The Sophmore Season Of ‘Euphoria’ Is An Emotional Rollercoaster That Loses Its Thrill 

HBO

It’s been over two years since Euphoria first graced our screens with its harsh reflections of an intoxicating drug-fuelled coming-of-age. Season one left us standing next to Rue (Zendaya) on the platform of a train station as Jules (Hunter Schafer) passes her by. Much like Rue, the blaring questions about what comes next are all we’re left with.

The two stand-alone Christmas special episodes–‘Trouble Don’t Always Last’ and ‘Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob’–showcases both Rue and Jules struggling alone, in different places, seeking solace in an important conversation. Rue meets with her sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) on Christmas Eve, off the rails again, spiralling with more than just her feelings. Jules confronts a therapist for the first time, delving deeper into her relationships and her motivations. A brief encounter is shared between the two before Rue inevitably scarpers off and we’re left wondering, again, about all the horrible things that are probably going to happen.

With season two now finished, the long wait for season three is well underway. This season began steadily with the episode ‘Trying To Get To Heaven Before They Close The Door’, which captivated audiences with the origin story of Fezco’s (Angus Cloud) grandmother, a bad bitch who didn’t take shit from anyone. This inevitably led to the Fez we know, love and root for as he smashes Nate’s (Jacob Elordi) face with a glass bottle, New Year’s Eve style. This initial episode is by far one of the strongest in the season, yet ultimately sets up storylines that are rarely referenced again.

HBO

Although this season kicks off with a radical bang, as it progresses; many of the interesting aspects that build the world and characters are side-lined in an almost ignorant fashion. Kat (Barbie Ferreira) and Ethan (Austin Abrams) are barely given any screen time yet we are supposed to anticipate the breakdown of their off-screen relationship. This is merely one indicator of the uneasy writing that limits the bountiful potential of not only the cast but the cinematography and charming artistic execution.

The subplots provide relief to the otherwise rather grim, depressing main narrative of Rue’s battle with addiction, relationships and suicide. That being said, the lack of follow-through or genuine development allowed to the side characters is ultimately what holds the show back, especially in the later episodes. Euphoria possesses an emotional soulfulness to its gut-wrenching depictions of teenage druggy drama. The artistic execution and clear attention to detail can be mere side attractions to the relentless emotional intensity of the narratives. It’s these side attractions that complement and soothe the overall picture when it inevitably crumbles into a questionable mess.

The final two episodes allowed Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) play to take centre stage as she reflects upon the trials and tribulations of her life thus far, surrounded by problematic peers. Whilst the play provides some of the funnier, lighter moments in the series, it served as a way to merge multiple plotlines without providing any solid answers. Even as things become heated between ex gal pals Maddy (Alexi Demie) and Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), the payoff is remarkably lacklustre as Maddy chases Cassie off the stage and a fight emerges off-screen.

HBO

The ambiguity of what happens between the scenes results in an almost unsatisfying viewing experience. Creator Sam Levinson has again left a banquette of questions dangling as this season closes with an elusive monologue from beloved protagonist Rue in which she reflects upon her rest of the school year sobriety. No mention of the cold, cruel drug lord Laurie (Martha Kelly) or the fate of fan favourite Fez (Angus Cloud) results in an unproductive ending that fails to produce any excitement for the next instalment.

Overall, the second season of Euphoria leaves a gaping hole in terms of what’s to come next. As this season has showcased, anything is possible – and that is not always a good thing. The contents of season three are elusive, and the fate of Rue’s debIt and addiction remain, once again, unknown.

by Kelsie Dickinson

Kelsie (she/her) is a super gay masters student at The University of Glasgow. She loves slashers, but hates capitalism. Her favourite films are It Follows, Midsommar, Lost In Translation and Ghost World. Find her on Twitter.

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