by Paul Deeter
"She didn't just hate her brain, she hated her body. Not every part of it though. Just her shoulders, her arms, her hands. Most of her chest, her stomach her thighs. Knees were the worst, and her ankles and her big stupid fucking feet".
Or the episode where we learn about our trans character Jules, and her stumble through childhood before transitioning. Her story is a different kind but similarly bleak; she suffers from body dysphoria and triggering OCD ticks. She is quite depressed that despite therapy her parents find it best to have her hospitalized at age 13 (where she is very early on threatened with sexual assault by a much older male patient). Most of her early story pre-Euphoria is bleak, including an attempt on her life while inside, but surprisingly we learn that her post hospitalization experience and the process of her transition is actually much more comfortable. In spite of all the trauma and childhood dysphoria, her Dad takes on the role of supporting parent with the surgery and hormonal changes she needs. This is a big move on Euphoria's part to distinguish itself from the norm of other high-school stories; the idea of a parent supporting a teenage daughter in this experience is refreshing to see. This is after we meet multiple families and parents disconnected from their children, and this is a show about disconnected children. As we shouldn't forget, these are children, and they're struggling. But Jules' struggle doesn't come from her transitional experience but instead the position she puts herself in with older men. We've already established in the prior episode that Rue is in love with Jules (the episode ends with an awkward kiss between the two), but Jules is in the habit of hooking up with older anonymous men. The purpose? Outside of (implied) money she's making, its unclear as to what keeps her involved with random hookups. And clearly she's in danger.
That all establishes the episode for its introduction of Jules, and not a minute too early. The mystery of Jules has existed for three episodes prior, and while we've been granted the opportunity to peer into the horrid psyche of Nate, and the perplexity of Kat, Jules is someone we needed an explanation for some time. This is probably the strongest episode outside of the pilot and one of the top three episodes of the series thus far. The whole episode is brilliantly awash in the most amount of color and lighting that the show is famous for, with its setting being entirely at a carnival. Every kiss and interaction, (be it awkward, lovely or even violent) is juxtaposed with a background of colorful teenage fun. Its also scored by a funhouse style musical cacophony. The whole episode basically runs on one musical track and never loses its sense of chaos, and boy does the chaos come in droves. For little to worse: Kat is hooking up with carnies to get back at her nerdy love interest when she thinks he's flirting with another girl. Jules just found out (and so did we) that her most aggressive sexual encounter happens to be Nate's father, who disguises under the guise of being a good-Dad and football coach. By episode two we did reveal he was a bit of a deviant: this information shakes Nate's young life into the psychopath he is today. Oh and on the note of that! Nate's fucking nuts this episode and chokes his girlfriend violently in response to her promiscuous behavior at her Dad's hokey chili contest.
Whoever isn't in trouble is at least on drugs, and this same goes for Rue's innocent young sister, Gia. She gets stoned and falls into the wrong crowd with some bad older kids. Rue is concerned but her 'motherly' interception comes with an accusatory response by the other kids. Rue is the drugged out sister, not Gia, and who is she to throw stones? But at the very least on the way home and back she promises to keep her secret. The aftermath of her misadventure is pretty tame, but Maddy, despite playing it cool with Nate discovers her neck is obviously quite bruised. Nate's father goes into his office and deletes some evidence, but can't seem to find it. And Jules? Well, she finally meets Mr. Mysteriously Right... and well it's that psychopath, Nate. Jules is shocked and scared by Nate, especially his threat to blackmail her with the images she took and ruin her life. Before letting Nate off into the night Jules gets the final word. "I think you're a fucking f**got just like your Daddy." Foreshadowing to a family secret come clean? Well at least Jules has Rue, and its in the comfort of her room that we finally get to breathe, after a raucous and depressing series of misfortunes befall our characters in such an innocent outing. Euphoria takes us to the carnival, but not out of the furnace, and things aren't looking too good for our students at the halfway point of the first season.