The way Euphoria’s season 1 finale leaves you, it will make you wish you knew a top-level SAT word to surmise the conflicting emotions.
|Introduced This Episode|
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The Winter Formal: Kat, Ethan, Cassie, Lexi, Rue, Jules, Nate, Maddy
One semester is done of junior year and with that comes the Winter Formal. A dance which Jules returns for just in time to have Rue put on a dress on to which, well she feels awkward. But, the dance, and events preceding it, are a bit awkward for everyone.
However, before getting into that, let’s recognize Kat addresses what happened at the carnival with Ethan, and while she doesn’t let him explain his side of things, they reconcile. Also, as Cassie watched Maddy and Nate do their usual dance, she encourages Lexi to go hook up with someone. You know, have some fun. For while Cassie is on a break from doing so, she wants her sister to live her life.
Recognizing Something Is Wrong: Rue, Jules, Cal, Nate, Maddy, Marsha
Getting back to the awkwardness, the reason Maddy and Nate are back into their toxic back and forth drama is because he couldn’t get hard with her. Due to that, she brings up the d**k pictures, and that drives him nuts. Add on Cal advising Maddy that she and his son aren’t good together, and so the wheels begin to turn.
What doesn’t help, however, is Nate bringing some girl to the winter formal named Marsha who may have been used beyond making Maddy jealous. Considering how his hand repeatedly exposed her backside and Nate disappearing for a minute, either she got abandoned on the dance floor, or Nate proved to himself his erectile dysfunction was a Maddy issue, not a Nate issue.
But, in the long run, it seems Maddy might actually be through with Nate. She verbalizes all their issues as they dance, and it’s to him. Not to herself, not to her girls, but him – thankfully in a public place so he can’t go off. And with him agreeing, it seems maybe they may end things amicably this time.
Oh, and we should note it isn’t just Maddy who has a talk with Nate. His father also confronts him, but not about Maddy but more so how Nate was in a football game. A game which the team only won because of him. However, Cal is going in about Nate’s leadership skills, and with being criticized by his father, of all people, he gets in Cal’s face.
Don’t get excited, though. While Nate can threaten and choke girls, and beat Tyler within an inch of his life, he doesn’t do a damn thing to his dad. Cal pins him down, repeatedly, and the only thing which gets Cal off him is Nate looking like he is going into epileptic shock. This includes his body, head especially, bouncing off the floor and since no one seems to be home, neither his mother nor brother, nothing end the disturbing sound of Nate’s screams and flailing.
On a lighter note, Jules talks about Anna and mentions she loves her, and also reveals she loves Rue. The two even kiss passionately. However, Nate mentions the possibility of Jules going places, outgrowing Rue, after she confronts him, and while this has been an insecurity of her’s, an idea which lurked, hearing someone else say it puts things in perspective. Heck, it probably is the trigger for the series of events which follow.
When It All Falls Apart: Cassie, Rue, Jules, Gia, Leslie, Fez, Mouse, Suze
Cassie has her abortion (no way to really segue into that) and we can interpret a lot of things from it. The ice skating could represent how Cassie feels she is constantly on the move, spinning about, still stuck on her father and trying to follow the light of his love. If not he chasing that light, perhaps never being able to see too far ahead. That or maybe the drugs she was given made her go to her happy place – an ice rink. Either way, Suze is there, as well as her sister, but no McKay.
Moving on, while all the kids are at a dance, Fez is robbing an associate of Mouse to have the money he needs to make up for the product lost. Now, how is Fez not in jail after that raid? Your guess is as good as mine. Never mind how is Ashtray not with child protective services. All that matters here is Fez robbed someone, likely pistol-whipped the hell out of them, and got Mouse’s money. Oh, and the man he pistol-whipped was a doctor, and Fez did this knowing the man’s kid was there. Hell, he even walks right past them – likely causing the type of trauma which will make the kid a future customer.
Bringing us to Jules, Rue, Leslie, and Gia. What Nate said to Rue, while she was threatening him, really messed her up and with things going good now, and Jules being Rue’s high, she decides to up her dosage. After kissing Jules, she talks about running away with her. Heading to the city and then reality hits. As Jules packs her things, Rue remembers how Leslie kicking her out when she was really in a bad place affected their relationship and Gia. So, as they get to the train station, and it is supposed to pull off, she questions the idea she came up with. One that Jules is already full steam ahead on so, ultimately, she leaves without Rue.
Mind you, there is no fight about it, but she still did leave. So, with Rue feeling like she pushed away the love of her life, and with her struggling with it, she does drugs. Drugs we can only assume she took from somewhere while in the hospital with her kidney infection. Thus sending her to a place that makes it appear she OD’s since her mother and sister are unresponsive, but she does see her dad. Then, following that, she is dealing with a choir trying to raise her up but failing to send her to the heavens. Implying that either she isn’t dying, or Rue isn’t going up north.
The Ending Dance Sequence
From the music to choreography, to the lyrics, again, it isn’t clear if this is just about visuals, or if there is a deeper meaning, but I do feel the highs and lows, how Rue was flung, it represented her journey from episode 1 to now.
How It Winds You Up Then Sends Your Emotions In A Tail Spin
You have heard of the saying, “Death by a thousand cuts,” right? The whole episode felt like that. Small cuts like Maddy finally letting go of Nate, Jules making it clear her love isn’t exclusive for Rue, and then it gave us a break. We got Ethan and Kat being together, Cassie making it seem she wasn’t going to learn from what has happened, but then they had us watch her have an abortion and had us moving about like she was on the ice. For there was the need to question if we may have really come to the point where Nate and Cal, as f***ed up as they are, can a small part of us feeling something for them?
Then came the question of Faze’s fate and the last 17 or so minutes. That is when Euphoria, Sam Levinson, and the actors, said the warm-up was over and the cuts went deep. We had Jules reminding Rue, by not being willing to slow her life down or get off that train, she will leave eventually, and she doesn’t love Rue enough to stay. Following that, we have a reminder of how bad things gotten between Rue and Leslie, the relationship with Gia that has been wonderful in many ways for Rue, but has been fragile. Especially in terms of how Rue’s influence made Gia see Leslie.
Making Rue snort something like they went for an artery and, alongside Rue, us dealing with the process of saying goodbye. Being kissed on the forehead and forced to deal with what feels like a recap of the journey we’ve been on. For that kiss from Robert wasn’t just a send-off for the sequence, but also a kiss goodbye to Rue’s sobriety. Her being lifted, surrounded, followed, dealing with the highs and lows, tossed about like a cheerleader, that has been the ride she has been on. And that climb up to that mountain, that was her looking to isolate herself once more. Hoping, one day, someone may seek her out, but until then, she’ll disappear into herself.
Closing A Chapter
Whether we’re talking about Lexi stepping out of Cassie’s shadow, Cassie realizing she isn’t ready for anything that could feel like love, or Kat reconciling with Ethan, you have to love how many sought to change the path they were on in life. Heck, even Maddy seemed ready, especially with all the talk about peeking in high school, her not wanting some violent boyfriend to be part of what might end up the high point of her life. Especially if she doesn’t change things.
On The Fence
I’m Not Going To Lie, Things Being Out Of Sequence Confused Me A Little bit
Cassie’s flashback I understood since her abortion was something expected. Nate’s football game as well, since most dances in high school happen around a notable football game. Rue stealing money from Leslie, I’m assuming that was between her father’s death and OD’ing. Rather than what the show ends with being the beginning of the end and the $40 stolen being stolen days or weeks after the winter formal and us knowing Rue is back down the rabbit hole.
They Thought They Could Make Fez Seem Like A Bad Person – HA!
Come on now. Some famous rappers used to sell drugs and are beloved figures, and hardly any of them have Fez’s charm and appeal. Did they really think him pistol-whipping some man, even with the addition of Fez doing that in front of someone’s kid, would change people’s opinion of him? Because I think someone did.
How To See Cal & Nate
Performances aside, and focusing on story, like with Fez, it seems there was this desire to shift things here. Yes, Cal made a monster, and preyed on young, impressionable, queer people. Yet look at him trying to push Maddy from being in a bad relationship. Addressing the monster he made by pinning him down. It shows he can be redeemed, right?
Then with Nate, setting aside Marsha, who damn near looked like she was dealing with something beyond being traded at the dance, and him busting Rue’s bubble, there is his reaction to Cal. We’ve seen Nate deal with the trauma Cal inflicted on him, that he has passed off onto others. Nate damn near beat Tyler within an inch of his life, then made him take the fall for him.
So to see his reaction to being pinned down, I think he lost it for he felt powerless. That and, with seeing his father’s tapes, maybe there was a fear in him what was done to those boys would be done to him? Especially when Cal switched from pressing Nate’s hands to his chest to over his head the way some do which preludes sex?
Either way, you have to appreciate the performances and how they shake you a bit, but I can’t say they elicit the kind of sympathy or molding, that will allow Nate or Cal to seem more than the major, diabolical, moments, that have long defined them.