Smeared in rave glitter and under neon lights, Euphoria returned with season 2 and despite the long wait, some things haven’t changed. Not two minutes into Sunday’s season premiere, a woman struts through a strip club in slow motion. There’s bisexual lighting. Billy Swan’s cover of “Don’t Be Cruel” sets the scene, the prominent soundtrack another staple. Finally, there’s the most Euphoria flourish of all: an exposed, erect male penis, jiggling slightly while its owner gets shot in each leg, providing the reassurance some fans might be looking for.
How unreliable is our unreliable narrator?
In Rue’s special episode, it’s pretty overtly hinted at about how she might be an unreliable narrator. When she was talking to Ali, she mentions about how herself and Jules wanted to get matching lip tattoos. This is an event that we saw happen in season 1, where some random tattoo artist inscribes upon the inside of their lips. However, when Ali ask Rue if it happened, she says no. So that’s the point where we go, oh, we can’t necessarily trust all of what Rue- despite her omniscient status on the show- tells us.
This raises some questions about the conversation between Rue and Jules, leading up to their New Years kiss at the end of this episode. Keep in mind, at this point Rue has just borderline OD’d and when she first talked to Jules, couldn’t really articulate anything of value perhaps because she was withholding or simply because she wasn’t in a physical state to do so.
Now suddenly in the aforementioned conversation, we see Rue apologising to Jules, where she is seemingly very in touch with her feelings and articulates them clearly, feels vulnerable, and most of all what she says feels meaningful. My first impression of this sequence was highly cynical, because it felt like a dream-sequence and something that wasn’t happening.
Of course, when put through a magnifying lens it either feels like bad writing on the show creator’s part or somewhat intentional, but it can’t be both. And at this point I think I have enough faith in Sam Levinson and his team to make this feel like the latter rather than the former.
Fez And Lexi? Fez and Lexi!
Fezco came out of season 1 as everyone’s favourite drug dealer, and the fact that we got this episode feels an acknowledgment that Sam Levinson does in fact read the message boards.
Based on his character arc in season 1, Fez is one of the more morally sound characters on the show. I’d go as far as to say he’s at least top 5 (I know that’s not a tall order). We see him genuinely care about Rue, and as seen in the cold open, we see him quickly take up a caring role for Ashtray. Put it simply, out of all the people on the show, I’d trust Fez the most to guide me through a terrifying situation.
Not in stark contrast to this, we have Lexi. The characteristically pure sister, to the always on edge Cassie. She is someone who is one of the centrepieces of this episode, as she and Fez have a thoughtful and (corny alert) ‘cute’ conversation on the couch at the party, which ends with Fez giving Lexi his number, and then ends again with Fez giving Nate the business as Lexi watches on.
I’m really into this combo. It has that West Side Story-ish vibe to it, in a sense that Lexi’s character traits are quite similar to Maria, and well apart from Fez being a hard-core drug dealer, he has that trustable and moral side like Tony. We even see, right at the end where Fez is beating the toxic masculinity out of Nate, that although Lexi is taken aback by the grotesqueness, she has that weirdly accepting look in her eye, signalling she isn’t completely deterred by the prospect of Fez even after the brawl (correlation to Tony’s role in the whole Jets-Sharks feud).
We of course, know very little about the nature of justice that Fez is going to face. All that non-withstanding, given the whole shift from, ‘The OC, but make it heroin’, to a more Breaking Bad kind of show. A Lexi-Fez duo might be a grounded side-plot for Fez, and allow a little more screen time for Lexi.
Jules’ character was Thor: Ragnarok’d, but did it need to be?
The term Thor: Ragnarok’d refers to a character going through a brush up in the writers room to get the audience more on their side. The special episode in Jules’s case was her Ragnarok.
Jules is a very interesting character, and I personally wasn’t aware that she was someone a lot of people weren’t rooting for. According to interviews with the cast and crew, her’s was a character some audiences did not respond well too, so they tried to do a lot of fixing up in her special episode.
It’s well below the level of Rue’s special episode, but made for an informative watch during my post-episode 1 come down. Jules is clearly not the same character that left us at the train station at the end of season 1. The special gave us more insight, and perhaps added a little weight to Jules’ reasoning for leaving Rue. The added details about everything her mother did and struggled with, and how Jules projects that onto Rue was an interesting added tid-bit.
I personally felt, the added contextualisation we got on certain parts of season 1 from Jules’ perspective in the special episode weren’t necessary, but are not a pointless addition. They contributed to making that special feel like it wasn’t part of the Euphoria-canon, and it will be interesting to see how the writers choose to bed-in those characteristic changes for Jules throughout this season. However, some of the line-readings in episode 1 were what I thought, a direct effect of the special episodes. In particular, Rue and Jules’ conversation outside about when Rue relapsed, was a key flashpoint of the episode, and the baggage we carried over from the special gave an added weightiness to those scenes.