Episode 6 of Euphoria ‘s season 2 attempts to answer some questions from past episodes by confronting fresh new wounds, as well as old ones.
This review contains spoilers for Season 2 Episode 6 of Euphoria.
Episode 6 of Euphoria, “A Thousand Little Trees of Blood,” picks up right where last week’s episode left off, with Rue (Zendaya) going through withdrawals. She doesn’t run away from home this time around, though, instead she allows for her mother to assist her and take care of her. Leslie (Nika King) and Rue’s confrontation last week was quite visceral, but there’s something oddly brutal and different about seeing the aftermath of their showdown, with Rue barely being able to keep her hands from shaking. Who would have thought a scene involving our main character trying to open a Jolly Rancher would make us tear up? Zendaya, again, is on an entirely different level with her portrayal of Rue’s struggles with addiction. It’s not just that she’s able to communicate so many things at once with her eyes, those eyes that can tell a thousand painful remarks, but the physicality she brings to her performance is insane to me. Even something as harmless as water is harmful for Rue in this process, and Zendaya sells the hell out of this.
The cold opening serves as a way to give Rue an opportunity to open up about what she’s done. She confesses that she hasn’t been the best daughter, that she can be too much of a burden on her family, how much she regrets all the hurtful stuff she’s done and said to those dearest to her, and although you can be mad at her for not keeping herself sober, you believe every word she utters because she genuinely wants to get cleaned. It all culminates in Rue giving Ali (Colman Domingo) a phone call, apologizing for using his own past trauma against him when she dared him to hit her just like he used to hit his wife when he was an addict. He forgives her, making her sob in happiness at the thought of not losing yet another person she is close with.
I think what I love about Euphoria the most, even when it’s at its lowest in terms of quality in its writing, is that the show allows you to still have these heartfelt moments between characters despite all the dark things they’ve been through. This becomes evident when Ali pays Rue a visit, offering to cook dinner for her and her family after speaking through the phone. I haven’t really taken the time to praise Domingo’s performance in the show, but my god is he a damn charismatic man! The energy he brings into the series is one of much needed levity. Seeing him interact with Gia (Storm Reid) is also refreshing to see, since nobody in Euphoria has taken the time to have a proper conversation with her in which she is felt seen and heard until now. He doesn’t judge her for her feelings and is able to let her know that being angry, or losing faith is okay as long as you can pick yourself up. His interactions with Leslie are also welcomed additions, two parents struggling with their relationship with their children trying to do what’s best for them. It feels genuine and powerful.
After this beautiful montage with Rue, we get to see how Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and Maddy (Alexa Demie) have dealt with their friendship being broken after their fallout in last week’s episode. On one hand, though heartbroken, Maddy is taking it as you would expect, by relieving her stress and anger through Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) shoulder and imagining ways of taking her revenge on them. You can’t really blame Maddy for what she’s going through and her current thought process. It wasn’t just the fact that her ex-boyfriend slept with another girl, it’s that it was her best friend who he did it with. Throughout Maddy’s life, she’s been used and her trust has been betrayed, so seeing how one of her friends would do the same thing many people in her life have is a special kind of betrayal. How many times did Maddy rely on Cassie for emotional support when she was in a relationship with Nate (Jacob Elordi)? Cassie lying to her face about her little secret with him only reveals to Maddy that all those times she spent seeking comfort in her she was pretending all along. It should be said, although she’s still upset about the whole situation, that Maddy handles it well enough, given she could have reacted much worse. Her conversation with the mother of the kid she babysits for is especially charming and eye opening for her, letting her know she’s still young and that she will overcome this and more.
Cassie, for what it’s worth, is not taking it well at all. Lexi (Maude Apatow) and her mom are forced to hide their kitchen knives away from her, in fear she will try to use them to harm herself, when they see her mental state has taken a significant dip after her encounter with Maddy. It doesn’t help that instead of comforting her, her family seems to be taking Maddy’s side, and rightfully so. They recognize that what Cassie did was wrong, no matter the circumstances in which they happened. She tries to justify what she did through the harsh life she’s lived with the abandonment of her father, which she later tries to compare it with Rue’s experience and tries to undermine her by saying she is a bad person. It’s tragic to see a character like Cassie fall this low because of Nate’s manipulations. She is literally burning every bridge she has with the people that she loves for some boy who will most likely treat her like crap down the line.
Speaking of Nate, we move on to finally explore his psyche in season 2. I know, it kind of feels a little bit too late this far in the game considering a lot of this season’s plot revolves around him and his relationship with Cassie and Maddy, yet he hasn’t gotten much to do so far. Episode 6 seeks to fix that, sort of, by giving us an open conversation between him and his mother after Cal (Eric Dane) abandoned them back in episode 4. Here, Marsha (Paula Marshall) confronts her son about his very serious anger issues that he shares with his dad. She goes as far as to allude that she knows about his psychotic violent behavior regarding his relationship with Maddy in which he almost choked her to death back in season 1. What makes this back and forth eye opening to the audience, is how much Nate’s parents have known about his messed up mental health, yet have done nothing to intervene and make him see that what he is doing is wrong. It’s no wonder he is as despicable of a human being as he is, because he was enabled to be so. Matters are made worse when Marsha celebrates him for choking Maddy just because she didn’t get along with her when they were together. It is uncomfortable and infuriating to see this conversation because, unfortunately, this happens in real life. Sometimes mothers are the biggest enablers for their abusive children’s behavior, which is why these individuals don’t stop to question if what they’re doing is right because their moms are backing them up.
Talking about Kat’s development, or lack thereof, it feels like beating a dead horse at this point. Since episode 1, her and Ethan (Austin Abrams) have been on this “I like you, I don’t like you” road that simply isn’t leading anywhere. It feels pointless, it adds nothing to the overarching narrative, and it feels like a contradiction from where their storyline ended last season, especially Kat’s journey of exploring her sexuality. We are constantly told that she can’t stand Ethan, yet we are barely shown just that. There’s a basic rule in film and television that asks for filmmakers to show, don’t tell. It’s that classic “an image is worth a thousand words” saying. Euphoria ‘s season 2, for one reason or another, just isn’t interested in giving Kat time to shine. As a result, we are stuck with wasted runtime and potential that could be used in other characters instead.
Meanwhile, back with Lexi, she pays Fezco (Angus Cloud) a visit in which she opens up to him about her current inner struggles regarding her play. She can’t decide whether or not it is a good idea to portray her sister in such a bad light in her play after everything that is going down with her. Fez assures her that she should still go with her instincts and include Cassie in her play, with him mentioning how sometimes people need to get their feelings hurt in order for them to open their eyes. They proceed to talk about some of their all-time favorite movies, resulting in them watching Stand By Me where they end up crying by the end and get closer to one another. In a show where everyone is making questionable decisions, it is so great to see two great characters that are good and deserve good things happening to them. They’ve been teasing these two hooking up in the possible future, and I hope it is true because they are way too pure for them to not get together. Their relationship could be in danger, though, when Custer (Tyler Chase), one of Fez’s partners and few friends, is seen talking to his girlfriend Faye (Chloe Cherry) outside of Fezco’s house discussing how he’s made a deal with the cops that could put Fez’s fate up in the air.
Back with Maddy after finishing her shift babysitting, she comes back to her house in which Nate is waiting for her in her room with a gun on his hand that he got from his dad’s old office. He uses it against her as a means to scare her into giving him the tape with his dad’s sextape where he is seen sleeping with Jules (Hunter Schafer). Despite Maddy begging him to stop and confessing her love for him, even after cheating on her, Nate doesn’t seem to care and is successful in recovering the recording after threatening to shoot himself in her bed if he doesn’t get the tape back. He leaves her traumatized, crying uncontrollably, only for him to give Jules a call to meet him outside her house. He gives her the tape asking nothing in return, which makes Jules suspicious about his real intentions. Nate admits he isn’t a good person, making us even more confused as to what he wants from this. Is this his way to get in Jules’ favor considering he was interested in her in season 1? Nate then gives Cassie a call, offering her to stay at his house since her family are against their relationship. She leaves, possibly being a point of no return for her by giving her back to those who genuinely care for her. Will it be too late for Cassie to turn around? I guess we will have to see in the remaining two episodes of Euphoria ‘s season 2.
Episode 6 comes to an end when we return to Rue’s home, as she’s seen showing interest in learning more about her younger sister’s life after not paying much attention due to her issues with addiction. While they sleep, Leslie is seen having a panic attack on the phone talking to a rehab facility, begging them to help her with Rue, since she suspects she wants to commit suicide. Even though it’s refreshing to see their family get a break with Ali’s visit, this closing sequence is a reminder that the fight against addiction never rests and it takes a toll on the victim itself as much as the family and friends trying to help them.
Euphoria ‘s Season 2 Episode 6, “A Thousand Little Trees of Blood,” is now available to watch on HBO Max.