The events in Triangle and Ski Lodge 2 (and a few moments in the episodes in between) practically contradict everything the kids have learned. I mean, just take a look at the pictures above again.
The most jarring one is the quote from GM Flaws; “At this age, you’re just finding out who you are. I mean, people don’t usually walk around wearing signs that tell you”. Riley and Josh literally tell Maya who she is and who she has been for the past year. They invalidate her growth and her feelings for Lucas. And although she initially fights it, by SL2 so many people have told her that who she’s been for the past year is one big lie, she ends up buying into it.
But there are MAJOR problems with what Riley and Josh said. Here:
So, what made Maya push Lucas away in GMSL2? Well, Riley’s diagnosis in Triangle/Upstate + everyone telling Maya she needs to be herself (even though she IS aghhh) = Maya being insecure about her feelings for Lucas.
And then there’s Josh, who pushed Maya right over the edge. I have a MASSIVE problem with what he said to Maya in this scene:
What I can’t stand is how he nearly brainwashes a vulnerable, insecure, impressionable 15-year-old high school freshman bc he’s “good at observing people” (like firstly, sit your ass back down josh you’re 18 years old I wouldn’t even trust you to buy a cookie why are you fucking with her life). Because if you’ve watched the pilot, then you KNOW that if you want to protect your friend, the last thing you do is become them.
That is the FIRST thing the pilot taught us. All those tweets about the biggest clue being in the pilot? It’s THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^^. THIS is the fucking clue.
*picks it back up bc I’m not anywhere near done*
Let’s talk a lil bit more about this ‘protecting’ thing. In GMNW, Maya asked Riley to ‘protect’ her from the shiny ring Farkle gave her. In GM Crazy Hat, Topanga told Auggie what’s shiny isn’t always good. The beautiful thing about Riley and Maya’s friendship is that they’d protect each other no matter what. But the pilot taught us that if you want to protect a friend, you don’t become them.
Maya KNOWS this. She was there when Cory told Riley that.
But Josh the Psychotherapist™ tells Maya that she became Riley, and OF COURSE she eats it up. They’ve just put her through an identity crisis, dammit. She’s insecure, so if a trusted adult tells her something, she’s gonna believe them. And she’s too fueled with emotion to even think about what Cory said over two years ago.
But history shows us that bad things happen when you don’t know who you are. History shows us that bad things happen when you let other people’s perception of you (Riley and Josh, in this case) dictate your behavior. Cue the ‘wrong’ decisions.
“The first thing they did was die”. Indeed.
Okay, so let’s talk about the (possible) big lesson. We know this is much more than a triangle, we know that the story was clear from the pilot, and we know it has to do with the secret of life.
The secret of life is that people change people. That’s what this story’s about, and that’s what it’s always going to be about.
But as of now, these kids still think that the truest versions of themselves are the people that they were at the start of the 7th grade. The kids have been told that people change people. Yet when Maya starts to change, the kids think that she isn’t herself. They’ve been told that people change people, butthey haven’t learned it yet. They haven’t gotten to a point where they can embrace change with open arms.
They still think that Riley is light and Maya is darkness and Farkle is smart and Lucas is good. And while it’s part of who they are, it’s not all that they are.
Because the relatable storyline here isn’t absorbing feelings or turning into someone else. It’s the struggle that teens go through with identity.
See, as teens, we think that each of us has to fit into a certain box. We think that you have to fit into a category and play into the stereotype. We think that you can only fit in a box if every aspect of your life reflects the characteristics/stereotypes that are assigned to that label.
How often have you struggled to pick just one word that defines who you are in every aspect? How often have you struggled to fit into just ONE box?
Here’s the thing: it takes a lot more than just one word to define you. You are a combination of adjectives, maybe good or bad, but they all fit together. Don’t take all that you are and belittle it into one word, because who you are isn’t justone word.
It’s not “Riley the Sweet, Farkle the Genius, Lucas the Good, and Maya the Broken”. These kids are going to learn that it’s perfectly okay to grow and not fall under one label. They’re going to change, and that means they’re not going to fit into the box they thought they belonged in when they were in the 7th grade.
But that’s okay.
Because you know what’s the great thing about evolving?
“The great thing about evolving is that we continue to grow and feel.”