The first episode of Euphoria season two was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint. Most interestingly, though, was how much it felt like watching a horror movie, according to one Stylist writer.
While the new year is getting off to a veritable bang in the television stakes, one particular returning series has been so hotly anticipated that, admittedly, I subconsciously put off watching the first episode for fears it wouldn’t live up to expectations.
Well, I needn’t have worried because, when it comes to Euphoria, one thing’s for certain – the series will take you by surprise in the wildest of ways.
Euphoria is an almost genre-defying show in its own right, which is all part of the HBO series’ appeal; there are times of extreme sadness, dark comedy, empathy and wishful happiness. The first episode of the new series may have had tones of all of those themes, but generally, it felt like watching a slow-building horror movie.
Tension was built from the first scene of the Fez-centric (played by Angus Cloud) episode when we were introduced to Fez’s grandmother, Marie O’Neill (Kathrine Narducci) in the initial flashback scene. As she saunters through a strip club, gun in hand and donning a power suit of epic cobalt blue proportions, she walks into the back office, shoots Fez’s dad in both thighs and calmly proclaims to a young, bruised Fez that “you’re gonna come live with grandma.”
Less than three minutes into the first episode, entitled Trying To Get To Heaven Before They Close The Door, you can’t help thinking that Euphoria is back with a bang.
We come to learn of little Ashtray’s (Javon Walton) gory murder of Fez’s supplier Mouse with a hammer but then move onto a dramatic present-day drug deal where Rue (Zendaya) is shoved into a shower and forced to strip in order to show she’s not wearing a wire.
But things really start to wind up on a different kind of level once Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) accepts a ride to the new year’s party with Nate (Jacob Elordi). The weird and wonderful car journey sees Nate push his vehicle to its speed limit while chugging bottles of beer, making Cassie initially scared and then surprisingly flirtatious in a matter of moments.
The epitome of classic horror in this episode, though, was in the next sequence of scenes. Maddy (Alexa Demie), Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Kat (Barbie Ferreira) all waltz into the busy party like the fashionable trio they are but Maddy’s desperation for the toilet sees her almost bang down the bathroom door.
The twist? Cassie and Nate are having sex behind that very door and Maddy’s incessant knocking is, quite literally, shaking Cassie up. She starts to snap out of the trance Nate seemingly had her under and the dawning reality of sleeping with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend is enough to – in true Cassie fashion – make her cry uncontrollably.
As the episode progresses and Cassie’s younger sister Lexi (Maude Apatow) continues to look for her, you continue to watch but really, your attention is preoccupied with thoughts around Maddy discovering Nate and Cassie together.
As Maddy tries to turn the door knob, Cassie’s pained expressions are quite hilarious to watch but the background knocking adds so much tension to the scene that you almost can’t think straight. As Nate frantically tries to pry open a window, Cassie states “We shouldn’t have done this” and, of course, when things can’t get any worse, Cassie’s bodycon party dress gets all tangled.
Fast forward to when Nate finally opens the bathroom door and Maddy is too mad to talk, pushing past him to finally go to the toilet. As she sits down, the camera pans to the other side of the small room revealing that Cassie is actually laying down in the shower curtain-covered bathtub, with her hand covering her mouth.
Nate continues to look longingly towards the bathroom, but on the other side of the door, Maddie has run out of toilet paper, opts for a hand towel instead and in what can only be described as a moment that warrants an audible gasp – throws it into the bathtub straight onto Cassie’s face.
The bathroom scene will go down in Euphoria episode history as the painstaking moment we were sure we were watching a horror movie. It was simple but tense and most definitely had us holding our breath in honour of Cassie.
Even when Cassie’s phone starts to vibrate – thereby giving her away – Cassie simply doesn’t care and leaves the bathroom to dance with Travis (Demetrius Flenory Junior) in tow instead. So many emotions in such little time and it seems like many fans agree:
In a similar fear-inducing way (that we expect of all good horrors), Rue’s close brush with death and Nate’s frankly odd interaction with McKay (Algee Smith) all signalled so much under-the-surface pressure that we almost couldn’t cope. Just as we all looked longingly at Fez and Lexi hitting it off in a quiet corner of the party – is it too soon to ship this relationship? – the episode takes an unexpected turn.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that this episode was somewhat dedicated to Fez, so when he takes off his jumper, you don’t really think twice. Until he glides over to Nate, pours a drink and talks over new year’s resolutions before smashing a bottle over Nate’s head.
What has slowly been building in the background of this episode is such palpable tension that this violent end was surprising (especially from fan favourite Fez) but it all clearly culminated in such bloody scenes that you can only look on in – you guessed it – horror.
All the while, we couldn’t tear our eyes away from what was a classic episode of Euphoria – just the sort of thing we’ve sorely missed during its Covid-induced absence from our screens. We can’t wait to see how the new season unfolds.
The first episode of Euphoria season 2 is now available to watch and will also air weekly from 10 January on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW. Stream Euphoria with a NOW Entertainment Membership.
Images: Eddy Chen/HBO