Thursday, April 1, 2021

Never Have I Ever 1x05 Review: “... started a nuclear war” (Conflicts and Lies) [Contributor: Jenn]

“... started a nuclear war”
Original Airdate: April 27, 2020

There are a few constants in our lives, and one of those is conflict. As someone who generally considers herself to be conflict-avoidant, I hate confronting people whenever I have issues with them. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that the more we try and keep things bottled up, the more likely those issues are to implode — and typically at the most inopportune times.

Never Have I Ever’s “... started a nuclear war” focuses on what happens when you try to keep secrets from people you care about and how ultimately, lies of omission can be about as bad as overt lies.


We’ll talk about Devi throughout this review, but let’s focus for a moment on our supporting players: Fabiola and Eleanor. As we know from the previous episode, Fabiola has recognized that she’s gay but she hasn’t mustered up the courage to tell others quite yet. She tries to tell her family at the beginning of the episode, but when she tells them instead that she’s switching AP languages, their responses are pretty indicative of how Fabiola thinks they’ll respond to her big news.

But that doesn’t mean she keeps her secret the entire episode. In a moment of friendship vulnerability, Fabiola tells Eleanor that she’s gay and Eleanor’s wholehearted support is enough to lift Fab’s spirits. And speaking of Eleanor, she and Fabiola spend more time together without Devi this episode and lean on each other for support in hard moments. Eleanor learns via Paxton that her mother, whom she assumed was singing on a cruise ship at sea somewhere, is actually in town working at a restaurant.

Eleanor is heartbroken, of course, because if her mom was in town, why wouldn’t she want to see her daughter? And here’s what I love about “... started a nuclear war”: it focuses on the strong friendship between Fab and Eleanor. In television shows, I’m so used to seeing the main character be the glue that holds a group together. But the opposite happens in Never Have I Ever: Devi’s selfishness actually hinders the trio from being the best friendship they can be. Fab and Eleanor are unconditionally and selflessly there for each other when it mattered. Devi, however, was not there for her friends. And when they tried to explain how much they needed to talk to her, she blew them off and insisted — without even hearing what they had to say — that her problems and life was bigger than theirs.

Fab and Eleanor have a great camaraderie and I loved that we got the chance to see who they are as friends outside of Devi. As it turns out, they’re pretty stinkin’ great.


So as I mentioned above, Devi spends this episode away from Fab and Eleanor. She’s been grounded from going to a no-parents party and drinking (and getting bitten by a coyote) and is desperate to get out of the house. So desperate, in fact, that she volunteers to fill in for Equatorial Guinea in an out-of-town Model U.N. with her nemesis Ben Gross. While at the Model U.N., Devi lets everyone believe that she’s sleeping with Paxton and unfortunately, the rumor gets spread around pretty quickly.

But Devi and Ben have other matters to attend to: one of the participants wants to have a party so the pair manages to track down alcohol and have a party in the hotel. During the party, Ben and Devi have a little bit of a heart-to-heart about why they hate each other (even though they both admit they don’t reeeeeeally hate each other, just find each other annoying), and this is the first instance where you’re going to see some sparks form.

Those sparks are short-lived, however, because Paxton texts Devi and demands to know why she’s lying to other people about them. Devi assumes that Ben is the one who spread the rumor about her and Paxton and contributed to the falling out she’s currently having, so she essentially blows up the Model U.N. during a session for payback.

That’s the thing about Devi at this point in the show: she’s so laser-focused on what SHE wants that she doesn’t care what it costs others. She justifies lying to Paxton’s face, but he isn’t having it. He calls her out for using him to gain popularity. And Devi, instead of admitting that she screwed up and did a bad thing, decides that the world is against her and her problems are the worst problems.

In doing so, her selfishness causes her to lose sight of the people who really care about her. It’s just the beginning for Devi’s spiral, but buckle up because we’ll see more of it and the consequences during the next few episodes.

Favorite things:

  • “You’ll carpe diem another diem.”
  • “Oh, did I tell you? I now do all my homework with a quill pen.”
  • “I’m part Japanese.” Cool story about Paxton Hall-Yoshida that I read on Buzzfeed: Originally, Paxton wasn't going to be part Japanese, but when one of the creators overheard Darren, who is part Japanese, speaking Japanese to someone in the wardrobe department, they added "Yoshida" to his name and made it a part of his character.
  • “He’s got three fan Tumblrs.”
  • “I don’t hate you. I just think you’re pretentious and unlikable.”

What did you all enjoy about the episode? Sound off in the comments below!


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