Breakups are hard. Getting dumped and not understanding why? Even harder. This week sees Nicholas taking a much, much needed journey as Matilda goes full steam ahead in her life planning in the background.
Spoilers ahead for Everything’s Gonna Be Okay Season 2, Episode 9. You have been warned.
Splitsville, Population: One
The episode picks up right where last week left off, even repeating Nicholas’ last line of saying he loves Alex as Alex leaves the cabin. It then cuts to a few minutes later, and Suze walks in to find Nicholas sitting on the floor and crying. He tells her that Alex dumped him, and that he’s very confused as to the reason behind it. He says he’s never worked harder to show anyone he’s loved them, and that was his best. Suze recognizes this disconnect and tells a similar story about Drea having difficulty connecting as a kid. She explains that Drea just cares differently, and expresses her feelings differently because her brain works differently. Suze sits down next to him and posits the notion that perhaps Nicholas is autistic. Nicholas immediately recoils at this idea, just repeatedly saying, “Nah, man.”
That’s when Genevieve walks in, complaining of how high pitched happy-Matilda and happy-Drea are together. When she asks what’s going on, Nicholas says very frankly that Alex dumped him and Suze thinks he’s autistic. Genevieve also says no, saying he’s not autistic, just a bad boyfriend. Then Toby comes in and finds out, and starts crying for no other reason than Toby is ridiculous. Finally, Matilda and Drea come flouncing in. Drea assumes people are crying because they’re so happy about the engagement, and no one has the heart to tell them otherwise.
Back at the house, Alex is gathering his things from what was previously their bedroom while Nicholas just is kind of… there. Nicholas notices that he’s not packing much stuff, and asks if he had a drawer. Alex says he eventually took a drawer but Nicholas never offered one, and Nicholas doesn’t understand why he’s putting so much weight on a drawer. Alex responds, “I took up as much space as I was given,” which is obviously a metaphor for the relationship as a whole. Before they can fight more, Matilda comes twirling in with a wedding invitation for Alex. She says he’s one of her best friends and that it wouldn’t be the same without him, and he reluctantly says he couldn’t miss it. Matilda twirls away, and there’s some awkward silence before Alex leaves too. Nicholas flops back onto his bed and throws a pillow onto his face to hide from the world.
Always, Sometimes, Maybe, Never
Nicholas continues to wallow in his room, and Genevieve comes in with her laptop. She tells him she thinks maybe Suze was onto something, and that maybe he is autistic. She says she thought she knew everything about autism from Matilda, but really she just knows everything about Matilda. In the meantime, Nicholas puts the pillow back over his face. Genevieve says she found a bunch of screening tests and took them pretending to be Nicholas, and they came back with results of “Autistic tendencies.” Nicholas says he already deals with being gay and having ADHD and he doesn’t want any more stigmas, to which Genevieve points out that he’s “almost rich enough to consider them eccentricities.” She also points out some traits of his that fall in line with possibly being autistic, like his difficulty understanding others and the fact that he collects bugs. Nicholas says he’ll look at them another time, which mostly he has to because they’re interrupted by Matilda bouncing into the room. She asks if they’ve reviewed their to do lists and they say they have, to which she exclaims, “Go Team Matilda!” Once she’s out of earshot, Nicholas admits that he hasn’t even read the to do list, and Genevieve tells him Matilda has signed him up for an “ambitious amount of carpentry.”
Genevieve proceeds to administer several screenings tests to Nicholas throughout the rest of the day. They start in the bug room, and Genevieve asks him to respond to several statements with how often he experiences them, things like “I was bullied as a child,” “I focus on details so much I lose the big picture,” and “I prefer to read nonfiction.” Later outside, she continues with questions about if he struggles with eye contact and whether he’s fascinated by running water. He says of course he is and is sure everyone else is too, and Genevieve doesn’t really answer. Nicholas is quiet for a minute, and then tells her about how as a kid, he’d throw himself off his bed because he saw how popular the kids with casts were and he thought breaking his arm would make him popular. And he mostly just leaves that story hanging in the air for Genevieve to interpret.
Taking a slight break, The Mosses head over to Drea’s house and Suze models what is obviously a very ugly “Mother of the Bride” dress. It’s baggy where it should be tight and too tight where it should be loose, but everyone but Toby jokes about how perfect it is, and it takes Toby a minute to catch on. Toby and Suze go back into the bedroom to get the dress off, and Genevieve remarks that Suze might be Nicholas’ only friend.
Back at the house, Genevieve asks a final question about how well he’s able to imagine how other people experience the world, and he answers not very well. Genevieve tallies the results, and they come back with fairly high results indicating he’s autistic. Nicholas doesn’t really respond and just asks if she’d like to get the Korean fish pastries for dinner, which is an enthusiastic yes from Genevieve.
Figuring out what it all means
Sitting outside and eating, Genevieve asks how Nicholas feels about it all. He says he feels weird, and unsure if he really answered them right, but Genevieve reassures him he did. Nicholas says he doesn’t really want to be autistic, and that he fears people will look at him as “Nicholas, who’s autistic” rather than just “Nicholas.” Genevieve is confused, saying she thought they were such an autism positive household. Nicholas is quiet for a moment, and then responds it’s a lot easier to be proud for someone else than for yourself.
Nicholas watches as Matilda struggles to open a door that hasn’t been seen before. He asks if she wants help, but she says she needs to learn how to do it. She gets it open, and they walk in to Drea and Matilda’s new apartment. It’s not fully furnished and there are paint samples all over the walls. She asks Nicholas which one is his favorite, and he picks a light blue shade, which Matilda says is her favorite too.
They sit down to a picnic, and Matilda is fully focused on the apartment and wedding, which makes sense as she hasn’t been privy to Nicholas’ life journey the past few days. Finally Nicholas works up the courage and tells Matilda that he’d like her thoughts and advice because he thinks he may be autistic. Matilda immediately says no, he’s not. She says he’s just messy because he has ADHD and doesn’t follow through. She asks if he has a diagnosis, and he doesn’t so she says without a diagnosis, it’s just an excuse for poor choices and behavior. Nicholas is quiet for a moment. Then, he asks if she ever feels like she has to hide how she really feels or how she really wants to react most of the time. He asks if she understands what it feels like to feel like you’re acting all the time, and when you’re not, people don’t really like it. He feels like most people just know how to be, and for him it’s a performance, and asks if she knows what that feels like. And she admits that she does. She says okay, maybe he is autistic, and then immediately moves on to show him the shower curtain they had made with Matilda and Drea’s faces, in true Matilda fashion.
The last scene shows Nicholas filling out paperwork in a doctor’s office, presumably at a neuropsychiatric facility or somewhere else that does evaluations, and I’d imagine we’ll see more of that next week.
Before the beginning of this season, Josh Thomas, who created the show and plays Nicholas, was interviewed by Alex Barasch at the New York Times and talked about his own journey to discovering he’s autistic, and it’s clear that has impacted Nicholas this season. His discussions this episode of self-diagnosis, masking, and understanding being okay with labels and who you are ring home for many and is one of the most honest portrayals of autism currently in media. As far as the plot of the show, there’s a lot to wrap up, mainly if Alex and Nicholas will reconcile, and it seems there will actually be a Matilda and Drea teen wedding. It’s sure to be a jam-packed season finale.
The Season 2 finale of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, “Gulf Fritillary Butterfly,” premieres Thursday, June 3 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on Freeform.