euphoria needed an episode like this. For one thing, creator Sam Levinson finally slows his roll. The camera – which typically glides, swoops, and whip-pans – takes a breath. It’s a welcome respite for an audience who are approximately one elaborate shot away from following in Cassie’s footsteps and projectile vomiting from motion sickness. Instead, the lens pauses – and finds Rue in its line of sight from her.
Episode five picks up where four left off: has Rue overdosed again? It’s a fair question given that we last saw her shove ling pills down her throat on a night that culminated with Rue hallucinating her own funeral. Thankfully, the answer is no. But what transpires over the next hour is hardly less emotionally devastating. Episode five extinguishes any happiness euphoria had left to offer.
Of course, spoilers below!
“You’re not a good person, Rue”
From the get-go, we know this won’t be a typical euphoria episode. No one’s having sex and everyone’s fully clothed, for a start. Instead, we see Gia – Rue’s younger sister – sitting on her bed listening to what we’re listening to: Rue’s mum de ella, Leslie, gently telling Rue that she knows about the drugs. Chaos dreams.
In my overall review of euphoria series two, I wrote that episode five pretty much guaranteed Zendaya another Emmy. On a second watch, I’m certain of it. As Leslie implores her daughter to get help, Rue shuttles rapidly between a billion emotions. She is both terrifying and terrifying. She’s vicious like a small animal backed into a corner. She says the most hurtful things she can think of and manages to sidestep melodrama even when she smashing a glass cabinet to the floor. The scene plays out like a horror movie as Rue flings her body repeatedly against the door to Gia’s bedroom where her mum and sister are sheltering from her rage. Zendaya’s ferocity of her calls to mind Evan Rachel Wood’s arresting portrayal of her as a troubled teenager in the 2003 film Thirteen. “You do not f***ing scare me,” Leslie tells Rue, with a tremor in her voice and tears in her eyes that believe what she’s saying.
Things get worse when Jules unexpectedly chirps up from the kitchen to inform Rue that the drugs have been flushed down the loo. Suddenly, Rue’s cruelty has a new target. She comes down on Jules hard, reeling off insults freely and aggressively. But there’s also a moment of catharsis here. One that we’ve been waiting for since Rue and Jules miraculously got back together in episode two as if Jules hadn’t left Rue at the train station at the end of season one. “You left me when I needed you – you left me when I was at my lowest and someone who loves you wouldn’t do something like that,” Rue tells her now. That glimmer of vulnerability seems to break her walls down just enough for Rue to agree to go to rehab. At least momentarily.
Sidenote: Where are the drugs?
Ok, obviously we’re all in Leslie’s corner here but did she really need to flush the drugs? If you find that your teenage kid – with no income and therefore no way of paying for a suitcase full of drugs – has a suitcase full of drugs in her room, you do not flush it down the toilet. Where there’s a suitcase full of drugs, there’s usually a scary person waiting to collect. In this case, it’s the quietly threatening Laurie, ex-soccer mum and big-time dealer. But more on her later.
Run, Cassie, Run!
It takes all of five minutes for Rue to realize that actually no, she doesn’t want to go to rehab. And so, she dashes out of her mum’s car like a bullet from a gun, straight into oncoming traffic. Rue somehow ends up at Lexi’s house. The gang’s all here and after exchanging brief hellos, she goes in search of what she came for. When she ca n’t find any pills, she settles for some expensive-looking earrings but finds her mum de ella waiting when she goes to leave. Intervention: take two.
Cassie thinks it appropriate to offer some advice with zero knowledge of the situation. “Just take it one day at a time,” she says, a little condescendingly. Maybe it’s this that pushes Rue to ask: “How long have you been f***ing Nate Jacobs?” Either way, it’s hard to feel sorry for Cassie over what comes next. Admittedly we do not get to see much – Maddie says something about getting violent before she chases Cassie up the stairs, but the camera stays on Rue as she uses the chaos to make her exit from her.
Dropping the bomb so unexpectedly and casually gives the revelation more dramatic flair than if it had been Maddy walking in on her best friend and maybe-boyfriend going at it herself. A sense of dread (will we see Cassie again? Or will Maddy have bludgeoned her to death with a stiletto and buried her body de ella by the time next Sunday rolls around?) Follows Rue as she leaves Lexi’s house behind and heads to Fezco’s.
No where left to turn
After being turned away by Fezco, Rue resorts to the kindness of strangers – or rather she breaks into some Architectural Digest-looking home and steals a bunch of stuff. Our heroin-addled heroine, though, can’t seem to catch a break. No sooner has she made off with the stolen goods than she stumbles across a patrol car. The resulting chase sees Rue parkour her way out of police clutches. It seems Zendaya is putting her Marvel training to good use.
Out of options, Rue goes to Laurie’s house – her dealer to whom she owes a suitcase full of drugs or the cash equivalent. By this point, Rue is looking seriously rough as the side-effects of withdrawal worsen. Laurie offers her morphine to ease the pain. But she must take it intravenously – something Rue has never done before. We’re all screaming at our screens for Rue to run away and never look back, but it’s practically a fait accompli. As always, euphoria doesn’t shy away from the nastiness of it all and we’re treated to an up-close shot of the needle going into her arm, not once but three or four times as Laurie struggles to find a vein because Rue is shivering so violently . Rue wakes up in the early hours and manages to make it out of Laurie’s house undetected. She climbs out the window and bolts it down the street. Where she’s running to her, though, we have no idea.
New episodes of Euphoria are released on Sunday nights on Sky Atlantic
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.