Euphoria fans divided after queer love story twist complete with steamy, homoerotic wrestling

Gary Grimes January 24, 2022
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Young Cal

Elias Kacavas as Young Cal in Euphoria. (HBO)

Euphoria played with fans’ emotions as Cal got a queer, romantic origin story.

Euphoria season two, episode three opens with a flashback sequence which tells us the backstory of Nate’s dad Cal. Opening with a delightful shot of him slipping on his boxers, we learn that Cal spent his high school days glued by the hip to his best friend, Derek.

The pair are alike in seemingly every way – they’re both your typical all-American high school jocks who enjoy cruising around town in their open-top cars and catching the attention of lovestruck classmates. They’re even so similar in appearance that at times it’s actually difficult to tell them apart.

We spend time with Cal and Derek as they each get their first real girlfriend and begin to enjoy the wonders of both penetrative and oral sex – and we start to see that Nate is quite the chip off the old block.

However, interestingly these scenes of heteronormative high school romance are interspersed with shots of the boys wrestling in singlets that have a distinctly homoerotic tone, as well as a shot of Cal staring at Derek adjusting himself in the car, making it clear that there’s definite potential for the boys’ relationship to move beyond the platonic.

Things culminate on the night of their high school graduation when Derek suggests they take a trip to the local gay bar because he knew they’d get served there without an ID. After the boys consume multiple tequila shots, they hit the dance floor and eventually share a tender kiss. Sadly, there’s no follow-up to last week’s rimming scene, and the “San Junipero”-esque magic between Cal and Derek ends prematurely as the very next morning Cal receives a call from his girlfriend which will reroute his life forever – yep, she’s pregnant.

Also hitting the dancefloor (at least in her mind) is Rue, who we see enjoying a ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ moment in her bedroom that will surely resonate with most viewers’ inner teen. We suppose the only difference is that most of us spent our teenage years dancing while high on hormones, lust and dreams of Freshers’ Week, while Rue’s sad relapse back into addiction seems to be the driving force of her plot this season of Euphoria.

Addiction issues aside, we’d like to take this moment to shout out to Rue’s bedroom which is adorned with posters of Rihanna’s Rated R and M.I.A.’s Matangi albums – we stan a delinquent teen with taste. 

Rue’s music video fantasy is interrupted by her little sister Gia who is so baffled by her sister’s behaviour that she immediately assumes she’s high. We then learn that Rue has been telling her nearest and dearest she’s recently began smoking weed to help with her anxiety but, of course, viewers know this is simply a cover up for her relapse onto opiates. 

Elsewhere in this week’s Euphoria, we see Rue attempting to merge her friendship with Elliot and relationship with Jules into one big happy family, though Jules remains suspicious of Elliot’s intentions with her girlfriend. After interrogating him about his sexuality, she seems to take comfort in him revealing he’s slept with more boys than girls. “So you’re bi,” she asserts but Elliot explains that he doesn’t think about his sexuality “in such rigid terms”. It feels a little unrealistic that Jules would struggle to grapple with the idea that Elliot is sexually fluid, but the characters eventually move past this point and begin to forge a close friendship of their own.

The relationship between Elliot and Jules seems likely to accelerate as Rue becomes distracted by her latest venture: coercing her classmates into selling drugs so she doesn’t have to pay for them.

Other developments include another confrontation between Cal and Fezco which ends with Cal being held up and beaten by Ashtray as he begs Fez to return the DVD of him having sex with an underage Jules – inadvertently admitting his crime to an unknowing Fez, who has no knowledge of the video, or of the relationship between Cal and Jules. Eric Dane plays the father’s whimpering desperation with such believable despair that you almost forget that Cal is a total creep and, ultimately, a statutory rapist.

Cassie continues to pine for Nate to no avail. She’s now taken to waking up at 4am every morning to devote three hours of primping and priming herself to look her very best for him. However, the only day she succeeds in illiciting so much as a second glance from the quarterback is when she essentially cosplays as his ex-girlfriend, and her BFF, Maddy. The sight of her all dressed up with no place to go as she’s left waiting on a street corner only for Nate to cancel their Friday night hook up to reconcile with Maddy would truly break your little heart.

As if her life isn’t complicated enough, her sister Lexi is currently casting a school production of play she wrote based on her life living in the shadow of her sister – and something tells us the character of Cassie, or Hallie as she’s been renamed in the play, isn’t going to be written in the most forgiving light.

This week’s Euphoria definitely suffers from a lack of Kat action, who’s only presence in the episode is a brief scene, where we see her stumble over her words when Ethan’s parents ask her to tell them about herself. Meanwhile Ethan himself is practically an extra at this stage. Fingers crossed next week’s episode gives both characters the opportunity to grow a little more as the show could really benefit from something a little lighter going on to balance the misery and hedonism.

More: Euphoria

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