By Vianney Morales
It would be an understatement to say that the second season of “Euphoria” performed well.
The pop culture phenomenon had many viewers and non-viewers alike yearning for the next episode every week.
It exceeded its first season in ratings, which may be attributed to the many melodramatic subplots and an increased interest in the HBO teen drama over the pandemic.
The season began with a thrilling backstory for Fezco, played by Angus Cloud, as we come to understand his family background and the origin of his drug dealing. The story shifts to the present, where the main cast reunites at a fateful East High party. With unpredictable character interactions and a brutal fist fight, the stage is set for the upcoming storylines in the season.
Somewhere between the various subplots, it becomes unclear what the show is trying to be. There were a few central plotlines that dragged on only to be resolved almost too amicably. It seemed like the showrunners tried to compensate for this with elaborate plot devices and cinematography to illustrate things that should have been straightforward.
Rue’s (Zendaya) story loses focus, which was made evident by her growing lack of narration that initially gave the show so much personality. Amidst the provocative sequences, Rue was the guide to the show’s chaos. Her sarcasm and wit made the unsettling storylines easier to digest. The story felt lost without her.
Yes, the withering narration was likely an intentional decision to show that Rue’s state of mind was slipping as she dealt with her worsening addiction. But it would’ve been more interesting to have her narrate while she was slipping from reality.
The show scrambles to connect everything in the finale. While it answers some questions, it also made many details irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Moreover, there was an evident gap in the season that was previously filled by Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Kat (Barbie Ferreira) in the first season. Both characters had their own episodes in the first season with riveting backstories.
During the show’s prolonged hiatus, Jules had an additional hour-long special episode. The special featured Jules’ retelling of her problematic relationship with Rue and her identity struggles to her therapist. The audience’s perspective of Jules positively shifts as they learn that Rue’s portrayal of their relationship was not faithful.
Rather than building upon Jules’ or Kat’s character arcs, the show fixated on Nate’s and Cassie’s relationship.
This is incomprehensible as both Kat and Jules were set up to be key characters in the first season only to be given arguably the most unappealing storylines with no redemption in the second.
The first and last episodes were the most plot-driven and every character felt as if they had a place in the story. Although the season started and ended strongly, it doesn’t negate that the episodes in between felt trivial.
The cast delivered stellar performances despite the writing, namely Zendaya.
Zendaya portrayed Rue’s withdrawal and the moments leading up to it truthfully. Even when Rue is doing everything she can to burn bridges with everyone in her life, I can’t help but sympathize and recognize her pain under the surface.
It’s hard to imagine “Euphoria” lasting longer after the season two finale. There’s heavy hinting that Rue won’t stay sober and her romance with Jules won’t be revived. We do get a sense of the other characters’ fates beyond East High.
The third season isn’t slated to release until 2024 and it’s unclear what the season will entail, especially with the show’s unpredictability.
For now, fans will have to continue the unrelenting discourse and wait patiently for the next two years.