Season two of HBO’s “Euphoria” highlights relationships, prioritizes cinematography


Euphoria is rated for mature audiences and discusses mature content. This review contains spoilers for season two.

Season two of HBO’s acclaimed Euphoria premiered on Jan. 9th, with weekly episodes airing on Sundays at 8 p.m. CDT. This new season further unpacks the relationships, trauma and drama between all of the characters. While season one introduced the audience to the show’s main characters and examined how they are all interconnected, season two has enhanced these connections even further. On top of that, the writers have given backstories and more screen-time to previously beloved side characters, as well as used creative cinematography for storytelling. 

While last season was more focused on the protagonist, Rue Bennett, this season has really tried to expand to the previous side characters. Cal Jacobs, in particular, has gotten a lot of attention for his intense storyline that gave insight into his repressed LGBTQ+ identity. While in season one Cal was clearly portrayed as a deeply flawed person, in episodes one through four of season two the audience gets more of an inside look into why Cal acts the way he does. Episode three, in particular, explores his suppressed love for his best friend in a world that expects him to fit a hypermasculine standard. The flashback provides a look into the trauma influencing his villainous behavior. 

In addition, Lexi Howard stands out as a breakout character this season. Played by Maude Apatow, Lexi’s internal thoughts are expressed through a movie in her mind. The way that exploration of Lexi’s character allows the creators to break the fourth wall, giving the show a deeper meaning. Additionally, the audience is able to gain insight into Lexi’s character through her budding romance with Fezco, which begins in episode one and is further explored in episode six.

Fezco has also been a fan favorite throughout the series. Whether it’s his calm demeanor or aversion to drama, Fezco has remained a good friend, especially to Rue, and a consistent character throughout the series. Many people are drawn to his calm, kind, down-to-earth persona which contrasts the shady drug-dealing business he conducts. While the audience doesn’t know the full extent of his business, Fezco’s involvement in the death of another drug dealer, Mouse, raises questions about the future of his character. Will he get caught? Get arrested? Die? We’re soon to find out, but his romance with the seemingly innocent Lexi seems to be taking precedence in viewers’ minds. Their brief, but undeniable chemistry leaves fans desperately wanting more. These fleeting moments of the duo — nicknamed “Fexi” — are a breath of fresh air in the jam-packed storyline. 

Season two has also introduced a new character, Elliot, played by singer Dominic Fike. Through a secret relationship with Jules and habit of doing drugs with Rue, Elliot’s character has mainly served to push conflict between the two. This conflict boils over when it’s Elliot who reveals to Jules that Rue has been doing drugs, ultimately leading to Rue’s massive confrontation in episode 5.

Although the first four episodes seemed to follow a similar style to season one, episode five exemplified a major change. It was centered entirely around Rue, the only episode thus far to dedicate so much time to a singular character. Contrary to the dramatic and quick-moving start to the season, this episode was a slow burn, keeping fans on the edge of their seats. It opened with Rue’s breakdown and fight with her family. Zendaya’s acting was finally given the spotlight that it deserves, showing her stunning emotional range and ability to captivate the audience. Every scene was a bit more shocking than the last, as Rue ran both physically and metaphorically from all her problems. Viewers watch in anticipation as she races through the streets whilst facing withdrawal and causing chaos everywhere she goes. The episode also shows the first glimpses of Rue’s actions catching up with her, when Laurie creepily questions how Rue will pay her the drug money that she owes.

This captivating, wild fifth episode seemed to mark another turning point in the season. We finally see the tensions between Maddy and Cassie boil over when Rue reveals Cassie’s secret relationship with Maddy’s ex-boyfriend, Nate. The whole second season has teased this moment and didn’t stop here. 

Finally, episode six dove into the aftermath of the fight where we see how Maddy and Cassie are processing. However, perhaps the most shocking scene is delivered between Maddy and Nate after he forces her to give up his father’s disc. The intensity of the acting and thrill of the scene truly make it stand out as one of the highlights of the season. Kat, on the other hand, feebly attempts to manipulate her boyfriend, Ethan, and he leaves her, all in the span of about three minutes. The episode is packed with drama, although in a sweet moment, Rue makes amends with Ali, her sponsor, and we see her first glimpse of a redemption arc. 

Overall, season two beautifully showcases Euphoria’s creative, alluring storylines and constant character development which all contribute to its swirling success and popularity, and every episode leaves us eagerly waiting to see what happens next.