Euphoria

HBO series, Euphoria. Google Images. 

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

First aired Sunday January 9, 2022. Directed by Sam Levinson. Written by Sam Levinson, Ron Leshem (from original Israeli series), & Daphna Levin (from original Israeli series).

Following an agonizing three-year hiatus, creator Sam Levinson is back with the second season of gritty teen drama Euphoria. Led by Emmy winner Zendaya, the show follows a group of teenagers as they navigate relationships, adolescence, and for some, addiction. The first season, which aired all the way back in Fall 2019, was an instant favorite amongst Gen Z audiences—with me included. 

Although it couldn’t be further from a realistic depiction of young adult life, Euphoria serves as an escape from the real world. Its surreal, gripping story of recovery and renewal pulls the viewer in, which leaves them begging to know what will happen next with bated breath. Its fashion, music, and character design are more reasons for its widespread popularity. 

Sunday, January 9 was a long day for the show’s fans as they waited patiently for the season’s 9 PM premiere. “Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door” opened with Rue (Zendaya) claiming that Fezco’s (Angus Cloud) grandma was a “Motherf****** G”. This episode, of which the first half focuses on Fezco’s upbringing, gives the audience more understanding of how he became a drug dealer in the first place.

After the 30-or-so-minute prelude, viewers are thrown into the present action. Fezco and his 12-year-old work partner/brother Ashtray (Javon Walton) are en route to make an important business deal, with a high Rue rapping along to Tupac’s “I’m Gettin’ Money” in the backseat. As shown in Rue’s special episode, “Trouble Don’t Last Always”, she relapsed after Jules (Hunter Schafer) ran away in the season finale. 

After a weird interaction with a female drug dealer’s crony, the three head to a New Year’s Eve party. Lexi (Maude Apatow), who’s been at the party for a while now, is walking around the house asking if anyone’s seen her sister Cassie (Sydney Sweeney). The screen then cuts to Cassie eating some powdered donuts outside a convenience store and running into her best friend Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) boyfriend Nate (Jacob Elordi), who offers her a ride to the party. 

At the party, Cassie and Nate hook up in the bathroom before being interrupted by Maddy. Jules and Kat (Barbie Ferreira) dance in the mass of partygoers, and Rue gets high in Fezco’s car after seeing Jules. Lexi and Fezco spark a connection, and Maddy smokes weed with Travis (Demetrius 'Lil Meech' Flenory).

Rue finds Elliot (Dominic Fike) doing drugs somewhere in the house, and she joins in. Later, Cassie and her ex-boyfriend McKay (Algee Smith) meet and sort-of talk about her abortion, but they sort of traipse around the subject. “I just feel like a bad person,” she says, her eyes filling with tears. Shaking his head, McKay leaves the room.

Jules finds Rue sitting by a campfire next to Elliot. They apologize to each other and decide to get back together. At midnight, the countdown to New Year’s begins. Honoring his word to kill Nate after he called the cops on Fezco’s business, Fezco beats up Nate as Lexi watches on in horror. Someone pulls Fezco off Nate while Maddy, Cassie, and McKay rush to Nate’s side.

Overall, the episode is a satisfying return that was long-awaited. While the second half of the episode feels a bit rushed and overstuffed with different characters’ stories, it is only the beginning to what looks to be a chaotic season. Viewers will have to wait for the upcoming episodes to see how it all plays out.

Rating: 4/5 stars — Eden Turner

 

The hit HBO series, Euphoria, has made its comeback with its second season reintroducing it’s reckless, free-spirited teenagers and their ongoing, not-so-typical adolescence drama. The series captured the attention of many Gen Z fans and inspired a generational trend to express yourself through life and it’s lessons. 

The airing of the first episode on Sunday, January 9, opened with a glimpse into the childhood upbringing of Frezco (Angus Cloud) and his transition into becoming a drug dealer. The first scene is glamoured in nudity as his grandmother walks through a strip club in search for Fezco’s father. I tend to be intrigued by surprises and intense scenes, so two gunshots to the kneecaps of Frezco’s father glued my eyes to the rest of the episode. 

The opening song, “I’m Gettin’ Money” by Tupac was being sung by Rue (Emmy winner, Zendaya) sat in the backseat while Frezco and his partner Ashtray (Javon Walton) drove to their next drug-dealing operation. The doped-up Rue and the annoyance stares from Frezco and Ashtray created a natural bond that viewers may see more of throughout the season.

Fast-forward from the opening scenes, the main cast is enjoying a New Year’s Eve party confronted with their own dilemmas. Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and Nate (Jacob Elordi) find themselves in a lustful situation while Maddy (Alexa Demie) continues to be carefree and living in her own world. Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Kat (Barbie Ferreira) are in their “white girl montage” dancing in slow-mo, drinking vodka with glitter eyeshadow. 

The spark in the show comes from Jules and Rue when they become face to face for the first time after Jules left on a train leaving Rue behind to relapse again in the season one finale. Their conversation begins short, neither of them wanting to revisit the past but eventually they form apologies and kiss their problems away. 

The cinematography of the episode in a way connects the dramatization to the characters. The flash in and out scenes were like frozen-in-time snapshots of each character. The cinematography is just as important as the storyline to hone in on the show’s title, Euphoria.

New characters are introduced, seemingly as if they've been in the shadows awaiting their turn in the spotlight. Travis (Demetrius ‘Lil Meech’ Flenory) flirts with Maddy in a bathroom, establishing his personality and his possible romance with Maddy. Elliot (Dominic Fike) is like the laces to a shoe, I think he will become Rue’s ride or die sidekick in all her drug shenanigans. When new characters are casted it makes the show seem more realistic, people stay and people go. 

To put into a clear, simple observation: the episode opened back up many feelings and unlocked the door to a fantasy many of its viewers escape into. I am thrilled to be a part of this Euphoria journey and to find out what happens next.

Rating: 4/5 — Mya White

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