Unlike last week’s self-contained carnival episode, this week Euphoria takes us on a thought provoking journey through the various teen relationships occupying the show, with the focus predominantly on Maddy. We begin by seeing her past from the glitzy beauty peagants through to her toxic relationship with Nate. It turns out she wasn’t a virgin after all and is actually quite the manipulator. As Rue narrates these scenes, we catch up to present day where Maddy was choked by Nate at the carnival.
After this brief prologue, we begin with Rue missing drugs but as a second prize she focuses on Jules instead, almost obsessively. As she begins to pleasure herself, Rue’s Mum bursts in causing a slightly awkward and strangely humorous exchange between them to occur. Things appears to be on the up for Rue with her Mum and their relationship is finally beginning to rekindle without the wall of drugs between them.
Unable to hide the raw red marks across her neck, Maddy is eventually found out at school. Given her molly incident at the carnival and inability to eat thanks to her comedown, at school she’s called into the Principal’s office where she’s asked if Nate is the one responsible. Maddy doesn’t crack but he’s determined – proceeding to quiz various kids around campus before calling Nate (and his Father) into the office.
The night of the carnival saw Kat have an epiphany about men, prompting her confidence to sky-rocket. An interesting bit of juxtaposing imagery follows as Kat stands next to a shop with a Calvin Harris model poster on. However, she’s still angry at Ethan for what he did so she hooks up with a random guy, leading to an intimate encounter in his car.
Maddy’s Mother decides to press charges, much to the horror of her daughter. Cal meanwhile, is told to speak to his son before doing anything else. He tells Nate to keep his head held high and not to pay attention to the people around him as he’s marched out of school and into the local police station.
Maddy is taken down to the station as well where she squares up to one of the officers, after throwing a milkshake, before having her hoody forcibly removed. We see the pictures of her neck in high definition – it’s not pretty. In a room next door Nate is interviewed where he tells her he grabbed her by the arm but didn’t choke her. He does tell the police she was high on MDMA though but it’s not enough to prevent Nate from being suspended.
Juxtaposing Maddie’s sexual history, we see Rue’s self-confessed brief and embarrasing hook-ups with a lack of meaningful emotion. Besides what she’s feeling with Jules, she’s never been in love. After a good talk with Ali at the rehab centre about it, Rue admits the real truth to everyone in the group. She wasn’t clean all those times she said she was – it’s actually been 13 days – however Jules is the one who’s really helped her through this time.
Later that night, Rue and Jules head to the roller disco together but as her friend comments on Rue’s euphoric mood, Jules freaks out and heads to the toilets.
Cal heads back to the familar hook up spot at the motel but midway through his time with a random guy he has second thoughts. He talks to him about the rage his boys are feeling and how scared he is they’ll follow in his footsteps, wondering whether what he’s doing affects them. While out driving, Maddy receives a text from Nate telling her to meet him at the hotel off Exit 27. Hopeful, she speeds up toward the rendezvous point where we ironically find out it’s the same hotel Cal left moments earlier. Nate and Maddie then meet and embrace while Rue falls asleep on a terrified Jules.
Euphoria continues to deliver decent characterisation wrapped up with thought pr0voking ideas. This week it’s all about juxtapositions and this idea is flirted with throughout the 50 minute episode. From Kat comfortable in her own skin next to posters of skinny models or Rue’s lack of passion compared to Maddy’s adventurous sex life, all of these ideas poetically bounce around the different characters.
While the style this week continues to deliver in true Euphoria fashion, the narrative itself is what takes centre stage here. Seeing the cracks begin to form in Rue and Jules’ relationship feels like it could spell disaster for Rue’s rehab later on down the line too. However, all the characters are given an equal amount of screen time here and it’s partly why Euphoria works as well as it does.
Euphoria delivers another very good episode this week, one that offers enough substance with the plot whilst pushing some thought provoking questions around relationships in the process. Out of all the teen dramas released this year, Euphoria has been the most impressive. Quite where the show will go from here remains to be seen but in the meantime, Euphoria offers one of its most interesting episodes of the season.