Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers from Euphoria’s Season 1 Episode 4.
To recap tonight’s episode, it was high-paced, flashy, and smoothly blended to incorporate everyone’s carnival experience. The producers reached creative heights that gave us a dash of every character plot.
First and foremost, we got to see more into Jules’ (Hunter Schafer) backstory. When she was 11 years-old she was forced into a psychiatric facility by her mother and had to face things most people don’t at such a young age. We learned about she’d been ‘sad for a really long time,’ her self harm (a triggering scene that gets the job done), and a glimpse of why her mother was no longer in the picture. Once her father was the only one left in the picture, she started her transition at 13 and by 16, Rue (Zendaya) tells us about her promiscuity. I can see a parallel between her and Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) story almost. Jules’ overall type are men in long-term relationships who are adamant about being straight. Like Kat, I assume Jules is struggling with feeling validated or loved, and is trying to use sex to find it. Yet, I can’t help but feel as if the show is missing the mark here. We can see this in the way they glaze over Jules’ mental health issues, how having to face an environment like a psychiatric facility impacts her now, or what her transition truly means to her. Yes, we get a few shots of younger her staring in a mirror trying to ‘explain’ to us why she hated her body, but it hardly goes into the technicalities of her reason for feeling this way and is quick to discuss the sexual aspect.
Moreover, Rue meets up with Ali (Colman Domingo), her voice of reason, where he points out that she’s only reaching out to him because all the doors have closed on her. He weighs in on her situation with Jules and compares it to her addiction, and though she argues, it’s hard not to agree. I adore the idea of Rue and Jules together, but it’s not realistic with her being stuck on Tyler, aka Nate (Jacob Elordi), whether it works or not. Rue is riding on the aftershocks of Jules’ emotions and I’m afraid of what damage it’ll cause.
We then jump into our glamorous carnival scene, a high intensity whirlpool that takes up most of the episode. We peer more into Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and McKay’s (Algee Smith) relationship and ultimately learn that he is ashamed of her sexual history when he rejects her in front of Nate. Cassie and McKay part ways and when she finds Maddy (Alexa Demie), who’s also having her set of relationship hiccups, decides on the bright idea of trying Molly. The two have drastically different experiences. Cassie embarrasses herself on a carousel and Maddy boldly swears at Nate’s mom. At this point, we get to see a new low for Nate. He grabs Maddy by the neck and slams her into one of the trailers. When he’s confronted about his phone, he tries to apologize for getting too angry and lashing out at her, only because she has the upper hand in the situation. He uses the typical woman-comforts-abuser trope so Maddy sympathizes with him despite his behavior. This power switch can also be seen in his father Cal (Eric Dane), where after Jules goes up to him (around his wife) he sputters just as Nate did, defeated only because she had the upper hand.
Other minor storylines include Kat’s hookup and Gia’s (Storm Reid) experimentation with drugs. I know trying weed is something a lot of teens do, but I can’t understand why Gia would even think to try anything drug related after seeing what happened to her sister. However, she realizes that after one of McKay’s twin brothers brings it up after Rue confronts her. As most teens do, Kat misreads the situation with Ethan after seeing him talk to a beautiful girl who was only a coworker. After this random decision to hook up with a guy at the carnival, I have this looming suspicion that she’ll get pregnant. I don’t want her to fall into that trope, but this show thrives off of crappy things happening to people who always get caught up in crappy things.
Now to the dreaded meet up with Nate and Jules. The whole scene is pretty ominous. From Jules riding her bike through dark woods, with bright lights trailing behind her, almost as if someone was following her and and a dark lake right behind her, I was on edge. I admit, Nate’s behavior threw me off. He seems sincere and I actually believe he won’t do anything terrible. However, once Jules says she doesn’t trust him, that front cracks open. It gets worse when he tries to act out what his father did to Jules by putting his finger in her mouth and asking her to “open wider,” which in itself is mortifying. Once she rejects his advances, he officially snaps and uses the nudes she sent him against her. He goes on about how she’s distributed child pornography and what her life would be like if he gave it to the police. Yet, Jules doesn’t back down and calls him out, which leads him to grab her up. He lets go before it gets worse. Between her standing on the edge of the lake and Nate trying to act out his own father’s videos, I’m not at ease until he’s completely out of frame. I hate to say it, but I think Nate, in his own twisted way, cares for Jules, but he also cares for his family. He’s tossed in between trying to ‘protect’ his family’s reputation but also trying to keep what’s left of his relationship with Jules going.
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Once Rue’s settled, Jules knocks on her window, asking to spend the night, which leads Rue to ask what happened with the meet-up. Jules leaves it at, “he doesn’t look like his photos,” and they get in bed together. Rue holds Jules and after looking at each other, they kiss. It’s bittersweet. My guard is up with Jules and I can’t figure out whether she’s confused or if things just got too real and she needs something safe like Rue.
In conclusion, this episode was definitely outside the box. To me, it wasn’t as groundbreaking as the one before, but the camera work was unique and kept me intrigued despite it being in the same setting for nearly the entire hour. I’m concerned for Rue. As Ali warned, and is seen warning her again in the upcoming episode, I don’t want her to switch one addiction for another. I would hate for her to depend on Jules when she doesn’t know if she’s all for her. And even if she was, Jules is human like the rest of us, and who knows if Rue won’t just relapse again if they find themselves at odds like last time.
Euphoria airs every Sunday on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.
Featured Image Via HBO.