TV Review: Euphoria S2E4 “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can”
Euphoria really bounces back in the middle episode of Season Two. It leans on its two main strengths: a unique visual style from writer/director/creator Sam Levinson and cinematographer Marcell Rev as well as music that brings out the inner lives of characters whether that’s Labrinth’s score (He has a cameo in “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can“) or the cues chosen by music supervisor Jen Malone. Beginning with a montage of Jules and Rue in various famous paintings (Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait, “Birth of Venus”), photographs (John Lennon and Yoko Ono by Annie Leibovitz), and films (Titanic, Brokeback Mountain), Levinson sets up a basic, yet powerful theme of our own self-reality being different that what people perceive and explores it through different cast members of Euphoria culminating in powerful montage that nails where different characters are in their stories in one image. There are other connections between the storylines like alcohol’s ability to make character’s tell the truth about themselves (Often in a disgusting way) and love triangles, namely, Rue/Jules/Elliot and Nate/Cassie/Maddy.
Sam Levinson spends this episode cutting between three major storylines. There’s Rue, Elliot, and Jules hanging out and failing at platonic relationships and monogamy broken up by a liquor store theft that shows Dominic Fike can do funny and mixed signals. Along with this, there’s Maddy’s birthday party, which means Cassie’s anxiety is on overload as she wants to celebrate her friend and also feels guilty about sleeping with Nate behind her back. Finally, in a sequel to the flashback sequence from last episode, Cal Jacobs dusts off his old jeep and drives to the gay bar where he shared a tender moment with Derek as a teenager and realizes he hates himself, is a hypocrite, a fool, and predator.
The early part of the episode leans heavily on the chemistry between Fike and Hunter Schafer as Jules and Elliot joke about Rue faking an orgasm at the start of the episode and start messing around until Rue sends them a text about being outside. The faked orgasm happens because Rue is so high from the stock of drugs she got in the previous episode (And is definitely not selling), and Levinson contrasts the awkwardness between Rue and Jules with the physical bond between Jules and Elliot. Elliot is definitely being manipulative in this episode, but he has a moment of clarity when he comes clean later in the episode and tells Jules that he has been doing drugs with Rue. For once, he speaks directly instead of hiding behind flirtation or jokes.
Intensified by Rue getting high, “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can” spends a lot of time showing Rue’s feelings about her dad’s passing and relationship with Jules in dream sequences set up Labrinth’s vocal and scores. As mentioned earlier, Labrinth appears in this episode singing and embracing Rue as she thinks about her father and is actually swaying by herself in her room. This is the slowed down, sadder version of the musical number at the end of Euphoria Season One, and Rue sits in her grief and negative energy. In fact, after Rue drinks alcohol, Zendaya strips the humor from her performance and goes darker and more straightforward. Her actions may have had an influence on Elliot finally telling Jules about his and Rue’s drug use that is how they initially bonded in the season premiere. Labrinth’s fallen angel score and vocals convey Rue’s emotions in this episode better than any dialogue and shows Euphoria is at its best when it shuts the fuck up and lets him, Rev, and Sam Levinson paint with sound and light.
In contrast with these more physical sequences, the party is a little talkier with some flat CW-esque line delivery from Jacob Elordi about where he stands with Cassie and Maddy. However, Alexa Demie gets to channel some of the energy from the carnival episode last season and pick apart Nate’s tone of voice with Kat backing her up and helping her call out some of his toxicity while also wanting to be with him. And, of course, this is happening while a super drunk Cassie is in the hot tub right next to him. After being rejected and snubbed by Nate, Sydney Sweeney nails Cassie’s sad, drunk state as she dances alone to a Sinead O’Connor song and becomes interwined with balloons all leading up to an epic moment of vomit that kills the party and once and for all reveals that something isn’t right with her. Cassie is suffering alone this episode with Lexi turning her story into a play, Maddy and Nate dealing with their relationship status, Kat not being into her underwritten relationship with Ethan, and her mom trying too hard to be Amy Poehler’s character in Mean Girls.
That theme of suffering alone continues to a much less sympathetic character: Cal Jacobs. The veneer of stern patriarch is all but gone in this episode as he returns to the gay bar he frequented with Derek and slow dances with man whose face almost gets superimposed with Derek’s. As O’Connor’s music plays (The same song as Cassie dances to.), Levinson slyly cuts to the other, predominantly younger denizens of the gay bar to show that Cal is in his own little world. Eventually, awkward looks turn into full on melodrama as Cal is unceremoniously kicked out of the bar when he tries to relive his wrestling and then rants to his wife and sons about how he loves to sleep with men and transgender women while urinating in the foyer. Even though both feature nostalgic New Wave music, Cal’s scenes in this episode are the polar opposite of the previous as Eric Dane goes full id and destroys his reputation and persona of town father in a single night. He’s super pathetic and doesn’t respect people’s boundaries and is definitely the worst part of Euphoria, but it’s nice to see Sam Levinson utterly cut him down to size instead of creating sympathy for him.
Lexi’s play auditions and Fezco, Ashtray, and Faye’s movie night seem extraneous and not as connected to the three major storylines, but for the most part, “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can” lets Levinson, Rev, and Labrinth wallow and play in light, darkness, music, and emotion that is bolstered by strong performances from Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney, and Eric Dane with Sweeney and Dane seasoning their tears with gallows humor. With the aid of alcohol, drug abuse, projectile vomiting, and public urination, this episode rips the Band-Aid of the facade that characters have built for themselves whether that’s a play tent in a snow storm (Rue) or a well-built mansion (Cal Jacobs).
Overall Verdict: 8.2