“The Next Episode” delves into McKay’s past and his relationship with Cassie as the bad guys emerge (hopefully temporarily) victorious.
This recap of Euphoria Season 1, Episode 6, “The Next Episode”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Thus far, McKay has always been the least barbaric of his lunatic jock chums, and Euphoria Season 1, Episode 6 works to both explain why, but also reveal that he isn’t exactly all that well-adjusted himself. From being put through his paces as a child by an obsessive, overbearing father (another of those!) to a present-day fake gay gang rape (now there‘s a sentence I had a re-read a few times), “The Next Episode” puts him through the wringer, to say the least.
But it also accomplishes a few things beyond that and feels slightly apart from the rest of the season, since it’s one of the few episodes to be filtered through Rue’s entirely sober perspective. Her clarity means there are few stylistic flourishes and all the debauchery stands in starker relief; in not damaging herself, Rue is able to see how much those around her are damaging themselves and each other — and so too are the audience. That sudden hazing of McKay by his football buddies isn’t played for laughs; it’s an awful, hard-to-watch moment that leads into another awful, hard-to-watch sex scene as McKay tries to deal with how he feels in the worst possible way.
There’s a lot of that in Euphoria Episode 6, and there has been throughout the season because all these kids — and their parents — are so messed up that they have nobody to turn to who isn’t also messed up. The show’s most reliable voice of reason — and this persists in “The Next Episode” — is local drug dealer Fezco, who has contributed to virtually everyone’s misdemeanors. Everything and everyone in Euphoria comes with a caveat. Nothing about it sits quite right because there’s always another question to be asked, another thread to tug on, another finger of blame to point. Nobody is innocent. Nobody can be seen as a hero or even, I suppose, a villain; the show is a grim tableau of depravity that you simply have to observe.
Of course, some characters make more of a case for themselves as villains than others — Nate, in particular. In Euphoria Season 1, Episode 6, he revisits Tyler, the young man he battered for “raping” Maddy, and presents him with an impossible choice: Either he “confesses” to choking Maddy at the carnival, or Maddy will tell the police that he raped her. Jules is in on this too; since Nate has printed images of her naked, which qualifies as child ***********, she’s strong-armed into testifying that she saw Tyler attack Maddy. Once all of this information comes to light, her behavior in “The Next Episode” starts to make more sense; the Halloween house party that forms the bulk of Euphoria Episode 6 is actually occurring after all the other events, so when Nate and Maddy return to a chorus of approval, it’s obvious that her eager self-destruction has been her way of coping with what she’s done.
But that kind of self-medication, while understandable, also has a profound effect on Rue, who not only sees her sobriety as a burden but is beginning to see her relationship with Jules are finite, as Ali said it was. That’s a lot for someone in recovery to deal with. Euphoria Episode 6 is good at highlighting these kinds of knock-on consequences; how self-destruction isn’t ever confined to the self. Cassie, unsure of her relationship with McKay, has another dalliance with Daniel — now dressed, fittingly, as Ted Bundy — who first tries to force himself on her and then verbally assaults her when she doesn’t let him. It’s a terrifyingly lifelike depiction of male sexual entitlement.
“The Next Episode” deals with all of these issues and more besides, including Kat’s continued mistreatment of someone vulnerable and naive in Ethan who is just trying to please her; in attempting to live up to the version of herself that she created for approval, she’s pushing away someone who would be likely to respect and appreciate her in a way that she desired in the first place. The villains in Euphoria Episode 6 aren’t all as obvious as Nate.
That lack of obviousness is why the show works, and why Euphoria Season 1, Episode 6, in particular, worked really well. With the bad guys having achieved something of a victory in “The Next Episode”, there’s no telling where the show might go next, and who might spiral into further calamity. It’s a race to the bottom, and I’ll be there to see who lands first.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.