiling to her assaulter made a difference. Jean tells her that the assault had nothing to do with her smile or her personality, and was only about him. It was absolutely not her fault, and he is the only one to blame. Aimee asks her how she gets stronger, like her, and Jean tells her, “I bet you’re stronger than you think you are.” You can’t help but feel for Aimee, who is such a bubbly, sweet, loving person, and constantly compares herself to the women in her life she deems as “strong” and “brave” but never thinks that she is either, when in fact she’s both. She doesn’t realize that she can be all at once. Aimee continues to talk about her and Maeve, and then spills a bit about what happened with Maeve and Otis last term, including that Otis had been an asshole. Jean asks her how Otis was an asshole, and then it cuts to Aimee leaving her session as Ola and Otis come by. Ola asks her for a lift to school, and Jean looks at her son walk by, knowing what she knows now.

Returning to Nigeria, Eric is dancing in his wedding outfit when his mom comes in. He asks her about this previous fiancé, Emeka, and why they didn’t get married. She says it’s because she met his father. Later, as the family is taking photos before the wedding, a family member asks Eric when he’s getting married and asks if he has a girlfriend. Before he can respond, his mom quickly says that he doesn’t have time for girlfriends. The photographer, noticing this exchange, looks at Eric in a way that signals maybe he’s familiar with this as well.

At Moordale, Lily enters the school and everyone is laughing at her and her story. Ola goes over to her and finds out what’s happening, but Lily doesn’t want to talk to her about it. Elsewhere, Cal goes up to Hope and asks if they could get a gender-neutral changing room on campus, but she tells them that they can talk about whatever they’d like when they come to school in the correct uniform. Cal, obviously annoyed that Hope continues to bring this up, asks her how she would define correct. Hope asks another nonbinary student to come forward, who’s wearing form fitting clothes, that that’s the correct way. Call tells Hope, “I think it’s interesting how you like to split us up. Layla and me, Jackson and Viv. Is there too much power in multiple otherness for you?” Hope doesn’t bother to answer that question and leaves. As she walks away, she overhears a student talking about poop being thrown out of the bus, and goes into her office to see Mark, a member of the school board, upset about being in the paper again and hearing stories from the trip involving missing students and human feces.

Caught by surprise, Hope says she’ll look into it. He tells her how the board is upset that she isn’t turning this place around. She mentions that they have a rebrand that will soon be announced to the press, but he tells her it’s not enough and that she needs to show them that this place has changed. He leaves, and shortly after, Maeve comes in and tells Hope that she got into the program and asks if she was able to get funding. Hope tells her that the school board is tight on money and so they aren’t able to accommodate that for her. Maeve leaves, teary eyed. Hope then looks out the window to see Adam picking his butt, and she turns away, scoffing at it.

In the classroom hallway, Aimee is giving away her vulva cupcakes when a couple girls come up and say that they’re ugly. She responds by saying she thought so too at first, but all vulvas are different, beautiful, and should be cherished. She then sees Maeve walk by and Steve asks why she doesn’t go speak to her, and she tells him that she’s still pissed off. Otis meets up with Maeve in the hallway and she tells him she got into the program, but does’t have money to go. He tells her he can tell she’s avoiding his texts, and she tells him that she hadn’t been expecting what happened between them to happen, and tells him she like Isaac. He asks her if they should forget about it, and she says she thinks so, which makes Otis upset. Out of the blue, there’s an announcement over the loudspeaker that calls the students to assembly.

At assembly, Hope comes out on stage, which has three chairs on it, and she tells the students that she’s announcing a new direction for their school. She tells them that Moordale Secondary School will soon be known as Sparkside Academy and they will be inviting press to opening day. She ten brings up the article that was in the newspaper, and that there are “some students here who get a kick out of giving us a bad name.” Hope calls up Lily, Cal, and Adam to the stage and tells them to take a seat. Everyone is confused as to what’s going on when Hope says that punishment will now be done differently. She takes three signs and gives one to Cal, asking them to read their sign and then put it on. As they do, Jackson stands up and yells that this is fucked up, but Hope tells him to shut up and sit down. She then has Lily read hers and put it on, and you can tell she feels absolutely humiliated. Hope then goes to Adam, but he can’t read his, so Hope reads it for him. Rahim stands up, exclaiming, “Enough! It’s supposed to be school, not somewhere we should be afraid.” Hope tells him he’s suspended and tells him to leave. He walks out, and then Hope tells the three students that they aren’t allowed their phones the rest of the week, that no one is to speak to them, and that they won’t be allowed to remove their sign until she says so. The rest of the students are in complete shock as to what just happened, as Hope tells everyone to go back to class.

Maeve sees Otis outside assembly, both upset at what they just saw. Then, Maeve gets a call from Isaac, who says police are at the trailer park looking for Elsie. Apparently her mom, Erin, took her on a walk during visitation and hasn’t come back. The police think she kidnapped her, and are going to Anna’s next. Maeve, becoming frantic, says she’ll meet them there, and hangs up. Otis asks if she’s okay, but she just says that she needs to get to Anna’s immediately, that it’s an emergency. She runs off crying, and Otis follows her.

Otis rides Maeve over to Anna’s on his bike, where Isaac is waiting. He’s visibly annoyed that Otis is there, and they both go in to help Maeve, which you know will not be the case. Just that happens when the policewoman asks questions, as Otis and Isaac try acting smarter than the other and attempting to be the most helpful one. The policewoman asks how they’re connected to this, and Otis says he’s Maeve’s friend while Isaac is a complicated love interest. The two boys begin to argue before Maeve yells at them to go outside. When they are all outside, Maeve tells them to shut up and that their dick contest is unimportant when her sister is missing. Otis yells that he can’t believe she’s choosing Isaac over him, and that is when Isaac figures out something happened between them on the trip. She tries to apologize to Isaac, but he decides to leave. Otis tells her he should stay, but she tells him he shouldn’t because he just makes thing worse and doesn’t care about anyone but himself.

At the Milburn house, Jakob is outside working on the tree house when Jean comes over and tells them they need to figure out what to say to the kids about why they’re sleeping in separate beds. He doesn’t want to say anything, but Jean does. The conversation doesn’t move forward, so Jean heads back inside and sees Michael Groff at the front door. He says he was dropping off her notebook—the one that had notes about the students when she had been counseling at Moordale— and she asks if he would like to come in for a chat. In her office, she asks why he decided to return her notebook, and he admits that he was the one who made the photocopies and that he’s ashamed of his behavior. He also says that he kept reading what Maureen had said about him to her and he thinks they’re true but doesn’t know how to change.

Back at Moordale, Viv is handing out pamphlets for the student forum, when Jackson comes up saying they should use it to talk about Hope. Viv says she won’t do that and gets called to Hope’s office. She tells Viv that she had asked her to keep an eye on her peers during the trip and is disappointed that Viv didn’t tell the truth. Viv tells her she felt in the middle which was why she hadn’t. Hope tells her she can’t play nice if she wants to go far, and then asks Viv to make a presentation to the press and students for opening day, because having a young, black woman will be good. “So it’s all about the looks,” Viv says, disappointed that Jackson was right. Hope gives her a usb with a video and slides to prepare with. On her way out, Viv asks if Hope will be at the forum, and she says she won’t, because she doesn’t want to hear about heir “insignificant problems” for an hour. “The quicker you and your fragile, petty little peers realize that you’re not that special and that the real world doesn’t care about your supposed issues, the better,” she tells Viv straight to her face. What she doesn’t realize, though, is that Viv has recorded all that she just said.

We go back to Michael and Jean, who is asking him about his mother. He tells her that she was quiet, gentle, love to cook, and always smelled lovely. While he says this, we see a flashback of Michael as a kid as his mom makes an apple pie. Jean then asks him about his father, and he says he was different, would bully him and tell him that boys don’t cry. Jean asks him when the last time he cried was, and he says he doesn’t remember. He hadn’t even cried when he was separated from Maureen. Jean then asks him what brings him pleasure, what does he do that makes him feel joy, but he tells her he doesn’t feel that emotion. Jean instructs him to find something that makes him happy.

Michael leaves, and Otis comes in, upset. Jean asks if it’s about Maeve, and Otis looks at her strangely, as he never told her about Maeve. She confesses Aimee mentioned briefly in her session that something happened between them at the party he had here, and asks if there was another boy in the scene. Otis yells out, “You’re doing it again! I can’t believe you had the audacity to tell me to stop giving out advice because I was being unethical. You re the most unethical woman in the world.” Jean asks him why he won’t let her help him, to which he responds how could she possibly help him. He tells her that she pushes every man she comes into contact with away and that she sucks at relationships. Jean, surprised at the behavior her son is displaying, asks where this is coming from. He brings up Jakob and Ola, and says that it’s over between her and Jakob, isn’t it. Jean doesn’t have a chance to really answer before Otis storms off.

Maeve is outside with Anna having a smoke, telling her that she thinks Elsie getting taken is her fault. Anna reassures her it isn’t, and asks if she’ll stay the night. Maeve nods, and a bit of a smile stretches across her face.

The next day, Ola goes to see Lily in the library and apologizes to her that Hope did this. Lily is still upset at her, because she had told her not to send in her story. Ola tells her she was just trying to protect her, but Lily says Ola lied to her and thinks she’s weird.

Cal goes up to Jackson in the hallway and thanks him for sticking up for them in assembly. Then, Jackson gets a text from Viv and he plays what he sent her. It’s the audio recording of Hope saying those nasty things about the students, and as Cal and Jackson hear people’s phones pinging everywhere, notice that Viv sent it to all the students in Moordale.

Going back to Nigeria, the wedding is ongoing and an aunt asks Eric what he thinks of it. He says he likes it, and you can tell it’s something he wants to have. He then looks over at his mom, and Emeka is with her. Eric’s aunt tells him how their family loved him because he was wealthy and would’ve given his mom the world. Eric asks about his dad, and she tells him he was a local guy, very bush, but he’s proven himself in England (which is actually a lie from Eric’s mom). Eric checks his phone for any messages from Adam, unaware that his phone was taken, and is sad to see he hasn’t gotten anything from him. He then goes to get more food but a woman in front of him puts all of it in tupperware, leaving him with nothing. The photographer then comes up to him and introduces himself as Oba and they shake hands. Oba tells Eric he’s happy for the married couple, but also said, because he’ll never have this for himself. “Do you know what I mean?” he says to Eric.

With that one sentence, Eric looks at him, surprised that there is someone else like him (gay) at this wedding. He tells him he thought they weren’t supposed to talk about that here. Oba responds, saying there’s a lot of people like them here, they just need to speak quietly. He tells Eric he’s going out after if he wants to meet him there. Eric says he doesn’t think he can.

Back in England, Adam goes to see Rahim at his house. He tells him he feels bad that he got suspended for him, but Rahim counters that he got suspended for his beliefs. Adam then mentions how he’s trying to write a poem for Eric and wants Rahim to help him. He asks to see it and immediately tells Adam that it’s a bad poem, and he needs to write from the heart and not overthink. He also tells him he shouldn’t write it just because he did that for Eric. Adam replies, saying he’s doing it because Eric likes it. Rahim then asks, “What about you? What do you like?” Adam responds that he likes dogs. Back at his house, he sits at his computer and writes an email to Eric that he doesn’t have his phone and that he misses him. He then sees an email about a dog competition and gets an idea.

Otis goes to text Maeve that he’s sorry but then deletes it, because he doesn’t want to do that over text. Meanwhile, Maeve texts Isaac that she’s sorry about what happened, but he doesn’t respond.

At the wedding, Eric goes to get water at the bar. Oba comes by and flirts with him and tries to convince him to come party with him, but Eric pushes his hand away, smiling, thinking about Adam. But then he sees his mom with her previous fiancé and decides to go with Oba. In the car, he starts asking where he’s taking him to, but Oba doesn’t respond, because the driver is eyeing them. Eric gets the hint and quiets down. They then arrive at the destination and get out of the car, but Oba then disappears. Eric gets nervous and thinks about leaving, when Oba comes back. Eric asks where he went, and Oba tells him he was checking escape routes. They then go in and it’s a gay bar, and Eric is in absolute shock and experiencing pure joy at what he’s seeing before him. They start dancing and Oba asks him how he feels. Eric answers, “Like I’ve come home.” Oba then starts to grind on him, and Eric turns around and they kiss, and continue to. Eric isn’t thinking about Adam, he’s just thinking that he’s in a place where he can express all parts of him, with people who look like him.

Eric wakes up the next morning laying next to Oba. He tells him he needs to home because his family will be worried. He sneaks into the house with no luck, because his mom is waiting, having been worried sick about where he was. Eric then tells her how he was so excited to come back here but all they’ve done is lie. His mom lied about his dad being a successful accountant, and so Eric asks her if she’s ashamed of him. She tells him it’s just easier to lie than tell the truth of their situation. Eric tells her, “I don’t want to pretend, mum. Not here or anywhere.” He starts crying and his mom holds him, saying, “I love that you are not afraid to be yourself, Eric.” He apologizes for scaring her and they hug. He then checks his phone, having gotten a text from Oba, and then he sees the email from Eric and you can tell he’s now a bit conflicted.

He and his family all get ready to leave and his grandma tells Eric to let her know when he has a girlfriend. Then, surprisingly, Eric’s mom brings up that he’s dating someone. His grandma asks what she’s like, and deciding to tell his truth, to a point that will still make his grandma happy, talks about Adam using they/them pronouns so she doesn’t know he’s talking about another boy. Eric’s grandma is happy for him, and they all get in the car to leave. As they drive to the airport, Eric smiles, but then it turns into a frown and tears. He must be feeling quite a lot of things, having just experienced probably one of the most freeing things in his life in a country that otherwise would not want him to, as he goes home to a boyfriend who isn’t ready to be as free as him in his sexuality. I guess we’ll see what happens when he returns on the penultimate episode of the season.

Isabel Maina

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