Looks like the holidays weren’t happy for anyone in Euphoria-land.
The HBO series’ second pre-Season 2 episode, a companion to a Christmas episode released in December, aired Sunday. The first special took us inside Rue’s Christmas Eve, which she spent in a diner with her 12-step-program sponsor, and revealed how near rock-bottom the drug-addicted teen truly was. (Read a recap here.) Sunday’s hour focused on Hunter Schafer’s Jules, who sat down with a therapist after returning home from running away in the Season 1 finale.
Like Rue’s ep, Jules’ special was gorgeously written and acted, and therefore really hard to watch. (Schafer penned the episode with Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, and she co-produced the special, too.) After admitting that her hop-on-a-train plan was “dumb and not well thought out,” Jules blurts out that she wants to stop taking her hormones. When the therapist (played by Lauren Weedman, Looking) prods her to elaborate, Jules says that she’s built her entire womanhood, “my body, my personality and my soul, around what I think men desire… I feel like a fraud.”
In the way that therapy conversations very rarely follow a linear path, Jules’ discussion covers a bunch of topics. She starts by saying that she’s always feared puberty but now she is kinda into how it will make her bigger and broader; after all, the ocean is “broad and deep and thick,” and “I want to be as beautiful as the ocean.” Then a discussion of how girls tend to size each other up flows into an explanation of how Rue was the one girl who didn’t do that. Jules compares the way Rue views her to the way mothers view their children: with unconditional love.
Later, the parallels between Rue and Jules’ mom get stronger — mainly because Jules’ mom has addiction issues of her own, and the feelings they engender in the teen are similar to the ones Rue stirs up. When talking about her BFF, Jules notes, “I feel like her sobriety is completely dependent on how available I am to her” and that the weight of whether or not her actions (or inactions) will trigger a relapse is unbearable. In flashbacks, we also learn that Jules’ mother had been doing well and had maintained her sobriety for a number of months, but relapsed and landed in the hospital on Halloween. Jules found out right before she headed to the party.
When the discussion turns to intimacy, Jules reveals that she’s still in love with Tyler (aka “ShyGuy118,” aka Nate), even though — or maybe because of — the fact that he doesn’t exist and everything that happened between them wasn’t real. We’re taken inside a fantasy of Jules in the New York apartment we saw her sharing with Rue in Rue’s version of the fantasy, but in Jules’ version, “Tyler” is there, and they have very limber sex all over the apartment (and, at one point, out the window).
But Rue is also somehow there in Jules’ fantasy, which turns into a nightmare when Tyler (who is played by someone who is not Jacob Elordi for most of the interlude) turns into Nate and demands that she not look at him while they’re doing the deed. And later, things get even worse when we see the continuation of the fantasy that began in Rue’s special: Jules comes home from class and quickly realizes that Rue is unresponsive in the bathroom, which is locked from the inside. Jules beats on the door, yells and cries, to no avail. Eventually, we see a quick but harrowing visual of Rue dead next to a puddle of her vomit, exactly the way Gia found her when she OD’d ahead of Season 1.
Back in the real world, Jules bids her therapist a happy holiday and heads home. She’s grounded ever since her unauthorized trip to the city, and her dad is real mad. But he lets Rue come up to see her when she rides her bike over, and it’s the first time the girls have seen each other since the train station. It seems like it’s Christmas Eve; it’s raining, and Rue says she’s on her way to meet Ali. Both Jules and Rue are on the verge of tears as they talk about how they missed each other, then Jules apologizes for taking off in such dramatic fashion. Rue ekes out a tight, tormented “Merry Christmas, Jules,” then runs out as fast as her soggy little sneakers will allow.
Jules lays back on her bed and cries, and that’s where we leave her.
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