PEN15 Season 2 recap: Episode 2, ‘Wrestle’

PEN15 -- "Wrestle" - Episode 202 -- Maya zeros in on her crush, while Anna deals with the fallout from her parents’ divorce. Together they find outlets in an unexpected extracurricular activity. Sam (Taj Cross), Dustin (Isaac Michael Edwards), and Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine), shown. (Photo by: Lara Solanki/Hulu)
PEN15 -- "Wrestle" - Episode 202 -- Maya zeros in on her crush, while Anna deals with the fallout from her parents’ divorce. Together they find outlets in an unexpected extracurricular activity. Sam (Taj Cross), Dustin (Isaac Michael Edwards), and Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine), shown. (Photo by: Lara Solanki/Hulu) /

Maya and Anna get into wrestling to get close to Maya’s crush in PEN15 season 2, episode 2, while Anna uses it to deal with her parent’s divorce.

In PEN15 season 2, episode 2, Anna and Maya discover a new outlet for their various woes: wrestling. Maya wants to join the wrestling team so she can get close to Brandt. At the same time, Anna is motivated to do so to channel some of her frustrations over her parent’s divorce and to separate herself from the girls in her grade after one writes “desperate s**t” in her chorus book.

Maya doesn’t get off to a great start with wrestling. Coach Brown doesn’t want her on the team, but since there is no real rule against it, he can’t stop her from joining. For him, it’s easier when Anna joins the team, too, since he can pair them together — much to Maya’s frustration.

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She can’t wrestle Brandt anyway because she and Anna are in a different weight class. They go to extremes to gain extra weight by the time of the next mock meet, including lifting weights and eating hardboiled eggs slathered in peanut butter.

As Maya obsesses over a way to get close to Brandt, Anna starts to consider herself tough like one of the female pro wrestlers she watched on television. She tries to be “one of the guys,” so she can ignore the hurt orchestrated against her by her female peers.

At home, Anna has to witness her parents arguing over a pillow, and she takes it into her bedroom and starts punching it in the style of the woman she saw on television. Her dad’s words, “Life has a way of pummeling you. I hope you learn how to pummel back,” likely echoing in her head.

Eventually, Maya does get a chance to be alone with Brandt briefly, and she apologizes for everyone finding out about the threesome. Maya offers to do anything to make up for it, and it’s obvious Brandt is thinking of the sexual implications. However, the second the other team members arrive, he bursts out of his seat and pretends he had nothing to do with her.

It’s obvious Brandt is attracted to Maya, but since she is considered unpopular by the others, he’s not going to confess to that. When Sam asks him if the threesome rumor is true, Brandt says “barely,” both so he can pretend he has no interest in them yet maintain some credibility for being experienced and “cool” with girls.

Then he does the worst thing middle schools boys can do, which is show disgust for Anna and Maya’s bodies, saying they have “big, smelly, bushes” and vaginas that smell like fish. Even typing that out makes me cringe, but it’s an integral part of the episode. The boys label the duo “BSB” and laugh about it while working out.

Meanwhile, Anna accuses Maya of talking about nothing but Brandt for days, and the two bicker because Anna keeps interrupting them and Maya wants to get her first kiss.

PEN15 season 2
PEN15 season 2 — “Wrestle” – Episode 202 — TJ (Cameron James Elie) and Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine), shown. (Photo by: Lara Solanki/Hulu) /

PEN15 season 2, episode 2 recap: The girls learn what BSB means.

During the mock meet, Maya manages to defeat Anna in their match, meaning she moves on to wrestle the winner between middleweight competitors Sam and Brandt. Sam wins, meaning he and Maya face off. It gets ugly between them fast as Maya is frustrated she isn’t wrestling Brandt and accuses Sam of being jealous because no girl wants to go in a closet with him. It’s then that Sam tells her what a BSB is and why they’re all calling her and Anna that.

Devastated, Maya taps out of the match. Sam tries to say it was just a joke and doesn’t mean anything,  but Maya hides in the locker room to cry and tell Anna what the boys said. They’re just as bad as the gossiping girls in their class! Later, Anna and Maya can’t help but examine their bodies in the mirror to see if what Brandt said about them is true. They talk to each other on the phone as they conduct their examinations. Maya even sprays herself with body mist — “It burns!”

I feel like this entire subplot was so heartbreakingly realistic (as the show often is) to preteen girls and their experiences with insecurity. Women are held to much stricter hygiene standards than men and are told to be ashamed and embarrassed by their bodies from such a young age. Having someone you were intimate with, even briefly, tell people you’re disgusting is devastating to a girl that age.

There is almost no higher insult at that age than having something on your body, especially something as intimate as your vagina, insulted and made into a humiliating rumor between a bunch of dudes — especially if one is a guy you happen to have a crush on! It also gave us a  few hilarious lines from Maya, like “it looks like an animal, it needs some catnip,” and cat noises.

Odds & ends from PEN15 season 2, episode 2

  • As I mentioned in my PEN15 season 1 refresher, the second season will expand on some of the storylines with the male characters. Gabe (Dylan Gage) feels left out as his best friend Sam stops having time for their former interests, like their Weasels comic, and becomes increasingly interested in his friendship with Brandt. It’s evident that Gabe is dealing with the emotional turmoil of seeing your friend move on and some budding romantic feelings.
  • Bustle points out that Maya and Anna do their best to “carve out space” in a typically male-dominated space, and also make this point: “Why shouldn’t Maya work off her horniness and Anna her anger in a physical way when it’s considered socially acceptable for boys to do the same?”

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All seven episodes of PEN15 season 2A are now available to stream on Hulu.