What to Watch Verdict
The first part of Lexi's play is a triumph that deftly mixes comedy and drama.
Austin Abrams shines in the big dance number
The crowd reactions (especially Lexi's mom)
Mixing the actors in the play with the regular performers
Maude Apatow's theater kid energy
The Rue narration interludes are a little jarring
Walks a very thin line that occasionally tips into self-indulgent
This post contains spoilers for Euphoria season 2 episode 7, "The Theater and Its Double." Read our Euphoria season 2 episode 6 review here. Find out how to watch Euphoria season 2 episode 7 right here.
A school play is a teen TV staple, whether it's the My So-Called Life production of Our Town or Riverdale’s annual musical. In each case, the stage production doubles as a dialogue between characters that address their wider conflicts, such as a betrayal or an unresolved love match. Euphoria goes a step further as Lexi (Maude Apatow) takes center stage with an interpretation of events depicted over the first two seasons. Reactions from the school auditorium are varied, but "The Theater and Its Double" is Euphoria at its best.
Lexi’s shift from a sidekick to a substantial storyline has been a highlight of season 2, letting Apatow tap into theater kid energy with a satisfying payoff. While Rue (Zendaya) has been narrating the majority of the series, Lexi takes most of the voiceover observations this week.
That does make it somewhat jarring, however, when Rue briefly resumes this role to mention Lexi had been talking to Fez (Angus Cloud) every day for the last few months. Rue pipes up again to explain she hasn’t spoken to Jules (Hunter Schafer) since the "bulls*** intervention." These interjections reveal some of the limitations of using Lexi’s play as the framework for this episode.
During a Rue interlude, we get a brief interaction between Rue and her mother. Leslie (Nika King) announces she will be focusing on Gia (Storm Reid) because she is concerned about her youngest daughter's grades and attitude. It is a brutally honest scene and while Leslie sounds cold at first, she wants to make sure she doesn’t lose both her children. She is making Rue responsible for her own recovery; time will tell whether this tactic pays off.
When the episode turns its attention to Lexi's play, it employs a dreamlike quality to the structure. Flashes of the past overlap with what we are seeing acted out by the high schoolers. If you glance away from the screen you might miss a transition between the real and the theatrical retelling. It is disorientating, but Lexi's narration is a grounding factor.
The play opens on the day of Rue’s dad’s funeral. “Wait, is this f***ing play about us?” Maddy (Alexa Demie) asks in horror after a few scenes. Considering how much intimate material Lexi is making public it is hardly surprising that some react badly to how they are depicted.
One person who is well within their rights to be furious is Rue, as not only does the play open with her snorting drugs on the worst day of her life, but other private conversations are repeated. Instead, Rue seems to embrace this portrayal. It helps that Lexi isn’t sensationalizing or being cruel about her besties' addiction. Rather, her interpretation of events is of someone struggling to understand the depths of this despair.
In that opening scene, Lexi's character reaches out in the only way she knows how, using art to comprehend trauma. Reading Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower” is Lexi’s way of giving strength to her friend, even if she doesn’t have her own words.
It also speaks to the avoidant behavior Lexi has learned at home. Fragments of scenes with her family sharing a brief moment of happiness acted out by Lexi and Ethan (Austin Abrams) are juxtaposed with a memory of her father drunk behind the wheel with his kids in the car. In the memory, Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) ignores the danger of this scenario and pretends everything is fine while the younger Lexi is gripped by fear. In the present, Cassie looks on in horror from the audience at these moments getting mined for art, whereas their mom enthusiastically yells out.
Previously, Suze Howard has been an approximation of Amy Poehler’s Mean Girls “cool mom” character. However, over the last few episodes, Alanna Ubach’s incredible performance has added depth to Suze. She holds Cassie accountable for her actions and she is trying to break the cycle of denial. Plus, it is nice to see how proud she is of Lexi’s achievement.
Later in the play, Cassie responds to a dramatized version of her Nate (Jacob Elordi) entanglement as you might expect. She goes to the bathroom in order to let her perfect facade fall before tearily plastering a smile across her face. However, she can’t keep this mask on during the "Holding Out for a Hero" musical number that rips Nate’s toxic masculinity apart with the depiction of a super homoerotic locker room scene — yes, the gym equipment is purposefully phallic. This leads to Nate storming out and dumping Cassie.
Maddy yells out her approval at Nate’s humiliation — changing her tune from earlier and yelling out "Lexi, you’re a f***ing G" in response to the big musical number that brings the house down. Many of the cast's audience reactions require a second watch to take in everyone’s joy (and hatred).
It's hard to imagine a school budget that could pay for sets as intricate as this, but Euphoria has never bothered replicating a realistic high school experience. All in all, the first part of Lexi’s play is a success, including Austin Abrams finally getting something to do this season, as his multiple roles in this play are fantastic.
The only shadow hanging over these scenes is the empty seat in the auditorium meant for Fez. Lexi and Fez's budding romance continues throughout the episode. As Fez gets ready for opening night, he frets about whether to wear a tie and he has bought Lexi flowers. But for some reason he didn't make it to the show.
We don’t know what has happened to prevent Fez's arrival, but it appears tied to drug dealer Mouse’s death last season — Ash killed him with a hammer — and Custer’s (Tyler Chase) recent conversations with the police. This cliffhanger ending to the penultimate episode is one way to bring the house down before the final curtain.
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.