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TV Recap: ‘Euphoria’ Season 2 Episode 3 – “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” Digging a Bigger Hole and Destructive Fantasies

INTRODUCTION

In Euphoria Season Two Episode Three, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys,” directed and written by creator Sam Levinson, Rue Bennett (Zendaya) digs herself even deeper into the grave emotionally and physically.

“Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” begins with a flashback to Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane) in high school. Teenage Cal (Elias Kacavas) spent high school wrestling. He always hung out with his best friend and secret love, Derek (Henry Eikenberry). Teenage Cal dates teenage Marsha (Rebecca Louise) to hide his homosexuality. The night of their high school graduation Derek and Cal finally act on their mutual feelings at a gay bar. Cal learns Marsha is pregnant the following day. In the present day, Cal desperately seeks his sex tape with Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer), leading to another run-in with Fezco (Angus Cloud).

Rue gaslights her little sister Gia Bennett (Storm Reid), girlfriend Jules, and school friends into thinking she is just smoking weed instead of snorting hard drugs. She and Jules hang out with druggy musician Elliot (Dominic Fike). Jules continues to distrust Elliot. However, Elliot reels Jules into another toxic friendship where he plants doubts into her mind about her romantic relationship with Rue. Does Elliot want to date Rue or Jules? Or both? Rue also makes a dangerous business deal with former schoolteacher turned drug dealer Laurie (Martha Kelly) to sell drugs for her.

Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney) lives in this destructive fantasy where her whole life centers around pleasing Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). Meanwhile, Nate attempts to woe his ex-girlfriend and Cassie’s best friend Maddie Perez (Alexa Demi). “Sidekick” Lexi Howard (Maude Apatow) covertly writes a play based on her real-life where she centers herself in the story.

META TO THE MAX

“Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” has a lot of meta elements to it, from Rue’s lecture to Lexi’s faux behind-the-scenes dream. First, Gia catches her big sister Rue acting weird. Then, she asks Rue if she is on drugs. Afterward, Rue in a red pantsuit delivers a lecture about “avoiding being caught taking hard drugs” in a dark high school classroom. Elliot acts as her teaching assistant changing the slides. Rue speaks directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall. There are many more meta moments in the lecture, starting with the first line of dialogue.

Drug Lecture

From the first line of the presentation, Rue refers to herself as a beloved character who feels obligated to make good decisions. She discusses how audiences often look to television for hope because the real world is so dark these days. Rue shows slides from the BLM protests like cops in riot gear and riled up protesters. When Rue discusses finding hope in television instead of reality, there is a long shot of her leaning on an early 2000’s television that’s playing a smaller image of Rue resting against the TV, which has an even smaller image of the same thing. Rue referring to herself as a fictional character, and the fact that the events she speaks about are not reality allows the audience to separate themselves emotionally from Euphoria. The audience can analytically look at how all of Rue’s behavior proves how little she values her life and those around her.

Behind-The-Scenes of Meta Movie

In the third episode, the second biggest post-modern sequence is Lexi’s behind-the-scenes video discussing her movie, This is Life. She is an introvert who spends a lot of time in her imagination. The sequence begins with Rue’s narration explaining how Lexi feels like an observer of her own life. Lexi often pretends that her family is not her real family and that everything that happens is a movie that she wrote. The sequence is styled like a typical polished behind-the-scenes major studio movie video where the director and actors are interviewed with upbeat music in the background. There is also footage of the director working with the actors or preparing for the shoot. All the actors in Lexi’s fantasy are her friends and sister.

This is Life is all about Grace (Lexi), “who lives in the shadow” of her big sister Hallie (Cassie), centering the story on the shy girl for once. The sequence reveals Lexi’s frustrations and observations about the people around her. For example, one scene shows Lexi figuring out Hallie’s wardrobe. Cassie walks in with some assistant wardrobe stylists wearing a cute turquoise dress. Lexi says, “Sluttier.” Cut to another shot of Cassie coming out of a door wearing a pink dress that is slightly more risqué. Again, the director says, “Tackier.” Then another shot of Cassie wearing a tacky 80’s looking flowered dress. Then a medium-long shot of Lexi saying, “Sloppier.” This meta-scene is both a glimpse of how Lexi sees Cassie in this moment and a window into how the entrainment industry styles characters.

CASSIE’S DESTRUCTIVE FANTASY

Cassie’s belief that she and Nate are some great love story leads her to live in a dangerous fantasy world. Everything she does is aimed to capture Nate’s attention and hide the truth from her best friend, Maddie. Unfortunately, she is no longer being true to herself. Cassie works for hours in the morning to attempt to turn into this “perfect” sexy woman for Nate, who barely glances in her direction.

Waking up every day at 4:00 am can’t be physically healthy, but it’s also emotionally damaging for her. Rue’s narration says that Cassie enjoys all the excitement and anxiety making herself look like a doll gives her even if Nate pretends not to notice. Cassie’s face reveals that all she feels is disappointment and angst the minute she realizes Nate doesn’t see her. Cassie may fool herself into thinking she enjoys beautifying herself for hours, but she is just trying to turn herself into the type of woman Nate desires. At one point, Cassie even turns up dressed like Maddie’s twin. Essentially the opposite of her style.

Nate doesn’t even care about Cassie. He only looks at Cassie when she dresses like Maddie’s twin, and it’s in disgust. They only meet up once a week to have sex at Nate’s home in secret. Cassie and Nate don’t properly speak to each other. Nate tells Cassie that he loves how sick she is, essentially telling her that he doesn’t see her as girlfriend material. Cassie thinks they are soulmates because they don’t fight, but he doesn’t say he loves her either. At the end of the episode, Nate doesn’t meet up with Cassie on their typical Friday night and instead brings flowers to Maddie. Cassie is erasing herself for somebody whose using her for her body.

LAST THOUGHTS

Cassie is addicted to being loved and is willing to do anything for that love. Both Rue and Cassie’s addictions are killing them in slow motion. Let us know your thoughts about Euphoria Season Two Episode Three in the comments below.

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Written by Paloma Bennett

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