It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for and simultaneously dreading since last season: Rue’s mom, Leslie, finally knows that Rue’s not sober. Immediately on the defensive, Rue accuses Gia of ratting her out, but, of course, it wasn’t Gia, because this isn’t about weed. It’s about pills. As soon as Leslie says that she knows Rue’s doing opiates again, Rue’s visibly taken aback. Normally someone who has her comebacks on deck before she’s even spoken her last one, Rue is a bit speechless for once.
Snapped back to it, Rue goes on the attack against Leslie. Rue tests Leslie with the prospect of Rue being drug tested, before Leslie drops, “Jules told me everything.” Again, Rue’s speechless, stopped in place. A slow turn around before Rue’s at it again, searching for her suitcase half full of drugs only for it to be gone. Desperation reaches its peak without Leslie understanding the depth of the amount of trouble Rue is in now without that suitcase. With her pills gone and Leslie insisting that they can take Rue to the hospital to deal with the withdrawal, Rue’s progressed to aggression and intimidation.
“You’re not a good person, Rue.” -Leslie
Rue turns from aggressive to self-hatred once Leslie tells it to Rue like it is: she isn’t a good person. This is especially painful due to the parallel with the last episode where Rue experiences a high where she says that exact phrase to her dad who then reassures her that she is good. The contrast between her two parents is striking, so you can only imagine how difficult it is for her to process it. In brutal Rue fashion, she goes in on Leslie, saying that it’s a shame her dad’s dead, because it doesn’t allow them to properly critique Leslie’s lacking parenting skills. Rue turns to violence after she keeps daring her mom to hit her before she shoves Gia, Leslie hits Rue and then forces her from Gia’s room. Being literally shut out from her funnel for her anger, Rue rages out, destructively searching the house for her pills until she kicks the door down as Gia and Leslie huddle in fear.
“You wish I was different? So do I! You fucking hate me? So do I!” -Rue
Continuing her tear against the physical house itself, Rue’s internal destruction is spewed out as wishes for herself to be different and for her self-hatred to be known. Rue starts with anger and evolves into a sobbing desperation for the pills right back to rage again. Rue knows her life is literally on the line for the suitcase and now that the slim option she had to repay Laurie is gone, her dark fate feels solidified. “I want to get clean. I can’t do it…I don’t want to be here anymore,” Rue sobs, eager for her mom to reveal the suitcase’s location. The further Rue strays down the depression path the more honest she is about her mental health and how truly dark her mind is right now. It’s something that she’s rarely truly open about, which is why when she rages out again and Jules’ voice comes from the other room, she’s taken aback yet again.
Knowing that Jules heard everything that she said, Rue cautiously walks into the kitchen to see her. As soon as Rue sees that Elliot is in the room as well, Rue’s calmer demeanor turns stone cold as she lashes out at Elliot, subsequently putting the pieces together that Elliot told Jules because they got together behind Rue’s back. Rue spews so much hatred towards Jules, hitting her where Rue knows Jules is most insecure, says that they’re breaking up and that Jules is the biggest regret in her life. Jules is definitely not an angel either, but no one deserves this level of hatred being spit at them.
“You are fucking dead to me. There’s nothing fucking there anymore.” -Rue to Jules
Jules maintains eye contact the majority of the time, surprisingly, as a show of how Rue’s hostility isn’t overtaking her. Jules doesn’t believe that this is Rue truly saying these nasty things. Jules stays assertive but reserved while Rue gets it all out of her body. “You just go around fucking sucking the spirit out of everyone!” Rue fires out with, trying to turn Jules into the toxic one at the moment. Jules left at Rue’s lowest point, something which is true, but real friends who truly care about you don’t do that, Rue asserts. It’s a relief of mine that the emotional aspects of the season one finale were finally openly discussed between them. The other issue is that Rue is so wound up that everything is solely from her side, there’s no empathy towards anyone else at this time. Every single time Rue lashes out at the people who love her in this episode it’s because she wants them to hate her so she won’t have to feel the guilt of disappointing them anymore. Before Elliot and Jules leave, Elliot reluctantly admits that he shouldn’t have said anything at all to begin with as it wasn’t his place. The thing is, however, this just reaffirms how terrible of a friend he is, regretting that he put Rue’s safety first for once.
Rue’s desperately sad, deeply grieving her dad and feeling like she’s going crazy in the process. After breaking down again, Rue agrees to go to the hospital with Gia being sure to pack their dad’s red sweatshirt with the rest of her things. Once in the car, Rue admits that she relapsed as soon as she got out of rehab, finally coming clean about all of the lies she’s told about her sobriety. Leslie brings up rehab and Rue flips out, saying that she thought it was just the ER and not rehab, as she is extremely pessimistic about her chances of success. Afterward, Rue admits that she was about a month away from killing herself. It’s all just so devastating and difficult to hear, as it should be.
The tension is bursting as Rue begs to get out of the car, overwhelmed with emotion, waiting for the stoplight to change, so Rue whips out of the car. She apologizes profusely to her mom as Leslie and Gia scream for her to get back in the car. As soon as she exits the car, it’s sensory overload as she runs through traffic. It’s visually and auditorily very intense with the rush of danger in the middle of a busy street, Leslie and Gia freaking out, Rue’s labored breath and running. Rue’s slapping her leg to keep it going as she limps to an intense Labrinth original as nightfall hits and she’s zapped of all energy laying in an alleyway as sirens blaring are off in the distance.
After resting a bit, Rue’s off to Fez’s, but he doesn’t answer, so her search sends her to Lexi’s. She’s in such an intense amount of physical pain, but Rue’s really trying to keep it as much together as she possibly can. All of the girls are hanging out, so when Rue walks in, they’re all happy to see her, especially Maddy, which is both unexpected and sweet. Lexi’s mom comes around to see Rue, too, blurts out a “you look terrible. I mean, really terrible,” before she starts in on questioning Rue about her life. The more that Rue is forced to have this otherwise pleasant conversation the more that Lexi is noticing Rue’s physicality, her incessant huge yawning and her not-so-subtle ways of attempting to hide her body’s pain. Finally released from the conversation, she rushes to the bathroom and searches for pills, which she doesn’t find. Instead she steals some earrings and rushes to leave only to find Leslie waiting for her downstairs.
Sweating profusely, Rue does not want to hear any more about getting clean and going with Leslie. Rue could just “take it one day at a time,” like Cassie says encouragingly, but instead Rue goes for the metaphorical gut punch. Remember back at the beginning of the season when Rue saw Cassie get into Nate’s truck? Well, Cassie should’ve been more careful. “How long have you been fucking Nate Jacobs?” Rue questions a very shocked Cassie. Rue twists the knife further, Cassie goes into full denial and panic mode, Lexi’s hand-over-mouth gesture is full on my reaction, Kat’s shocked, and Maddy, well Maddy goes through the surprised stages very, very quickly. “I’m literally gonna get violent,” Maddy rages as she goes full on fuming towards Cassie, understandably. For Cassie to previously say that she’s crazier than Maddy only to then immediately run away from her, it’s hysterical. Cassie’s decisions have been quite frustrating all season, so for her to try and cover up her own mess by asserting that you can’t trust Rue because she’s a drug addict—Cassie, my girl, please, please get it the hell together.
In all of the dramatic chaos, in the middle of an already tense intervention for Rue, Rue manages to sneak out to go to Fez’s. Rue is rough and somehow even more fraught than before as Fez answers the door. When Fez tells her that he doesn’t keep any product at the house since the raid, Rue creeps into Fez’s Grandma’s room to steal her pills. Unfortunately for Rue, Fez catches her, genuinely sad to see her going through withdrawal like this, but hoists her right out of his house. Rue should know better than to take advantage of a friend who kindly offers you Pepto Bismol in your time of need.
Next in her dreadful night, Rue quite easily breaks into a rich family’s house. She’s barely able to keep herself awake and moving at this point with every step now a laborious effort. Rue helps herself to jewels, cash, and more before the couple comes home, gets their gun, and Rue limps away, somehow. Consistently this episode shows the dark and dangerous lengths Rue will go to in order to make her withdrawal go away. It’s the most important thing to her in her life right now and it’s dreadfully sad to see her run herself down like this and be so careless with her life.
Jewelry jingling in her pockets, Rue winces as she walks her way to Laurie’s. However, before she can get there, she has a run in with the cops and partakes in a parkour chase sequence that Tom Cruise would be proud of. The necessity of Rue making it out of the chase without being arrested is her motivation, it’s an effective use of the combination of Labrinth’s thumping ‘Yeh I Fuckin’ Did It’ and the frantic camera movements and editing. Rue hopes that she doesn’t die as she crashes through heavy traffic once more, but the sensory overload is once again supremely overwhelming for her. After racing through a birthday party and literally running on a lit grill, Rue escapes the police after she hid in a trash bin.
“Please, God. Don’t let me die.” -Rue
Huffing it to Laurie’s, we already know that this won’t end well, as Laurie somehow knows Rue’s full name now, Ruby Bennett. Laurie’s eerie calm doesn’t get any less off-putting, as she claims she’s never gotten angry in her life and utilizes her Tupperware pitcher straight from the eighties, when she gives Rue a pep talk where she over-the-top empathizes with her. Knowing that Rue isn’t likely to come up with the money she owes Laurie any time soon, Laurie insists that being a woman means that even without money, Rue can always get what she wants by using her body as currency. Rue doesn’t overtly think much of it, but it’s deeply disturbing to hear Laurie say for a second time how okay she is with sex trafficking.
Seeing how rundown Rue is, Laurie says that she only has intravenous morphine left in her stash and she knows that Rue only does pills. Laurie gets Rue into the tub, so weak she’s barely conscious at this point, and that’s when Laurie’s perfectly pill-stocked suitcase is revealed, a woman with clear ulterior motives. The camera’s focus is on the morphine and it feels inevitable that the situation Laurie’s crafted will come to fruition. It does, as Rue gives into her first fix, since she feels like she wants to die. Throughout this entire sequence, Laurie’s being as motherly as she can manage, luring Rue onto this path that she claims is safe, when Rue’s concern is voiced. Slowly and out of necessity, Rue trusts Laurie and Rue’s so scared, but also thinks that Laurie knows what she’s doing.
Laurie inserts the syringe into Rue many times and once she finally hits a vein, pushing the plunger, the high hits Rue and she slides underneath the water. Rue’s mind flits back to herself as a baby being playful with her dad in the bath and seeing Gia in the hospital as a newborn. Heartbreakingly, we find Rue at her father’s memorial in their home, wearing her father’s sweatshirt, giving her father’s eulogy and how they’ll always be connected. It’s supremely heart wrenching, but also evident that these intense moments of grief are what play in Rue’s mind all of the time.
“Memories exist outside of time and have no beginning or end.” -Rue
Rue wakes up in a bed by herself, in clothes that are not hers, and with many needle marks on her arm. When Laurie was stabbing Rue in the bathtub, it appears that her marks now are much more substantial than they were with the original fix. Did Laurie drug Rue more than she was aware of? How long has Rue been at Laurie’s? What happened to Rue while she was in the peak of the high? Hopefully all of these questions will be answered in the next episode and it’s terrifying to think of the possibilities when Rue was in Laurie’s care, a woman who openly sex traffics. Rue struggles to get out of the apartment with a squawking bird, many locked doors and windows, and multiple dangerous men. She ends up finding an escape route out of a window that’s quite high up and is on the run again.
Leslie waits at home in the shuttered morning light. A door opens. We hope and suspect it’s Rue.
Zendaya gives an absolutely haunting and stunning performance in this episode. She always does, but when the narrative is solely focused on her, it allows Zendaya the opportunity to evolve Rue’s character more in one episode than she’s sometimes allowed to do so within a few episodes. By having a character centric episode like this, the episode’s flow is a lot smoother and substantially more satisfying as we’re allowed the opportunity to witness an entire tension-filled storyline from beginning to end without any intercutting with other less impactful stories.
More of this, please, even though it’s so heartbreakingly brutal to watch.