RECAP: ‘Euphoria’ presents its most restless and harrowing episode yet in ‘Stand Still Like the Hummingbird’

Boyce Rucker, Staff Writer

This review contains spoilers for episode five in season two of “Euphoria.”

In “Stand Still Like The Hummingbird,” “Euphoria” strips away the abstract artistry and vibrant visuals that lend a fantastical edge to the show. This week, we are shown a grounded and more bleak picture of Rue’s (Zendaya) addiction that highlights her irrationality as a drug addict. What ensues is a relentlessly chaotic chapter that shows Rue at her lowest as she faces the most intense situations imaginable. While most of the episodes this season have slowly pushed the envelope in terms of tension-building, this one starts frantic and leaves no room to breathe until the end.  

The episode follows Rue as she’s confronted by friends and family over her relapse and foray into stronger drugs. Suffering from withdrawal, and placed in a perilous predicament from her arrangement with Laurie (Martha Kelly), Rue is driven into hopeless desperation.

The episode opens with a shot of Gia (Storm Reid) in her bedroom listening to Leslie (Nika King), her and Rue’s mother tactfully confront Rue with knowledge of Rue doing drugs again. Rue then violently barges into Gia’s room and accuses her of telling Leslie about her smoking weed. However, Leslie is unaware of Rue doing weed, as she is talking about Rue’s venture into opioids, the ones in the suitcase Laurie gave Rue. Leslie then reveals that Jules (Hunter Schaefer) informed her of Rue’s relapse. Rue becomes more rattled by the suitcase’s disappearance, which leads to a more tumultuous scene that forces Leslie to hit Rue at one point and push her out of Gia’s room. Begging for the suitcase, Rue strikes at and breaks down the door while violently ranting about Leslie failing as a mother. While Rue searches for the pills, Jules, accompanied by Elliot (Dominic Fike), reveals from the living room that the pills were flushed down the toilet.

A still from season 2 episode 5 of “Euphoria” (2022). (Sam Levinson/HBO)

With the flushing of the pills, Jules unknowingly places a prime target on Rue’s back. This betrayal has a double-edged nature to it. While Jules was right to inform Leslie of Rue’s relapse, it is almost hypocritical as she slept with Elliot, a fellow drug user. A possible distinction is that although Elliot is a fellow drug user, it may not be to the same extent or extremes that Rue uses. Rue’s verbal attack against Jules comes from a mixture of resentment and desperation as she points out Jules’ own self-righteousness. Rue goes further in saying that Jules is dead to her and that meeting her is the biggest regret of her life. Rue shares some of the blame in her own relapse as she initially put Jules on a pedestal and made her the sole motivation for getting clean. Everything Rue has done since New Year’s is her setting herself up for a downward spiral, particularly taking on $10,000 worth of drugs, which she realistically would not be able to flip. Whether or not Jules told Leslie, it is clear that Rue was already headed in a dark direction.    

Leslie and Gia are able to convince Rue to go with them to the hospital ER, but like the attempted intervention, the ride turns sideways. The one mention of rehab causes Rue to forcefully run out of the car into moving traffic. Leslie and Gia are unable to catch her as she dodges oncoming vehicles. She wanders the streets into the night, going through withdrawal pains, before she goes to Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) house. While there, she runs into Suze (Alanna Ubach), Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Maddy (Alexa Demie) and Kat (Barbie Ferreira). Rue heads upstairs to the restroom in search of valuables to sell. When she comes out, she sees Leslie and the others waiting downstairs, attempting another intervention. Rue refuses to come with Leslie, prompting Cassie to optimistically advise Rue to get clean by taking it “one day at a time.” Rue then deflects by asking Cassie “How long have you been f—ing Nate Jacobs?” This diverts the friends’ attention toward Cassie, who gets an angry reaction from Maddy. As they chase Cassie upstairs, Rue slips by them and escapes.

Hunter Schafer as Jules in season 2 episode 5 of “Euphoria” (2022). (Sam Levinson/HBO)

Rue’s irrationality and spitefulness as a drug addict shows through the collateral damage she brings on friends and family. When we look back to Lexi’s drug-addled father stealing the family silverware in a flashback a few episodes ago, it parallels Rue stealing earrings from their home. The similarities hint at a devastating blow being dealt to Rue and Lexi’s friendship. Whether Cassie’s advice comes from naivete or genuine care, it goes to show that none of Rue’s friends can really empathize with or get through to her to get clean, especially since they’re teenagers. Deflection is a volatile tool that addicts can resort to when confronted with their behavior or addiction. In her own self-interest, Rue seizes the opportunity to damage Cassie and Maddy’s friendship to slip away and crush Cassie’s apparent condescension. A lack of sincerity on the girls’ part takes shape as they focus on Cassie, who initially denies it and labels Rue a drug addict. Nate and Cassie’s relationship was revealed in an unexpected way, but it serves purpose in emphasizing the low depths Rue sinks to in this episode.

Rue then goes to Fez’s (Angus Cloud) home, asking to use the restroom. She’s caught by Fez trying to steal his grandmother’s medication, causing him to aggressively throw her out. She then catches a glimpse of a wealthy couple leaving their garage, which she runs into before it closes. She grabs thousands of dollars worth of cash and jewelry, but not before the couple returns home and chases her out. After getting away, she’s spotted by a police car as she tries to keep her cool amidst the withdrawal pains. However, she vomits and runs from them, leading to a lengthy pursuit across the neighborhood through traffic, where she causes two cars to crash, and multiple backyards. She evades several cops by hiding in a trash can. Her night concludes with visiting Laurie, who gives her morphine for her withdrawal and comforts her. However, it is heavily implied that she will pimp Rue out to get her money bag. Rue escapes the apartment the next morning. The final scene shows Leslie sitting at home waiting for Rue, who comes through the door offscreen as Leslie calls out her name.  

Martha Kelly as Laurie in season 2 episode 5 of “Euphoria” (2022). (Sam Levinson/HBO)

Here we see Rue’s actions take on a more chaotic form, as it is possible she caused someone to die in a car crash. Like previous episodes, this one tests how long we can hold out hope for Rue’s redemption. Before the episode aired, Zendaya shared an Instagram post where she acknowledges Rue’s growing unlikability but hopes we can still love her and root for betterment through addiction. Rue’s actions paint the episode as a PSA for drug addiction, echoing the caution of  “Requiem for a Dream,” and the franticness of “Good Time.” The episode’s significance lies in showing not just Rue’s own self-destruction but its corrosive effect on others. Hope is the key to Rue’s recovery, which we see as Leslie refuses to gives up on her. As the show focuses so much on the teens, it can be easy to forget the adults. King’s performance is on par with Zendaya’s in this episode as she portrays lasting hope and effort in trying to bring Rue home. The ending shot emphasizes that Leslie may be the only person who really cares for Rue at this point, and her determination is the key to redemption for Rue.

This episode is a seminal one in the season, maybe even the series, that takes us on a chaotic ride that strengthens the importance for Rue to get clean. It may be hard to love Rue at this point, but this installment emphasizes the importance of hope and care in bleak circumstances.

This review is the fifth of a weekly schedule that will recap each episode of “Euphoria” for the current season. Come back every Monday to read our take on this season!