Euphoria is still heart-wrenching in its sophomore season

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

HBO’s hit show “Euphoria” has made a stunning comeback with its second season as it dives back into the lives of Rue, Jules, Maddy, Lexi and more fan favorite characters. Season one captured viewers’ attention as they watched Rue and Jules’ relationship slowly develop and eventually fall apart after Jules leaves Rue alone at the train station.

Creator Sam Levinson gave the fans a chance to learn more about the pair in their special episodes in late 2020 and early 2021. Although these two special episodes were not the official start of the second season, they helped lay the groundwork for the upcoming season and show the audience what kind of mindsets our favorite characters have. 

The first three episodes of “Euphoria” are packed with different backstories of characters viewers came to know throughout season one. The first episode starts with Rue narrating her friend and drug dealer Fez’s life and upbringing. After learning his backstory and watching an encounter with Laurie, a drug supplier, Fez, his little brother and business partner Ashtray and Rue make their way to a New Year’s Eve party to catch up with the rest of the cast.

Everything at the party sets up the plot for each character this season and will ultimately change the main characters' lives after everything is said and done. From Rue meeting Elliot, another drug addict, at the party to Cassie and Nate hooking up behind Maddy’s back, this was a great way to start the season. From cinematography to storytelling, "Euphoria" shows viewers exactly what they are in for.

What makes this season different from the last one is the progression of the characters, whether it be good or bad. We see Rue become addicted to harder drugs and understand the pain she is still feeling after her father’s death. Her experience with this type of grief is shown in a very raw way and does not sugarcoat her feelings. 

Zendaya’s performance helps the viewers better understand her character, as well as keep suspense about what will happen next in her life. Every episode has left me stunned and sucked into the show with the way each scene feels so real, as if the viewers are in these situations themselves. 

In the next two episodes, more is revealed about Rue and Jules becoming friends with Elliot, who is nothing but trouble. Jules is in the dark about the drug abuse happening as Rue continues to secretly do drugs with Elliot. The episodes following the season premiere were a little darker and centered on the struggles Rue is facing, which is often sidelined in the series.

In episode four, a beautiful and gut-wrenching scene that shows her in the arms of her deceased father broke my heart in so many ways. This scene, for many viewers including myself, was difficult to watch because of how real it all felt. The show has done a great job at presenting us with a group of characters we can relate to and by portraying a character facing such struggles as this, it shows that this is not just a solidified experience.

You don’t always need dialogue to capture the viewer’s attention and after last week’s episode, many people logged onto Twitter and discussed the hidden meaning behind the imagery of Jules and Rue’s recreations of artworks featuring lovers. We see them recreate iconic scenes from “Titanic,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Ghost,” as well as Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s intimate portrait by Annie Lebiovitz. Many refer to this as the Lover’s Montage, which has a theory going that almost every person in each of these works of art that was portrayed by Rue has died.

I really loved the creativity and meaning behind each of the pieces the crew decided to recreate because they all provide the audience with meaning that we may not fully understand just yet. After episode four ended with Jules narrating the final minutes, others have been led to believe that Rue may have died or overdosed for a second time.

The remainder of season two will begin to answer questions about its recent episodes, and hopefully “Euphoria’s” newly confirmed season three will continue to amaze.

If you haven’t already, make sure to watch Euphoria on HBO or HBO Max at 9 p.m. every Sunday.


4/5 stars