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‘Euphoria’ season 2 episode 5 review: 'Stand Still Like the Hummingbird'

Rue takes center stage in a tension-filled 'Euphoria.'

Euphoria Zendaya
(Image: © Eddy Chen/HBO)

Our Verdict

The best episode of the season so far, which benefits from focusing on Rue's story.

For

  • - Zendaya's performance, a front-runner for her Emmy submission
  • - Rue dropping the Nate bombshell
  • - Leaning into a horror movie scenario and making Rue the "Final Girl"
  • - Martha Kelly is brilliant and terrifying

Against

  • - Where does 'Euphoria' go from here?
  • - The foot chase is ambitious but goes on too long

This post contains spoilers for Euphoria season 2 episode 5, "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird." Read our Euphoria season 2 episode 4 review here.  

Rue (Zendaya) has spent all of Euphoria’s second season treading water above oblivion and with each passing week she hits a new rock bottom. Let’s not forget that in the season premiere she was concerned her heart was going to stop and this is not even the worst moment for the teenager so far. Somehow everyone around Rue hasn’t clocked that her erratic and spaced-out behavior are signs of a major relapse, and while she is very good at lying, it stretches the credibility of these characters. Yes, this is a show that asks the audience to suspend disbelief at all turns but it is particularly egregious that Jules (Hunter Schafer) and her mom had to be told that Rue is using copious amounts of drugs. 

All signs pointed to Rue overdosing when she spent time in her imagination with her father while the opening montage of episode 4 placed her in the tragic Hollywood character role. Instead, this week’s outing begins mid-fight between Rue and her mother, Leslie (Nika King). Initially, we hear this from Gia’s (Storm Reid) perspective as she hides out in her bedroom while Rue tries to peddle the weed cover story that holds no weight.

The ugly scene turns violent after Rue’s temper boils over when she realizes her suitcase of pills is missing. Visceral fear colors her voice, which is a mix of not knowing how she is going to pay the money back and the stress of missing her next fix. "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird" is an intense hour following Rue as she tries to evade going back to rehab, the best episode of the season so far and another Emmy showcase for Zendaya.

Euphoria Nika King

Nika King in 'Euphoria' (Image credit: Eddy Chen/HBO)

Rue covers the entire neighborhood — and then some — as she tries to flee from her mother’s plans to get her help. The reveal that Jules and Elliot (Dominic Fike) have been sitting in her home while she melts down only adds to Rue’s fury, which she now points directly at Jules. “You’re f***ing dead to me,” she tells her girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend?), but Jules will not be pushed away easily. The train station gets brought up again and there is a worry that Sam Levinson keeps laying the blame at Jules’ feet or at least is allowing Rue to do this. 

It's surprising when Rue is quick to agree to go to the hospital, but she changes her mind in an instant when her mom mentions rehab. Rue has a death wish but also doesn’t want to die, which is evident both times she ends up running across a busy road — including evading cops like she is playing a game of Frogger. Her physical health is hampered by the narcotic withdrawal but she is also fueled by a drive to find more drugs, which first takes her to Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) house.

Euphoria Hunter Schafer

Hunter Schafer in 'Euphoria' (Image credit: Eddy Chen/HBO)

Again, it's clear something is awry, but Lexi is quick to accept that Rue simply has a cold. Or rather, to avoid a confrontation, she accepts Rue is ill and not in withdrawal. Is Lexi looking at this situation through the lens of her play? Well, if she is then Rue does her a solid by dropping the Nate (Jacob Elordi) truth bomb as a way to escape after her mother shows up. Revealing this information in front of Maddy (Alexa Demie) and the rest of Cassie’s (Sydney Sweeney) friends is the out Rue needs. 

While Rue didn’t seem to think much of seeing Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) with Nate, it turns out she wasn’t too high to register this illicit kiss. Despite the severity of Rue’s situation, Maddy (Alexa Demie) is so angry about her BFFs betrayal that she can’t help but lash out. Cassie does a terrible job of feigning surprise, blaming Rue’s drug addict status. This is a moment of much-needed dark humor in an emotionally heavy episode. 

Euphoria Sydney Sweeney Alexa Demie Barbie Ferreira

Sydney Sweeney, Alexa Demie and Barbie Ferreira in 'Euphoria' (Image credit: Eddy Chen/HBO)

From here Rue runs to Fez’s (Angus Cloud), but she crosses a line when she tries to pilfer pills from his grandmother’s room. Rue’s journey continues with an opportunistic burglary where she gets caught in the act but evades these strangers and the cops who ask her if she is okay. What follows is a sequence that makes the police look like bumbling idiots and shows how ineffectual they are even against someone in Rue’s state. While this foot chase is ambitious, it goes on for too long.

Ending up at Laurie’s (Martha Kelly) apartment with a fist full of stolen cash and jewels to pay for some of the drugs tips this episode into horror territory. Laurie’s soft and slow-talking manner lulls Rue into a false sense of security, but you don’t become a drug barren through kindness. She infers that if Rue can’t pay with money she can use her body instead. Laurie offers methadone to deal with the withdrawal, which Rue takes in her moment of desperation. In the bath, we get more flashes of Rue's father, as well as her eulogy that points to why she hides in these memories. 

When Rue wakes up she finds every door and window locked, but her survival instinct kicks in and she escapes through one window without a lock. It is a tense sequence and turns Rue into the Final Girl who survives against all odds. This isn’t a slasher movie but this escape has the hallmarks of one (minus the bloodshed).  

The episode’s conclusion is unresolved, however. The suggestion is Rue returned home after a night on the run. It is unclear what is next for Rue, but her addiction is not a problem to be solved in a couple of episodes — this is not Miranda’s brief alcoholism in And Just Like That

Focusing on Rue at this stage in the season benefits this character and propels the story forward to a point that should cover new ground in the remaining three outings, but this season has been rather erratic so far and Rue’s future matches the ambiguity of “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird’s” final shot.    

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.