Episode four opens with a beautiful love montage where Rue and Jules recreate iconic intimate, romantic moments between partners. Everything from Titanic and Brokeback Mountain to the Snow White kiss (with consent), the vignettes are all visually stunning and emotionally stimulating, honestly. The Brokeback Mountain one was particularly spot on.
“I don’t think you understand how much I love Jules.” -Rue
Rue loves Jules so much that, when Rue’s high on far too many narcotics and can’t feel Jules going down on her, Rue fakes an orgasm. Apparently, that’s true love now. Unfortunately, Rue’s acting skills leave much to be desired and it’s obvious to Jules that Rue’s faking it. What I found most interesting about this moment is that Rue doesn’t actually care that her drug use is making it harder to physically connect with Jules and instead just states the ‘forced’ fake orgasm as a matter of fact.
Feeling insecure and startled by the situation, Jules seeks advice from Elliot who confirms: Rue faked it. Knowing how experienced Jules is with men but not necessarily women, Elliot takes it upon himself to demonstrate proper technique on her hand and allows her to reciprocate on him to show off what she’s learned. Things get heated quickly, their chemistry still building from the previous episode, and they feverishly kiss until buzz buzz—Rue’s outside. When Elliot goes to get Rue, Jules is visibly contemplating and processing what just happened. It’s a callback to the instinctual sexual responses Jules would have to others besides Rue, as Rue’s always been someone Jules has been surprisingly more restrained with.
Coming off of the sexual attention, Rue subtly does a line in the bathroom before Jules and Rue use Elliot for their mind games with each other. A small kissing dare with Rue and Elliot turns into big jealousy for Jules. Jules fires back with a dare of Elliot licking her stomach as Rue watches. The difference is that Jules is genuinely jealous, although she wouldn’t ever admit that to Rue, and Rue appears to be too high to care too much about it. How Jules doesn’t see how increasingly disheveled Rue has become is beyond me.
“I think if you guys are gonna keep up with these lesbian power games we should steal some liquor.” -Elliot
After the sexual mind games, the trio adventures to steal beer from a random liquor store when they could’ve just gone to Fez’s shop instead, but I digress. Elliot amusingly goes on a rant about the Kramer lookalike shopkeeper as a distraction, but, of course, they get caught and end up with a car window smashed in the process. Should’ve left the car running, my dudes. Was the beer really worth the scary adrenaline rush? Rue certainly thinks so, even with Elliot’s warnings that she can’t drink while she’s on the pills she snorted. Somehow Jules hadn’t noticed that Rue was drinking up until that point and the attention towards Rue becomes a lot more concerned, hostile, and accusatory, which sets a very low energy Rue on edge. “I can’t fucking stand you,” Rue mumbles before she tells Elliot to just drop her off on the side of the road. I cannot express how terrible of a friend Elliot is for continuously enabling Rue’s harmful habits, firstly, but I will never understand how he would leave a very high Rue who just mixed pills with alcohol on the side of the road. Additionally, neither he nor Jules care to check on her to make sure that she’s okay at any point in the rest of the episode.
Back at Elliot’s Jules showers, a clear sign that she wants to literally and metaphorically wash this terrible night off of her. In a borrowed shirt of Elliot’s and her phone purposefully turned off, Jules and Elliot continue where they left off with their make out session. That is, until Elliot stops it so he can come clean: Rue’s not sober and he’s been doing it with her. Even with all of that in mind, it’s visually presumed that Jules and Elliot had sex. I cannot justify why Jules is continuously written as someone who cheats on Rue. If anything, she’s been more invested than Rue in their relationship this season. There’s definitely a layer there where maybe Jules is in denial of all of the signs that Rue is using again, partially stemming from her history with her mom’s use, but there’s only so many times that Jules can deviate with Rue before the audience doesn’t believe their love anymore.
Stumbling into her bedroom window, Rue takes out her suitcase with far too many drugs taken out of it for having sold none of it as she was supposed to. She pops a bunch of pills and lets the high wash over her. Rue looks like she’s barely functioning and dazed with an unknown wind blowing her curls as Labrinth’s haunting voice overtakes everything. Between the vocalizations and the light washing Rue’s color out, it feels like he’s a guiding voice. “Lord I’m tired, hey lord you know I’m tired,” Labrinth murmurs as Rue hoists herself up and walks into a church in her imaginings. Labrinth’s at the front singing about struggling and the need to be done with this world. As Rue walks down the aisle of a packed church, Labrinth encourages her to him, singing to her with words mirroring her mental state. When Rue’s high she mentally travels to this church where she’s in between life and death, hanging on, a place where she can feel closer to her dad. A young, pained girl, so deep into grief she doesn’t know what to do with any ounce of it. The sequence closes out with a look at Rue from outside her room where she’s swaying alone. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching and painful to see.
A match is lit, candles are burning. Cassie looks both haunted and angelic as she lights the cake that the group of girls give Maddy for her birthday. Maddy’s sparkling and glowing, a girl who clearly enjoys her birthday, as she blows out her candles and accepts the thoughtful friendship scrapbook from Cassie. With Maddy’s gratitude hug also comes Cassie’s severe guilt written all over her worried face. Throughout the party, Cassie is pounding alcohol and, for a while at least, no one really notices or thinks anything abnormal about it.
This sweet, smiley birthday singing sequence is intercut with flashback moments to the previous episode when Nate showed up to Maddy’s night of babysitting. They have champagne and do some casual flirting and reflecting about their relationship. Maddy’s emotionally grown a lot since she and Nate broke up. Instead of her immediately clinging to him, Maddy’s more contemplative and observant about how he treated her terribly and how awful it made her feel. There’s such a heavy weight placed on Maddy’s realization about how deeply in love with Nate she was, but his love towards her was a different kind of love. Nate loved her because he thought that she was smart and cruel, but not really cruel. Coming from anyone else, this would seem like a realistic thing to say about Maddy. On the other hand, he knew that she loved him, but Nate’s unsure if he felt it from her, which says more about his emotional depth than her. Surprisingly for Nate, he looks a bit contemplative here, but it’s Maddy’s rawness that brings depth to the sequence as they embrace lost in thought.
“I feel like you ruined me forever.” -Maddy
“Why does it sound romantic when you say it like that?” -Nate
Infiltrating Cassie’s party brain are her argumentative flashbacks with Nate where Maddy’s brought up once again. Cassie is obsessing about Nate getting back together with Maddy, appearing mainly as jealousy, but it isn’t just that. Cassie knows how toxic Maddy and Nate are together and, as Maddy’s best friend, she wants to keep Nate away from Maddy. Nate’s asserts that Cassie’s always known that he still has feelings for Maddy, but, Nate, clearly that isn’t the point. Understandably, it’s difficult for Cassie to believe a compulsive liar like Nate after he’s spent the night talking about love with his ex-girlfriend who he just admitted to still having feelings for. Though they play this argumentative game back and forth, there’s a new type of comfortability and ease between the two of them, an openness that wasn’t there before. It doesn’t make their dynamic any less toxic than Nate’s with Maddy, but it’s definitely a more emotionally open relationship with each other. Their argument hits a peak, with Nate reaching his yelling maximum, where Cassie says that she’s crazier than Maddy and Nate should be scared of that. While his face is a deeply, frustrated red, as Nate doesn’t like being backed into a metaphorical corner, Cassie calmly looks at him, saying “Okay. Bye,” and walks away before Nate says that he loves her in an attempt to get her to stay. Cassie pauses on the stairs after he says it, but while season 1 Cassie would’ve immediately raced back up the stairs, season 2 Cassie knows how to play the long, enticing game with Nate and she leaves instead. Proud of her, but also deeply scared of what her end game is with him.
Cassie feels like she has two important things in her life left to lose: her relationship with Nate and her friendship with Maddy. So, at the same time, Cassie doesn’t care at all for her future or own well-being. This carelessness towards herself has been a running theme for her throughout the season as her mental health dwindles and she becomes more erratic and desperately aggressive. While it hasn’t been overtly explored onscreen, sadly, it’s presumed that a lot of her desperation to be in a relationship with Nate is her way of coping with the extensive trauma she went through with McKay and her abortion in the first season. Hopefully, at some point in the rest of the season, Cassie’s broken, fragile heart’s intentions will be a bit clearer.
“You have this image of yourself as so fucking sweet and innocent…but it’s bullshit.” -Nate to Cassie
While writing out Maddy’s birthday card, Nate encounters an absolutely blasted Cal as he jams out to INXS, once again. Cal talks, as Nate ignores him. “You are a part of me I will never understand. But I take full responsibility.” Grappling with his own unhappiness, Cal sees Nate’s volatile and toxic nature, knowing that Nate is the direct result of Cal’s own hatred of his suppressed self. Driving while very inebriated must be a trait that’s been passed down through the Jacobs’ family line. Cal whips out of his garage in his high school Jeep, dangerously drunk driving to the bar he now hasn’t been to in twenty-five years. Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Drink Before the War’ on the jukebox soundtracks Cal’s sad swaying by himself and also, it’s intercut with Cassie at the birthday party drunk dancing with balloons and singing it herself, too. A young man comes over and flirty dances with Cal until Cal treats the man like a young Derek and things get somehow more uncomfortable. Cal wants to wrestle like in the old days and no one else is down for a drunken tussle, so Cal gets thrown out and banned from the bar, a place of bittersweet memories. Cal’s teary-eyed at being shut out of this part of his history and masks that with an overabundance of rage.
With “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan bumping through Maddy’s party, the place is thriving, except for Kat, who sits alone outside, reflective. Maddy comes through with a thorough listening session and pep talk for Kat. As with Kat’s entire narrative this season so far, Kat’s sick of Ethan and she feels guilty not actually wanting what she thinks she should want: a nice guy who treats her well. Maddy’s honesty in this moment is filled with such adult nuance that it’s more surprising than it should be for someone who has been through a lot herself. Nate finally arrives, no extra attention paid to Cassie at all as he adorns Maddy’s neck with a stunning, expensive necklace. Pounding even more alcohol, Cassie puts on the skimpiest and most attention grabbing bright pink bathing suit, sexy strutting down the stairs as much as Cassie could while wasted. Both Maddy and Nate notice her, much to Cassie’s pleasure.
“Well, there’s a difference between what you think you should want, and what you actually want.” -Maddy
It’s hot tub time! Cassie is a drunken mess and Nate and Maddy have a fight over their potential reunion that, with so much talk of relationship commitment, escalates in Cassie literally getting sick. In the hot tub. On everyone. It’s hilarious. It’s disgusting. It’s a perfect, comedically timed scene and I need more of these on Euphoria. Chaos ensues and Cassie’s literally dragged out of the hot tub by her mom and hurried off, a hot drunk mess, as Nate eyes her.
Cal drunkenly joyrides home to the sweet, sweet sounds of INXS, of course, and is so wasted when he gets home that he pees all over his front entry way. “I think I’m lonely,” Cal earnestly says when questioned. Cal boasts a bunch of clichés as he talks about his masculinity, his strength, before essentially coming out to his family. Cal’s other son Aaron and his wife Marsha treat this outburst like he’s lost his mind, but Nate stands off to the side contemplative and it’s a stark contrast in reactions. Cal revels in his sexual preferences, rattling them off like they’re trophies he’s won, and yet Nate is still his biggest regret in life. Essentially, Cal blames the extents of his terrible double life on being trapped into having a family with Marsha, but now he’s come clean and has been set free. Cal leaves his family behind. I’m very curious as to if this is the last we see of Cal. It’s difficult to parse this storyline, because Cal is a truly terrible person and finding out why he is this way doesn’t justify any of that and, surprisingly, this sequence was probably one of the best written in the season so far. You feel such empathy for a person who has done truly awful and illegal things and that’s coupled with a truly captivating performance by Eric Dane.
“I love you. I’ve always been with you…” -Rue
We close on hypnotizing stylized shots. Ones with rain: Fez looking off in thought the rain reflecting, Jules and Elliot post-coital as she stares out at the pouring rain. Ones in isolation: Maddy floating by herself in a sunny pool, a baby Rue walking down the hallway, Elliot in Rue’s church, Lexi in the auditorium, Kat and Ethan as he drives her home from the party with darkness surrounding them, and Cassie quietly crying in front of a vanity of stunning flowers, the beauty around her but she sees and feels none of it. After a very emotionally draining episode, these few moments of cathartic visuals were necessary.