by Paul Deeter
by Paul Deeter
. . .Or the episode that inspired an a24 commenter on Facebook to question why "Cassie's (Sydney Sweeney) titties didn't get their own title credit." To be fair, nudity and overall S&M on Euphoria is nothing new. We've seen more boobs, ass and penises than any other HBO show combined to date, and certainly miles more than any high school show (outside of the controversial British series Skins maybe). The fact that this show has ramped up such controversy for its overwhelming sexual content is admirably part of the reason why its seen as much success and love as it has by the counter-culture who inspired it. And after a ridiculously violent portrayal of retribution seen from Fez's beatdown on Nate, perhaps as Jane's Addiction once put it: "Nothing's Shocking". But shock or otherwise, Out of Touch pushes the envelope on smut with an opening almost entirely focused on keeping Syndey Sweeney's nude body in focus. It's justified as a "dream sequence" through perhaps a coma dream on behalf of Nate (as the bloody pulp Fez left of him) imagines a future without his former beau Maddie. See he imagines the monster he is can't be truly blamed on his own actions, that would be too easy. Instead he imagines the road not taken with Cassie, despite her being just outside of his peripherals for as many years as they've been in the same school together. So Nate wakes up with a clearer head about what he has to do. He's intent on making Cassie his, despite her Maddie's friendship with her. So, begone imaginary sex and bring on the actual screwing!
Meanwhile, real world Cassie is a mess. Struggling through a depressive period brought on by her decision to hook up with Nate outside of her friend's knowledge along with her actual budding love for him, she's hurting. She isn't eating much, nor maintaining social or even hygienic needs. But what matters to her is Nate's health and her friend's well being for their relationship. She's doing her best, even if it leads to slipping up and forgetting that her leg's are literally caked in Nate's blood one week later. Oops. But let's divert into the strengths of the episode (which aren't with the muddled friendship of Cassie and Maddie).
Kat, our website flaunting and sexually positive side character, is finally getting a bit of front and center coverage, mostly due to her relationship with Ethan.
"Yeah Kat, stop flaunting your healthy non-abusive relationship. It's actually triggering." -Maddie
Ethan is perfect...right? Well almost too nice, too caring, and too boring. The episode defends its extensive use of male gaze with its sexually explicit beginning with a fantasy dream sequence in which Kat is ravished by a Dothraki-type warrior after he slays Ethan and screws her next to his dead body. The show manages these ridiculous moments and fantastical elements just as much as it gets caught up in its own fetishes. This moment is a high among the previous mentioned love triangle, which just meanders. There's secret texts, steamy meet-ups and the impending sense of doom that swallows up Cassie more than Nate. Nate thinks that Cassie is in trouble, but feels like he's in the clear (typical boy mindset). It's interesting to see Nate as a romantic again after the failed mess of his secret almost-affair with Jules. But he's still the manipulator he always was, finding himself behind the scenes with his own game to play, yet again.
But we've been here before. And as much as we love to hate Nate, it leaves us feeling stale when we could be focusing in on Rue's sudden interest in a new boy she met at the NYE party, or those same feelings of Lexi falling for bad-boy Fez after their meet-cute on NYE (uh, before the smackdown).
In what could have been a simply meh episode about an affair and teenage drama surrounding it, a scene involving Nate's Dad, Cal Jacobs played by Eric Dane. Dane has nailed this creepy father figure quietly throughout the first season, and in a sweat-inducing scene where he confronts Fez at his gas station, he excels. Carrying a gun in his pocket and staring down the boy he just learned assaulted his son, we have no idea the fate of Fez or Cal but the tension couldn't be higher. Its a taut scene that shines some of a24's best moments in film of dramatic tension. And even when Cal walks away (gun hidden in pocket) we know Fez isn't in the clear. And what is Cal left with in the end? A confession from his son that he knows what happened between Jules and him. The hookup that led to the drama of basically all of Euphoria's first season. The truth is out. Now what?
Episode Grade: B-