First two episodes of Euphoria season 2 bring back fan-favorite plotlines and characters

Sofia Treviño, Life and Arts Associate Editor

CW:  violence, nudity, drug abuse 

Editor’s note: This review contains Euphoria season 2 spoilers.

After two and a half years, the long awaited “Euphoria” returned to screens this January, bringing back its star-studded cast, creative visuals and melodramatic character arcs. Releasing weekly episodes on Sunday nights to HBO and HBO Max, the eight-chapter season leaves viewers eager for more.

Despite the prolonged wait, the sophomore season picks up right where season one left off. In episode one, “Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door,” protagonist Rue (Zendaya) struggles with her evolving drug addiction and yearns for romantic interest Jules (Hunter Schafer). Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) battles between her need to be loved and her want for self love and independence. Nate (Jacob Elordi) continues to serve as the terrifying antagonist, manipulating and acting aggressively toward both flings and friends. Despite Nate’s often vile behavior, Maddy (Alexa Demie) still desperately wants him back, and Kat (Barbie Ferreira) appears to have found herself in a perfect relationship.

Though the characters’ wardrobes don’t seem to fit into a typical high school setting, the beloved actors meld seamlessly back into their old characters. Elordi portrays Nate effortlessly, eliciting loathing and disgust from audiences. During a particularly suspenseful scene where Cassie hides herself in a bathtub to avoid being caught with Nate, her best friend Maddy’s ex, Sweeney acts with pure horror movie-like intensity.

Episode two, “Out of Touch,” acts more as filler while still adding needed background on characters and setting up future plotlines. Characters often minimized in season one, such as Lexi and Kat, shine through especially with some of the best scenes of the season so far.

As promised in episode one, episode two showcases more of Lexi (Maude Apatow), a shy character usually overshadowed by Cassie, her older sister. Hints of a budding romance with Fezco (Angus Cloud) emerge from the pair’s awkward but wholesome interactions, offering a breath of fresh air and distracting from “Euphoria’s” normal violence and gore. A flashback scene of Lexi finding out Rue, her childhood best friend, had an overdose adds long-awaited complexity to Lexi’s previously one-dimensional character.

A testament to the show’s astounding popularity, the premiere of “Euphoria’s” season two reeled in a whopping 2.4 million viewers. However, increased and excessive inclusions of nudity make season two incredibly uncomfortable to watch. As much as long-standing fans love the dramatic narrative and cinematic imagery, “Euphoria’s” graphic depiction of mature themes, including violence, drugs and addiction, calls into question the decision to place the show in a high school setting. While most of the actors are in their mid-twenties, the characters they portray are teenagers, and it’s disconcerting to see minors in such mature situations. While the show is not intended for a high school audience, the setting might attract a younger audience, promoting destructive behaviors instead of just drawing attention to them. 

Despite its potentially problematic content, “Euphoria’s” stellar production and sensational performances continue to make it one of HBO’s biggest hits.

4 over-exaggerated high school parties out of 5