“Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” provides more penises than you can count and tension to spare in an episode that tops the premiere.
This Euphoria Episode 2 recap for the episode titled “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I think I saw more penises in the first ten minutes of Euphoria Episode 2 than I’ve seen in my entire life. That’s not a criticism, I don’t think, but it is worth mentioning — that willingness to thrust penises in one’s face is pretty integral to this show’s whole ethos. And it isn’t just penises. It’s everything, from body parts to drug paraphernalia to rape and overdoses and I can only imagine what else in the coming episodes. Euphoria is full-frontal by definition.
But in the appropriately-titled “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”, the focus is on penises. Of particular note is the biggest ***** of them all, Nate, and in Rue’s opening narration we get some of his backstory. He grew up with his creepy deviant dad, and as a child perused his sex tapes with various submissive women. It hardly seems like a healthy upbringing, and it left him with a plethora of psychological issues. He’s violent and controlling and driven to a fault. And he’s scared of dicks, which is ironic when you consider he is one.
Euphoria Episode 2 doesn’t want you to sympathize with Nate — quite the contrary, actually. But it’s clearly interested in his psychology, the same way it is with all of the other characters and their various psychosexual hang-ups and anxieties. There aren’t any heroes or villains here, which is partly what works about the show. Everyone is complicated in their own ways. Even what seem at first glance to be cardboard cut-out archetypes reveal new layers and depths as things progress. And that’s just after two episodes.
Rue remains the show’s center and flashbacks in “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” reveal some more of her family life leading up to her overdose and check-in to rehab. Called on stage at school to recall a memory from the summer, she’s unable to separate her happy memories from her bad ones; unable to divorce being sober from being high. The wacky juxtaposition of imagery here is the kind of hip structural flourish you’d see lesser shows deploy purely for aesthetic purposes but in Euphoria Episode 2 it’s characterization; for me, it’s reminiscent of a glossier, trendier Sharp Objects, which employed the same technique a lot.
Euphoria works on the level of a psychedelic character study, but it also works as a thriller or a horror show, depending on where you’re standing. “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” contains a couple of uncomfortably tense scenes that are quite masterfully presented. In the first, Rue stops by Fezco’s place looking for more drugs and refuses to leave when he informs her that his comically unpleasant suppliers are stopping by. When they arrive, Rue is intimidated into taking fentanyl while Fezco can do nothing but offer money in exchange for her being left alone. He has a gun stuffed down his couch cushions, and whether or not he’ll need to use it keeps the whole scene on a razor’s edge.
She’s so flagrantly self-destructive that it’s sometimes difficult to feel sorry for Rue — not in this scene, though, where she’s immediately vulnerable and almost childlike in that vulnerability. But the surprising standout is Fezco, who clearly cares for her and possesses an innate morality that doesn’t cohere with his chosen profession as a drug peddler. Again, this isn’t just an exercise in tension; it’s a demonstration of who these people are.
Thus, it’s no surprise that the second deeply unpleasant scene in Euphoria Episode 2 involves Nate, who breaks into the apartment of Tyler, the guy who Maddie slept with in the previous episode. Maddie is claiming she was blacked out and doesn’t remember the encounter, and thus that Tyler raped her. After breaking in, Nate viciously assaults him, blackmails him, showers and dresses in his clothes. It’s deeply creepy and sinister and shows Nate’s capacity for violence. But is that all that defines him? “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” suggests not, since he begins flirtatiously messaging Jules under a pseudonym. The sexually complicated apple apparently doesn’t fall far from the sexually complicated tree.
The other major subplot in “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” is a viral video of Kat losing her virginity. While she’s able to convince the school — including the principle in a great scene that pokes some fun at neurotic political correctness — the video ends up on PornHub, where it quickly becomes a surprise hit. Motivated by the positive comments, Kat sees an opportunity; wherever might that lead? I’m sure somewhere wholesome and positive.
Euphoria remains a deeply odd and deliberately provocative show. But it’s also exceedingly well-crafted, and clearly interested in its characters, often to a degree that is unsettling. I’m not sure anyone would like it, in the traditional sense, but I find it hard not to be riveted by it — and I suspect many other people feel the same. Part of me fears where it might go next. But another part can’t look away, wherever it might be.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.