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Pen15: “Play” Review

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Synopsis:

When Maya gets a part in a play without Anna, Anna joins the set crew with her ex and his new girlfriend.


This episode is my favorite by far this season. I think it really showcased the actor’s range and it had me laughing out loud. I loved that we got to see the character of Gabe shine in this episode, and it really showed how complex his character is.

We see at the beginning of the episode, that Anna and Maya auditioned to be in the school play, and Maya ended up getting the lead role. Anna is super bummed out, and Maya doesn’t even know if she wants to be part of the play if Anna isn’t with her. While Maya is flipping out, the most random thing happens. Anna asks her if she wants some milk, and randomly, she unbuttons her shirt, and a fake boob comes out. She starts breastfeeding Maya, and I have no idea why this happened. It made absolutely no sense, and I’m wondering if it was some weird pretend thing between Maya and Anna, that was acted out like it was happening in real life because that threw me off. Moving on… the drama kids meet with the director of the play, and at first, I wasn’t feeling his vibe. He began by making it seem like one of the students was going to be kicked out of the play, but we learn that it was an exercise. The only thing was when they were doing the exercise, one of the kids said that Maya should be kicked out because she had a lack of talent. Not a great start to rehearsals. We learn that in the play, Maya and Gabe have to kiss. And this rang many alarm noises in my head because, in the previous episode, we got a hint that Gabe might be gay. I was interested to see how this was going to play out, and if Gabe was going to reveal his secret to Maya.

At home, Maya and Anna are IMing, and Maya tells Anna that she has to kiss Gabe. It was sweet because she told Anna that she wanted her first kiss to be with someone she loved, which made her afraid to kiss Gabe altogether in the play. Anna lets Maya know, that she might become one of the techies so that she and Maya can still somewhat be together during the play. Later on, we see Maya rehearsing her lines, and this magical moment happens. Maya is reading her lines, which sound way too mature for a middle schooler to be reading, but she starts putting her spin on it. She starts talking in a New York accent, and we see this alternate reality of Maya giving this amazing performance as her character. Seeing as this is a comedic show, I gotta say that Maya Erskine’s performance as her character in the play was unbelievable. She was gritty and raw, and we really saw her dramatic chops.

The next day at school, Anna fully commits to being a techie and is actually doing really well. She has a moment with the advisor, who funnily enough, reminds me of a Dwight Schrute character. He thinks he can control his body temperature and likes to reference Bruce Lee quotes. She fully takes the techies under her wing. Back at rehearsal, Maya is having a hard time acting in front of everyone. With the help of the drama teacher, who psyches her up, she and Gabe have an incredible moment, where they are in the moment and act their hearts out. They have this moment where they realize that they’re great together, and before they act out their kissing scene, Gabe asks to have a moment with Maya. This was a bittersweet moment, because Gabe tries to stall the kiss, and tells Maya, that to make the kiss official, he wants to ask her to be his girlfriend. Maya loves the idea, and sadly, that puts Gabe in a weird predicament. Back at the auditorium, Anna is made stage manager, which is awesome, and hell week with the drama students was my favorite part of the whole episode. The drama kids and the techies have dress rehearsal together so that the techies can mark their lighting queues, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Anna was taking her role as stage manager very seriously, and Maya kept on messing things up. We see a montage of Anna yelling at Maya to hold for lighting markers, and it was so ridiculous. She yelled at Maya before she finished her lines, she yelled at her to slow down, to speed up. And at one point, Maya couldn’t for the life of her, find her spotlight. To which Anna responded, “feel the warmth!” At the end of the day, Gabe coughs, and the drama teacher freaks out that he may be sick.

That night, Maya goes over to Gabe’s house to feed him soup, and things get a little cringy. She tries to act all nonchalant, but she tries to kiss Gabe. He backs away and wants to slow dance with her instead. This was killing me inside. It was such a bad idea for Gabe to dig a hole for himself, and make things worse, by asking Maya to be his girlfriend. He really doesn’t have feelings for her, except maybe as a friend, but we all know he had thoughts about Sam. While the two are slow dancing, they are wearing face masks, and they finally kiss. You could just see on Gabe’s face, that he wasn’t happy. I hope that he breaks up with Maya in the finale and tells her the truth.

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