Christmas with ‘Euphoria’ is not so joyous, but a necessary reminder of the show’s truth



By Ryan Fairfield, Editor-in-Chief

Despite the barriers to filming television shows and movies in the era of COVID-19, the HBO hit series “Euphoria” found a way to pacify eager fans awaiting the release of the second season. “Euphoria” announced that they would be releasing two bridge episodes, meaning that the episodes are not a part of season one, but also not a part of season two. The first of these episodes was released on Dec. 6 and the second one is to be released on Jan. 24. 

In just the first ten minutes of the episode, it was clear that it was not going to be like any episode in season one. Season one of “Euphoria” was known for being intense and fast-paced, with a new character in focus every episode and constant drama around every corner. The new episode, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. 

Throughout the course of the one-hour episode, the audience watches Rue (Zendaya) and her narcotics anonymous sponsor, Ali (Colman Domingo), have an intense conversation about her feelings, addiction, and relationships. What makes this episode stand out from the rest of the series is that it diverts from the typical “Euphoria” aesthetic of glitter, glam, and drama. 

As “Euphoria” has become more and more popular among both teenagers and adults, people have missed much of the message of the show. At its core, “Euphoria” is a show about a confused, emotional teenager and her journey to sobriety, as well as all of the ups and downs that are connected to that journey. However, many younger viewers have glamorized the show for its aesthetic. 

“Euphoria” has become known for its dazzling, intricate makeup and fashionable costumes, as well as the stunning visuals and color palette of blues and purples. While I do think the visuals of “Euphoria” are remarkable and the crew should be praised for their talent and commitment to detail, I think it is important to remember what the show is truly about. Thankfully, this episode is a harsh reminder to the audience of that message. 

There is no glitter or glam in the episode, just Rue and Ali in a diner on Christmas Eve tackling their own problems. This episode is heavy to say the least. There were many moments while I was watching it that I felt so heartbroken for Rue, and all I wanted to do was be able to go into her world and give her a hug. But, that just proves that the writers and actors accomplished their goal for this episode. 

The main theme of this episode is conflict and this idea of conflict is expressed on many different levels. Initially, you have the conflict between Rue and drugs and how she is not committing to sobriety. However, on a deeper level, the audience comes to learn that the true battle is between Rue and her own thoughts. It’s a person-vs.-self conflict.

Other conflicts that arise and are discussed in this episode are Rue’s conflict with her best friend Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Rue’s conflict with Ali. Rue, who is still angry at Jules for running away and leaving her behind, tries to convince herself that all her problems are because of Jules and she is allowed to be self-destructive because of Jules. Ali shoots this down and explains to Rue that she cannot place blame on others because her sobriety is her own battle to fight, which causes the conflict between Rue and Ali to emerge.

Rue and Ali have a complex relationship because, at least in my eyes, the two are very similar. Both of them are headstrong, stubborn, and believe themselves to be right, which in this situation, causes much conflict between them. The conflict between Rue and Ali is not an aggressive one and I would argue that the real conflict Rue has isn’t actually with Ali, but with honesty. 

In this episode, I look at Ali as a metaphor for honesty. Ali plays both the angel and the devil in many points in this episode, trying to paint a picture for Rue and show her all the ways her life could pan out. Rue, who already has an idea of what she wants and greatly dislikes people interfering in her life, gets defensive when Ali criticizes her and finds it hard to accept the truth.

Truth is an idea that is expressed in this episode beyond just the acting, as the truth is something one needs to understand the purpose of this episode. The truth behind this episode is that it was not meant to make you feel good about yourself or bring you the same excitement you had while watching Rue and Jules fall in love in the first season. This episode was meant to be intense and raw and make you uncomfortable. 

Although the latest episode of “Euphoria” was not what I expected at all, I can wholeheartedly say that I believe it to be one of the best television episodes I have seen in a long time. The chemistry between Zendaya and Domingo is so fierce and the dialogue throughout the episode is so strong, that together, the two deliver unforgettable performances. The next episode is set to be released on Jan. 24 and will be centered around Jules. Viewers like myself are hoping for a possible Rue and Jules reunion, but with this episode only focusing on Rue, it is likely that the next episode will follow the same format and only focus on Jules. However, viewers might finally get some clarity on what Jules is doing since she ran away in the season one finale, which is something to look forward to.