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      Euphoria’s New Episodes May Help Broaden its Characters’ Struggles

      Glitters. Party. Sex. Three words that may come out from your mind after thinking about ‘Euphoria’. Yet, the recent special episodes highlight a deeper exploration of its characters’ struggles.

      The second season of Euphoria was supposed to be shot earlier in the last year, but, as we all know, the global pandemic made it impossible. However, the American TV channel HBO, which recently launched HBO Max, ordered two « bridge » episodes that were cautiously filmed in September. And that’s how we get to watch « Trouble Don’t Last Always » last month and « Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob » more recently. But are these episodes worth watching?

      Still of Zendaya as Rue in "Trouble Don’t Last Always".
      Zendaya as Rue in « Trouble Don’t Last Always » – © HBO

      Episode 1-Trouble Don’t Last Always:

      The reception of « Trouble Don’t Last Always » or « Part 1: Rue », which focuses on Rue, was mixed. One part of the audience felt it was pretty far from what they remembered about the first season and it probably went over the young audience’s heads. The remaining others praised the episode for its brutal honesty. It’s simply a conversation between Rue (Zendaya) and Ali (Colman Domingo), her sponsor, at diner on Christmas Eve. That’s it. A long – but meaningful –conversation about the harsh reality of life from the perspective of someone who’s struggling between sobriety and addiction.

      Every artifice and distraction is left out, allowing the audience to get Rue’s perspective: carefully trying to learn how to live her truth. The choice of location is even more subtle – it feels more intimate and mostly, more real. Red hoodie pulled up over her face, Rue faces Ali. Guilt and shame are predominant themes but so are forgiveness and empathy. So, this dialogue-driven episode was definitely a tonal shift from the previous glittery episodes.

      Still of Hunter Schafer as Jules in "Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob".
      Hunter Schafer as Jules in « Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob » – © HBO

      Episode 2- Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob:

      This episode, written by Sam Levinson and actress Hunter Schafer, is closer to the ‘Euphoria’ we know. It is stylish and nervy, and features more music tracks. It was a necessary episode as it gave the viewers a glimpse into the characters life from her perspective. Rue was the narrator in the first season, and she was not always a reliable one.

      This episode truly fills the gaps in of Jules’s story, that we initially heard from Rue. Emotionally powerful, the spotlight is on Jules’s vulnerability, a character full of contradictions and complexity. Gender, self-image, femininity, loss, family, and love are discussed during a therapy session. « I fall in love so easily. […] Because half of every relationship is in my head, » Jules tells her therapist in a soliloquy. She obviously refers to her online relationship with « Tyler »; which was mostly a fantasy, and her complicated feelings for Rue, whose struggles resemble her mother’s.

      The conversation moves smoothly from Jules’ burden of preserving Rue’s sobriety, to loving someone suffering from addiction. Intimate and unfiltered best describe the episode. It feels as if we were reading her diary with a bit of a stream of consciousness. The therapy session is intercut by shots of the ocean, an element that Jules feels close to, and old memories that helps us to understand the character’s perspective of herself. She’s moved by so many contradictory emotions – after all, she’s just a lost kid.

      Conclusion:

      These episodes were ultimately crucial for the characters’ development. ‘Euphoria’ once again manages to depict heavy subjects and to visually captivate what the characters feel inside. Even if these standalone episodes had a narrow focus, they successfully complete one another. They will probably help the show to broaden its world in the next season. According to Indie Wire, the second season of Euphoria is set to start shooting in March and its episodes to air at the end of 2021.

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