When the two special “bridge” episodes of Euphoria were announced, the assumption was that they would show what happened after the final scenes of season one. In a way they do, but not how you might expect. The action takes place after the events of episode eight, but they look back on what we’ve already seen with fresh insight. Last month, it was Rue’s (Zendaya) turn to be put under the microscope in ‘Trouble Don’t Last Always’, a searing portrait of addiction. Now, it’s Jules’ (Hunter Schafer) go.
To meet social distancing requirements, the specials are pared back in terms of cast and crew. That’s why we saw Rue’s episode take place in a diner, where she was joined by her sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) and only left for scenes in her imagination. Jules’ instalment moves around a little more, but still spends the majority of its time in a therapist’s office. This is the teen’s first session and she’s got a lot to unpack.
The production might be scaled back, but ‘F**k Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob’ still packs an emotional punch. Instead of introducing new plot points, they analyse what happened in season one and open up new doors to help us explain the characters’ actions. Euphoria Special Episode Two shows us, for the first time, Jules’ mum’s struggles with alcoholism and the parallels she draws between her parent and Rue. It untangles her own feelings about her relationship and finds Jules and Rue standing on opposite ends of the thread. Where Rue imagined a happy life together in New York at the start of her episode, here Jules says she has nightmares about the same scenario but coming home to find Rue locked in the bathroom, not responding to her frantic cries for reassurance that she’s OK.
Like December’s ‘Trouble Don’t Last Always’, Jules’ episode is gripping and moving from the very beginning. It’s slightly more experimental in its cinematography than the previous special, using close-ups and feverish scenes to convey the feelings on display. A low-key soundtrack filled with quiet, introspective pop tracks – including Billie Eilish and Rosalía‘s ‘Lo Vas a Olvidar’ – makes Jules’ emotional outpouring feel even rawer. It opens with an extreme closeup of her eye, as scenes from season one flicker across Jules’ pupil like a window into her memory. When she talks about sexting with the anonymous ShyGuy118, the action skips back and forth between reality and imagination.
Perhaps the most powerful sequence of all is when Jules analyses her own gender performance and femininity. She tells her therapist that she’s been thinking about going off her hormones – not de-transitioning completely, but removing the implant from her arm that blocks puberty from happening to her. Instead of being terrified of the “broadening, deepening and thickening” of the process, she compares it to the ocean. “I want to be as beautiful as the ocean,” she shares. “The ocean’s strong as fuck, it’s feminine as fuck and both are what makes the ocean the ocean.” Interestingly, in her episode, Rue told Ali the ocean was something bigger and more powerful than her.
Although ‘F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob’ goes some way to helping us understand Jules better, it also tees up season two with a brief but important reunion with Rue. In the episode’s final scenes, she visits Jules in her room, the first time they’ve seen each other since Jules ran away at the end of season one. It’s a fleeting moment and one that leaves them both in tears, but it puts the duo on course to rebuild their relationship in future episodes.
‘F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob’ recap:
Liability: We’re given an immediate insight into Jules’ mindset during the opening scenes with the close-up of her eye. As her relationship with Rue plays out on her pupil, Lorde’s ‘Liability’ soundtracks the moment. “I understand, I’m a liability/ Get you wild, make you leave,” she sings at one point. “I’m a little much for everyone.”
Men and womanhood: While Jules is talking to her therapist, she shares that she feels like she’s built her femininity entirely around what men find desirable. Now, though, she’s “over men” and trying to figure out who she is for herself, not for other people. We should expect to see more of that journey in the next season.
What happened on Halloween: As Jules is getting ready for the Halloween party, she overhears her dad on the phone, talking about her mum relapsing and being in the hospital. Instead of talking to him about it, Jules leaves for the party where – as we saw in season one – her behaviour changed dramatically from what we’d seen up until that point. The backstory to that night helps make that sudden shift make sense.
Love me low: ‘F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob’ closes like it opens, with a piece of music that adds to the emotion of the scenes. Ai Bendr’s ‘Love Me Low’ soundtracks Jules and Rue’s brief reunion and, like ‘Liability’ at the start, seems to reflect how Jules is feeling. “I just wanna be with you,” Bendr sings as Rue opens the door and walks into Jules’ room, but cuts out as they begin to apologise to each other.
‘Euphoria: F**k Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob’ airs at 9pm tonight (January 25) on Sky Atlantic