There is a symmetry to the ending of Never Have I Ever season 2. During the first season finale of Mindy Kaling’s Netflix series, heroine Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) kisses love interest Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison) as her other crush, Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) pines for her. In season 2 ender “...Been A Perfect Girl,” Ben and Paxton’s roles are reversed with the former staring forlornly at a winter dance floor as Devi smooches Paxton. “Of course it’s him — it’s always been him,” Ben complains, only for Devi’s best friend Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young) to explain just how wrong that assumption is.
At face value, it appears that shaking up Never Have I Ever’s central love triangle — and giving it a resolution, at least for the immediate future — is the main aim of the finale. But for Devi’s portrayer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, seeing Devi and Paxton as an official couple is only a small piece of a much bigger moment for Devi. After two seasons of stress and (understandable) selfishness, Devi is finally growing.
We can see this development long before Devi arrives at the winter dance. In the first half of the episode, she confronts Paxton about ignoring her in public after a recent hookup. Paxton explains that although he likes her, he cannot publicly date her after she “humiliated” him earlier in the season. Recognising the damage she caused, Devi accepts Paxton’s perspective. Yet, she doesn’t want to be someone’s secret. So, a few scenes later, Devi tells Paxton she wants to be “someone’s public girlfriend” — if he can’t give her that, she’s “not going to settle for some weird secret thing behind closed doors.” With that, Devi cordially leaves Paxton’s garage.
“She starts embracing the fact that, you know what? She deserves more,” Ramakrishnan told Refinery29 over Zoom. “She goes in and is like, ‘I deserve to be someone's girlfriend. I deserve this! Cool. Thank you.’"
Devi takes that empowered and level-headed spirit with her to the winter dance. Following Ramona’s own breakup, she and Devi are platonic dates for the painfully romantic evening. Then, Paxton’s best friend Trent approaches Ramona and asks her to dance. When Ramona fearfully asks Devi if she can leave her alone, Devi urges her to hit the floor.
“You want to see Devi's maturity, Devi would never do that in season 1. She'd be like, ‘Eleanor, what the hell?!,’” Ramakrishnan continued. “She would literally throw a bunch of computers on the ground.”
This version of Devi tosses nary an electronic. Instead, once Ramona departs with Trent, Devi calmly observes all of the happy couples around her. There’s Ramona and Trent, Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez) and Eve (Christina Kartchner), and Ben and Aneesa (Megan Suri) — unbeknownst to Devi, even her cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) is making eyes at Sherman Oaks High teacher Mr. Kulkarni (Utkarsh Ambudkar) somewhere in the building. As with her uncomfortable conversation with Paxton, Devi removes herself from the situation at the right time by leaving the dance. As she crosses the street, Paxton accidentally hits her with his car, which is a nod to his collision earlier in the season. Devi immediately forgives Paxton once she realises he came to the dance for her — that he wants to publicly be with her. They kiss passionately and walk hand-in-hand into the dance.
“I guess I’m Paxton Hall-Yoshida’s girlfriend now,” Devi says with a hopeful smile, serving up the last lines of the season. “I wonder what that’s gonna be like.”
While this is a fairly resounding ending, Ramakrishnan suggests her character still has to figure out whether she actually likes Paxton more than Ben or is simply thankful someone picked her at the dance. “'It’s a mix. She's happy that someone showed up for her because she's looking at everyone having someone — somebody showed up for everyone,” she began. “But also [she and Paxton] had some really honest, proper conversations throughout the season, which I think are very genuine.”
Looking ahead, it seems Devi is destined for some more soul searching should Netflix renew Never Have I Ever for a third season. “I don't think she got full clarity this season. That's okay. She's getting to know them more as people rather than just, ‘Oh, these guys are attractive,’" Ramakrishnan explained. At this point, Devi knows Ben is more than a competitor and banter buddy — he’s someone Devi can share a serious conversation with. Similarly, Paxton gives good advice and inspires Devi to embrace new sides of herself, Ramakrishnan said.
The finale ensures Devi will continue both of these appealing connections, in some way or another, by allowing Ben to learn that she initially wanted to choose him over Paxton. “Only in that last moment, when he's looking at Devi, does he realise, ‘I wish I wasn't so angry all the time. I wish I didn't waste my time and had noticed the things that Eleanor is literally telling me right now,’" Ramakrishnan clarified. Then she laughed and added one more good reason for letting Ben in on Devi’s romantic secret: “I mean, who doesn't love drama?”