HBO series Euphoria follows Rue, a high schooler with a slowly worsening drug addiction, who has grown emotionally dependent on her love interest, Jules.
Season 1 ends with Rue telling Jules they should run away together to the city. Jules agrees excitedly. However, once the couple approached the train, Rue begins second guessing their plan, saying she needs her medication and she is afraid. Jules continues to push her to leave, though Rue is begging her to stay. Jules decides to leave without her and Rue ends up relapsing.
The season then closes with a fully choreographed scene with Rue and Labrinth singing, representing Rue’s fight against her addiction and her inevitable death if she continues down her current path. It’s quite surreal and really beautifully done.
With season 1 coming to a close, we are left with a multitude of unresolved plots that the audience was expecting to see resolved in season 2. The main antagonist, Nate, was in love with Jules. A strange man who wouldn’t show his face was sending a side character, Kat, large amounts of money online. Fez, Rue’s friend (and drug dealer) is getting threatened by a man named Mouse for money.
Viewers were definitely anticipating seeing how this would all be resolved, and season 1 set fans up for high expectations.
Unfortunately, despite having so many great qualities, I don’t think season 2 gave anyone what they were hoping for.
The first episode of the new season takes place at a new years party, where among many other happenings, Rue meets a fellow addict named Elliot. She begins spending time with him, they use together, and he later somewhat inserts himself into Rue and Jules' relationship. However, as Rue’s drug use affects her mood more and more, her and Jules grow apart, and Jules grows closer to Elliot.
Rue falls deeper into addiction, convincing a high profile drug dealer, Laurie, to give her thousands of dollars worth of drugs, promising she’d sell them and pay her back. Unfortunately, Rue doesn’t do this, and Laurie attempts to hold her hostage, seemingly planning to traffic her in order to make up her debt. Rue thankfully escapes, but this issue is never addressed again the entire season, even though it is shown Laurie knows a lot of Rue’s life (Laurie calls her by her full legal name, Ruby Bennett, despite only ever being introduced as Rue). This is just another plot point the writers of the show introduced that was not resolved and should have been.
They also gave practically no depth to Rue’s younger sister, Gia, despite many people wanting it and even expecting it, as most other characters got an episode dedicated to them and their backstory. Instead, we got an episode with a few clips of Gia and Rue’s sponsor Ali talking, where he tells her it is okay to be angry with Rue. The audience wanted a lot more.
I think they could’ve done something really interesting by having Laurie kidnap Gia while Rue and all the other main characters were at the play in the last episode. This would’ve moved the plot forward and set up an interesting story for Gia, Rue, and her mother.
Another issue was that the character Cassie didn’t really get any real punishment in the season. Cassie began a relationship with her best friend Maddy's ex-boyfriend Nate (yes, the one who is also in love with Jules). The whole season they were hinting that Maddie was going to beat her up and really teach her a lesson. Instead, Nate breaks up with her after Cassie’s sister’s play has a 3-minute homoerotic dance number to “I Need a Hero," mocking Nate’s hyper-masculine persona. Cassie becomes enraged, storming on the stage and giving a weird speech about how if she is the villain for wanting to be loved, so be it. Maddy and her have a girlish tussle. Nothing exciting, despite the show explicitly stating many times that Maddy could fight.
The only topic that was arguably resolved was Nate reporting his father to the police for sleeping with minors (including Jules), which he videotaped for his own pleasure. Nate then took the recording, which was on a CD, and gave it to Jules. In this moment, they shared that they both meant everything they said about liking each other.
However, even this is debatably muddying the story even more. 1) Are Jules and Nate finally getting together? 2) What if there are more copies? Cal (Nate’s father), Nate, or Maddy all had access to this disc to make copies. And in Maddy’s room, where Nate held her at gunpoint to get the CD she had stolen from Cal, a sigh says “smile, you’re on camera.” 3) If there are copies, why?
There are so many other smaller issues and inconsistencies that one could blame on poor writing, but ultimately, it just seemed messy and disappointing. The season didn’t even end with a cool musical number, unless you count “I Need a Hero.”
Though season 2 didn’t meet my expectations, it’s still worth the watch, and I’m excited to see what comes of season 3.