Euphoria – Season 1 Episode 4 Recap & Review


Fairground Hedonism

After last week’s dramatic ending, we return to Euphoria for one of the most stylish episodes of TV this year. From the effortless switches between characters during one-shot dolly movements to a masterful use of colour to paint a neon-lit picture, Euphoria waltzes its way back onto screens for a visual and audio treat.

We begin with a look at Jules’ past which happens to be more troubling than Nate’s. As a child she was tricked into staying at a psychiatric ward by her Mum. A gorgeous shot involving blurred imagery in the corners of the frame follows, where we see Jules’ body image problems beginning. This unfortunately leads to her finding solace in cutting before we see her age through the years, eventually catching us up to where we are now – with Jules in love and Rue by her side as her friend.

As we cut back to present day, we find Ali and Rue discussing how she feels and he likens it to a drug addiction, given her obsession with Jules.

We then cut forward to the fairground where all of our characters are hanging out, with an impressive one-shot scene that effortlessly moves between each of the teenagers. Nate laments Maddy’s provocative outfit, Kat’s screaming on the ferris wheel while in the distance, Fez sets up shop.

Nate tells Maddy to go home and get changed while the camera swings wildly across to Rue and Jules who lock eyes and run up to one another, embracing in a long hug. Jules tells her things aren’t weird between them despite the kiss and Rue breathes a deep sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, Cassie feels humiliated when McKay tells Nate’s Dad they’re not dating but he tries to explain to her why he said that. In the end, they go their separate ways which throws Cassie into the path of Maddy and the two decide to do MDMA together.

Jules tells Rue that Nate’s Dad is the man she’s been sleeping with which is met with an incredulous laugh from her best friend. Rue doesn’t believe her of course, until Jules approaches the Chilli stand he’s working at and things get awkward. As the two then discuss the night’s events, Rue receives a phone call from her Mum and it turns out Gia isn’t answering her phone.

As classical big band music dominates the audio channels, Rue and Jules rush around the crowded fairground to try and find Rue’s little sister. Fireworks illuminate the sky while Cassie winds up cheating on McKay with a boy on the merry-go-round. Maddy meanwhile confronts Nate over the pictures on his phone.

Rue eventually does finds Gia, hanging out with a group of guys and smoking weed. Seeing her become a mirror image of Rue at that age is a harsh reminder of how damaging drugs can be on a family unit and Rue immediately senses this. She texts Jules to let her know her sister is safe and as she receives the message, Nate’s Dad arrives and pleads with her not to ruin his life. She agrees and tells him she’s not like that, much to his relief.

While Rue and Gia head home together, Jules meets up with Tyler for the first time.

Of course, Tyler happens to be Nate and their meeting is a little awkward to say the least. This quickly turns hostile when Jules rejects him and Nate threatens a child pronography lawsuit against her. She stands her ground though, throwing back an insult involving Nate’s Dad whom shes been sleeping with.

As their meeting turns sour, Jules heads over to Rue’s for a sleep over and after telling her the incident with Tyler was a flop, they embrace and start kissing. A stylish, horizontally rotating shot then ensues showing Rue and Jules finally together.

While the episode itself doesn’t feature much in the way of unique plot progression, with both Kat’s turmoil and Rue’s drug addiction taking a back seat here, Euphoria showcases some of the most unique, stylish camera work of the year. From the 360 degree camera shots to the exquiste framing throughout, every moment of Euphoria’s hour-long episode is a real visual treat.

There’s been teasing glimpses across the first three episodes of characters seamlessly shifting with the camera but here the isolated setting of the carnival really helps to ground this into one area. Rue does take somewhat of a backseat this episode, despite her initial concerns over younger sister Gia, and this allows Jules to take centre stage. It’s a smart move too and one that really does well to add some emotional weight when the inevitable hammer blow at the end strikes.

It may not have the most unique story and at times it does fall into the usual angst cliches you’d expect from this genre but the aesthetic treat is enough to elevate this episode into one of the best this season.

 

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