HBO's Euphoria remains shocking as ever in its sophomore season

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By Evelyn Heis, Film & Television Columnist

Back from its two-year hiatus, Euphoria’s season two premiere did not hold back. With its first episode being one of its most explicit, delving into a world of strippers, guns, drug deals, and gory violence, Euphoria comes back with a bang, quite literally.

Courtesy of HBO/IMDB

Episode 1, “Trying To Get Into Heaven Before They Close The Door”, recounts the backstory of our beloved Fezco, the college dropout drug dealer played by Angus Cloud, who was severely underrated in the first season despite being one of Rue’s deeply caring best friends. Shedding light onto his upbringing and unusual family circumstances that led to him becoming a drug dealer at the age of 10, Fez’s episode is one of the most iconic episodes to have aired in this series. The show’s opening line, “Fezco’s grandma was a mother******* G” really sets the tone for the rest of the episode.

Accompanied by his adopted brother Ashtray and a high Rue (did you expect anything less?) Fez drives the gang to a drug lord’s house on New Year’s Eve where what once was a harmless plan takes a slight turn for the worst. Suddenly in a room filled with guns, nude strangers, and drugs everywhere, you begin to question how they continue to find themselves in these positions. This nerve-wracking and uncomfortably violent scene is only followed by more anxious settings, for everyone is attending a New Year’s house party, where there'll be lots of alcohol, drugs, and drama that is yet to unfold.

Courtesy of HBO/IMDB

Relapsed Rue (Zendaya) and Jules (Hunter Schafer) have not seen each other since the train station in season one, Nate (Jacob Elordi) and Maddy (Alexa Demie) are not together, and rightfully so, while Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and Mckay (Algee Smith) remain broken up, but he wants a second chance. Within this episode old flames are rekindled, problematic hook-ups ensue, and new relationships are introduced as the trailer suggests with Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fez really hitting it off at the party.

Many fans, including myself, already consider this possible ship endgame. This season also features the introduction of a new character, Elliot (Dominic Fike), who befriends Rue and may be involved in a possible love triangle between Rue and Jules.

Dominic Fike & Zendaya/Courtesy of HBO/IMDB

Euphoria’s season two premiere tallied 2.4 million viewers across all platforms on January 9th, making it the strongest digital premiere performance for any episode of an HBO series since HBO Max’s launch. The show’s highly anticipated wait has evidently worked in its favour, both in terms of the show’s viewership, but also the time that has allowed the creative teams to make some changes.

Winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actress for her role in Euphoria, Zendaya has joined the production team this year as one of the executive producers. Zendaya considers the long covid-induced break as something that has been good for Euphoria, allowing them to develop a sense of evolution for the show.

Hunter Schafer/Courtesy of HBO/IMDB

In contrast to season one which feels like a hazy, neon, fever dream, this season moves away from that dream-like state, becoming rawer, darker, and far more explicit, as marked by the very first episode of this season. Leading director Sam Levison states “If season one was a house party at 2 am, season two should feel like 5 am, way past the point which everyone should have gone home”.

Not only different in terms of vibes, this season also changed their cinematography game altogether. Working alongside Kodak, the entirety of season two is reported to have been shot on Ektachrome Kodak 35mm film. Ektachrome is known for its super fine grain and saturated colours, giving this season it's raw and dark edge. Season two’s colour palette is significantly different also, amplifying the sense of maturity that Levinson aims to convey.

Courtesy of HBO/IMDB

Though season one will always hold a special place in my heart, I believe that this was one of the best episodes of the series thus far. Euphoria has evidently bounced back, though with a completely different vibe, which is equally as compelling. The dark edge of season two will definitely be a crazy ride, but would it be Euphoria if it wasn’t?

Featured Image: IMDB


Was Euphoria season 2 worth the wait?

AUTHOR

Evelyn Heis

Columnist for the Film&Tv section of the Epigram.