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Zendaya as Rue Bennett in "Euphoria." Photo courtesy of IMDb.

REVIEW: ‘Euphoria’: Slow and steady wins the race


This review contains spoilers for season one and the first episode of season two

After season one was released in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a two-year filming delay of the next season, “Euphoria” returned to HBO with its second season premiere on Jan. 9. While most of the episode felt boring, overproduced and disjointed, it seems to be a setup for a sexy and violent story reminiscent of the show’s critically acclaimed first season.

The appeal of “Euphoria” lies in its shocking provocativity, character dimension and humor, making the show more than just your average teen drama. Although Nate (Jacob Elordi) and Cassie’s (Sydney Sweeney) unexpected hookup was certainly that, the episode lacked much of what last season brought, both in lightheartedness and screen time for some of the most fascinating characters — those being Kat (Barbie Ferreira), Maddy (Alexa Demie) and Jules (Hunter Schafer).

An origin story for resident drug dealer Fezco (Angus Cloud) started out the episode, which helps greatly in understanding his motives and how he operates as a person and businessman. Every character has a sad, insane backstory, but Fezco’s might take the cake, making him one of the most sympathetic characters on the show.

Present day, Fezco and perpetually insecure Lexi (Maude Apatow) form an unlikely bond at a New Year’s Eve party. A Fezco/Lexi romance could be just the thing “Euphoria” needs to keep its audience on their toes. After Lexi and Fezco connect, Fezco rips into Nate, beating him seemingly within an inch of his life — this should hopefully make for a more focused follow-up episode. 

Rue (Zendaya) — our main character — was the worst part of this episode by a mile. Season one saw Rue battling her addiction to various drugs, but before her girlfriend Jules left her alone at a train station at the end of the season, she was off drugs for a significant amount of time. Now, all the progress she made in season one was effectively destroyed, and to top it all off, she blames Jules for her relapse. I hope to see a more successful Rue this season so the show can explore other characters more in depth without being stuck on Rue’s constant downward spiral. 

Rue’s story is a broken record, and I’m just about done listening. If “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson wants me to care about her, he’s going to have to throw a curveball her way that can change her selfish and lazy perspective. I think a sudden “get out of my life” speech from Jules could do the trick. Of course, her addiction is heavily to blame, but the shock value of her near overdose in this episode wasn’t nearly as present as anything she did last season — we’ve already seen this.

“Euphoria” focuses on aesthetics just as much as plot, and when that becomes noticeable, it’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong — I like the way the show is shot, and the colors and lighting are always spot on. However, scenes with no sound and random pan-outs distract from the story, which is the most important aspect of any show. Production is meant to enhance, not diminish.

What I truly wanted from this premiere and was eagerly awaiting was to see who was on the presumably pornographic tape Maddy stole from Nate’s room in the last episode of season one. If that’s revealed soon, I have no doubt this season will prove to be just as nail-biting and surprise-inducing as the last.

Emma Trevino is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @itsemmatr

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