RECAP: ‘Euphoria’ finishes up the season with a mixed bag that may take time to unwrap

Boyce Rucker, Staff Writer

This review contains spoilers for the season two finale of “Euphoria.”

Season two of “Euphoria” has conjured up a plethora of emotions, predictions and reactions over the past two months. So many elements are introduced this season, such as the fall of Rue (Zendaya) and Jules’ (Hunter Schaefer) relationship, Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) relationship with Fez (Angus Cloud) and, initially, Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) empowerment. But how do these plotlines, along with the others, get resolved in the finale? Not everything does. Plot direction and story development has never really been the show’s greatest strength, but the finale does leave the characters in compelling circumstances to look forward to in season three.

The finale picks up where the previous episode left off while also showing the outcome of Fez’s visit from Custer (Tyler Chase). Lexi’s play continues as she gains praise from the audience, but a manic and belittling reaction from Cassie (Sydney Sweeney).

The episode opens and continues with Custer’s attempt to sting Fez and Ashtray (Javon Walton) for Mouse’s murder. While Custer previously confided in Faye (Chloe Cherry) about his plan, she turns against him by warning Fez about Custer’s phone recording and makes it seem like Custer is the killer while he’s still recording. Against Fez’s plea, Ashtray stabs Custer in the neck. Fez then places his hand over Custer’s mouth until he dies by suffocating on his own blood. As he disposes of the phone we cut to flashbacks of Fez and Lexi talking to each other on the phone through different parts of the day. The two share their dreams and aspirations together, notably the idea of living on a farm, as well as their shared traits. Later in the episode, we see the police storm the house to arrest Fez, who tries to frame himself as Custer’s killer. Ashtray grabs up multiple guns and takes refuge in the bathroom and blindly fires through the door and walls, with one bullet hitting Fez. After the officers presume Ashtray dead, one goes to verify, and Ashtray kills him. Ashtray and Fez stare at each other one more time before a laser sight takes aim at Ashtray and shoots him in the head. 

Angus Cloud as Fezco in ‘All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name,’ (Euphoria 2022). (BharaTwanshi/HBO)

The opening demonstrates the tragedy of Fez this season, and the dark reality of “Fexi.” As someone who has mostly known drugs and violence for the better part of his life, Lexi is one of the few good things in his life. Their phone conversations demonstrate that they have great chemistry, a strong bond and compatibility with one another – they are arguably the most stable and likable couple in the series. However, like with all dream-like things in the show, there is a tragicness to “Fexi.” Lexi happens to be the most emotionally stable and normal character of the show whereas Fez walks a dangerous line in the drug game. As we have been shown at various points through the series, Fez’s encounters with associates nearly leads to collateral damage for those involved, such as Rue when they visit Laurie’s apartment in the season premiere. Once murder enters the picture, as we see bookended by Ashtray in the premiere and finale, it becomes clear that a romance between Fez and Lexi might not be the biggest bet. Dreams are a driving motif of the series, and unfortunately, the idea of a normal relationship between the two becomes nothing more than a pipe dream when Fez is arrested. Fez’s downfall is not his nor Ashtray’s fault however, but it is mostly due to their upbringing in a seedy environment. We do see Fez becoming a more open and better person all-around because of Lexi, but as they are two worlds apart, the possibility of them as a couple is up in the air by the end of the episode.

After the opening, Cassie storms the auditorium and heads to the stage to confront Lexi. Cassie goes on a rant scathing Lexi for making a play centered around the group’s lives while accusing Lexi of wanting to humiliate her. Suze tries to lead Cassie away with little success while Cassie then tries to defend “Hallie’s” affair with “Jake” behind “Marta’s” back. After Cassie tries to follow Lexi backstage, she attacks Hallie for reenacting the orgasmic carousel moment from season one as part of the play. As the fight erupts, Maddy (Alexa Demie) rushes the stage to fight Cassie and chases her into the school hallways. 

Maude Apatow as Lexi in ‘All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name,’ (Euphoria 2022). (IMDB/HBO )

This is the first time we see Cassie’s near-psychotic nature manifest itself in the form of violence against others. When she attacks Hallie, it seems more like she is attacking the old version of herself that she finds unpleasant and wants to get away from. The whole season she tries to justify her being with Nate by making excuses like him and Maddy not being together, but at the end of the day, she wants the man who abused her best friend. Her disregard for Maddy lends credence to her open sleaziness from season one, which she seemingly tries to move on from this season but fails in doing so. Even then, her obsession with Nate fuels her desire to be accepted and given attention as she really does not think to confront Lexi until Nate is angered by the play. In contrast, Maddy is in a better place than Cassie as she seems to have fully moved on from Nate. It takes Cassie a while to realize that she embarrassed herself for him at the expense of her friends and family as Maddy tells her “this is just the beginning.” If Maddy’s time with Nate is any indication, Cassie is now trapped in a cycle of drama and pandemonium with Nate for the foreseeable future. 

After leaving the play, Nate drives to one of Cal’s (Eric Dane) warehouses and confronts him. He finds Cal with multiple sex partners as he confronts him about the trauma that came from watching his sex tapes. Nate admits that he is so deeply affected by it that he even has nightmares where Cal is initiating sex with him. While the two talk privately, Nate reveals a flash drive containing all the sex tapes and a loaded gun. Having called the cops, in true Nate fashion, Nate has Cal arrested for his sex acts.

Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs in ‘All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name,’ (Euphoria 2022). (IMDB/HBO )

Cal may have been out of Nate’s life for some time, but this is him conquering Cal. Cal’s proclivities cast a shadow over Nate’s actions and we only see the greater extent of his trauma in his Cal nightmare. Forgetting about Cal was not enough, but he has to “defeat” him in order to have a semblance of a better life. But then again, having Cal arrested and the tapes exposed counteract Nate’s motive for threatening Maddy weeks before. It seems like a repeat of Nate trying to do good as he did when he gave Jules her tape, but as before it still seems like he is doing so for self-righteousness. In this case, he is being satisfied by the dominance he gains in pulling a gun on Cal and having him arrested.

The season finishes up on an uplifting note for Rue. After the play, Rue tells Lexi that the play was the first time she was able to look at her life and not hate herself. As the two talk about the loss of their loved ones, Rue gives Lexi hope by reassuring her that her father is likely working hard to rehabilitate himself and thinks of Cassie and Lexi everyday for strength. The play itself ends on a similar note with Lexi and “Jade” sharing a heartfelt moment with each other. As the audience applauds and they begin to disperse, Jules approaches Rue. Jules tells Rue that she loves her and misses her, and Rue simply responds by kissing her forehead and leaving. As she leaves the school, Rue narrates that she was able to stay clean for the rest of the school year and that from Ali’s (Colman Domingo) words of wisdom, she continues to try to be a good person.

Zendaya as Rue in ‘All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name,’ (Euphoria 2022). (IndieWire/HBO)

Although we do not see it entirely, it is clear that Rue is on a brighter path that has been a long time coming. The narration alludes to a brighter fate for Rue. If we were to envision the entirety of the series so far as a memory to an older or matured Rue, then we can assume that she eventually reaches a great place in her life. Also, we may have witnessed her first steps toward emotional stability when we see her walk away from Jules. Although Jules is not an entirely toxic personality, it is possible to view Rue’s departure as her wanting to purify herself before returning to Jules or even just not wanting not much of anything else to do with Jules for her own health. Either motive points to a responsible choice as Rue walks a higher path at this point in the series. We can only guess if season three will show her relapse again, though we can appreciate and cherish her rehabilitation at the end of this season.

“Euphoria” season two is an ambitious return to the deeply flawed characters that we can’t help but love to watch. After a long absence, we are reminded of the series’ allure and the artistry that goes into crafting each episode. Season three may seem like a long time from now, but, like the characters, we can always dream of what it entails until then.