It’s here. The Euphoria season two finale – a moment we’ve anticipated with dread and excitement – has finally arrived. And it feels appropriate that this concluding chapter is bittersweet, both in quality and plot.
As with any episode of Sam Levinson’s high-stakes high-school drama, there is a lot going on. The first half feels dedicated to fulfilling the firework theatrics and brawls promised by last week’s cliffhanger. Meanwhile, the second half is calmer and more interested in hitting the show’s emotional buttons. But while the tears were certainly flowing, the mind was left boggling at where exactly this leaves us as an audience.
Don’t get me wrong: a cliff-hanger was a given (seasons three and four have already been confirmed), but did Levinson have to leave us grappling with so many? The plot holes are gaping (has Laurie suddenly forgotten about the $10,000 Rue owes her?) and the subplots are left trailing (does Lexi know why Fez missed her play?) It makes for a somewhat unsatisfying end but with that being said, Lexi’s stage manager sums it up nicely: “It could be worse. It could be boring.”
Much of this season has unfolded like a horror movie: there’s been tension, jump-scares, and copious scenes of Nate skulking around with a gun. But the terror of Euphoria’s second season belongs to Sydney Sweeney. Who would’ve thought doe-eyed, cherub-cheeked Cassie possessed so much range? Fresh from her breakup with Nate, she’s staring frighteningly through a glass panel into the auditorium where Lexi’s play is in full swing. The bulging eyes and red blotches blooming across her face suggest a Hulk-like transformation is underway – and what we get isn’t far off.
Cassie stomps onto the stage to confront Lexi about mining her life for art: “I know they hack the heads off women in Afghanistan or whatever, but it is nothing compared to living in my shadow…” she says sarcastically. Suze – bless her soul – does her best to intervene but kids will be kids and the scene ends with an on-stage brawl after Maddy jumps on stage, slaps Cassie in the face and chases her into the bathroom. Kat (who has had about 10 lines of dialogue this whole season) trails after her.
This is just the beginning
Later in the bathroom, we see the girls licking their wounds. Cassie is teary-eyed with a nasty gash on her forehead where Maddy slammed her head into a brick wall. Meanwhile, Maddy’s makeup remains immaculate – the only sign of warfare being a bruised ankle she’s icing with a can of Coca Cola that she holds between her perfectly kept manicure. An olive branch is extended when Cassie offers up the fact that Nate broke up with her just moments earlier, but those hoping for a reconciliation will be disappointed. “This is just the beginning,” replies Maddy before walking away. The soundbite was used in the promo clips for this episode as a tantalising teaser for epic drama ahead, but seen in context, it’s a sad reminder of the cyclical patterns of abuse – and what lies ahead for Cassie if she continues on this path with Nate. When Maddy says it, it’s both a diss and a warning: you can almost see pity in her eyes.
Heads will roll
The last episode all but signed a death warrant for at least one Euphoria character. It was only a matter of who: Custer, the dealer-turned-FBI informant; Faye; Ashtray; or heaven forbid Fezco himself. Things pick up where they left off: Fez is getting suited and booted to see Lexi’s play (and he’s got roses!) but it doesn’t take long for things to take a turn for the worse. When Custer tries to get Fez and Ashtray to confess to Mouse’s murder on tape, Faye proves where her loyalties lie and tips Fez off to his plan. But then Ash slits Custer’s throat without realising a SWAT team is just outside. Fez tries to take the fall but Ash locks himself in the bathroom. A dramatic shootout ensues with the police ensues and Fez is shot in the fray, but it’s Ash who ends up dead – going out in a blaze of bullets right in front of his brother’s eyes. At least, we think he’s dead. We’re 99 per cent sure he’s dead. But with no body to confirm...
Make. It. Stop.
OK nobody is saying Dominic Fike doesn’t have an angelic voice, because he does – but did Euphoria’s season finale really have to dedicate four whole minutes to Elliot’s acoustic guitar performance? Absolutely not. We have storylines to resolve and friendships to mend, people. This is not the time.
Putting Rue First
We do see some resolutions – kind of. After Lexi’s emotional play, Jules finally plucks up the courage to say hi to Rue – the first time they’ve spoken since episode five. Whereas season one Rue would’ve taken Jules’s hand in hers and walked off into the sunset, season two Rue is wiser (or more broken) and she kisses Jules on the head before up and leaving. It’s sad – but as RuPaul says: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
This wouldn’t be a Euphoria episode without at least one scene of Nate recklessly driving. Still reeling from Lexi’s play, Nate speeds down the highway and loads his gun – but for who? When he arrives at a warehouse blasting Kylie Minogue, the answer is all too predictable. Cal is inside with his new friends, living it up. “You don’t get to ruin our lives and just move on and be happier,” Nate tells him, revealing that he’s had nightmares ever since he discovered his dad’s sex tapes aged 11. Nate’s warpath will not be derailed by Cal’s apologies. He takes out the gun and a USB stick, vowing to take revenge. It’s only when we hear police sirens outside that we realise Nate’s turned him in to the authorities. I must say, it feels pretty good to see this loose thread tied up, at least.
I Missed You
Euphoria is not a happy show. There’s drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse; making an audience feel good is not at the top of Levinson’s to-do list. As such, we have to take all the crumbs of joy we can get – and the season finale gave us one big bite. After the play, Rue tells Lexi how much she loved it and how much it meant to her to see herself and her hardships portrayed on stage. Seeing all the pain she’s been through makes Rue hate herself a little less. The confession leads to a heart-to-heart on the floor of Lexi’s bedroom as they realise they’re just two girls who lost their dads trying to make sense of it all. Their renewed friendship is pretty much the only tidy resolution this episode gives us, so enjoy it.
Euphoria is available to stream on NOW (with Entertainment Membership)
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