‘Euphoria’: What you’ve missed so far

Artistic teen drama starring Zendaya returns to HBO Max for a second scandalous season


Tribune News Service

“Euphoria” star Zendaya plays drug-addicted teen Rue Bennett, who spirals out of control in season two of the show. Three episodes deep, her sobriety is far out the window, adding to the catastrophic tone of the series.

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

Glitter, neon lights, cut-out dresses, high heels, lip injections: if you’re in tune with modern pop culture, you probably know where I’m going with this.

Since its initial release in June 2019, HBO’s hit teen drama “Euphoria” has hooked viewers and taken over the internet.

The show returned to the channel and its subscription-based streaming platform, HBO Max, on Jan. 9 for season two.

Since then, new episodes have been released at 9 a.m. every Sunday, and fans have taken it upon themselves to get creative in the six days in between to hold themselves over until the next episode airs.

Season one left off with the uncertain sobriety of Rue, played by Zendaya, and concern for Jules, played by Hunter Schafer. The season had left her seemingly spiraling out of control with a sex-crazed trip to the city and as the consequences of sleeping with an older man, who ended up being Nate Jacobs’ father, began to reveal themselves.

If you haven’t seen the show, you are probably lost, but yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds.

I promise, I won’t just glance over the sexual predation that was imposed upon Jules by Cal, Nate’s father, and the drama and shrapnel this has caused for the relationships in the show, because that is where “Euphoria” picks up for season two.

Season two episode one picks up with Rue narrating the life of her sweet-but-scary drug dealer Fezco, played by Angus Cloud.

The story of Fez, who is more like family to Rue than a friend, surrounded his relationship with his grandmother in episode one. This in-depth view of the dealer explains to the viewers how Fezco, and his little brother Ashtray, became the drug lords they are today.

After hearing of Nate threatening Rue and Jules in the wake of Nate finding Cal’s recording of his sexual encounter with Jules, episode one ends with Fez beating the daylights out of Nate at a New Year’s party.

This was not the only drama to unfold in the episode for young Jacobs, however, as we saw in the infamous bathroom scene that was satirically recreated by fans on the TikTok platform, which emphasized the ridiculous outfits of “it girl” characters Maddie and Cassie and their sex-crazed lip filler love triangle.

After a bathroom rendezvous with his toxic ex-girlfriend’s (Maddie) best friend, Cassie, at the New Year’s Eve party, in episode two of the current season, Nate, although the villain for much of the series, has sweet fantasies about escaping his never-ending cycle with Maddie once and for all and experiencing true bliss with Cassie. He ultimately, and maturely, ends things with the sweet-but-sensual Cassie after a steamy construction site scene in episode two.

This love affair consumes most of the episode, but leads up to Cal’s unexpected, but much anticipated, confrontation with Fez about beating up his son. Lexi, played by Maude Apatow, was visiting Fez’s convenience store, which is a cover for his drug deals, after their connection on New Year’s Eve, but met the consequences of her honest nature when Cal came strolling in, as he pressured her and her sister to give him the name of his son’s assailant.

This is an ironic encounter, however, because Cal is the reason for Nate’s beating, and although having a strained relationship, the two seem to go to extensive lengths to protect one another. Or are they protecting themselves?

This tense face-to-face left fans wondering what was next for the complicated sexual-abuse conflict, as Cal confronts Nate as to “why a drug dealer would want to beat you up” in his office.

Here, Nate releases his frustrations, forcing Cal to finally face the taping and statutory rape of Nate’s classmate, Jules.

Instead of feeling remorse for indirectly causing his son’s beating and hospitalization, Cal is more concerned about the incriminating disc, which the conniving Maddie had taken into her possession from Nate’s hiding spot after her last toxic hookup with him, which adds more complicated layers to the story.

Many fans took to remaking the dramatic father-son office scene, which seems silly and unrealistic when not performed professionally as many of these sarcastic remakes have revealed.

Episode three gave fans an unexpected backstory to the making of a villain: Cal Jacobs.

Jacobs, played by the “Grey’s Anatomy” McSteamy actor Elias Kacavas, was given a chance to tell the story of how he came to be in episode three, which included a shameful love affair with his high school best friend Derek, which was cut short, or for forever, when his girlfriend became pregnant.

This may explain, although it does not justify, Cal’s secret motel sex affairs with men and trans-women like Jules, as his sexual expression and identity development was stunted by a straight relationship, and children, with his eventual wife. His toxic masculinity, which was passed on from his father, and which Cal then passed on to Nate, could have molded him into the monster he is all on its own, though.

Aside from the obvious drama, there was more subtle conflict revealed in episode three, starting with its depiction of Rue.

Something unique to the series are artistic scenes as seen in Sunday’s most recent episode, where there are alternating camera angles and transitions and asides of characters in comedic proportions.

Rue’s drug addiction has once again spiraled out of control, and it would be far too optimistic for viewers to anticipate anything other than a complete crash-and-burn to come in upcoming episodes.

Episode three also raised questions about Jules’ trust in Rue and the solidity of their relationship. Will we see more of “Rules” in upcoming episodes or even seasons, or will it implode like everything else in the series?

“Euphoria” airs at 9 p.m. every Sunday on HBO.


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