Euphoria Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: Machinations of the Mind

picture of Euphoria cast at the season 2 premiere. photo by HBOMax

Your friendly neighborhood Euphoria recap here! Episode 2 was…a lot. The intro alone gave us almost *too* much insight into Nate’s mind, including that scene with Cal. Anyway, let’s get into it and yes, there will be spoilers!

The Manipulative Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

All aboard the Cal and Nate Hate Train! This week’s episode gave us something we’ve been waiting for since the pilot: Nate finally confronting his father. Last week, I talked about Nate’s manipulation and obsession with purity culture (check it out here if you missed it!) and that continued this week with his hurtful game of hiding his relationship with Cassie while still using her for sex. There was some vindication in the final scene when Nate revealed the reason Fez beat the snot out of him: for manipulating and using Jules in retaliation for…his dad manipulating and using Jules. Nate is The Worst and we know he got it from his daddy. 

Mental Health is Wealth?

One of my favorite parts of Euphoria is the rawness in which mental health is depicted. The high highs, visualized with glitter and twinkly, blurred lights and the lowest of lows, demonstrated in drab colors and dim lighting. Everything the characters struggle with—relationships, heteronormative beauty standards, slut-shaming, and purity culture—is shown through the lens of their mental well-being. 

This week we saw Kat and Cassie reach new lows in their mental health journeys. Cassie has been on the verge of a severe mental break for a minute now and we know her struggles will continue throughout the season based on teasers. In the midst of Nate’s manipulation, Cassie has suicidal ideation, which is simply brushed off by Nate as he assured she would keep their secret. More than 1 in 3 high school students admit to struggling with their mental health and we know that for Black, brown, and LGBTQ students, those numbers are even higher. 

Kat had a breaking point with her mental health, and for a reason that felt all too relatable. While pondering why she can’t bring herself to be obsessed with her boo, Ethan, Kat has what can be only described as an unwanted wellness seance from hell. Especially around the new year it can feel like everyone is focused on “bettering” themselves, which seems to almost always be deeply rooted in harmful diet culture. I am the first to admit that I love a wellness routine (I could definitely be persuaded into a cult), there are times when you just don’t feel good and it’s important to hold and have those feelings. It doesn’t mean you are a lesser or weaker person, it means that you are a multi-faceted person that may not be an instagram-picture-perfect person all the time. Denying those feelings is a big, glaring problem with the wellness industry, lest we forget that it is a predominantly skinny, rich, and white space. Screaming “yass queen, girlboss” at someone isn’t going to fix their problems!

What I Want For Next Week’s Episode

We got a little taste of Lexi and Fez this week but I need more! I’m also excited to see Cal’s origin story next week, no doubt there will be some troubling themes in that background episode. I’m also excited for my various digital algorithms to get even more deeply enmeshed with other Euphoria stans. I’m obsessed with Cat Quinn’s breakdowns on the symbolism behind the characters’ wardrobe and makeup. Happy streaming and I’ll see you all for next week’s recap!