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Will Maeve Return In Sex Education Season 4? Emma Mackey Future Explained

Whether or not Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) will return in Sex Education season 4 was left unclear by the ending to season 3. Since the beginning of the Netflix show, Maeve has been one of its most important characters, with Mackey a breakout among Sex Education's cast. Her relationship with Otis (Asa Butterfield) is right at the heart of the show, as well as charting her own personal growth alongside that. Season 3 was no exception, but it did end with big changes for Maeve on the horizon.

After more will they/won't they with Maeve and Otis, the pair finally seems to get it together again in Sex Education season 3, but the timing means fate is against them. Maeve has the opportunity to go on a study programme in the United States, which is a chance that's far too good to turn down, meaning she and Otis have to part ways once more (albeit on much better terms). It has been confirmed that Sex Education season 4 is happening, but Maeve's role in that remains to be seen.

Related: Sex Education Season 3 Fixes Its UK/US School Confusion

The easy assumption is that Maeve will have returned to England by the time of Sex Education season 4, whether that's to resume studies at Moordale (should it be saved) or a new school. Since she's going abroad for a term, then it would mean a a time jump of a few months, which is also what happened between Sex Education seasons 2 and 3. That would be the simplest way of dealing with things, allowing the show to pick back up with Otis and Maeve and then perhaps filling in some gaps via dialog and flashbacks. It would arguably be more interesting to open Sex Education season 4 with Otis and Maeve apart, further fleshing out their identities away from one another and showing how they cope with with the separation. This could be particularly great for Maeve's journey, as seeing her in America would be a chance to freshen up the show's storytelling and explore new sides to her character.

Since Sex Education has already mixed UK & US influences for its school, then it could further be interesting to show what a real American school looks like and make the distinction clearer (something season 3 does in terms of a British school, with Moordale adopting uniforms among many new changes brought in by Jemima Kirke's headteacher, Hope Haddon). At the same time, though, it could also leave Maeve out of its storytelling - simply writing her out as being in America - until it's ready for her to return. Actress Emma Mackey did spark some speculation over her future with comments to Hunger Magazine, saying: "It’s a complicated thing to me. Sex Education is so momentous as a concept, as a show, and the cast are phenomenal. I genuinely care about them all a lot and I made lifelong friends. We’ve kind of grown up together. But the bittersweet nature of it is that I also can’t be 17 my whole life." 

Of course, that is not confirmation (nor close to it) that Mackey is leaving Sex Education, but it does get to the truth of the show's limited lifespan, which it is surely nearing the end of (be that season  4 or 5). Mackey herself is very much a star on the rise, with an upcoming role among the impressive cast of Kenneth Branagh's Death on the Nile, as well as playing Emily Bronte in the biopic Emily, and likely many more opportunities to come. Sex Education's cast is so talented, and most of them relative unknowns at the time of starring on the show, which means the series could face longer waits for filming if they have increasingly packed schedules, which will be something else to navigate (and which could further necessitate explaining actor character absences in the story). As it stands, Mackey's Maeve will presumably be back in Sex Education season 4 - her story remains unfinished, and the show's ending will surely come down to her and Otis in some way - but the show itself may not have much longer to run.

Next: Sex Education Season 3 Ending Explained: Do Otis & Maeve Get Back Together?

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