After leaving us with a big cliff hanger, HBO-series ‘Euphoria’ is finally back with two special Episodes that allow us a deeper look into the main characters, Rue and Jules. Both episodes guide us through two different conversations. In Euphoria’s ‘Special Episode Part 1: Rue’ we listen to Rue (Zendaya) and Ali (Colman Domingo) talk about addiction. While the first episode ‘Trouble don’t last always’ focuses on Rue, the second episode ‘F*uck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob’ is all about Jules (Hunter Schafer).
Both episodes were filmed under strict Covid-19 safety protocols and are intended to be bridge episodes for upcoming season two, produced and written by Sam Levinson. The second part was co-written by star Schafer.
‘Liability’ by Lorde starts playing and we see Jules’ life flashing before her eyes. The camera catches a close up of her eye reflecting memories of her and Rue. As the song comes to an end, a single tear rolls down her cheek and the shot fades into the title card. Once again, this is another aesthetically pleasing visual, as we are already used to find in the cinematography of Euphoria.
Since Rue was the narrator of season one, we didn’t get to see and hear much of Jules’ perspective. Neither did the audience fully understand every action coming from Jules’ side.
It’s amazing how the audience now gets this opportunity to get to know some of the characters on a deeper level. This is kind of like a mirror of our real life. We never know one’s full story and what they’re going through.
This episode shows the conversation between Jules and her therapist (Lauren Weedman) during her first therapy session. Lauren Weedman’s performance is eye-raising and convincing, her face and voice really underline the honesty and rawness of this episode.
“I’m here, but you’re looking at like a million layers of other people that I’ve grabbed and clung to throughout my entire life.”, Jules states and discusses gender, while revealing that she is considering going of her hormones at the beginning of this session.
We listen to Jules’ philosophy about gender roles and her declaring no longer being interested in her past relationship with her own femininity, which consisted of her seeking validation through being desirable for men. The representation of transgender people given here is essential since it raises awareness of the struggles and also the peace and euphoria coming from within a trans person. “I want to be as beautiful as the ocean, because the ocean’s strong as fuck. And like feminine as fuck. And like both are what makes the ocean the ocean.” It’s really beautiful how Jules shares this personal relationship between her and the ocean as a metaphor for craving the feeling of strength, power and simply feeling alive, without ever standing still.
Further, Jules talks about ciswomen judging her based on her appearance and looking for her flaws. “No girl had ever looked at me the way Rue did. I feel like Rue is the first girl that didn’t just look at me. Like, she actually saw me.” The conversation takes a turn into the relationship between Rue and Jules. We learn more about Jules mom through flashback scenes that show her being a recovering addict, just like Rue is. The therapist starts drawing parallels between Rue and Jules mother and connects them with Jules’ attraction to Rue. Jules then tells her therapist about the weight she’s carrying on her shoulders while feeling utterly responsible for Rue’s sobriety. This is exactly what Creator Sam Levinson wanted to convey to the audience while writing this episode, for us to understand the burden of loving an addict.
The following minutes are filled with a lot of sexual content between Jules and Tyler, who we all know is actually Nate. He created this online persona to manipulate and blackmail Jules. “I fall in love so easily, because half of every relationship is in my head.”, explains Jules to her therapist. In an online relationship like theirs without meeting up and based only on Jules imagination, she obviously didn’t fail to fall hard for him. This shows us another possible, unconscious process that Jules is experiencing: Finding more comfort in the thought of getting intimate with someone rather than actually committing to intimacy.
But still, there are many intimate moments between Rue and Jules, such as shown in this episode when Rue helped Jules with her Estrogen injection, as well as the scene where both of them lay in bed and just stare into each other’s souls. In both of these scenes, the audience can almost feel the warmth through their screens, created by the trust and love Jules and Rue have for each other.
What’s happening next is rather heart-breaking. Jules starts talking about her nightmare, set in their imaginary apartment in New York. While we watch her painfully trying to describe it to her therapist, we get interrupted by scenes of Jules banging against the locked bathroom door in panic, while desperately screaming Rue’s name. By the time Jules opens the door, Rue already overdosed. Later on, we even get to see this disturbing scenario of Rue laying on the bathroom floor, after the camera takes on an unexpected, but absolutely genius transition from a fight scene between Jules and her dad, which is also set in a bathroom.
And while that wasn’t enough for the writers to leave us broken, the episode closes with a reunion of Rue and Jules in Jules’ bedroom. As Jules tries to apologize for leaving Rue at the train station in season one, both of them start tearing up and once again, one of them is leaving before really confronting anything. This time Rue is the one to escape the conversation and it makes the viewer wish even more for Rue and Jules to finally sit down and talk about their feelings.
Hunter Schafer really outdid herself with this performance. Let’s not forget, Euphoria is her first take on acting. She plays this complex character Jules so brilliantly; every acting award show could simply pick any scene and praise her for it. She also has been involved in the pre-production of this episode and took part in shot listing, storyboarding and writing. We are truly amazed by Hunter and her creativity.
They really did it again. This Special Episode Two is pure cinematic poetry. The writing and the visuals together build a masterpiece and leave us astounded with too many thoughts, questions and feelings.
Text by: Melina Spahn
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