Euphoria Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: The Kids Are Not Alright

We are halfway through Euphoria season 2! This week’s episode gave us some certified jams—everything from Sinead O’Connor to Faith Evans to Montell Jordan—but it also gave us a deeper understanding of the parent/child relationships of our favorite characters and something we know to be true: trauma is generational. Let’s get into it, spoilers and all. 

The Howard House

A lot of the episode took place at the Howard House—home of Lexi and Cassie Howard—during Maddy’s birthday party. After Cassie and Nate’s chilling fight at the beginning of the episode, there was hope that Cassie was finally through with Nate. But alas, she was not. Throughout the party we see Cassie get more and more drunk, seemingly trying to disguise the anxiety and guilt she feels around her relationship with Nate…while celebrating Maddy. What I found so interesting was the parallels between this storyline and the storyline of the Howard family we got in season one. Cassie is repeating patterns she’s seen modeled by her mom and dad, using substances to deal with big emotions, and Lexi is once again playing the role of the innocent bystander through it all. Despite most parents’ best efforts, a lot of mistakes get handed down through generations. I mean, we’re still trying to ring the alarm on protecting abortion rights, decade after decade, it’s no surprise that some coping mechanisms can take a few generations to heal. Her faults aside, I really loved seeing Alanna Ubach’s Mrs. Howard come alive in a way that somehow feels like a cross between her character in Legally Blonde and Regina George’s mom in Mean Girls

The Journey of Cal Jacobs

Nate’s empty promises to Cassie and Maddy were starting to sound like the promises to cancel student loan debt but he wasn’t the Jacobs Family star of the show this week, his dad was. Cal Jacobs was on a self-destructive journey to what I think he’s envisioning as freedom for most of the episode. After coming to terms with the fact that most of his son’s classmates probably know his secret, he becomes what can be best described as unhinged. From his extremely dangerous drunk driving (very reminiscent of Nate’s booze-induced speeding with Cassie in episode one), getting kicked out of the gay bar he once held the fondest memories for, and essentially berating his whole family and walking out on them, it’s clear Cal Jacobs is not well. In a similar vein to Cassie repeating the mistakes of her parents, we see where a lot of Nate’s aggression and attitudes towards women and relationships come from. Cal’s suppression of his true self was overrun by hatred, bigotry, and straight-up not being a good dude—all things he passed down to Nate, lucky him. Also, run Eric Dane his Emmy for this episode, please! 

What I Want For Next Week’s Episode

The ending scene of this episode with Rue, in what I’m choosing to believe is a near or complete overdose, left me in tears. It’s easy to get frustrated with Rue as she struggles through addiction but this scene showed another very realistic side to addiction. Whether you’ve dealt with addiction or not, it’s not hard to empathize with wanting to go back to a time and place where things were good, with someone you may have lost or let down, and feel like there is nothing you can do to get back there. I appreciated that softer side and I hope to see more of it in the second half of the season. 

I also LOVED all of the visual, artistic representations this week. Euphoria is known for its visual excellence and allusions but this episode had me hooked from Rue and Jules as Brokeback Mountain to Cassie’s final floral shot, a lá Midsommar. Keep it coming! I’ll see you all next week for episode 5’s recap.