Before Fez leaves for Lexi’s play, he confronts Custer about his unsettling energy. Custer relays that the cops found Mouse’s body, which prompts Faye to drop her glass on purpose and, out of view of Custer, she signals to Fez that the cops are listening. As Faye has been more present as a tertiary character this season, she’s grown on me a lot just as Fez has grown on her and her loyalties have shifted towards him. With this in mind, Faye talks about how Laurie killed Mouse and Fez verbally supports that accusation, as well, and it’s working temporarily until Ash takes the danger he’s sensing into his own hands and stabs Custer, killing him. As Custer slowly dies, Fez tries to keep him and everyone else as quiet as possible before they submerge the spy phone in soda.
Fez gives Ash a big slap to set the scene for Fez to take the fall for Custer’s murder. Even with Fez’s efforts, Ash is having none of it and instead he takes his guns and massive amounts of ammo out. Ash is firm in his decisions and upset, still refusing to hand over the weapons, before he locks himself in the bathroom. Faye tiptoes around the apartment and Fez desperately begs Ash to come out of the bathroom up until the cops break in and see Custer dead. The feeling of wanting to protect the other brother is mutual between Ash and Fez, so when the cops come down the hallway, Ash lets the gun rip, accidentally shooting Fez in the stomach. The cops hammer their bullets into the bathroom, shooting up, perceivably, every inch of it. The cops cautiously enter the bathroom and Ash fakes that he’s down, until he shoots a cop at close range. It’s at this moment that both Fez and Ash know that Ash is done for good this time. They make sad eye contact just as Ash is shot and they subsequently arrest Fez and take him away. It appears that Ash thought that this was the only way he could protect Fez and, unfortunately, it seems that Fez will still be taking the fall for the murders. The entire sequence is unbearable to watch as Fez relentlessly screams to protect his little brother until Ash’s dying breath.
A feral Cassie stomps her way to the stage like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum. Once on stage and drunk with what she perceives as power, Cassie mock applauds Lexi for unpacking all of her trauma on stage, as Cassie didn’t realize that Lexi had it in her. This forces their mother Suze onto the stage to attempt and fail to diffuse the situation, as Cassie taunts Lexi for living a life as a bystander and vocally embraces her role as the villain. The audience is so riveted by Lexi’s play that when Cassie talks about the in-real-life crossover of her stealing Nate from Maddy, the intrigue is kicked up even higher. It felt like an effective meta crossover of us watching Euphoria.
“It’s not her fault. She’s a writer.” -Suze
A recreation of Cassie being super high and happy on the carousel is then presented on stage, so Cassie, being the season two Cassie that she is, flips out to the point that Maddy has had enough. With a worried Kat following closely behind, Maddy races to the stage, whipping off her shoes, and slaps Cassie so hard it sounds like it was on the loud speakers. Cut to, Maddy throwing Cassie against a brick wall in the hallway, breaking her tamer approach. The girls end up in the bathroom, tending to their wounds. Cassie has a bloody nose and Maddy’s nursing her foot with her perfect nails still intact. For one of the first times this season, Cassie is honest with Maddy and admits that Nate actually broke up with her before Cassie went onto the stage. Ominously, Maddy replies sadly, “don’t worry. This is just the beginning.” It’s haunting to us and it’s both hopeful and looming for Cassie to hear that, as slow tears stream down her face. No matter how Cassie feels in that moment, all she cares about is feeling loved by Nate. I definitely do miss the Cassie and Maddy friendship from season one. Nate is not worth any of this hostility.
“Oh, this bitch needs to be put down.” -Maddy
A bit defeated, Lexi rallies and gets her play back up and running to finish it off. We’re back to Rue’s father’s wake, in which Rue continues to movingly eulogize her dad. Our Rue watches from the audience as this scene plays out on the stage, her counterpart detailing how his death felt like a movie, how it didn’t feel real. Juxtaposed with Rue’s defining trauma is Lexi’s: seeing her father in the hospital after a brutal accident mirrored with Rue being in the hospital after she overdosed. Lexi had two people that she loved suffering in the hospital and she blamed herself for not doing more to prevent both events. Lexi always been the caretaker to everyone in her own life. Play Rue repeats, “I miss you until I close my eyes,” and this is painful for Rue to watch, so she closes her eyes and takes a couple of intentional breaths.
One of the best parts of the entire play is seeing our characters react in the audience, which leads us to Rue seeing Elliot. Rue stopped by Elliot’s a few days prior to talk for the first time since Rue’s intervention. Rue’s gut instinct told her to be mad at him for snitching, but in reality, “I think you might’ve accidentally saved my life,” is where Rue lands. It’s refreshing for Rue to have an “I forgive you” with all of the apologies she has to make, so they end up in a calmer place. Elliot and Rue are on two different paths, where Elliot’s still doing drugs while Rue isn’t. Elliot punctuates his desire for them to still be friends, by singing Rue a touching song about their connection and how grateful he is for it. It’s a sweet yet disarming moment with how much Elliot is looking towards the camera into Rue’s eyes.
With his ever-present beer in the cupholder, Nate loads his gun as he speeds towards Cal’s work. I found it quite interesting that they’ve known where Cal had run away to this whole time and it was nearby. With an exit like Cal made midseason, you would’ve thought he was leaving the country or at least the state. Nate finds Cal hanging out with his friends and forces a supremely awkward hug on Cal. Nate’s clearly come for a confrontation, so he’s starts with how they relate to each other: “We both get off on hurting other people.” The toxicity running through the Jacobs family infects so many different parts of their personhoods. A teary-eyed Nate tells a story of how when he was eleven years old he found videos of Cal having sex with hookers in hotel rooms. Since then, Nate has recurring nightmares that Cal’s screwing Nate in the same way and, suddenly, Nate’s behavioral changes when he was younger begin to make more sense. Cal expresses his distaste at how he’s behaved in the past, but Nate doesn’t want apologies and instead just wants revenge. Nate takes out his loaded gun and slowly transitions it to the other pocket in order to grab out the USB with all of Cal’s videos on it. It was such an odd gesture for Nate to have a loaded gun and seem to posture with it, potentially to get Cal nervous, before switching the focus to the incriminating USB. Why would he have brought a loaded gun to begin with? Make it make sense, Nate. Cue the cops arriving to take Cal away with a watery eyed Nate looking back at his dad. Nate’s arc this season has been very confusing. Yes, he did a good thing when he gave the video to Jules and by turning Cal into the police, but other than attempting to create empathy for an evil person I’m not quite sure what the goal was here.
After Lexi’s play, Rue reconnects with her again. Lexi’s play was the first time Rue could look at her own life and not hate herself. They’ve both been through so much trauma, but Rue doesn’t know what to do with all of the emotions she feels while Lexi channels it into her writing. They bond over how they both think about their fathers a lot. With two seasons of Euphoria now, it’s evident how deeply Rue cared for her dad and how much she yearns for his presence again. She’s just so angry about how much left there was to learn from him. Rue doesn’t want to hold onto this pain and she wouldn’t be able to survive even if she tried to do so. When Lexi’s dad stopped showing up, she was relieved and it says a lot about their trust in each other that Lexi would admit that, as others could easily be judgmental. Rue asserts that Lexi’s dad isn’t totally at fault. He has a disease that’s controlling him and, even though he wants to get better for Lexi, he only wants to be better for her and not himself. “He loves you more than he loves himself.” Only Rue would be able to give such heart-wrenching honest and accurate wisdom to Lexi like this. Judging by how close they’ve gotten once again, I hope that we continue to see more of this supportive female friendship. They’re so good for each other.
The curtains close, Lexi and the cast take their bows, and Rue’s beaming from the audience. She sits and contemplates what she’s just seen as a hesitant Jules comes over to talk. Jules softly says that she loves and misses Rue. Rue takes a processing beat, turns and kisses Jules on the forehead. Without a word, Rue walks away. Throughout the episode there’s clear moments of Rue choosing herself instead of things or people that are hindering her health. She does the same thing with Elliot. Rue gets up and walks away from Jules, her first love, and finally chooses herself. Even though she was high for the majority of it and caused Jules a lot of pain, Rue hopes that Jules can forgive her. Voiceover continues with Rue staying clean for the rest of the school year. Rue is trying and that’s all you can really ask of her at this point.
“The thought of maybe being a good person is what keeps me trying to be a good person.” -Ali
Season two was extremely rough on every single character. Euphoria has never claimed to be a sunshine and daisies show, of course, but this season has been brutal to watch. Though, part of that is due to frustration with creative choices and character arcs, that is for sure. As always, Labrinth’s symphonies of brilliance are one of the best parts of the show and I’m grateful to now have his music soundtracking my life. No matter their arcs, the actors have done effectual work with their authentic and believable performances. I wish for less over-editing in season three. Yes, editing can be a tool to heighten tension between storylines, but using it less frequently between storylines can also result in moments of deep character development and audience investment in your story. More positive female friendship scenes need to be a priority. Any of all of those scenes from season two were the highlights by far. Prayer circle for Kat to have a fully realized arc, too. I miss our Kat so much and she deserves her screen time back. Lastly, please, let’s have less storylines about empathizing with truly awful characters and more moments of healing. There’s a way to explore darker storylines while also studying truth and hope. Choose to thrive in the light, Euphoria.