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Cal and Viv may not have gotten much screen time this season, but the stories that Sex Education has crafted for them have been as impactful as the main stories. Cal’s growing body and gender dysphoria isn’t being helped much by the T they’ve begun taking and it’s only making their mother more and more worried about Cal’s mental wellbeing. Roman has been a source of support and a resource in general for the transitional surgery that Cal is interested in, but the pricetag for going to a private doctor is incredibly high. Cal doesn’t have the money to pay for that though they feel more and more like that is their only hope. My greatest fear for the finale is that Cal will do something extreme to rid themself of the pain, even though they have a support system that includes their mom and Aisha.
Viv’s relationship with Beau is finally shown for what it is: abusive. He’s been a shady figure all season and in “Episode 7,” he’s much more explicit with how he wants this relationship to go. He witnesses Viv talking to a fellow student (who just so happens to be male) about the upcoming exam, and immediately goes off the wall about her speaking to the opposite sex. His jealousy isn’t contained to Jackson; he doesn’t want Viv to speak to any men. But his abuse isn’t just verbal—he grabs Viv’s wrist tightly as he menacingly says, “don’t walk away from me” and she’s so thrown off that she can’t concentrate on the exam. It’s such a smart story from the writing down to the casting of Reda Elazouar as the gentle-looking Beau, showing that abusive relationships can come in any form.
Jackson later finds Viv crying in bed and it’s implied that she’ll finally open up to her best friend about the reality of her relationship. Jackson is going on his own journey trying to find his sperm donor and a little trespassing into his mothers’ room unveils that his dad might not have been a sperm donor at all. He finds a love letter from a man named Jerome addressed to Roz, throwing him off entirely.
One of the main stories of the episode picks up on a detail I noted about the ableist tendencies of Cavendish College. Yet again the elevator doesn’t work, which is Isaac’s only way to attend the exam. Fed up, he decides to take matters into his own hands and stage a coup that shows just how much Cavendish caters to able-bodied students. He pulls the fire alarm during the exam and when the throngs of students emerge to come down the stairs, they find that they are completely blocked off. Isaac does his own version of the Network “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore” speech, pointing out how the school has money for sound baths but not for an operational lift.
Aisha, who is hearing impaired, arrives to add fuel to his fire; her entire class left her in the classroom when the bell went off, not realizing that she had not heard the commotion. This sets off a motion around the school, including a fun Mean Girls reference when another wheelchair-bound student that no one recognizes pipes up about how society is the real culprit. The entire school stages a sit-in until the elevator is fixed once and for all.
While all of this is happening, Otis and O are stuck in the elevator and forced to finally speak to each other as humans. Both of their sex therapy skills are put to the test as they advise each other—O discerns that Otis’s sex issues aren’t because of his parents but rather because he’s scared to get hurt if he opens up emotionally while Otis advises her to apologize to Ruby and not shut herself off from people. It seems like the dueling sex therapists have finally buried the hatchet but when they get off of the elevator, there’s a new challenge at hand: Ruby has taken up a new candidate named Connor who is giving them a run for their money.
The elevator debacle has made Otis late for a very important dinner with Maeve and his mom. Maeve arrives early to the Milburn household, catching Jean and Joanna in an arguing match that results in Joanna packing her bags and leaving. A flashback early in the episode reveals that Joanna was abused by their mom’s boyfriend as a child and has never gone to therapy to work through the trauma. Jean believes this is why her sister is so self-sabotaging while Joanna thinks Jean has a major control problem. Things between them are further exacerbated by the “Sister Contract” that Jean drafts up and asks Joanna to sign before lending her money for the debt. It’s probably not the last we’ll see of Joanna, especially as Dan—the man she’s dating and her sister’s baby daddy—is still texting her.
Jean is still on edge when she invites Maeve in, and Maeve immediately feels the tense atmosphere and tries to leave before Otis even gets home. But Jean softens allowing Maeve to open up about the loss of her mother and her dreams to become a writer, which were dampened by Professor Molloy. When she says she doesn’t plan to return, Jean gives her the advice that a parent would: you were good enough to get into the course so don’t let one teacher dictate your future.
Otis gets home a while later and he and Maeve informs him that she’s made up her mind about returning to school abroad. She’s not the best version of herself in Moordale and wants to make good on her dream to leave the small town she grew up in, but she doesn’t want to lose Otis in the process. He doesn’t try to convince her otherwise, saying that he doesn’t want to hold her back…but he also doesn’t think they can make a long distance relationship work. They say “I love you” to each other and finally have sex, and then say their goodbyes in the morning.
Otis can’t go to Eric about Maeve’s departure because the best friends still aren’t on speaking terms. Eric, similarly, can’t go to Otis about the epiphanies he’s still having about church (in “Episode 7” he sees the tropical fish once again—a fish symbol has long been associated with “The Book of Jonah” and the resurrection of Jesus—as well as the vision of Cal handing out bread in real life, giving him deja vu).
Before Maeve leaves Moordale once and for all, she makes a stop at her old trailer park and gathers Isaac and Aimee—whom she refers to as her remaining family—to give her blessing for their relationship. Isaac has been Aimee’s support system and is the first person that she goes to with her idea to use the jeans that she was wearing when she was assaulted on the bus in her art, and Maeve rightfully doesn’t want to stand in the way of their budding romance.
At episode’s end, they stand beside Maeve atop the hill that looks over the trailer park she grew up in as she holds the urn with her mother’s ashes. Maeve scatters the last thing tying her to Moordale and once the dust settles, she’ll be off to bigger and better things.
Radhika Menon (@menonrad) is a TV-obsessed writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared on Paste Magazine, Teen Vogue, Vulture and more. At any given moment, she can ruminate at length over Friday Night Lights, the University of Michigan, and the perfect slice of pizza. You may call her Rad.