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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
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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.

A thousand little dysfunctional families: Season 2 Episode 6 of “Euphoria”

Episode 6 drives forward the plot with intricate dialogues, Easter eggs and character parallels.
Samantha (Minka Kelly) and Maddy (Alexa Demie) are bonding in the pool. Perhaps a little too much. Screenshot by Deniz Orbay (HBO Max/Euphoria)

And we’re back! Season 2 Episode 6 of “Euphoria” is what I would describe as an average episode—and I don’t mean this in a bad way considering how impressive every single episode is. Just like every other episode, this one, dubbed “A Thousand Little Trees of Blood,” featured multiple extremely unhealthy relationships and some that are hopefully starting to heal. Unlike other episodes, though, this episode also featured a hidden camera in a clock, Russian roulette and a Jolly Rancher! Let’s get started.

Poor Rue, who is now starting up what looks like a genuine attempt at recovery, is still in pain from the withdrawal. She seems weak, physically and mentally, but it looks like she’s doing better. She decides to make amends, calling Ali and apologizing for what she said to him. Ali, in usual Ali fashion, forgives her, much to Rue’s relief. She then treats herself to a Jolly Rancher, one she wasn’t physically able to unwrap in the previous scene, as she smiles through the tears streaming down her face.

The Jolly Rancher most probably represents Rue’s happiness here. It glows a bright red on the table as Rue unsuccessfully tries to unwrap it. She only manages to do so after hearing Ali’s forgiveness, almost as if taking a step towards achieving happiness after righting one of her wrongs.

Ali sets a condition to his forgiveness, which is him cooking an entire meal for the Bennett family. Here we see him connect to Gia as they prepare the meal together in the kitchen. He tells her it’s okay to be mad at Rue, giving Gia the attention she needs due to neglect throughout Rue’s journey with addiction.

It is obvious that the two sides are filling the emptiness in each other’s lives: Ali, who is unfortunately not there for his own family, finds a new one in the Bennetts. The Bennetts, on the other hand, are missing a father figure and Ali fits what they’re looking for to a tee.

Ali concentrates on Gia, curious about how the whole Rue situation is affecting her. Screenshot by Deniz Orbay (HBO Max/Euphoria) (HBO Max)

As chaotic as the Bennetts usually are, they were eclipsed by two other dysfunctional families this episode, one being the Jacobs’. Nate and Marsha, content that Cal is gone from their lives, decide to celebrate by day drinking and laughing about relationships and the past. Marsha catches up on Nate’s complicated love life, asking about Cassie and Maddy. But tension lies just below the surface, ready to show itself at the slightest disagreement.

An example of this comes when Marsha compares Nate to his father. She complains about how he used to be such a nice kid up to a certain age but then something happened that turned Nate into a hollowed-out version of himself. She can’t pinpoint what exactly happened, but the viewers and Nate know it’s the result of seeing Cal’s sex tapes at a very young age. This might not even be the full story of Nate’s trauma, but Marsha for some reason decides to twist the dagger already embedded in his guts with a very out-of-pocket remark.

“[Cal]’s deeply flawed, and somehow, some way, we raised a child who’s even more deeply flawed,” Marsha says.

Meanwhile, it is time for our weekly Kat update! She tells Ethan that she has a brain disorder to break up with him then tries to gaslight him into thinking breaking up was his idea. Ethan sees right through it but still breaks up with her. As he should. Keep your head up, king, she never deserved you.

You might be wondering what Jules and Elliot are up to, right? Well, our narrator is Rue, who does not like the pair that much right now, so she tells us she’s not going to talk about them. I guess that’s fair.

Now onto the other dysfunctional family: the Howards. It all starts with Suze (Alanna Ubach) asking her daughter Lexi to hide the kitchen knives in the backyard bushes in fear of Cassie finding them. They both gradually realize the extent of Cassie’s denial. She calls Nate 38 times (at least) and spews at her sister and mother that she did nothing wrong. She keeps reiterating the fact that Maddy and Nate were broken up when she first hooked up with Nate. This does not help her case. 

“It’s one thing to do what you did and it’s another thing to pretend you’re all innocent,” Suze tells Cassie, finally putting into words what we were all thinking.

Lexi also roasts Cassie, after realizing her love for Nate is what made Cassie rat out Fez.

“I don’t fuckin’ trust you,” Lexi says.

“No one does,” Cassie cries out.

“Yeah, ‘cause you fell in love with someone who spent years making fun of you. It’s sad,” Lexi replies. Damn.

At one point, Cassie even compares how hard it’s been for her to live without a dad to Rue’s struggles. I would just like to point out Cassie has not experienced even a tenth of the pain Rue has and her whining is becoming absurd. It is fun to watch, though.

The other Howard sister, however, is actually doing well. She is finally getting the alone time with Fez we desperately needed to see. They chat about Lexi’s plans regarding the play she wrote and watch “Stand By Me,” a movie they apparently mutually love. Cuties.

That sequence was the only part of the episode with no conflict whatsoever. The two were straight up chillin’, vibin’, if you will. This leads me to believe their happiness will not last long, because no one ever remains happy in this show. A scene towards the end of the episode where Custer appears out of the blue and warns Faye that he ratted out Fez and Ash for the death of Mouse seems to confirm my suspicion. I believe there is going to be a shoot off with the police when Lexi is at Fez’s house, ruining their short-lived dream and placing Ash or Fez into incarceration. Someone might even die, but the writers know that half of the viewers would stop watching if something happened to Fez, so I honestly can’t tell yet. RIP Ashtray?

The most interesting storyline, however, is the budding relationship between Maddy and Samantha (Minka Kelly), the mother of the child Maddy babysits. There is something sinister, perhaps sexual, behind Samantha’s interest of Maddy. While Maddy is rummaging through Samantha’s wardrobe, trying on clothes as she usually does, the camera zooms in on the digital clock nearby, alerting us to the hidden camera inside it. Samantha is watching Maddy for purposes yet unclear.

When Samantha comes home, she pulls alcohol out of the fridge and suggests going for a swim. They get into the pool and they chat about the whole Maddy-Nate-Cassie situation. Samantha admits that she was in Cassie’s position in college. When Maddy asks how she could do such a thing, Samantha answers in a way that pretty much summarizes Cassie’s state of mind too.

“Because he gave me just the right amount of attention at the wrong time,” she says.

There are a lot of parallels in this episode. There is the obvious one between Cassie and Samantha, but there is also one between Marsha and Maddy. While talking to Nate about Maddy, Marsha remarks that she would be the type of person to keep the baby just to spite Nate if he got her pregnant. That is exactly what Marsha did to Cal two decades ago.

There is another parallel between Maddy and Samantha as well, such that they are pretty much the same person. Samantha mentions that she loves to fight and how she was the person people believed no one would marry. Now switch the name in that sentence to Maddy and tell me that’s not uncanny. Maddy replies that she thinks her brain is wired to fight and never be content, as she did a few times before throughout the previous episodes of Season 2. Samantha believes it’s about meeting the right person. Well, whoever it is, the right person for Maddy hopefully comes soon.

But Maddy’s struggles are not over yet; they have just begun. After Nate starts thinking about taking over his dad’s company now that he’s gone, he decides to tie up all the loose ends that might besmirch the name of the company, which includes the Cal-Jules sex tape that is currently in Maddy’s possession. He corners her in her room, forcing her to give up where the CD is with a game of Russian roulette. Maddy cracks and tells him where it is, only for him to admit that the gun was empty. Oops.

Nate then drives over to Jules’s house to give her the tape, letting her decide what to do with it. Jules and I both question why Nate would do such an honorable thing, but maybe he acts differently when it comes to Jules. After all, there are still some feelings present.

“For what it’s worth, everything I ever said was true,” Nate confesses.

“Same here,” Jules replies.

Ironically, right after that interaction, Nate calls Cassie and tells her to pack a suitcase: he wants her to stay over for the time being. Cassie, in an extremely pathetic fashion, agrees to this.

Throughout the two seasons we have been given a multitude of hints regarding who Nate has actual, genuine feelings for. The answer has shifted between Jules, Cassie and Maddy, with Jules probably being the most plausible option. Even when Nate played a Cassie montage in his head while in a hospital bed, he subconsciously inserted Jules into the montage as well. The interaction that happens in this episode seems to further prove that: Nate wants Cassie to be the one and knows he and Maddy are two peas in a pod. But his heart yearns for Jules, whether he likes it or not.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger, where we hear Leslie phone a rehab clinic about admitting Rue. Plot twist: they won’t take her, so I’m guessing we will deal with the consequences of that next episode.

Season 2 Episode 6 was more dialogue-driven than Episode 5, mostly because Episode 5 was the most action-packed episode we’ve seen in a while. The dialogue helped set up a lot of plotlines that might come crashing down in Episode 7. With only two episodes left in the season, the amount of mysteries to be solved (such as the hidden camera) and the amount of conflicts to be solved (such as the Maddy-Cassie situation) makes me believe we are going to finish the season off on a high.

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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