In season two episode three of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, titled “…opened a textbook,” some big changes happen. For starters, we’re now seeing the story unfold through the eyes of Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet, Family Reunion) the quintessential high school bad boy that just had his heart broken by a cheating Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). He has a lot on his plate right now: heart break, failing grades, and impending college applications.
To accompany changing the lead of the story, there was a new narrator introduced, as well: Gigi Hadid. Gigi Hadid is not your typical narrator. She is one of the most famous American models with an enormous social media presence and influence as a designer and activist. This might seem like a random choice for a narrator, but she clarifies why it actually makes a lot of sense.
“Believe it or not, I relate to this kid. We’re both constantly underestimated because people only see us as sex symbols.”
Hadid carries the viewers alongside Paxton as he discovers that his chances of getting into college on a swimming scholarship are slim-to-none now that he has a broken arm. For someone that has barely opened a textbook in their entire high school career, this is a tough reality. If he wants to fulfill his dream of going to college, then Paxton has no choice than to except tutoring from his ex-girlfriend Devi. He’s still furious that she had cheated on him, and forces her to do all of his homework for her. Feeling ashamed and defeated, Devi accepts.
However, there’s a heart-warming shift as Paxton begins to realize that he wants to get into college by his own merit and put in the hard work himself. There’s that emotional heel turn that Never Have I Ever always slips in. Paxton begins to forgive Devi and tells her that he would like to be friends again. For viewers, this can either feel like a win or an unsatisfying defeat, depending on whether you’re Team Paxton or Team Ben.
The exciting thing about this episode being told through the eyes of Paxton is that we got to see a warm side of this character that can really only be unlocked when we’re in his head. Until this point, we’ve seen him acting like a mindless goof with his friends while they light things on fire and play video games. The only sustenance of character beyond that is his protective and meaningful relationship with his sister (Lily D. Moore), a teenage woman with down syndrome who holds Paxton accountable for his less-than-ideal actions. By telling the story from his perspective, viewers get to see that Paxton is often underestimated and just wants his parents and friends to believe in him.
Overall, this episode was an exciting shift in energy and just as bingeable as ever. All ten episodes of season two are now streaming on Netflix.