Last week’s premiere was a great showcase for Sydney Sweeney, whose Toni Collette-level eye work and ability to emote terror had Twitter demanding her own A24 horror movie. This week, we’re blessed with more Sweeney reaction GIFs as Cassie develops an unhealthy obsession with Nate and stresses over the possibility of Maddy finding out. It turns out that watching Nate having a near-death experience was the worst thing that could happen to this girl right after their hookup, as her feelings for him have gone from drunken lust into “I can fix him” territory.
We open on Maddy and Cassie rushing an unconscious Nate to the hospital while Rue relays Nate’s inner monologue in a voiceover. Nate imagines an alternate universe where he pursued Cassie during their sophomore year instead of Maddy. This fantasy, like much of the show, looks like an early Lana Del Rey music video. The two of them lay by the pool in their picket-fenced backyard while Nate rubs Cassie’s impregnated belly and they have sex under red strobe lights and on top of a bear skin rug. This already upsetting sequence becomes Nate’s nightmare when we see flickers of Jules taking nude selfies—a reminder of his dad’s sex DVD that’s in Maddy’s possession. When he slowly awakes from his coma, he’s greeted by Cal at his bedside doing his best impression of a comforting father. But the mere sight of him sends Nate into a seizure. Oh, how the tables have turned on Dr. McSteamy.
After Nate’s released from the hospital, he and Cassie continue their secret sexcapades. It’s hard to tell if these two even have conversations or whether Levinson just likes showing them have sex. Nate warns Cassie that Maddy will be more mad at her than him if she were to find out. This is a correct read. But from Nate’s mouth everything sounds like a threat.
Meanwhile, there’s some slightly less interesting drama brewing amongst another triad. Rue runs into Elliot and Jules at school and is forced to introduce them to each other. Rue is nervous that Elliot will reveal that they did drugs together at last week’s party (he doesn’t). And Jules rather hilariously misreads her awkwardness as a sign that she likes him, despite the fact that Rue has shown negative interest in guys throughout this program.
Rue and Jules’ speedy reunion last week raised a few questions. I personally need a little more convincing that these characters should be in a relationship and not just close friends. Maybe it’s because Rue’s character is portrayed so asexually compared to the rest of the cast, but I’m often distracted by how platonic and sisterly their energy is whenever they’re on-screen. In general, I think Levinson tends to underestimate the emotional investment humans have in people they aren’t having sex with. And television history shows that the stakes in those relationships are just as (and oftentimes, even more) interesting to explore. This show is already so consumed by unhealthy, codependent relationships that it would be interesting to see how those issues manifest in platonic form.
In other news, Fez has a new roommate in Faye after she pushed the manager of the motel she and Custer were staying in off a balcony for saying “really mean things.” Seeing her in this setting reminded me of the 2017 Sean Baker film The Florida Project and its star Bria Vinaite. Adult performer Chloe Cherry shares the same childlike earnestness in her delivery and even kind of looks like her. There’s a moment where she gets unnecessarily close to Fez’s face while he’s eating breakfast to tell him “good morning” that made me laugh. Together, she, Fez and Ashtray feel like a drug-ridden Island of Misfit Toys.
Maddy, still clueless to Cassie’s betrayal, is receiving flowers from Nate, who only wants to reconcile so he can attain his dad’s DVD. She also has a job babysitting a rich couple’s child. The main perk is getting to try on the mother’s (played by Minka Kelly) designer wardrobe. We get a montage of her slipping into cocktail dresses and taking selfies until the couple returns home, and she has to speed-clean her closet. Kelly’s presence this season is interesting, seeing as though her most notable role was on a popular high school show, Friday Night Lights, as cheerleader Lyla Garrity, who was also involved in a love triangle. She gives Maddy a rub on the hand after unzipping her dress that could be indicative of something sexual. But that’s also just how Levinson captures most interactions on this show. I’m hoping we get more of a The Bling Ring/Parasite scenario out of this relationship.
Then there’s Kat, whose storyline this season already feels like an afterthought. Last season, her arc was a bit of a mess and didn’t feel as confidently executed as her peers’. It felt like an easy exit route from all the cam girl stuff for her to find happiness with a sweet, nerdy boy. I also could have predicted that she would become bored with him after a few months of dating. Likewise, this episode, we mostly watch her reckon with her disinterest in Ethan with some very strange dream sequences.
In the first, Evan walks out of her bedroom and gets murdered by a Jason Momoa clone, who then proceeds to take Kat from behind. Later on, a bunch of Instagram influencer-type women appear in her bedroom to give her some poorly-written girl talk that ends with all of them crowding around her, chanting “love yourself!” This scene probably would’ve worked better as a phone call with one of her girlfriends as opposed to this farcical moment.
What’s great about Euphoria on a pure entertainment level is that we can expect every episode to culminate in one particularly hair-raising event. However, once you become familiar with Levinson’s language, you know the more time he takes to build tension, the less likely these moments are to end in something tragic. Likewise, after intimidating Cassie into revealing Nate’s assailant, Cal shows up to the gas station with a gun in his pocket that he ultimately doesn’t use. When he returns home to get on Nate about hanging around the wrong people, Nate responds that his and Fez’s entire beef is because he slept with Jules. Of course, Cal didn’t make Nate bully Jules and become a snitch. But he’s right that his father isn’t in a position to lecture him on practically anything.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger of Cal asking Nate if he has the DVD. The moments between this terrifying duo are bone-chilling to say the least. But I’m hoping we get more of them because Jacob Elordi is pulling out an impressive, understated performance.
Unfortunately, Rue’s sobriety struggles are already starting to feel repetitive and underwhelming compared to other conflicts. Lexi also doesn’t have much to do in this episode besides observing the craziness around her. But I’m crossing my fingers for more Lexco content in future.