After a long and painful two-and-a-half-year hiatus since the psychedelic, musical ending of Season 1, “Euphoria” is finally back! Sure, the hyper-sexualised, drug-filled, purple-tinted high school drama had two special episodes come out a year ago, but those were nothing more than incredibly well-written therapy sessions for Rue (Zendaya) and Jules (Hunter Schafer), so the plot did not move forward much. Now that the Season 2 premiere is here, we can finally catch up with the suburban gang of sociopaths we have come to care about. Hold on to your drugs everybody, because this New Year’s Eve episode features a gangster granny, a baby eating cigarettes and a pee-soaked towel! Oh, and heroine.
Season 1 of “Euphoria” excelled in the way it masterfully intertwined the plots of several characters without sacrificing the development of a single one. Every character gets to spend time in the spotlight and is given a background with which their personalities gain depth. This time around, we finally focus on Fez, the drug dealer with a heart of gold, and I’m so happy we do.
We start off the episode, ominously titled “Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door,” with the eventful bringing-up of Fez and how he ended up in the drug game. His grandma (Katherine Narducci), a fellow dealer, becomes Fez’s guardian after knee-capping his abusive strip club owner dad. She later adopts baby Ashtray (Javon “Wanna” Walton) after a client who leaves him as collateral never returns. So Rue’s narration here holds merit: she is “a motherf*ckin G.”
The gangster granny character didn’t resonate with me much, though, coming off as one-noted and annoying. But she is essential in explaining how Fez and Ashtray became the drug-dealing duo they are today, so I begrudgingly endured her on-screen presence. I’m sure she’d be proud of how Fez and Ashtray handled filling the shoes of the late Mouse (Meeko Gattuso), who Ashtray killed by whacking him in the head with a hammer—a nice parallel to how the now bed-ridden grandma used to wreak havoc with a crowbar back in the day.
Speaking of drugs, Rue’s doing a bunch of ‘em! So much, in fact, that not even the near-death encounter she and the drug brothers have at a plug’s house seems to faze her. The cardiac arrest she almost goes into in a laundry room at a New Year’s Eve party doesn’t seem to impact her much either. Fret not, though, there’s a new character in said laundry room to save the day! Here we are introduced to Elliot (Dominic Fike), a fellow cocaine snorter with dyed blond hair and face tattoos—and he’s kind of attractive, in my humble opinion. He follows Rue’s instructions, checking her pulse and grinding down some Adderall for her to snort. I guess that’s what you do when your heart threatens to give up after a bender. I should jot that down.
We don’t get much of the new guy during the rest of the episode, but I have a suspicion that he’s going to play a vital role in Rue’s future drug habits throughout this season. I can’t find a reason why the writers would introduce another addict, befriended by Rue of all people, if not to make him an influence on her usage. Whether he’s a good or bad influence, time will tell. I’m putting my money on bad, though.
Or maybe Rue’s going to bring Elliot down with her! “I’m not sure it’s a good thing we met,” Elliot says. “What are you talking about? You’re my new favorite person,” Rue replies. Instant red flag on Rue’s end. Regardless, that’s a dynamic I can’t wait to see more of.
You know who else is a bad influence? You guessed it! Nate the Snake, the troublemaker we love to hate, is again up to no good. His new target is unfortunately Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), who is vulnerable and full of self-doubt after her unsuccessful attempt at love in Season 1. She expresses her frustration this episode by fighting with Lexi, her sister, on their way to the NYE party, prematurely leaving the car. Nate offers to give her a lift and the drive there is a crash-course in how to get a DUI, starring a six-pack of beers and excessive speeding. Oh, how I hate him.
I hope this couple is not going to be a plotline this season, for her sake, but I have a feeling it will, as they waste no time in having sex in the aforementioned party’s bathroom. Maddie needs to pee, though, leaving Cassie to hide in the bathtub, and what comes after is a masterclass in acting from Sweeney. She keeps quiet in fear of the potential confrontation with her best friend and is almost exposed when her phone rings, a worried Lexi (Maude Apatow) calling for the gazillionth time.
Lexi is next on the list to finally get her time to shine, but it comes in a scenario you would least expect: chatting with a stoned Fez. In an extremely cute conversation, we see Fez compliment Lexi’s vast knowledge and tell her to stop downplaying her intelligence. A budding relationship between the two seems possible and you know what? I’m all for it. #Fexi?
This convo does more than set up an arc for the rest of the season; it creates an excellent contrast with the following scene. I cannot possibly tell you how satisfied I was when Fez gets up from the sofa and goes on to beat the living sh*t out of Nate as the clock strikes 12, summoning in the new year. Sometimes violence is the answer, just like his grandma taught him. Comeuppance is a dish best served bloody.
The cinematography that made Season 1 so special sneaks its way into this episode too, with a mesmerizing ending sequence. The camera focuses on the relevant partygoers one by one, all else blacked out, as if a flash is going off, photographing the current state of our characters before we move on with the season. This sequence also includes an apologetic Rue professing her desire to get back together with Jules, who spends the episode on the sidelines hanging out with Kat (Barbie Ferreira). They end the episode with a beautiful kiss, one where two backlit silhouettes merge to become one. Let’s see how Jules deals with Rue’s deep-dive back into drug usage, the root cause (and the potential solution) of which are both Jules herself.
The Season 2 premiere of “Euphoria,” an update to the consequences of Season 1 that feels familiar yet unique, is the strongest way the beloved show could have started back up. Old plotlines are revisited and new characters and arcs are introduced, all through amazing directing and ethereal music. I can’t believe we have to wait a week to see what comes next.
New “Euphoria” episodes come out at 8 p.m. CST every Sunday on HBO Max.