It’s interesting that this week’s episode of Euphoria, “Bonnie & Clyde,” would follow an episode of Big Little Lies that delves into Celeste’s complicated relationship with her husband and abuser, Perry, because Perry and Celeste is the trajectory that Maddy and Nate’s relationship is on.
This week’s episode, directed by Jennifer Morrison (of Once Upon a Time fame), handled the abusive relationship between Maddy and Nate with more skill than this series had previously suggested it was capable of. The focus of this episode is on Maddy, who spends three hours the morning after Nate choked her trying to conceal the bruises on her neck. We learn more about Maddy’s backstory, too: She’s the product of a loveless marriage, where her mother spends her days on her knees giving pedicures while her father is an alcoholic layabout, and the two clearly exist in a loveless marriage. Maddy has no ambition of her own, except to be like the women who receive pedicures from her Mom: She wants to be taken care of, and she wants a passionate partner whom she can control with sex (Maddy watches a lot of porn, but only for instructive purposes).
This provides the backdrop to the lengths Maddy is willing to go to deny that Nate brutally choked her. However, after passing out in class because of the hoodie she’s wearing on a hot day to cover up the bruises, the principal discovers the abuse and calls the cops. Maddy defiantly insists that Nate is not responsible, but her mother presses charges, and Nate’s parents are called in to have a sit-down with the police.
On his way into the school, Nate’s father, Cal, stops in the restroom for a quick vomit, because he’s clearly afraid he’s about to be outed for raping Jules. He actually displays some relief when the cops tell him that Maddy’s mother is pressing charges against his son for choking Maddy. In the sit-down between Cal and Nate afterward, Cal doesn’t come right out and say it, but he may as well have: “Don’t worry about it, son. White privilege will save you.” Meanwhile, while Maddy is aggressively trying to protect Nate, Nate not only denies the allegations but undermines Maddy’s credibility, suggesting that she sleeps around and does a lot of drugs, so the bruises could have come from anyone, notwithstanding the fact that six people saw Nate violently jerk Maddy by her arm. Nate is a bad, bad guy.
Maddy is inconsolable, not about the abuse, but that it might jeopardize her relationship with Nate. Her friends also alienate her for protecting Nate, which only makes her dependence on Nate stronger. When Nate finally texts Maddy and asks her to meet him at a motel, she’s quick to jump on that meeting. Of course, Nate arrives at the same motel his father has just left, where Cal proves himself to be slightly more complicated than we at first realized after he expresses concern to a male prostitute about whether his “secret life” has led to his son’s abusive behavior. You think, Cal?
Meanwhile, the Rue/Jules romance gives us our first signs of hope all season long, if only briefly. The two fall madly in love with one another and spend most of the episode gleefully doing things that teenagers should be doing: Hanging out, mooning over one another, riding bikes, getting tattoos of each other’s name on their inner lips. Rue actually manages to stay sober for 13 days, and Jules is appreciated by others as a great influence on Rue.
Alas, the responsibility for Rue’s health proves too much for Jules. She’s starting to withdraw from the relationship already because Jules has enough on her plate trying to take care of herself, and she’s fairly not ready to take on another person’s well being, too, especially with someone who — it turns out — is not nearly as sexually mature as Jules herself. I sympathize with Jules’ position, but I’m also worried about Rue’s inevitable relapse.
Finally, I don’t know where Kat’s storyline is heading long term, but I love where she’s at now: “I’ve been afraid my whole life that people were going to find out I was fat. But honestly, who gives a shit? There’s nothing more powerful than a fat girl who doesn’t give a fuck.” She’s not only found her inner confidence, but she’s come to the realization that all men are pathetic and easy to bend to her will. She’s owning the sh*t out of her sexuality, and it’s fun to watch. She gets what she wants from men, and then dismisses them and their lizard brains.
Header Image Source: HBO