In season two episode eight of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is on trial. Well, maybe not literal trial, but she’s playing the character of Daisy from The Great Gatsby in an English class mock trial. The goal? Prove that she never murdered Jay Gatsby. However, this task might be harder than it seems considering how distracted she is by all the annoying flirting coming from her group project partners, her ex-boyfriend Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison, Tag) and his now-girlfriend Aneesa Qureshi (Megan Suri, Atypical).
Ben and Aneesa’s relationship is the kind of high school romance that makes you cringe. Constant PDA, total disregard for others in the room, and the over usage of annoying pet names. It’s no wonder that Devi is suffocating under the weight of their non-stop playful banter. It doesn’t help that she also finds herself still pining after Ben. Lucky for Devi, her teacher (Utkarsh Ambudkar, Brittany Runs a Marathon) offers some critical advice:
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder and proximity makes the heart want to barf, so you get back to that group and you let that boy annoy the hell out of you.”
Well said, Mr. Kulkarni. Devi takes his advice and focuses on everything that bothers her about Ben. His show-off monologues about his rich dad, his rough eating habits, and his not-so-charming clumsiness all equate to Devi feeling confident that she can move on.
Meanwhile, throughout the past few episodes viewers have seen a personality shift with high school heartthrob Paxton Hall-Yoshia (Darren Barnet, Love Hard). Paxton used to not care about grades at all and would do whatever it takes to maintain his cliché cool guy reputation. Now that he can no longer get a swimming scholarship because of his broken arm, his priorities are beginning to change. Paxton wants to go to college on his own academic merit and wishes people would actually take him seriously enough to believe he can do this. To win the respect of his peers, he has to put in the work.
Paxton is doing something he’s never done before: preparing for a project. He takes the mock trial so seriously that he even makes flash cards. Paxton?! With flash cards?! It sounds unthinkable but this kid is truly taking a turn for the better. His hard work pays off, and his team wins the mock trial. However, he’s still upset that Ben outshone him during the defense. Paxton learns that if he really wants to do well in school, it isn’t enough to just make a few flash cards. He has to go above and beyond.
Overall, this was one of the less emotional and more fun episodes of the season. It will be interesting to see how Paxton continues to grow with his new academic goals, and how Devi helps him reach them.
All episodes of season two are now streaming on Netflix.