Jules’s ‘Euphoria’ episode shines light on her character

HBO

HBO

By Ryan Fairfield, Editor-in-Chief

When an episode of “Euphoria” opens with Lorde’s “Liability,” you know you are in for an emotional ride. The most recent episode of “Euphoria,” released on Jan. 24, is potentially one of the best pieces of television I have ever watched. The raw emotion and pain of the entire episode captured all of my attention and allowed the audience to truly understand Jules (Hunter Schafer) and her struggles, something that was definitely lacking in the first season. 

In Rue’s (Zendaya) episode, a majority of the episode took place in one location and focused on a conversation between her and Ali (Colman Domingo). Jules’s episode takes a similar format in which a majority of the episode takes place in a therapist’s office and focuses on a conversation between Jules and her therapist, Dr. Mardy Nichols (Lauren Weedman). One major difference between Jules’s episode and Rue’s is that Jules’s episode incorporates many more flashbacks and scenes that take place outside of the therapist’s office. 

The flashbacks are essential to this episode because they allow the audience to see how the events of season one, which was told mainly through Rue’s perspective, impacted Jules. Throughout the course of the first season, Rue frames herself as the protagonist and oftentimes frames Jules as the antagonist, as Jules is not always there for Rue in the way she wants her to be. This episode however shows the audience that Jules had her own issues to deal with and although she may have wanted to be there for Rue, that was not always realistic. 

The episode mainly focuses on Jules’s personal struggles with both her sexuality and identity, as well as some of her family struggles. As a transgender woman who has experienced much trauma in her life, including her mother admitting her to a mental hospital, Jules is used to pain and has a very complicated relationship with love. While talking to her therapist, Jules dissects how she feels about love, discussing both her feelings towards others and others feelings towards her. 

The two key people Jules attaches feelings of love to are her mother, Amy (Pell James), and Rue. Jules struggles to understand her own relationship with her mother and struggles to understand if her mother truly loved her or not. Not only did Jules’s mother admit her to a mental hospital, but she also left Jules due to struggles with addiction. With Rue, Jules understands that she loves Rue and deeply cares for Rue and while Rue feels the same, Jules is afraid to truly love Rue because like her mother, Rue also struggles with addiction.

In addition to love, this episode also shines a light on Jules relationship with her identity and sex. Throughout the course of the first season, Jules is shown being very open with her sexuality and frequently has sexual encounters with various men through dating apps. In this episode however, the audience learns that Jules sexual encounters with men have negatively impacted her identity and her own view of herself. While discussing this subject, Jules says, “I feel like I’ve framed my entire womanhood around men.” By saying this, Jules shows that she has created a version of herself that is acceptable to men and one that men desire, but not necessarily one that she is comfortable or proud of. Jules’s struggle with love and her identity that are addressed in this episode are painful and emotional, but essential in understanding the character and this episode succeeds in establishing Jules as a more complex character.

The reason this episode is so successful is mainly due to Hunter Schafer. Not only did Schafer do a phenomenal job at writing the script for this episode, but her acting is also incredible. There is not much action in this episode. There are no epic parties, flashing lights or heated arguments. For the most part, there is barely even any movement in the episode, as aside from the flashbacks, the episode only takes place in the therapist’s office where Jules sits on a couch for half an hour. 

That being said, even though Schafer spends a majority of the episode stationary on a couch, it is the little things that make her acting in this episode stand out. From how she sits in certain scenes and how she fidgets when her therapist asks her some very direct and personal questions, Schafer captures the pain and struggle Jules feels, especially with it being her first session with the therapist. Additionally, the way that Schafer delivers many of the lines for this episode is extremely memorable as in each line, she perfectly conveys the emotion attached to it. 

Overall, this episode of “Euphoria” perfectly tells Jules’s story and allows her character to grow and the audience to empathize with her. Both the dialogue and acting throughout the episode allow Schafer to excel and deliver one of the most memorable performances in the whole series. Although there is yet to be a release date for season two of “Euphoria” and this recent episode marks the end of the winter specials, the show has already set itself up for success.