After a three-year gap between seasons, Euphoria Season 2 will conclude in a few short weeks. As of the fifth episode from this so-far improved second outing, creator Sam Levinson has shown us exactly what makes the show work and reminded us how it needed to refine its approach from Season 1. In all its neon-bathed darkness, Euphoria has a heart and purpose in the stories of Rue Bennett and Jules Vaughn, and we can only hope that Levinson continues to develop his writing and directing before he once again stretches himself too thin.
Praise for the ‘Euphoria’ Specials
A year before the new season premiered, Levinson made two special episodes set during the holiday break after Season 1. Though these episodes did little to advance the plot, they were by a wide margin the most emotionally resonant episodes to date. A revealing quote comes from Rue’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) early in “Trouble Don’t Last Always,” saying that the two were finally having a real conversation. This sentiment instantly latches onto the viewer and holds until the end of the second special. Like many Euphoria episodes, the two specials each focus on a different character, the first detailing Rue’s conversation with Ali and the second drifting through a therapy session with Jules. With such a singular vision for each episode, these concentrated Euphoria episodes feel like the first time Levinson has not sidelined the character development of Rue and Jules, as he tends to lean on the wild antics from the other characters.
Finding the Raison d'Être of ‘Euphoria’
Though Season 2 has its fair share of digression from the undeniably central Rue and Jules development story at the core, the recent episode “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” proved Levinson could balance all the pieces while progressing the audience’s investment in Rue. For now, Euphoria undoubtedly maintains its purpose underneath the many glossy layers of teen drama and extreme behaviors. Whether the show will continue empathetically evolving its characters’ psyches remains to be seen.