TV

Euphoria leaves fans gagged with self-destruction, hard truths and hot tub antics

Gary Grimes January 31, 2022
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Eric Dane as Cal Jacobs in 'Euphoria'. (HBO Max)

Episode four of Euphoria’s jam-packed second season is structured around three separate but equally self-destructive nights for three of our main characters: Cassie, Rue and Nate’s dad Cal.

Self-destruction is practically Cassie’s raison d’être at this stage of Euphoria so no surprises there. It’s Maddy’s birthday and she’s celebrating by throwing a shindig at the Howard household. We can’t help but wonder why Cassie and Lexi’s mom is going the full ‘I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom’ a la Amy Poehler in Mean Girls by allowing this group of teens to sesh in her house provided they don’t tell their parents?

Cassie is dutifully playing the role of BFF to Maddy but she’s on edge the entire evening as she knows Nate is due to arrive following his recent moves to reconcile with his ex. Can anyone wear a facial expression of worry and terror as effectively as Sydney Sweeney?

Earlier in Euphoria, we see a huge post-coital bust up between Cassie and Nate after she learns of his reunion with Maddy. She claims she never would have become involved with him if she knew he might patch things up with her best friend and threatens to blow their cover, telling him she doesn’t care about the consequences. It’s the first time we’ve seen Cassie stand up to Nate and not be just a passive participant in their undercover dalliance. She warns him that Maddy might be crazy but that she is even crazier. “That’s not something to be f**king proud of,” Nate informs her. “No,” she coolly responds, “but it is something to be scared of.”

As Cassie goes to storm out the door, she’s stopped in her tracks when Nate exclaims: “I love you.” At this point it’s hard to know where Nate’s head is actually at – in Euphoria‘s second episode we saw him fantasise about a future with Cassie which seemed to infer his feelings for her are genuine but this proclamation seems more like a desperate act of self-preservation than of love. Our guess is that he does sincerely like Cassie, but he can’t risk her getting in the way of his pursuit of getting back with Maddy, a mission which in itself probably comes with an ulterior motive of retrieving the DVD he knows she stole from his bedroom which shows his father having sex with Jules.

We said it last week and we’ll say it again – this show is suffering from a severe lack of Kat. Perhaps there is some truth to rumours that on-set squabbling between actress Barbie Ferreira and creator Sam Levinson led to him cutting a number of her scenes in this season? We certainly hope not as it would be a real shame to sacrifice the development of such a great character over high school bickering.

At least when Kat does appear, she continues to be a scene stealer – her answering Maddy’s call for back up when she picks a fight with Nate in the hot tub was the perfect example of the sort of blind, belligerent support you offer your best friend in a dispute, even when they are categorically wrong – and especially when the opponent is a man. That, reader, is what true friendship is all about.

The argument comes to an extremely dramatic end when Cassie, who has taken to drinking herself in an oblivion in a misguided attempt to try to show Nate what he’s missing, ends up projectile vomiting straight into the middle of the hot tub they’re sharing. She immediately begins to hysterically cry and has to be physically pulled out of the vomit-swirling hot tub by her mother.

Elsewhere in this week’s Euphoria, Cal’s on quite the bender himself, beginning by swigging spirits in his home before teasing his son, and hopping in his open top vehicle to drink-drive himself back to where it all began – the local gay bar where he shared his first man-on-man kiss with his high school best friend Derek who we met in last week’s opening flashback sequence.

Perhaps in an bid to reclaim his youth, we see Cal, his head wrapped in bandages from the nasty beating he received from Ashtray in last week’s episode, once again drunkenly hits the dance floor and shares a kiss with a younger patron of the bar (shout out to the amazing use of “Drink Before the War” by Sinead O’Connor in this scene, intercut with shots of Cassie in full hurricane drunk mode).

In Cal’s inebriated mind he’s reconnecting with his high school sweetheart, however things soon turn sour when he attempts to wrestle his unsuspecting new friend, resulting in a bar fight and ultimately Cal being removed and barred from the watering hole of his formative years.

Cal eventually makes his way home where he stumbles in the front door and promptly begins to urinate in his hallway, much to the dismay of his wife who watches from upstairs. “I think I’m lonely,” he announces when she asks him what the hell is going on.

When his sons come out of their rooms to hear what’s causing all the commotion, Cal begins a painful monologue in which he admits to regularly having sex with men for the last 20 years, including while his wife was pregnant with their first child (could this have been with Derek, who we know he kissed the night before he learned she was expecting?). “I’m a f****t and I love it,” he proudly declares. We should note at this point that Cal delivers this entire speech with his flaccid penis left hanging out of his fly, despite pleas from his wife and children to put it away. Where is Eric Dane’s Emmy nomination, we ask you?

He finishes off this spectacular display of self-annihilation by spewing pure venom to each member of his family, blaming them for how “f**ked up” he’s become. While Nate’s brother has to live with the experienced of being kink-shamed by his own father for his choices in extreme porn watched on the family computer, Nate suffers the harshest blow as Cal coldly informs him that the double life he’s always lived is not his biggest regret: “You are.” Ouch.

Finally, Rue, Jules and Elliot are up to no good at Elliot’s house. As predicted, Rue’s relapse is distracting her from pretty much everything else, including the fact that her girlfriend and new bestie Elliot are getting closer and closer. After Jules correctly deduces that Rue faked an orgasm, she confides in Elliot who offers  to school her in the art of cunnilingus, putting his tongue through her fingers (for now). This Call Me By Your Name-esque moment of intimacy is only the beginning, they soon begin to kiss and are only uninterrupted when Rue texts to say she’s outside.

Watching Jules make out with Elliot in the brief moment Rue is gone to the bathroom feels kind of cruel but, of course, Rue is also deceiving Jules in this moment as her trip to the toilet is actually to snort a line of whatever she and Elliot are into that day. Interestingly, although she leaves a line for Elliot under a cup for his own covert bathroom break, when it’s his turn we see him blow the line away. Perhaps he felt he didn’t need it because he was high off something else following his intimate embrace with Jules, thus showing the difference between Elliot and Rue, and their relationship to both drugs and Jules.

Whatever sympathy we may have felt for Rue is soon diminished when she lashes out at Jules for telling her not to drink (following an incredibly high stakes liquor store robbery which yielded nothing more than a six-pack of White Claw). “I can’t f**king stand you,” she tells her girlfriend before insisting to be let out of the car so she can go home to sit with her $50,000 supply of Class A narcotics. We’re becoming increasingly concerned that Rue seems to be consuming a lot more of those drugs than she’s selling but perhaps next week’s Euphoria is when we’ll see her embrace her inner Teflon Don and begin to execute her masterplan.

The only hitch to that plan getting off the ground is that her sober cover has been officially blown by Elliot who admits to Jules that Rue has been taking drugs with him since they met on New Year’s Eve. The jig is finally up, although Rue doesn’t know it yet.

More: Euphoria, zendaya

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