This review contains SPOILERS for the latest episode of Euphoria, for last week’s review, click here.
Background stories are important. Understanding the characters you’re watching and why they act the way they do is important for viewers. If you can’t understand or relate to a character, then that emotional attachment you need to care about them doesn’t exist. In the first season of Euphoria, we got plenty of background on our main characters, but this season has gotten us a bit closer to them. Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) play that she’s been planning only gets us more in-depth with these characters.
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Lexi’s play ‘Our Life’ is her telling the story of her, Rue (Zendaya), Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Maddy (Alexa Demie), and Kat (Barbie Ferreira). Euphoria essentially telling us who the main characters are and have always been. Lexi tells the story of her friendship with Rue and how Rue started doing drugs. She also tells the story of Maddy and Cassie’s relationship. How Maddy’s parents were going through a hard time, and Cassie was there for her the entire time. We also see Maddy and Nate’s (Jacob Elordi) relationship through Lexi’s lens.
Lexi and Fez share some scenes, and in them, she’s talking to him about the play. She’s looking for reassurance and wants to make sure she isn’t making the wrong decision. Fez tells her that as long as she’s doing it for the right reasons then she will be okay. That gives her the confidence boost to go ahead and do the show. With the help of Bobbi (Veronica S. Taylor), Lexi goes through with it and puts on her production.
Of course, you can’t have the actual people and their names in the show so she uses Jade as Rue, Marta as Maddy, Hallie as Cassie, Jake/Ethan (Austin Abrams) as Nate, and Luna as Kat. Things are overdramatic and telling, but nonetheless, they happened. The characters all have different reactions to the play. Rue is happy, she sees how Lexi has her portrayed and enjoys it. Maddy and Kat are at first offended, but as the play goes on they enjoy it. Suze (Alanna Ubach) enjoys every single minute and is a proud mother. Nate hates the play so much he storms out, and basically tells Cassie to get out of his life.
We see some images that aren’t in the play. Things like what happened after Maddy found out about Nate and Cassie. Rue and her mother Leslie (Nika King) talk in bed about Gia (Storm Reid), and how she’s been messing up in school. How Leslie will choose Gia over Rue if it comes down to it. There are also callbacks to Kat’s camera girl phase, and Rue’s father’s overpass after his funeral. Cal and Jules are even seen in a scene as a callback to the first episode in Nate’s nightmare. These are things that have significantly shaped these characters and the decisions they make.
We even get a dive into Lexi and Cassie’s relationship with their father. How Cassie tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but Lexi was ready to move on. Which explains the daddy issues Cassie was referencing in the last episode. Cassie loved her father or tried to, but he ultimately left them. Lexi accepted it because he was a bad parent, but it’s obvious Cassie held on and won’t let go.
Last week’s Euphoria, we saw Custer (Tyler Chase) tell Faye (Chloe Cherry) that he’s working with the cops. He told her to stay out of it, but not to tell Fezco (Angus Cloud) and Ashtray (Javon Walton). He shows up at their house while Faye is steaming Fez’s clothes. Every scene at their house is filled with tension and anxiety. Ashtray knows something fishy is going on, so he grabs a knife and goes to sit by Custer. Fez is trying to get to Lexi’s play immediately, but on his way out he senses the tension. This will unfortunately lead into next week as we get no indication that anything happens within this particular episode.
Rue and Jules (Hunter Schafer) still aren’t speaking, but they see each other in the restroom. Maddy and Samantha (Minka Kelly) are at Samantha’s son’s baseball game talking, and Maddy tells her she’s leaving. Samantha gifts Maddy a dress similar to hers. Remember last week, we saw the camera inside the clock at Samantha’s house. She knows that Maddy has been trying her clothes and jewelry on. This was either way of telling Maddy or simply just giving Maddy what she wants.
The timeline for this episode is very odd, but it works because we can see them converging as the episode continues. Fez never makes it to the play, and it causes us as viewers to be anxious. Sam Levinson did a lot within this episode that is just building to the next episode. Cassie’s meltdown after Nate leaves the play and the Fezco situation being the main two plot points. Also, Nate saying that the play was homophobic was a play on things. Considering his father’s recently unburied past coming to the surface.
Levinson plays on words and things that happen with his characters unlike anything else I’ve really seen. He knows his characters so well, that even the smallest things may miss you on the first watch. He makes you play connect the dots, and it works. I enjoy it every time, but this time it was different. Lexi showed Cassie she’s a bad friend, and she showed Rue that she loves her. There was a lot going on, but it’s easy to digest. Especially knowing what we already know about these characters.
Sweeney again gives us a great performance, as she has all season. She is showing us what happens as Cassie slowly becomes unhinged. The emotional range and breakdown ability are insane. The restroom scene where she is trying to stay composed, to the scene where she ultimately loses it after Nate leaves. Sweeney is giving us a lot to look forward to, and showing us she’s a good actress with a very high ceiling. Apatow also shows us that she’s a great actress and gives us more than just the shy girl watching everything.
This was another great episode of Euphoria. Levinson has been patient with this build-up and keeps throwing wrenches in everything. Constantly feeding us information that may not be important at that very moment, but ends up important later. It’s how you keep an audience engaged, and I applaud it. While I do think the show would benefit more from extra writers and directors namely ones that are women, it doesn’t hinder the show that there aren’t any. Levinson delivers another good episode in a great season and keeps the engine running. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Euphoria premieres on Sundays at 9pm/8c on HBO and HBO Max.