Cassie and McKay
Back for another week of teen angst, Euphoria returns with a more straightforward story, one that ditches some of the impressive editing and stylistic ticks for a much deeper dive into the main plot line of the show. It works reasonably well too, with an intentionally disorientating sense of time added to try and keep up the same flair and style seen in the show up until this point.
This time around, we begin with a look at McKay’s intense pressure from his father during his upbringing. This leads to him on the cusp of going pro in football but ultimately missing out due to falling in love with Cassie and doing the math on his odds of actually making it into the NFL. However, tensions brew as McKay has issues with the way Cassie dresses which opens up a rift between them that only seems to be growing.
Meanwhile, Kat starts webcamming properly and making a good amount of money from it. Ironically, she heads to the Halloween party dressed as a nun while Rue feels left out as the only sober one, sensing that something is off with Jules. The way she conveys this sickening knot in her stomach is really well written and throughout the episode we see through her sober lens the damage this is doing her.
With Nate’s reputation completely shattered, he finds solace in Maddy, hooking up with her while keeping an eye on everyone else from a distance. He then continues his crusade to besmirch Jules’ reputation by printing out topless photos which he later uses to blackmail her.
Back at the party, Rue patches things up with Fezco but all eyes are on Cassie as she starts dancing with the boy from the carnival. Her and Mckay’s relationship is in a strange place and via a flashback we see him jumped by his roommates midway through having sex with Cassie, thrown on the floor and humiliated. As he uncontrollably sobs in the bathroom, Cassie texts Lexi and tells her what’s happened. Composing himself, McKay arrives from the bathroom again but this time the romance is all but gone between him and they engage in an uncomfortable and hard to watch sex scene.
We jump back to present day soon after where Cassie takes the boy upstairs and things begin getting heavy, just as McKay walks in the front door to the party. Dressed as an angel, Jules stumbles outside and falls in the pool prompting Rue to go and save her. She spouts out lines from Romeo and Juliet while Cassie has second thoughts about cheating on McKay. As she refuses his advances, he throws down some seriously harsh words, telling her she’s not interesting and wishes her good luck with her boyfriend.
A musical montage then kicks in as we see all our characters in various emotional states before seeing Nate head to Tyler’s to give him a proposition. He’s going to confess to choking Maddy and to make matters worse for him, Jules is in on the act too to give this statement some depth. Given she has incriminating photos held against her, Jules doesn’t have much of a choice despite the policewoman telling her false evidence could lead to 7 years in prison. As it happens, this incident with the police and Tyler actually happened prior to the Halloween party as Nate shows up with Maddy, much to the disdain of Jules who looks on from a distance.
Unlike the opening episodes that really doubled down on the damage drugs do to a family and allowing everything else to spiral around this plot point, Euphoria really settles into a more familiar and rigid high school drama format now that Rue is sober. With the characters already established there’s certainly a good amount of tension and the episode itself has some really nice moments, especially the rising tension around Nate’s ordeal.
While the latest episode doesn’t quite hit the same lofty artistic heights others have in this series, with a distinct lack of impressive camera movements and stylistic ticks, Euphoria feels much more akin to other shows in this genre. Still, when it comes to plot progression, Euphoria certainly moves things forward and delivers another highly enjoyable episode, with an even better soundtrack to boot. Quite where this one is likely to go next remains to be seen but HBO’s teen drama has been a thoroughly enjoyable watch over the weeks and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.