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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Past the point of no Rue-turn: Season 2 Episode 5 of “Euphoria”

The tensest episode of Season 2 yet, Episode 5 creates and solves conflicts at a mile a minute.
Rue (Zendaya) finds herself running from the cops after a heist gone wrong. Screenshot by Deniz Orbay (HBO Max/Euphoria).

Season 2 Episode 5 was the most butt-clenching episode of “Euphoria” I’ve seen in a while—and I do not say that lightly. For the entirety of its runtime, it had me glued to my seat, waiting to see what happens next in the saga surrounding addiction. And yes, as you can tell from the title, this episode was very Rue-centric. The circumstances she finds herself in get worse and worse as the episode progresses and you just can’t stop yourself from staring at the downfall of the ticking time bomb that is Ruby frickin’ Bennett.

The episode, named “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird,” throws us straight into the deep end at the start of the episode with a tense fight between Rue, Gia and their mother, Leslie. We see her mother confront Rue about relapsing as Rue realizes the sober facade she created for her family is starting to crumble. She defends herself and accuses her mother of making stuff up until Leslie drops the truth bomb: Jules told her about Rue’s usage. She knows everything.

The fight then transitions into an even more violent battle when Rue realizes Leslie found and confiscated the suitcase. Rue’s two worlds collide here, in which the Pulp Fiction-esque suitcase is the item that determines whether Rue lives or dies. Leslie, of course, does not know that. She screams and shouts at Leslie for not telling her where her prized possession is, but to no avail. In this yelling contest, nothing is left unsaid, no punches are pulled. Here’s a snippet of the devastating tango of insults between Rue and Leslie:

“You’re not a good person, Rue,” Leslie says.

“You know what’s a shame, Mom?” Rue asks. “My dad’s dead. Kinda stops you from admitting what a shit fuckin’ mother you are.”

An even bigger dagger is shoved into our guts when the second plot twist is introduced: Jules and Elliot were in the living room all along, listening to the entire thing unravel. Jules heard Rue break down the door; she heard her shove her mother; she heard her trash the room to find the suitcase.

After Jules admits that the drugs were flushed down the toilet, she becomes Rue’s new target of verbal abuse. Rue spews and writhes at her, making comments she can’t take back, while also showcasing the reason why I wouldn’t mind if Zendaya won a second Emmy for her performance in “Euphoria.” She is the devil incarnate in one scene; a broken, helpless, vulnerable child in the next. We want to strangle her and hug her all in the span of a few minutes.

That is pretty much the crux of the show: nothing is black and white, especially when it comes to addiction. Can we villainize Rue for saying all those things, or do we excuse her entirely for acting under the influence of a substance which she is genetically predisposed to get addicted to? The answer is neither and this episode knows that.

Rue finally breaks down at the end of this scene, asking her mother for forgiveness and help. She promises to take Rue to the hospital and Rue accepts. Time for a third plot twist! Leslie bamboozles us and Rue and tries to check Rue into rehab instead of the hospital. Rue does not appreciate this and shows her lack of appreciation by running into oncoming traffic—and not for the last time in this episode. This is when the title sequence kicks in and we realize, in awe, that this rollercoaster of a plot was just the intro to the episode. Wow.

The next big reveal (there’s a lot in this episode, if you haven’t noticed) comes when Rue stumbles onto the Howard property, asking to use the bathroom to search for drugs that might combat her ongoing withdrawal. The entire gang is there, though, and when Leslie shows up they decide to corner Rue with an intervention. Rue, however, knows a way to cause the right amount of chaos necessary for her escape.

“I have a quick question for you,” Rue says to Cassie.

“What?” Cass replies.

“How long have you been fucking Nate Jacobs?”

The reveal that’s been brewing for five episodes now is done when we least expect it, like ripping off a Band-Aid. Maddy starts attacking Cassie, creating the confusion Rue needs to slip away. We don’t see the repercussions of Rue’s ploy this episode, so I’m guessing the next will start off with Maddy plotting Cassie’s murder.

Rue then finds her way to Fez’s house, begging for drugs. After Fez admits he doesn’t keep drugs at the house any more, Rue sneaks into his grandma’s room to steal some of her medication. This crosses a line for Fez and we see the gentle big brother figure drag Rue out of the house. As bad as I feel for Rue, Fez was entirely entitled to do that, so go off, king.

With nowhere else to go and the necessity to somehow acquire cash to pay off Laurie for the suitcase, Rue decides to do the sensible thing and she breaks into a random house. She smirks knowingly at the camera before running under the closing garage door, starting her search for valuable items.

The episode, after this turning point, transitions into a chase sequence we might recognize from action movies. Rue, equipped with plot armor and the animal urge to end her withdrawal, is fazed by nothing. She runs away with jewelry in her pockets when the family comes back to the house, dodges a Doberman in a parking lot, ruins a wedding, jumps into oncoming traffic (again!) to escape the cops chasing her and finally hides in a trash can. She simply refuses to be caught or die.

She ends up at Laurie’s apartment, hoping to pay off her debt with the jewelry she stole. Laurie does not accept the jewelry, but in her usual creepy demeanor, treats Rue with the utmost kindness. Rue again asks for drugs to combat withdrawal but Laurie claims that she only has intravenous morphine, which Rue does not take at first. Apparently even our protagonist draws the line somewhere. The withdrawal prevails, unfortunately, forcing Rue to accept the intravenous morphine while in the bath Laurie drew for her. 

In usual “Euphoria” fashion, a montage is shown of her childhood, of her relationship with her father and of her speech at his funeral. We are shown the tragic parallel between her as a happy baby playing with toys in the bathtub and her current self, a hollowed-out shell of who she used to be, soaking in a tub as Laurie injects morphine into her veins.

The episode ends with Rue jumping out the window of the apartment when she wakes up the following morning, running towards her uncertain future. She has nowhere to go and now that she knows she can acquire drugs from Laurie, it seems plausible that she might go back. For Rue’s sake, I hope Laurie will not follow up on the promise she made two episodes back about having her kidnapped and sold.

This episode was an excellent deep dive into the ruthlessness of addiction. Once Rue sets her mind on finding drugs, she disregards every single relationship she has in order to achieve that goal. She attacks her mother, saying things no one should say. She goes after Fez’s grandma’s medication while fully knowing that Fez values his grandma more than anything. She exposes Cassie’s secret even though Cassie never did anything to hurt her Rue-Rue. She previously made hurtful comments toward Ali, even though he is the one person who knows what she’s going through. The only relationship that matters is the drug and she will not let anyone stand between her and the sweet release of the opiate.

Season 2 Episode 5 was a wild ride. It was intense, pretty, action-packed and emotional. Another Rue episode was long overdue, especially given that she is our narrator, regardless of how annoying she can be sometimes. This episode exquisitely showcased the pain she’s going through and once again proved how dumb the people that think this show glorifies drugs are. My only complaint would be that we didn’t see the legendary Cal Jacobs. Fingers crossed for next episode.

New “Euphoria” episodes come out at 8 p.m. CST every Sunday on HBO Max.

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About the Contributor
Deniz Orbay
Deniz Orbay, Former Senior Staff Writer
Deniz Orbay (25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science and minoring in Cinema and Media Arts. He writes for Life and News, is a big movie nerd and is better than average at every sport in which a ball is used. You can reach him at [email protected].
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