It’s been one year since Darren Moss, the father of Nicholas, Matilda, and Genevieve, passed away. In that year, the three have found love, loss, independence, and community, and… a global pandemic. On the anniversary of his passing, the Moss family finds themselves dealing with it in a lot of different ways, and this episode is a really zoomed in look at that day and those emotions.
Spoilers for Everything’s Gonna Be Okay Season 2 Episode 3, “Emperor Scorpion,” below. You have been warned.
The episode opens on Alex and Nicholas in their bedroom as Alex tries to decide what to wear for the day. He decides on a Las Vegas sweatshirt because it’s a bit chilly, but Nicholas wants him to look nicer, because it’s the anniversary of his father’s death and they’re holding a small memorial ceremony. He offers Alex one of his father’s old sweaters, and insists it won’t be weird. But when Matilda and Genevieve walk in and see him, it is clearly very weird. But like most weird things in their lives, they laugh it off. Matilda suggests a minute of silence to honor the time that Darren passed, and they all stand there quietly. Then, Matilda says she’s going to spend the day donating to cancer charities and posting about it on social media, while Genevieve just wants to be allowed to be sad without anyone trying to cheer her up. Matilda asks that everyone writes a letter that they’ll burn that night around the campfire to celebrate the anniversary.
Fortunately for the audience, the episode immediately jumps to this ceremony. Matilda offers to read hers first. She talks about how she hopes she isn’t disappointing her father with the tumultuous events that have recently occurred, but that she is trying her best and, in true Matilda fashion, tells him if he is disappointed that would be somewhat hypocritical. After she finishes reading it aloud, she tosses it into the fire, sending the smoke up into the sky. Genevieve’s is simpler, referencing her tendency to revert to nihilistic existential dread and trying not to do so. She also goes in a different direction, saying she thought more about her mother during the day, and that without her dad, who she saw as the keeper of her mom’s stories, she felt her absence more. Alex’s letter was impersonal but polite and respectful, and then Matilda tells Nicholas it’s his turn. He admits he thought they were just burning the letters without reading them, and that his letter just says, “Dad! Yay!” Matilda is confused, and Genevieve suggests he just shares a nice memory. But Nicholas struggles to find the words, and it’s awkward.
Back inside, Nicholas sits on the kitchen island while Alex makes a drink. His mother, Penny, calls and starts ranting about her therapy. Nicholas puts her on mute and goes about his conversation with Alex. The girls come in and announce they are going to bed early, and from there the episode jumps between Alex and Nicholas, and Matilda and Genevieve.
Matilda and Genevieve:
Matilda asks Genevieve if she wants to have a sleepover, and she agrees. She asks if it’s because Matilda feels deeply sad, but Matilda says she feels weirdly okay, and Genevieve agrees – there’s too much pressure to be overtly grieving. Matilda asks what Genevieve was thinking during their minute of silence, and Genevieve responds with North Korea, of all things. Matilda says she was thinking about Drea and isn’t sure if it is good or okay to be thinking about her ex-girlfriend. Genevieve reassures her it’s okay, and Matilda shares how she misses how Drea would never try to fix anything, just try to come up with the next interesting thing to talk about. Matilda laments about being cursed with heterosexuality before asking Genevieve if she’s straight, which she asserts she is as far as she knows. Matilda wonders how she can know if she’s never tried it, and Genevieve says she just does.
And then, in a refreshingly candid if not awkward scene, they discuss… penises. How they’re surprised how interested they are despite what they look like. Matilda says since the girls can never be sure the boys will know to bring condoms she is going to supply Genevieve with a discreet monthly delivery, which Genevieve says is a bit optimistic, and they both laugh. And presumably from there they go to sleep, going on to live another… interesting, to say the least, day in the Moss household.
Nicholas and Alex
Their arc for the rest of the episode is mostly centered around Alex and his inability to verbalize or really even feel his emotions. Alex asserts that sometimes Nicholas is closed off from his emotions, and he continues to deflect. Later next to the pool, Alex suggests Nicholas come up with one positive thing to say about his dad, but all he can come up with is, “He always wore a belt.” Nicholas hypothesizes that maybe he’s just an abstract feeler and that he might just be unable to articulate his feelings, but Alex keeps trying to get him to admit what the real reason is he didn’t write a letter. Finally, Nicholas admits that he feels like Matilda and Genevieve’s sadness is more valid than his, and like he’s just a guest in their grief. Alex relents, and there’s a break for sexy time.
Post sexy time, Nicholas shares that he was always unsure how to feel about Darren’s relationship with the girls after he just left Nicholas. He says it was hard that he was so much more of a dad with them. After moving into the bug room and sitting with some scorpions, because I guess that’s a thing that can be considered fun? Alex asks him if he ever talked with any friends about his feelings about his dad or his family. Nicholas laughs a self-deprecating laugh. He says he never really had friends; he had people he went to the movies and traded stickers with, but never had friends he talked about his feelings with. It’s clear Alex is the first person he’s ever had to confide to.
Back outside by the pool, Penny calls and Alex tells him to screen the call, but Nicholas refuses. Alex continues to coax him into telling his mother not to vent about his father, and finally the pressure builds up and Nicholas hangs up. Alex tries to praise him for setting a boundary, but Nicholas gets rather pissed, saying he didn’t actually want to hang up and only did it because he felt Alex made him. Alex tells him he needs to stop putting everyone else’s feelings before his own. He says, “Darren leaving wasn’t your fault … No one is leaving you, we love you too much.” Nicholas seems to take this to heart, but still walks away without saying a word. Things seem alright by bedtime, though, because Nicholas still crawls into bed beside Alex. He says he liked what Alex said, and kisses him before turning the lights out.
The credits scene features another textbook Penny and Nicholas phone call, talking about Penny’s experience with her boyfriend and rejoining Tinder. Overall the episode was a really small look at a really important emotional topic. Next week sees the return of Lillian Carrier as Drea, and hopefully some more plot-driven shenanigans.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on Freeform.