Never Have I Ever: Episode 2 recap
The second episode gives a closer look into fallibility, grief and intimacy that shape Devi Vishwakumar's life.
Those who grew up watching sappy, dramatic Bollywood films will know that the opening sequence of the second episode was too-good-to-be-true. So, when Devi opens her eyes to realise it was a dream, we already know that she will work extra hard through this episode to get intimate with Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet).
The linear approach that the first episode familiarised us with takes a turn and divides itself into sub-plots within the first five minutes. And while the pilot solely focussed on Devi's development, we end up seeing how the secondary characters will take shape through the series.
"What's there to talk about? He's dead; it makes me sad. But now I want to talk about a major event that could be happening this week," Devi tells her therapist Dr Jamie Ryan (Niecy Nash), who begins the episode by advising her to talk more about her grief. However, despite her efforts, Devi is swift in channelising this trauma towards attaining her goal of wooing Paxton and dismisses it as always.
The episode wonderfully exhibits the stark differences in the way both Devi, and her mother Nalini, handle grief. While a glimpse of Devi's explosive nature was revealed in the previous episode, the underlying sub-plot in this one focuses on how Nalini, too, mourns for her husband -- but in private.
Also read: Never Have I Ever: Pilot Recap
In between looking after her daughter's awry ways and being a part of Kamala's arranged marriage proposal, Nalini decides to sell her husband's old moped. In fact, she even finds a suitable buyer who's willing to accept the moped with scratches et al.
Nalini gets into a brawl with Devi and tells her that it is only fair to sell what's old. However, her mind races back to the time Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy) first brought the moped home and how the moments that they shared with the bike will never be replaced.
The spotlight on mental health takes a front seat once again when Devi finds herself experiencing PTSD during her orchestra class. After being introduced as the star harpist, Devi's subconscious instantly takes her to the spring orchestra where her father ended up having a cardiac arrest in between her performance. And while the logical thing would have been to talk about it, our protagonist runs out of her class and ends up pinning down Paxton for the "big moment" instead.
Never Have I Ever cleverly keeps us engaged by involving us into the sub-characters' lives. The school heartthrob too is portrayed in troubled light, when Devi accidentally encounters his unmentioned sister -- Rebecca -- with whom she gets along instantly. Paxton's overprotective nature gives Devi an insight into his complex life. It thus abruptly ends her quest to copulate for the day.
The episode also dispenses a closer look at Kamala's feelings about arranged marriage. Her Hindu' sanskaras' compel her to break up with her boyfriend of three months and sit for a modern-day Skype interview with her potential in-laws. However, she has her own moment of vulnerability at the dinner table where she storms off, much to Nalini and Devi's surprise.
The second chapter delves into a lot of thematic development. It intimates us that the upcoming episodes could get even more twisted. John McEnroe's narration sets a raw tone and adds humour in the darker moment of the show. And while secretly, we're all rooting for Devi to achieve her target, the second episode shows us it's going to take her more than that to get Paxton to herself!