Image from the Euphoria Instagram page @euphoria
This is the third article in our series: “An Exploration of Euphoria.” To catch up on what you might’ve missed, check out last week’s article here. This series comes out on Sundays at 3PM PT before the new episode of Euphoria airs weekly at 6PM PT on HBOMax.
TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains discussions on topics such as substance abuse, violence, sexual assault, body dysmorphia, and other potential triggering subjects.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Euphoria on HBO.
This week’s episode starts by delving into Cal’s past during his high school years, presumably in an attempt to make us empathize with present-day Cal, even if it is just the slightest bit.
(In fact, in the behind-the-scenes video for this episode, “Enter Euphoria — S2 E3,” writer-director Sam Levinson reveals that his goal throughout the entire season was to stretch and play with the characters’ likeability as much as he could. The opening flashback does a really good job with this, but still leaves a lot of questions unanswered)
Cal (Elia Kacavas) spent every day with his best friend Derek (Henry Eikenberry).
- Cal and Derek drove to school together;
- They talked about girls together;
- They hung out after school together;
- They were on the wrestling team together; and,
- Cal gave a glance over at Derek’s penis in the locker room on occasion.
Just bro things. (The sexual tension between Cal and Derek is palpable.)
Cal also met Marsha (Rebecca Louise), Nate’s mom, in high school. She was forward, and she was the first person Cal had sex with. Marsha gave Cal head in his car, and swallowed it. He liked it. Cal also enjoyed the sex and particularly the act of eating her out. So much so that the experience wouldn’t be complete until he told Derek in enormous detail. (They definitely both got hard while they talked about it.)
One night, Derek and Cal get together by themselves, cropping Marsha out of the newly taken picture for once. They find themselves at a gay bar, where they know they can easily obtain alcohol, and quickly down 3 shots each. In a cute montage-esque scene, Cal and Derek play a song on the jukebox and dance together. (Not dance together but separately. Like, together together.)
The romance is hot and heavy as they both, unknowing of the other’s feelings, lean in to kiss. They break away for a moment, unsure of themselves, but come colliding back together in a heart-warming and passionate kiss. Cal and Derek are seen in a wide shot enjoying themselves as they slow-dance the night away.
(Note: Any fellow queer person watching this moment had to have tears in their eyes because this state of unknowing is incredibly relatable, and the composition of the scene made the feeling even more visceral.)
Cal wakes up the next morning to a phone call, but not from Derek; Marsha edited herself back into the picture. She’s pregnant with their first child. After probably one of the best nights of his life, Cal wakes up to a nightmare. Once the phone call ends, the camera zooms out as Cal cries, the realization that his life has changed forever washing over him.
My guess… we’re about to fall harder than we’ve ever fallen before.
Rue’s still high out of her mind. But, she’s found a way to work around the whole “relapse” issue for her friends and family for being a drug addict and getting away with it:
- Find a Cover Drug — Weed.
- Gaslight — Pretend you’re going to kill yourself if you don’t use weed.
It’s as easy as emotionally manipulating your sister into justifying your drug usage, so long as it’s just weed, and 1,2, well, you get it. A fool proof plan where she gets to keep doing drugs, and her friends and family believe she’s doing great.
Jules is convinced that Elliot wants to have sex with Rue, based on his vibes. Rue thinks she’s out of her mind. And, in a comical interrogation, Jules confronts Elliot about wanting to “fuck” Rue with Rue by her side. The rundown:
- Jules isn’t into men anymore. — Jules
- Jules is a whore… Slut. She was going to say slut. — Rue
- Jules doesn’t like Elliot because he’s sarcastic. — Jules
- Rue is the opposite of sarcastic (whatever that is). — Jules
- Elliot didn’t say that he didn’t want to “fuck” Jules or Rue. — Elliot.
- Jules has been “gangbanged by the entire galaxy.” — Elliot.
- Elliot wants to be friends. — Elliot.
This interrogation leads to them forming a trio and playing Truth or Dare throughout their daily lives, leaving Jules peeing in the middle of the street and Elliot asking fellow classmates if they’re into scat play. (Another hilariously written sequence.)
Jules and Rue begin to explore each other in a more sexual way than ever before, but Rue still seems distant from the whole idea of sex. Rue’s distant to the point where Elliot questions whether or not Jules truly knows Rue. To Elliot, Rue seems to lean more on the asexual spectrum. Finally Jules admits, “She’s not a sexual person.” The chemistry between Jules and Elliot simmers softly and grows in intensity throughout the episode, adding a potentially messy component to the three amigos.
(Note: Elliot’s interest and flirtatiousness with Jules, although cute on the surface, may have suspect motivations. Given:
- Jules is openly not interested in men anymore.
- Elliot knows.
His flirting may be activating the compulsory heterosexuality Jules is struggling with.)
Meanwhile, in a fantasy somewhat removed from the rest of the show’s tone and style, we see Lexi pretending her life is a TV show she is directing and starring in about her life (very meta). It’s obvious that Lexi is begging and yearning to actually take control over her life, seeing that so much that has happened within it (her dad leaving, her sister being the popular one, etc.) has passively involved her. Her solution:
- Write a play.
- Ask the principal nonchalantly about putting the play on (to which he casually says, “Sure.”)
- Put the play on.
- Actually take control over her life.
Cassie has no control of her life. She craves approval and attention from Nate. These days, she wakes up at 4am in hopes that the way she dresses and the way she does her hair will attract Nate’s attention long enough at school. It doesn’t work most of the time:
- A blue jumpsuit.
- Pigtails and pink eyeshadow.
- An exact replica of Maddy’s style and hair, which holds Nate’s attention for about two seconds (This is all she needs.) and leaves awkwardness between Maddy when she realizes what Cassie’s done.
- “A country music star,” which is a breaking point for Cassie as she has an emotional meltdown in front of Kat, Lexi, Maddy, and Rue. (Just kidding, she held herself together. Barely.)
At least this attention to detail gave Cassie a ritual and consistency in her life, something she’s never really had.
Kat is enormously unsure of herself and who she wants to be. At a family dinner with Ethan’s parents, the second-hand embarrassment reaches through the television screen and sits deep within the viewers’ soul. Kat is obviously going through something, but also nothing.
Cal, still having not forgotten about the missing tape, tries to approach Fezco about what he knows, which is arguably nothing. Instead, while being questioned by Fezco, Cal gets bludgeoned by Ashtray, a kid who is unnervingly eager to kill again after that whole Mouse situation. Fezco now knows that Cal slept with Jules and recorded it, unbeknownst to Jules. He suggests that maybe he and his son have a weird thing for sleeping with the same people, you know, because Nate’s in love with Jules. Cal finds this new information troublesome and swears off saying anything to the police. Fezco lets him go, leaving everyone fucking confused, bro.
Oh, and Rue, again. Yes, still on drugs. Yes, higher than before. A genius? Probably not, but let’s go over her business plan anyways:
- Approach a massive drug dealer.
- Suggest a seemingly, actually very brilliantly solid plan to that massive drug dealer.
- Say you’re going to go through with said plan.
- Take a $10k suitcase of drugs, for which you may be sold to dangerous people if you cannot pay it back.
- Bring drugs to an NA meeting with plenty of other addicts.
- Bring up your sponsor’s troubled past in an unnecessarily disrespectful argument with him, one of the only people trying to keep an eye out for you and actually aware of your situation.
- Don’t go through with said plan.
- Instead, do drugs from above said suitcase.
- Have a backup plan.
- Ignore Step 9.
“Hell, the Fuck, No!” Things are almost guaranteed to get worse for Rue as she spirals deeper into her addiction, as that beautiful shot put together by Director of Photography Marcell Rév shows Rue’s reflection in her closet mirror while the drugs take effect.
Oh, and Nate blows Cassie off to go see Maddy again.
“Hell, the Fuck, No!”
This episode, given its title, reminds us that we all have bullies. Big and little. Sometimes the worst people we have in our lives are others wanting to tear us down, and other times the worst person you can ever know is the person inside your head, ignoring all the warning signs and instead going with passion rather than reason. This season is shaping up to be a whirlwind of chaos and emotions as the storylines get messier and more intertwined, not shying away from the chaos and emotions most of us try to ignore in our lives.
Like Fezco, all I have to say is, “Hell, the Fuck, No!”
Author: Jaden King (He/They)
Copy Editor: Christopher Ikonomou (Xe/He)