What to Watch Verdict
After last week's Rue-centric outing, it is noticeable how packed this episode is, pointing to some of the second season's flaws.
Rue's arc continues to be the most powerful, with strong performances from all involved
The development of Fez and Lexi's relationship
Sydney Sweeney is brilliant (even if the screaming is getting to be a lot)
There are too many competing storylines
Kat once again draws the short straw
The Cassie narrative is going in circles
This post contains spoilers for Euphoria season 2 episode 6, "A Thousand Little Trees of Blood." Read our Euphoria season 2 episode 5 review here. Find out how to watch Euphoria season 2 episode 6 right here.
Taking a step back from the sprawling season 2 plot points to focus on Rue’s (Zendaya) plunge into oblivion in last week's episode of Euphoria was a smart choice by creator Sam Levinson, leading to a genuinely unnerving hour of television. However, the latest episode falls back into its fragmented state when dealing with multiple storylines and once again characters are left out in the cold.
It's unavoidable that certain arcs have fallen by the wayside, but the impact of the varying plots is noticeable after a Rue-centric outing. Bookending “A Thousand Little Trees of Blood” with Rue and her family further emphasizes this point, as does the long stretch in the middle without an appearance from the Bennetts.
This week’s opening scene immediately confirms Rue made it home in one piece following her escapades. Now she is in withdrawal, where even opening a Jolly Rancher candy is a challenge.
The withdrawal montage doesn’t gloss over the depths of despair or the physical side effects, which sees Rue’s mother Leslie (Nika King) get a flash of a backstory — can we give Leslie as much of an arc as Cal Jacobs, please? The final scene that shows Leslie tearily beg for her daughter's rehab cuts to the core of this issue with pinpoint precision.
Rue regrets how she wielded Ali’s (Colman Domingo) past as a weapon; the shame is so thick she can barely turn the apology into words. It is another stellar performance by Emmy winner Zendaya, but every actor in the Bennett home encapsulates a range of emotions with nuance. Levinson once again proves at his most insightful when dealing with the blast radius of addiction.
As soon as the focus shifts to Nate (Jacob Elordi), who misses 38 calls from Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), the show slips back into old habits. The mess his father made in the hallway in episode 4 is still there, emphasizing the condensed timeframe. Instead of immediately responding to his love life blowing up, he day drinks with his mother, digging into the theme of anger sprinkled throughout this season. Nate doesn’t explain the source of his rage — discovering his dad’s explicit videos — and this heart-to-heart remains surface level by design.
Nate knows Maddy (Alexa Demie) has the disc of his father and Jules (Hunter Schafer). Knowing it will ruin his family’s business, he goes to extremes to get it back. The framing of Nate waiting for Maddy in her bedroom is expertly done, cranking up the tension in the time it takes her to notice him sitting there with a gun. While Nate (and the audience) knows she doesn’t scare easily, it is a step too far when he engages in a game of Russian Roulette — regardless of whether the gun had any bullets in it or not. “Edgy” antics like this is when Euphoria tips into self-indulgence.
Nate's next interaction is more satisfactory, even if it begins with coercing Jules out to his car (it should also be noted that Nate once again drinks and drives with zero consequences). Jules, armed with a box cutter, refuses to accept his apology, but eventually softens. When she asks if he is suddenly a good person, Nate responds "Absolutely not, no." Even though he is being sincere with Jules, the show doesn’t go too far by trying to flip who Nate is.
This season is dealing with many characters pondering if they are inherently bad. This scene at least adds a touch of grey when Nate gives Jules the only copy (that he knows about). He should still arguably be in jail though.
One person insisting “I’m not the bad guy,” is Cassie, though even her mom and Lexi (Maude Apatow) are skeptical. Cassie’s delusion extends to not remembering the date she first hooked up with Nate, but New Year’s is not exactly forgettable.
Sweeney continues to commit to Cassie’s spiral, but the material the actress is being given is starting to feel one-note. While her choice to shack up with Nate is going to end in more tears, maybe a change of scenery will give Sweeney (and us) a chance to decompress. No one should relax with a facemask only for it to become streaked with tears or wail “I just want to die” while clutching a corkscrew.
Lexi’s play is now deep into rehearsals, but while hanging out with Fez (Angus Cloud), she reveals her reservations about using her sister’s chaotic life for material. Fez gives her a confidence boost when he says her play reminds him of Stand By Me (“It’s about a group of girlfriends who grow up and grow apart”). They put the movie on and sing-along to Ben E. King’s title track over the credits, both crying at the end. It's a wholesome scene dampened by events going on elsewhere in the house, including a distracted Ash (Javon Walton) missing Faye’s (Chloe Cherry) extended conversation outside regarding police cooperation, which is no doubt going to hit Fez where it hurts.
There is a lot going on, which once again makes Kat (Barbie Ferreria) feel like an afterthought. Her relationship with Ethan (Austin Abrams) is barely defined beyond her annoyance, and he ultimately breaks up with her. It's frustrating because their dynamic last season was organic and allowed room for Kat’s dueling self-loathing and confidence, whereas everything in season 2 is surface level and reactionary.
When compared to the conversation Maddy has with Samantha (Minka Kelly) in the pool, it shows how little development there is for these characters. We learn more in one scene about Samantha than we know about Ethan after all this time. Sure, Samantha is meant to show Maddy a version of Cassie (and maybe hint at a flirtation), but it is noticeable how lacking the Kat/Austin pairing is.
With only two episodes left of this Euphoria, there isn’t a lot of time to address this with so many other conflicts at play.
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.