Euphoria (S2E8)

An underwhelming and perplexing finale, reflective of the season as a whole.

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Molly Kusilka

3/2/20223 min read

An underwhelming and perplexing finale, reflective of the season as a whole.

Going into this finale, it was clear that Sam Levinson had a massive task at hand. There were countless loose ends to tie up, not to mention a high bar set by season one’s transcendent, heart-pounding, electric final episode. It becomes clear pretty quickly that this bar will definitely not be met. Firstly, let’s discuss how off the pacing has felt this season. Plotlines have been stretched to the absolute thinnest, a jolting contrast from the brisk pace of season one. Pacing doesn’t need to be quick, but when it becomes evident that plotlines are being stretched far longer than needed, it becomes a problem, and it felt particularly noticeable this episode. 

Should Lexi’s play have really been stretched through 2 entire episodes? It reached a point of feeling stretched to the max, possibly longer than any play in high school history. The face-off at Fez’s house was also needlessly stretched through 2 episodes. We started out with a momentous amount of tension being built as we waited for the police to break down the door, only for the sequence to cut away right before they entered to a long, eye-rolling scene between Nate and Cal. It was a prime example of how too many cuts away from the action immediately fizzles much of the tension built in one of the stronger, albeit stretched, storylines of the latter 2 episodes. Still, the shootout at Fez’s place is the highlight of the episode. It gives Javon Walton and Angus Cloud, consistently excellent in their roles, long overdue time to shine, and they are both so incredible here. It is heartbreaking that we leave Fez, clearly the best male character on the show, in such a bad place with no resolution. 

Meanwhile, we continue with Nate’s -at this point laughably bad- redemption arc. The scene between Nate and Cal, which frustratingly interrupts the high tension scene at Fezco’s, is up there with Elliot’s 5-minute live performance for the worst of the episode. The idea that we should understand Nate’s plight for vengeance here is confusing. Why should we be invested in Nate seeking vengeance on his father when we still haven’t seen Nate suffer any repercussions for his own abusive behavior? This makes him calling the cops on his father all the more perplexing. It’s a poorly written scene reflective of a nonsensical storyline that has been the weakest link of this show.  

It’s also frustrating that this episode spends significant chunks of time with the likes of Elliott, Nate, and Cal, whereas Jules has little to no screen time, and neither does Kat, but that was expected at this point. It does feel like a disservice to Jules’ character to see her sidelined this season with no real character arc. Arguably the second lead to Rue, she was given little to nothing to do these last few episodes. The fact that Elliott had more screen time than her and Kat combined this episode speaks volumes. Now, for Elliott. Let’s talk about the choice to plant a 5-minute live performance by Dominic Fike, in which Elliott serenades Rue, in the midst of this episode. Maybe this would’ve had some effect if there were any depth to Elliott and Rue’s relationship. But ultimately, Elliott’s only service was to get between Rue and Jules,  forcing a wedge in their already rocky relationship. A character that only served as an instigatory plot device being given this much screen time to sing a song was…a choice. It felt like an obvious excuse to showcase Dominic Fike’s talent, but that is what spotify is for. We didn’t need a Vevo Live acoustic performance mid-episode. 

As for Rue, her story ends on an underwhelming, but positive note. Her conclusion felt like the end of the character’s story, but only time will tell if that’s the case. I do appreciate the time taken to explore her grief over the death of her father this season, and it was powerful to see her and Lexi bond over their grief. Ultimately, this finale was lackluster, underwhelming, and meandering,  just as the majority of this season was. Characters were abandoned, others given nonsensical, poorly executed arcs. What happened to Fez? What happened to Laurie and the suitcase? We leave Euphoria with no answers to these questions. It seems season 2 of Euphoria is the result of a flawed auteurist vision, one that abandoned much substance for style and suffered for it. The ending was sweet, but I couldn’t help but compare it to the astonishing ending of season one finale. We again end the season with the sound of Zendaya’s singing, but a show that once left me astonished and moved instead left me feeling frustrated and disappointed.