After a brief hiatus from watching The Wonder Years, I’m back with a recap on the last episode I had watched: “She, My Friend, and I.” Despite the fact that this is another episode featuring Kevin in a love triangle (he ends up in so many it seems), the episode did a great job in providing a different angle on previous episodes’ themes – how friendship impacts our behavior as well as introducing a new, important takeaway: the importance of acknowledging one’s feelings.
First, I have to hand it to Kevin for being a really good friend in this episode. He has sometimes has acted selfishly towards Paul in previous episodes; however, in this episode, his intentions are completely pure: to make his friend happy. Paul is unhappy because his longtime girlfriend has broken up with him. Kevin immediately sets on how he can help. His first suggestion is hysterical:
Adult Kevin narration: Paul was in pain. I had to come up with something sensitive.
Young Kevin: Do you want an ice cream sandwich?
When that doesn’t work, Kevin suggests Paul go out with someone else to make Carla jealous. He suggests various people Paul should date, but Paul refuses them for various reasons (most of them being on the basis of their head shape). Paul then mentions Winnie Cooper, since he has been friends with her for a while. At first, Kevin is a little shocked and hesitant given his past history with Winnie. However, as the episode starts, Kevin has acknowledged that he and Winnie are just friends, and he doesn’t see her as anything else. Therefore, Kevin doesn’t think Paul’s wanting to date Winnie is much of a threat. Because Paul is too shy to ask Winnie out, Kevin, trying to help his friend, goes and asks Winnie to ask him out. He explains that Paul needs a cheer up and that going out with Winnie would help him.
Kevin acts very graciously and selflessly when he sets up Paul with Winnie. Yet, in the process of thinking about his friend’s feelings, Kevin does not acknowledge his own. He is perhaps reluctant to admit he likes Winnie since he never seems to make any traction with her. He makes one step forward with Winnie, but then something gets in the way, so he inevitably ends up back at square one. I don’t blame him for being gun-shy in admitting anything. Not admitting feelings spares any hurt in the future.
However, in the process, Kevin’s dishonesty towards himself ends up hurting not only himself but also Winnie and Paul. Paul asks Kevin multiple times whether Kevin has feelings for Winnie; Paul doesn’t want to go out with Winnie if anything is there. In addition, Winnie seems a little perplexed and disappointed when Kevin suggests the date. Viewers can see in her expressions that she has feelings towards Kevin. When Paul and Winnie do go out together and end up having a good time, Kevin gets naturally jealous and tries to intervene. He and Paul end up in an argument in gym class. Meanwhile, Winnie, who plans another date with Paul, points out to Kevin that it was his idea in the first place.
When I first watched the episode few months ago (I had to re-watch it again for this recap), I didn’t really like the plot device of matching Paul and Winnie together. In my second watch, however, I saw that it made sense that Paul and Winnie would naturally get along; both of them seemed to have more fleshed out conversations than Winnie and Kevin did. Also, my repeat watch made me think that it was natural for Paul to develop a crush on Winnie after spending so much time with her. Most importantly though, I realized the plot brought up an excellent point on human nature: sometimes a threat of losing something is what it takes to be honest with what we want. Kevin fully admits his feelings for Winnie to himself only after he thinks Paul and Winnie would be a couple.
In the end, Paul and Winnie don’t end up together as Winnie breaks it off with him because she likes Kevin. Winnie doesn’t outright tell Kevin this -in fact, she gets mad when Kevin tells her that Paul told him (though Paul only conveyed it with a look). I hope that in the next episode, Winnie and Kevin do end up together as I would be interested in seeing how they acted as a real couple instead of the continuos back and forth.