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Five Thoughts on the Euphoria Finale

Euphoria aired on Sunday night. Here are five thoughts on the final episode of HBO’s hottest new show. Spoilers ahead

What’s next?

That ending was… something, wasn’t it? If there wasn’t a Season 2 already planned, I would say that last scene was Rue’s death. Between the way she rose and her reunion with her dead father, it gave off some serious “come to the light” vibes. I’m of the opinion that she overdosed again; after several months of being sober, she went home to deal with her pain and relapsed, but her tolerance was down after so many months of sobriety, and her body couldn’t handle the normal dose of drugs she was used to. We have no real inkling of what’s going to happen with Fez. The dealers saw the blood on the money, but it would be a bit of a leap to immediately conclude Fez robbed their supplier (speaking of that, the doctor is definitely coming back at some point).

Jules peacing out with no real plan is an interesting way to finish her season. Maddy’s face after watching the Jules and Cal video was an incredible moment, but she’s in it now. Nate is suffering from some serious mental issues. SO MUCH HAPPENED. But what comes next? Rue can’t die, right? Will Jules come back? How will Rue’s mother, who has a wrathful anger that we saw in the final montage, deal with Rue relapsing? This finale left us with far more questions than answers, which was… interesting.

HBO whiffed on another finale

To be quite clear, this was nothing compared to the absolute disaster that was the Game of Thrones finale. But Euphoria‘s final episode was a letdown. It set up a half-dozen new plot points, but still didn’t answer any of the questions they had built up over the previous seven episodes; Maddy finding out about Nate’s dad and Jules, the fact that she appears to have broken up with Nate, Cassie no longer dating McKay, and Nate’s psychotic breakdown are all examples of storylines they introduced just in the finale.

Overall, it felt like it should have been the penultimate episode of the season. Rue goes back to drugs, Fezco’s situation comes to a head, and someone Nate can’t blackmail is finally in on the secret. There should be one more episode, but there’s not. I’m all for cliffhangers and dramatic build-ups for a second season, but the only character who came full circle was Kat and Ethan, who prove true love does exist but for them and only them. Given the high expectations going in and lack of conclusions drawn, it was a disappointing finale.

Cinematically, it doesn’t get much better than this

Until the very end, Euphoria was beautifully made and beautifully produced. Each shot brought its own unique angle, and it was simply a visual masterpiece for the vast majority of eight episodes. Each shot for the various montages they threw out throughout the episodes stick with you. It doesn’t come as a shock, but a show produced by Drake had a stellar soundtrack and utilized it to perfection. The final shot of the season following Rue into a singing flash mob like it was Kanye’s Sunday Service was stunning, and there are a half-dozen moments like that you could choose throughout the season that had a similar feel and effect.

They weren’t shy about taking shots from different films and putting their own twist on them; the locker room scene with Nate and all the male genitalia is a carbon copy of the locker room scene from Carriewith the genders reversed, and Rue and Jules’ kiss in the pool was a parallel with Romeo and Juliet. Euphoria set the bar high in the very first episode with a dramatic and psychedelic intro into Rue’s drug-fueled world, and they kept it up until the very end.

Not everything is as simple as it seems

One of the things Euphoria does really well is tackle the stereotypes of your average high school and dive into the why of how it all came to be. In the first episode, you thought you had pretty much everyone pegged; Nate was the jock and popular kid with a mean streak, Maddy was his wicked Mean Girls-esque girlfriend, Cassie was the vapid but beautiful girl who flits from one relationship to the next, and Fez was the seedy dealer who got kids hooked on drugs. But the intros of the show each dive into the history of the characters and make the viewer understand how they became the way they are, and it’s not always their fault.

Through external circumstances, families falling apart, and their own personal decisions that stem directly from their past, you come to deeply understand each central character and feel for them. Even Nate, a legitimate psychopath, comes off as sympathetic at points because you learn how badly his father’s sexual adventures messed him up at a very early age. His mental breakdown in the final episode as his father dominated him like he had all the young men in his videos was equal parts horrifying, heart-wrenching, and satisfying after all the despicable things Nate had done. It’s hard to strike that kind of balance, and you feel a similar range of emotion about every important character.

Is Jules actually a bad person?

Jules has become a bit of a divisive character with Euphoria watching circles, and the finale won’t help matters. Her journey as a transitioning woman was well done, but at certain points it felt like she was playing with Rue for reasons unknown. Her kiss in the pool felt manipulative at worst and a drunken impulse that was terrible to do to your closest friend at best. It didn’t seem like she truly loved Rue, especially after leaving her to sext Anna in the bathroom, but she was happy to tell her so after a few swigs of Everclear and Gatorade (*shudder*). Their kiss and subsequent flight to the train to the city felt whimsical and a little bit odd; both have reason to run away, but Jules was a little too willing to completely abandon her father, who has come across as the best parent in the entire show, and she had to know at some base level what going to the city and being a part of “that energy” would do to Rue.

But it’s not that simple. Jules didn’t start playing with Rue’s emotions until she started drinking more following her situation with Nate, the burden of knowing she was the only reason Rue is sober isn’t fair to her, and a girl can only handle so much. But at times it does feel like Jules flits from one thing to the next, nothing holding her interest long, not even the girl who is supposedly her best friend. She’s complicated, like every character in her show, but when she starts to hurt Rue, it’s harder to see her in a sympathetic light.