Rue shakily sits at the kitchen table with a lone Jolly Rancher in front of her. She’s dehydrated, exhausted, and shaking beyond belief. There’s so much visual focus placed on the Jolly Rancher that, clearly, it’s the only goal for Rue at the moment. It’s a source for Rue to focus her energies. Trying to unwrap it proves to be impossible at first. When Leslie sits next to her, you can see how difficult it is to watch Rue so weak and defenseless, being taken to energy depletion by a Jolly Rancher. Rue acknowledges that her mom is one of the rare, nonjudgmental people. For the sake of her respect for her mom, Rue wishes that she could say that all of the nasty things she said when she was high weren’t actually true, but Rue can’t.
“And even if I got clean today, no one would forget the trauma of me not being clean.” -Rue
Being taken care of by her family is necessary for Rue’s wellbeing, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy for her to accept. As Gia cuddles her in comfort and Leslie does all that she can, Rue’s still thinking about how for as long as she can remember she’s wanted to leave this world, as it would be better off without her. Like her family, Ali is one of those nonjudgmental people and Rue regrets how deeply she hurt him. She chokes to get the apology out and, to Rue’s surprise, he immediately forgives her. Rue says the words with such clarity, even though they’re so difficult to get out. She doesn’t believe that she deserves the forgiveness, but it’s evident that it’s exactly what Rue needs. Rue now has the strength to open up her Jolly Rancher. A satisfying moment for us both. Ali’s always supported Rue, no matter how hateful she is towards him, so his forgiveness means the world to her, as does his familial support when he comes over check on everyone. The attention he pays towards Gia is cognizant of how much Gia needs to feel heard and seen right now.
Nate didn’t know what happened between Maddy and Cassie, as he was obsessively exercising, once again, with his phone on silent. Nate was riding the post-Cal-leaving high so smoothly until he checked his phone. Unsurprisingly, there was a ton of contact from Cassie, but what rightfully scared him with Maddy’s silence. Maddy’s loyalty is unbreakable until you cross her, evidenced by her frank phone conversation with Kat about wanting to literally kill Cassie. Maddy clearly has watched a lot of true crime and she’s not messing around.
Kat’s empathetic as she talks with Maddy, while the camera reveals that she’s obviously on a date with Ethan at the same time. He patiently waits for her to finish her call, as he’s always very submissive with her, before they awkwardly kiss. After lying that she has a terminal illness, Ethan questions the truth and she proceeds to gaslight him into breaking up. While it’s noticeable that Kat put up a front to sabotage this relationship, she ultimately could’ve told Ethan the truth that she wasn’t feeling it anymore. Season one Kat was my favorite Euphoria character, but I don’t know or like season two Kat at all.
After mining her real life for playwriting material, Lexi questions whether or not she should put on her play after all. Talking it out with Fez seems to be the cure for her, as Fez breaks down that, even though Cassie may not react well to the play, everyone gets their feelings hurt at some point anyway. Since the season two premiere, Lexi and Fez’s dynamic has been by far the most intriguing addition. For the first time Lexi’s doing something for herself and she now has someone in her life who cares to ask questions about what she’s interested in and genuinely listens. It may seem like a basic request in a friend, but it’s hard to come by in Euphoria’s world. Their friendship is so cutesy and fun with very honest moments intertwined with such pure playfulness. They bond over their mutual love for Stand By Me and it’s such a welcomed, sweet moment between the two of them as they hold hands and cry when it ends. We need more of these quiet, emotional moments of connection, please.
It’s time for Cassie’s weekly breakdown over Nate and Lexi is tasked with hiding all of the knives. Cassie is in the deep, dark depths of toxic attachment to Nate, as she cries in the bathtub while he ignores her calls repeatedly. Cassie obsesses over the logistics of the situation as a comfort to prove to herself that she wasn’t in the wrong. What Cassie doesn’t understand is that, outside of the justifications she makes for her actions, there are other very valid perspectives where she is desperately in the wrong. She started screwing her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, a rule everyone knows not to cross no matter how much dating experience they have.
“The ‘don’t fuck your best friend’s boyfriend’ principle.” –Suze to Cassie
A scream reverberates through the Howard household as Cassie’s on the kitchen floor with a wine bottle opener to her wrist. “I just wanna die,” she desperately cries out. Lexi confronts Cassie about how she’s known Nate for a very long time and has always hated him, so the pieces aren’t adding up as to why she’s so invested in him now. For Cassie to hear Lexi say how sad it is that Cassie fell in love with her bully, it’s got to be a gut punch, whether she wants to admit it or not. To distract from her bad decisions, Cassie asserts that Rue isn’t a good person and instead wants to compare the Howard family and the Bennett family traumas. Cassie’s actions this season would be a lot more fleshed out if it was at least acknowledged that her poor decisions are out of desperation to distract from the trauma she endured with her abortion in season one.
Nate is taking Cal’s abrupt departure a lot better than Marsha is. There’s a certain freeness to her that we haven’t seen before, as she drinks during the day with Nate to bond, but that’s also coupled with her deep hatred for her own regrets. She wishes that she was never locked down with Cal. They talk about the complexities of Nate’s dating life, how angry and violent Nate was with Maddy when he choked her, which he adamantly denies doing. It’s difficult to tell whether or not Nate is in deep denial of his actions or somehow forgetful, as it doesn’t have the same weight to him as it would for anyone else. Nate knows that the one valuable thing he would get from Cal is his business, so in order for him to keep it thriving Nate has to get Cal’s incriminating tapes. Knowing that Nate would search for them, Cal took them, so instead Nate takes a gun.
“…because he gave me just the right amount of attention at the wrong time.” -Samantha to Maddy
Maddy arrives home from babysitting, walking through her room with ease as she changes clothes just before startling when she spots Nate in the corner of her room holding a gun. The audience is aware of Nate’s presence before Maddy is and it’s horrifying seeing Maddy basked in the soft evening light and Nate in the shadowed, grey hues of darkness ready and waiting. This visual framing does a great job of heightening the tension before the confrontation occurs. Nate sure does love ominously waiting in people’s houses to surprise them with threats and violence. It’s such a disturbing violation for him to be in her sacred space as she goes about her business. Nate’s not there to apologize and instead he talks about the disc and what’s on it. Initially Maddy tries to deny knowing about it and having it, but after he puts the gun to Maddy’s forehead, forcing her to lay down on the bed, her resolve erases. Nate puts his large body on top of Maddy’s and as she weeps he turns the gun on himself, pulling the trigger multiple times, trying to get her as terrified as possible. Maddy admits that it’s in her purse and he gets it before consoling Maddy by saying he was only joking and that there were no bullets in his gun. It’s moments like these that define how twisted Nate’s moral compass is, as he would justify inflicting brutal trauma on Maddy worth it so that he could get what he wanted.
Once again, Nate drinks and drives on his way to see Jules. (Whoever needs to hear this: please let there be less drunk driving in season three.) Jules takes a box cutter with her to Nate’s truck, just in case. Nate begins by apologizing for his threats, catfishing and more by saying that he was defending his worthless dad, surprisingly admitting that he would take it all back if he could. Whether that’s genuine or not we will never know. Nate gives Jules the disc, admitting that he hasn’t become a good person, “you should’ve seen what I had to do to get it.” Nate acknowledges that when he was pretending to be Tyler, he was still being truthful about everything he said to Jules. She was too. Nate doesn’t want to say the simple, honest truth as to why he’s doing something good for once: he’s still in love with Jules (probably). Nate briefly touches Jules on the hand before she goes back inside, scared. Notably, Nate watches her go.
“For what it’s worth, everything I ever said was true.” -Nate to Jules
Finally, Nate returns Cassie’s numerous calls and says that she can come live with him at his house. Cassie rushes at the opportunity, much to the sad dismay of Suze as she watches Cassie leave. Cassie and Nate exchange soft smiles with each other in the car and it’s deeply sad that Cassie’s mental health depends on her proximity to Nate like this. As they walk into Nate’s bedroom together, there’s a delicacy and patience to how he touches her. It’s both surprising and off-putting, since we know the violent extremes that Nate is capable of. “I ruined my entire life for you,” Cassie delicately murmurs before shoving Nate in frustration and he just takes it. Right now, it feels like he’s all that she has left and he knows it. It’s a guarantee that he’s going to continue manipulating that power he has over her as the season closes out.
Rue and Leslie enjoy a home cooked dinner by Ali and Gia. It feels easy in that everyone knows each other’s secrets. Ali paying special attention to Gia allowed her to come out of her shy shell a bit. Ali wonders if Rue’s truly hit rock bottom this time and if she actually wants to get clean. Since Rue’s in such a weakened state, it’s uncertain whether or not she’s telling the truth, but it does appear that she’s trying at least for the sake of her family. Rue purposefully doesn’t answer the rock bottom question, however, and focuses on all of the apologizing she’s going to do after she’s back from rehab. Gia’s justifiably skeptical, however, and Ali makes sure to validate her hesitancy.
“The hope…is what Rue has to find.” -Ali to Gia
So much of Euphoria is about hope that has been abandoned, so to flip that and have Rue needing to develop that confident hope for herself is a curious journey that I hope Rue actually gets to take. Unfortunately, Leslie finds out later that night that Rue’s potential rehab facility won’t take her. No matter how much desperate begging Leslie does on Rue’s behalf, there’s nothing they can do. It’s a grim ending to an episode where Rue was just starting to get a glimmer of hope for herself once more.