After the last episode’s cliffhanger, Devi and Des have to deal with the music. Even though Des has had girlfriends before, Rhyah reminds him that Nalini won’t allow Devi to date him. The rules are the rules. Devi prepares for the worst punishment. But then Nalini utters words that no one could ever expect of her unless she was a sitting judge: “I’m going to allow it.” His reason is simple: Des is a much better suitor than the “riff-raff” Devi clung to in the past, plus he’s a good influence.
At school, Devi can’t help but hang this over Ben’s head, and so Ben can’t help but pick on Devi’s beau. “If your mother doesn’t care at all that you are with him, then he must be a real beta without a tail. Like a complete Ken doll. (I guess Ben disagrees with the Ken-ergy ?) Devi calls Ben out of his jealousy and says he’ll eat his words when he sees them together at the spring concert on Friday.
Eleanor reveals that she and Trent still haven’t had sex despite being dating for over a year. It is she who is holding on; she may be ultra-horny, but she’s also a romantic. What is she considering for the first time, you ask? She wants a capped nobleman making passionate love to her full-bodied body against an old brick abbey. You know, standard stuff. Fabiola suggests Eleanor tell Trent about her fantasy, but Eleanor says that would kill the romance and she’d rather stay a virgin forever. Fair enough. You do you, El! Fully intended pun.
As the school year draws to a close, college acceptances make their way to students. Paxton gets the good news he’s entered Cal State Long Beach and Arizona State University. Trent is decidedly less excited about the latter – he had no idea Paxton could go this far. When Paxton accepts the job at ASU, Trent is furious. Eleanor tries to comfort her man while reminding him that he should be happy for Paxton – good friends have each other’s backs. But when Trent accuses him of siding with Paxton, Eleanor calls him out for being selfish. and not sexy. (Not the kind of guy you’d want in bed!)
Let’s go for the spring concert! It’s been two years since the last one in Sherman Oaks…which means it’s been two years since Mohan had a fatal heart attack. With all her excitement at having a hot and sweet new boyfriend, Devi had overlooked that fact. That is until she had a vision of her father sitting in the audience. Shaken, Devi heads for the bathroom, where Rhyah finds her on the floor, panicking and hugging herself. Rhyah trains Devi to breathe deeply until she calms down. Devi apologizes, saying she’s embarrassed, but Rhyah tells her that grief comes in waves, often unexpectedly, and it’s also worth remembering that “grief is an expression of love”. (Is Rhyah coming for Dr. Ryan’s job?) Feeling better, Devi returns to get ready to play. She shares a smile with Rhyah from the stage. But while Rhyah flashes an encouraging smile for Devi, she isn’t so confident herself.
At the end of the concert, Rhyah pulls Des aside (and Ben, the locker room manager, is just within earshot). She recounts how Devi sees the dead and how she found her on the bathroom floor: “Honey, that girl is in a lot of trouble.” Des says she’s overreacting, but Rhyah doesn’t hear it. She says he is too young to deal with this and needs to end things.
The following week, Des is distant with Devi. Ben approaches her with terror in his eyes. He tells her what he heard at the concert and suggests that Des do a slow fade. Unfortunately, Devi denies and criticizes Ben in retaliation.
The next day, Devi tries to reassure her best friends that Des is still into her. But thanks to the instagram stalking, uh, detective, Fabiola notices in Addison’s story that Des is still in town, not visiting Stanford like he told Devi. When she texts him asking how Stanford is doing and he sends an unplaceable selfie while glorifying the school’s architecture, Devi knows she has to face it.
Devi and Fabiola find Des and Addison having coffee. Broken. Des apologizes for lying but says he doesn’t know what to do. he doesn’t want to end things, but he can’t disobey Rhyah. “You’re cool and all,” he told Devi, “But dating you isn’t worth pissing off my mom. I mean, she always pays for my phone. Ugh, Des, I’m fighting for you and that’s how you pay me back? Devi grabs her iced coffee and throws it in her face, Rhyah arriving just in time to witness her son’s caffeine bath. You know, we haven’t really seen that many Devi’s fire this season – that’s growth! She’s learning to pick her fights, and I totally approve of that pick.
Rhyah takes the kids to Nalini and tells her what she just saw. Rhyah says, even though she loves Devi, she thinks the kids need to end things. But Devi calls her out on the lie, “You don’t love me. I heard what you said. Devi points out that Rhyah wanted Dev to break up with her because she’s in too much trouble. Even Des wants her to admit it. Rhyah says she doesn’t want to ruin Des’s future. But Nalini didn’t: “How dare you come to my house and talk about my daughter like that.” She says Devi has no problems, she persevered and if Rhyah goes through what Devi has, she will be broken. She shows them the door, but not before Des apologizes one last time.
Later, Nalini checks on Devi in her room. Devi tells Nalini how she thought she saw Mohan at the concert. But Nalini smiles and says she sees him everywhere too. Devi asks if she’ll always be too much for someone to love, and Nalini says she’s never too much and always enough – a perfect line that brought me to tears. “One day you’ll find someone who loves you exactly the way you are, just like me,” she tells Devi.
The death of a parent can be difficult in many ways, but I think a lot about how the loss of a guaranteed source of unconditional love is particularly devastating (especially for young people). I know Devi’s sadness is about romantic love here, but the association of these topics feels natural, even intentional. So it’s touching to see Nalini reassure Devi at a time when she doubts her ability to be loved as she deserves. This beautiful moment was also a reminder of Nalini’s ongoing relationship with grief and how she finds some peace – and self-aware lightness – amid its idiosyncrasies.
Talking about finding peace, Trent decides – with a crack in his voice – that he’s okay with Paxton going to ASU, provided he doesn’t make a new best friend there. Paxton assures Trent that he is irreplaceable and they kiss. Trent says he’ll need “Mentos” to remind him of his best friend and proceeds to stack Paxton’s swim parka and wellies in exchange for her hat. (Reminder: never invite Trent to a clothes swap.) Paxton says they’ll always be friends, Trent admits Eleanor said the same thing, and Paxton tells him not to mess things up with her.
And so, back at school that night, while Eleanor is dressed in a dress for an upcoming play, Trent walks through the unlit hallways of Sherman Oaks High on a mission. Her coat (i.e. swim parka) and loose, side-parted hair are blowing in the wind (existing somehow). Bro is moody (and hot). “Eleanor,” he said, finding her, “Forgive me for being an asshole or whatever…I can say goodbye to Paxton because everything I need is here. ” They begin to kiss in the fixed decor. The camera pans to give them their privacy and lands on a photo of Lin-Manuel Miranda, watching over the room where this arrives: Eleanor and Trent are having sex.
At school the next day, Devi (badly) apologizes to Ben, admits he was right about Des, and clarifies that she only picked on him because she was embarrassed. Devi cracks up on how she will die a virgin, to which Ben dismissively replies, “If you’re still a virgin on your deathbed, I’ll come sleep with you.” (This is from someone who once called Devi an infeasible nerd!). Benevolent Ben passes him a piece of paper that reads “ONE FREE BOINK,” then Paxton joins them in breaking his exciting news about ASU.
As the episode ends and we watch Devi chat with her two exes, the narration drops, “She would find love again. She had only to look to the future. Or maybe in the past. XOXO, John McEnroe. IN THE PAST?! And what is the cryptic Gossip Girl-inspired signature? ! What does McEnroe know that we don’t? ! Talk about a heavy buildup that leads us to the season finale. Bevi or Daxton – what will it be?!
• “Never mind. He looks cool.
• I thought two moments from Jonah were so funny: his look at the start of the episode and his “Oh, that’s beautiful” to Trent. Two different feelings, but both excellently executed. He (Dino Petrera) does a lot with little equipment!
• Fabiola and Addison end up having an impromptu coffee date.
• Where is Aneesa?!?! Should we start a research team?
• Trent’s entry into Paxton’s garage is very amusing, as if he had stumbled upon it while window shopping.
• Prior to this season, for some reason, I had been pretty neutral on Eleanor as a character, but I feel like she really fit in and was super fun to watch this time around -this. I’m invested!
• Speaking of investing, I’m considering investing money in Trent’s taco truck business (“where the meat is out of the tortillas”). Big risk, big reward? Is it a saying?