'Sex Education' Season 4 review: How to watch, how it ends

The highs and the lows of the final season of the Netflix hit

The release of Sex Education Season 4, with a cast that includes Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey and Gillian Anderson, means we're saying goodbye to the Netflix hit as the series coming to an end.

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When Sex Education made its premiere in 2019, critics and fans were quick to praise the show for being provocative, funny and a particularly progressive way to show and discuss the sex lives of teens, and adults. For many people around the world, Sex Education was the sex positivity they yearned to see in entertainment.

How to watch 'Sex Education'

All four seasons of Sex Education are available to watch on Netflix.

Season 4, the final season of the series, became available to stream in its entirety Sept. 21.

What is 'Sex Education' about?

The U.K. series is largely centred around Otis (Butterfield). His mother Jean (Anderson) is a sex therapist and while that leads to some awkward circumstances between a single mother and her son, Otis has a knack for sex therapy as well.

With the help of his friend Eric (Gatwa) and schoolmate Maeve (Mackey) Otis starts a sex therapy clinic at Moordale Secondary School, realizing that there is a sea of teens who have questions, or concerns, or have just been completely misinformed about sex.

While Otis and Jean are at the core of the show, Sex Education's full cast of characters, from teens to adults, have their own personal narratives.

For much of the series, Maeve and Otis had this "will they won't they" romantic tension, but she's also had to manage her estranged mother, a recovering drug addict who returns and tries to mend her relationship.

Eric spent much of his time at Moordale Secondary being bullied. The Black, gay teen, living in a very religious household, is one of the most beloved characters on the show, and fans were very vocal when the series had Eric date his bully Adam (Connor Swindells) in Season 2.

Speaking of Adam, we've seen the character become more vulnerable throughout the season, notably after he came out as bisexual and dealt with his abusive father.

Aimee, played by Aimee Lou Wood, is a sweet and kind friend to Maeve. We've seen her dealing with the trauma of being sexually assaulted on a bus, as she steps into a journey of healing.

Spoilers for Sex Education Season 4 beyond this point

(L to R) Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education Season 4 (Samuel Taylor/Netflix)
(L to R) Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education Season 4 (Samuel Taylor/Netflix) (Samuel Taylor/Netflix)

What happens in 'Sex Education' Season 4?

Sex Education Season 4 starts with some significant shifts from previous seasons.

Firstly, these teens aren't at Moordale Secondary anymore. The school was closed following the Season 3 debacle that saw headmistress Hope Haddon (Jemima Kirke) unsuccessfully try to rebrand the school. Now Otis, Eric, Aimee and other Moordale students move on to Cavendish Sixth Form College.

Cavendish is quite a culture shock. All the information for students is accessible on tablets. They get tote bags and reusable water bottles as welcome gifts. There are gender-neutral washrooms. There's daily yoga and meditation. There's no gossiping! As Eric describes Cavendish when he first arrives with Otis, everyone at the school looks "happy and queer."

Otis has a plan to open a sex therapy clinic at Cavendish but the concept isn't so foreign at this school. In fact, there is already a student sex therapist, "O" (Thaddea Graham), with a dedicated roster of students who seek guidance.

While Otis is navigating this new school, he's maintained a relationship with Maeve, even though she's at school in the U.S. But the long distance is making things a bit uncomfortable, including the opening moments of the season where Otis is attempting to get a "good" pose to send an intimate picture to Maeve.

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When Maeve gets a phone call that her mother overdosed and is in the hospital, unfortunately dying shortly after, Maeve takes the journey back to the U.K. She's trying to process the loss of her mother, while also navigating her relationship with Otis.

Otis' mother Jean has a new baby, Joy, born at the end of Season 3, and Jean is struggling to manage mothering a young baby with her professional life, and Otis' needs for his mother as well. Jean's sister Joanne (Lisa McGrillis) arrives to help take care of the baby, but she also has to reckon with the sexual abuse in her past, and the trauma associated with that.

While Maeve was in the U.S., Aimee established a friendship with Isaac (George Robinson), which grows into something more romantic.

The friendship between Otis and Eric is a bit strained in Season 4, there's tension in terms of them understanding each other's lives, including their families and religion.

Eric is preparing to be baptized for much of Season 4, but it's complicated because as a gay teen, he knows that many in his church consider that a sin.

When Adam decides not to go back to school, he gets a job at a farm, while his father is substitute teaching at Cavendish.

Cal is a non-binary student that moved from the U.S. to the U.K. and at Cavendish, they start a relationship with Aisha (Alexandra James), while also managing the affects, both positive and difficult, of taking testosterone.

At Cavendish, while Ruby (Mimi Keene) has a tough exterior, it turns out that it stems from being bullied by O when she was younger, creating tensions between the two at the school.

Jackson (Kedar Williams-Sterling) has been dumped by Cal, which is still affecting him, but early in the season he discovers a lump on his genitalia. Luckily, it's not cancerous, but he also finds out the truth about his biological father.

Dan Levy as Thomas (Center) in Sex Education Season 4. (Thomas Wood/Netflix)
Dan Levy as Thomas (Center) in Sex Education Season 4. (Thomas Wood/Netflix) (Thomas Wood/Netflix)

Who does Dan Levy play in 'Sex Education' Season 4?

Canadian icon Dan Levy joined the cast of Sex Education for Season 4.

He plays Maeve's teacher in the U.S., Thomas Molloy, an infamous author who is particularly blunt with his feedback.

“I’m not sure you’re cut out to be writer," he tells Maeve. "I wouldn’t want you to get your hopes up.”

That's one of the last things Maeve hears before she has to return to the U.K. after her mother's overdose.

How does 'Sex Education' end?

After the result of the student vote for the campus sex therapist, Otis wants to give the position to O, even though students call out that she's a bully and they don't want her to be their therapist. But Ruby talks to the student body about how the Cavendish thing to do would be to give O a second chance.

Eric doesn't end up getting baptized after "telling his truth." He tells everyone at the church that he is, "a Christian and a proud gay man," and everyone who believes that's a sin is wrong. He still wants to be part of his church community and says if they love him as he is, he will be baptized, otherwise he has to leave. That's when his mother stands up and says she loves him. When no one else responds he walks out. In talking to God (Jodie Turner-Smith), she tells him that he will help others understand that she loves everyone.

But then Eric's pastor comes to him to share that he wants to church to have discussions about how to be more inclusive.

Maeve returns to school in the U.S. and speaks to Levy's character honestly about how his feedback really affected her and made her almost not return to school.

"You don't get to be the gatekeeper of my dreams," Maeve tells him, after she got a call from Goodhart Books praising her writing in her "Southchester" story, and they want to read more.

When Adam's father gets a chance to see him at the farm, while Adam anticipated that his father would think he's a failure, it was the exact opposite. Adam's dad was able to actually see his son's strengths, opening up their communication with each other.

When Cal disappeared, after experiencing depression due to being unable to get their gender confirming surgery, Eric finds them and their friends start a fundraiser to raise money for the surgery.

When Aimee opens up to Isaac about her intimacy issues after the assault, Aimee burns the jeans she wore on the bus that day to move away from that moment in her life.

While Jackson has been raised by his two moms, he discovers that one of his moms had an affair with a former co-worker, and he's his birth father. Something that has been kept a secret for his whole life. While Jackson was face-to-face with his biological father, that doesn't start a relationship between the two.

After Jean returns to her radio show, wanting to do in-depth sessions with people on the line, her sister Joanna calls in to talk about being abused by one of her mother's boyfriends, and the trauma that comes with that. She admits that she's scared that if she properly talks about what happened, she won't be able to pretend she's OK anymore.

Jean calls her sister "very brave" and "powerful," sharing that she has been diagnosed with postnatal depression, and didn't want to accept that anything was wrong. Jean urges her sister to lean on her friends and family to deal with her trauma.

While Eric and Otis mend their relationship, Otis and Maeve aren't endgame in Sex Education. They're on good terms, but they realized that they're both at different points in their life, living in different continents, and should be trying to fulfill their owns dreams.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong in Sex Education Season 4. (Samuel Taylor/Netflix)
Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong in Sex Education Season 4. (Samuel Taylor/Netflix) (Samuel Taylor/Netflix)

Is 'Sex Education' worth watching?

Saying goodbye to Sex Education as a whole does seem like a monumental shift. It's irrefutable that the series pushed the boundaries for teen-focused television, and actually addressing sex and sexuality directly.

While Season 4 takes us deeper into the lives of these characters, it does feel like a missed opportunity that the stories end here, it seems like we're only touching the surface of a lot of different stories.

On the one hand, that could be a reflection of successful storytelling, leaving people wanting more, but it also ends up feeling a bit chaotic. Season 4 makes you feel like you don't really know where you're going to land.

While it's not the tightest season of the series, constantly having to battle its honest and emotional moments, with elements of comedy and levity, the actors really succeed in their execution.

The full cast is incredibly engaging across the board, and it is truly a shame that we likely won't get to see them all together again.

Ultimately, if you've still be holding out on Sex Education, now's the time to binge it in its entirety.