‘Euphoria’: Where relationships crumble

Sophie Borislow, Contributing Writer

Jada Roth

The second season of “Euphoria” was a rollercoaster. This season explores relationships and addiction on a different level than the first season. “Euphoria” follows a group of high schoolers in southern California. The show brings the audience into a different universe using Labrinth’s music and captivating cinematography

The first episode began with Ashtray killing Mouse, Fezco’s drug dealer. “Hit ‘em Up” by Tupac set off the season, leaving me with no idea of what I was about to get into. From the start, this season had a different aesthetic.

If season one was a house party at 2 a.m., season two should feel like 5 a.m., way past the point which everyone should have gone home,” director and writer Sam Levinson states in the HBO Max after-episode exclusive, “Enter Euphoria.” Every episode was shot on Kodak Ektachrome, giving the season a tone of reflection and memory. 

Opening with a background on Fezco’s grandmother, the viewers gained an insight into how Fezco and Ashtray came to run their business. Rue, Ashtray and Fezco arrived at the New Years party after their encounter with Laurie, their drug dealer. Cassie and Nate had come together after he found her at a gas station. Lexi is searching for Cassie, but Nate and Cassie are in the bathroom hiding from Maddy. 

A new character played by Dominic Fike — Elliot — is found by Rue doing drugs in the laundry room, and the two quickly become friends. The episode wraps with a scene of Fezco beating Nate and leaving him hospitalized. The portrait film shots of the episode were captured with a flash of a 20K spotlight, revealing the characters’ emotions at the start of the season. Rue and Jules rekindle their relationship, beginning Rue’s relapse into addiction. 

The montage of Cassie and Nate in the second episode was shocking. The deliberate usage of Jules substituting Cassie addresses Nate’s struggle with sexuality. The two continue with their drama as Nate drives them to a construction site to break things off. Cassie bolts out of the car and runs blindly into this construction site, where she and Nate hook up. Maddy becomes increasingly suspicious, as she calls them both and neither picks up. 

The development of Cassie and Nate’s situationship gives insight into her obsession with him, shown in the third episode. At the same time, Rue is struggling with her addiction as Elliot insists he meets her mother, leaving Rue terrified he will expose her relapse. Her plan of keeping her addiction a secret leads Rue to manipulate those around her, shown in her fights with her sister Gia and Elliot. The highlight of this episode is a vignette of Cal’s life in high school, complete with a grainy, oversaturated look. 

This episode also shows Cassie’s hopeless love for Nate and how it is impacting herself and those around her. Her breakdown in the school bathroom illuminates how the secrecy is leading to a breaking point. 

The fourth episode focuses on the love triangle between Elliot, Jules and Rue. Jules and Elliot have a budding romantic relationship, leading to Rue and Jules fighting. Elliot then admits to Jules that Rue has not been sober. Rue and Jules are featured in a beautiful art-inspired montage cosplaying different romances in films such as “Titanic,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Brokeback Mountain.” 

The Cassie and Nate situation quite literally erupts as she projectile vomits in the hot tub. The combination of the overwhelming guilt of lying and her love for Nate drives Cassie to illness. Later, Cal returns home drunk and partially nude to curse out his family but not leaving without expressing how Nate’s whole life is a secret. 

The most emotional and heartbreaking scene in this episode is with Rue. “When Rue gets really high, she’s able to enter this place between life and death, where she can reunite with her father,” Levinson said. Rue enters a church and hugs Labrinth, who turns into her father. She is losing her battle of being a “functional addict,” and the end of the scene is a haunting shot of Rue swaying in her kitchen alone. 

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