Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers from Euphoria’s Season 1 Episode 8.
Euphoria’s eighth (and final) episode of the season tasted bittersweet. The final fifteen-minutes left its audience in an existential crisis through an overly-interpretive dance that felt insubstantial for the tension built up by writer Sam Levinson. While the bulk of the episode was brilliant in its storytelling and presented stunning visuals, Levinson fell victim to the style over substance approach critics stress. Nonetheless, I think that’s what also makes the series special and has been Levinson’s point (in reflecting the lives of teens) from the beginning: uncertainty.
First and foremost, our most conclusive character was Kat (Barbie Ferreira) who was one of few characters that took a turn in a hopeful direction. Following that dreadful cam-session in the preceding episode, she reconciled with Ethan (Austin Abrams) and ended the night on what felt like an adorable coming-of-age love story. Contrary to the entirety of the hour, this was the sweetest moment presented in midst of the chaos with the other characters. I’m sure most were eager to see this relationship flourish, but I didn’t feel quite in tune with it. Her sudden change of heart felt rushed being that it was made solely based on two events that occurred in the same episode prior. The biggest issue here is that Kat is a complex character. Her insecurities come off as too deeply rooted for other people to be her source of self-awareness. Perhaps there will be more matters in the succeeding to gauge the gradual changes within her character.
Moreover, Cassie’s (Sydney Sweeney) story felt the most progressive. As someone who’s been misused in her relationships (even in the one with her own father), Cassie‘s wanted to feel in control of her body and not shamed for it. The scenes of her abortion during the finale were tense. During the procedure, she’s shown dreaming of being an ice-skater to the tune of Arcade Fire’s My Body is a Cage. As Sweeney explained in an interview, it’s symbolic. This dream, something she’s always wanted, is still within her, showing that she hasn’t completely given up on herself. The song alone is powerful in showing this initiative to take back the body she owns as well as to reflect this newfound respect for herself. I hope this revelation leads her to take the next step of leaving McKay (Algee Smith) (who wasn’t even there for the abortion he suggested) who’s insecure ways are hindering her growth terribly.
Unfortunately, Nate (Jacob Elordi) did not meet his fate, nor did he provide much development from his diabolical ways. Maddy (Alexa Demie), on the other hand, figured out Nate’s toxic ways. In an almost repeat of the first episode, they both attempted to make each other jealous, only to end up right back together. Except this time, Maddy tearfully calls Nate exactly what he is: abusive and psychotic. At the end of the night, he holds on to her while dancing, figuring that his manipulative ways aren’t as effective as they once were. Part of me is sure Maddy’s new understanding is partly due to the tape she found in Nate’s room that is likely of his father’s underaged conquests. If that is the case, was the tape she saw of him and Jules (Hunter Schafer)? What does she plan on doing with the tape?
One of the bigger loose ends of the episode was Fezco’s (Angus Cloud) run-in with his drug dealer Mouse. I was sure the worst would happen once I saw that he wasn’t after Nate and was planning on robbing the doctor who sells drugs to Mouse (which is way more dangerous than any Nate situation). Being that he is one of my favorite characters, and there were so many speculations over whether or not he would die, I was quite disappointed that the night ended on an inconclusive note. Following the formula of introducing characters and using them as a guide for the rest of the episode would have been perfect for Fez, who we all agree deserved an episode before McKay (who is nothing more than an accessory character). This also would have helped in the appreciation of seemingly secondary characters such as Lexi (Maude Apatow), who’s night could be summarized as a random urge to hook-up with some mystery person for the first time.
Furthermore, Ali’s (Colman Domingo) warning came true. After a harsh talk with Nate, who suggests Jules (Hunter Schafer) will forget she exists in the next ten years, Rue (Zendaya) hatches an impulsive idea to leave town with Jules. Of course, Jules agrees, but as the moments leading up to getting on that train approaches, Rue begins to back out of the deal. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, Jules leaves her behind. This sets Rue right back to where she started. She walks home, teary-eyed, where a montage to Donny Hathaway’s A Song for You plays through the bad things her addiction has put her through (I may have cried some). Once Rue makes it home, she clutches her father’s maroon hoodie and heads into her room, ultimately relapsing as implied through the interpretive dance and symbolic visuals while she sings to Labrinth’s All For Us. Following the initial panic and adrenaline while watching the finale, after a re-evaluation, I think it’s safe to say Rue actually isn’t dead. In fact, after the screen cuts to the credits, you can hear the sound of the birds or her ‘hospital sounds.’
Overall, the finale left a lot of unresolved feelings. The acting, visuals and music choices were spot on, but I think a few weak points in the writing caused some misconceptions amongst viewers. I hope Levinson takes the criticisms presented to him over the series and uses this to fuel the quality of his dramatic storytelling. Doing what it does best, Euphoria left us uncertain on what’s to come and the direction for our most beloved character.
Featured Image via HBO.