Euphoria season 2, episode 3 recap – “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys”

January 24, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, TV, Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

“Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” lays the groundwork for Rue’s latest downfall, while Cal obsesses over the tape.

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3.5

Summary

“Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” lays the groundwork for Rue’s latest downfall, while Cal obsesses over the tape.

This recap of Euphoria season 2, episode 3, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys”, contains spoilers.


Rue is the villain of Euphoria, in many ways. “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” includes a fourth-wall-breaking explanation for how Rue is managing to keep her relapse a secret from her family and friends, and it includes gaslighting everyone into thinking that she’s just smoking a little weed – it’s either that or commit suicide, after all, and which is worse? The line is deployed for laughs a few times throughout this episode – Rue uses, “I’ve just been smoking a little weed,” to excuse absolutely everything – but it’s a bleak joke, really. Rue is lying to everyone closest to her. In the space of one hour, she manages to push away Fez, Jules, her sister, and Ali, and land herself in a predicament that is sure to backfire in a big way.

Euphoria season 2, episode 3 recap

But this episode doesn’t begin with Rue. Instead, it opens on Cal Jacobs as a high-schooler, as Rue’s narration explains his tight relationship with his best friend, Derrick, and fast-forwards through their years of homoerotic wrestling practice, partying, meeting girls, graduation, and eventually a long-awaited kiss after a dash through a rain-lashed night to a gay bar. This whole sequence manages to conjure a depth of feeling in its writing and acting that helps to contour Cal even in the present day, where he has been presented, for the most part, as a one-note, abusive psychopath villain. But when his girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant on the morning after he finally found himself, he cries, and you feel you know why he is the way he is just a little bit better.

Cal’s problem, you’ll recall, is that he’s still looking for the illicit tape that Nate mentioned, the one of him having sex with an underage Jules. The stress is costing him sleep, although Nate noisily hooking up with Cassie once a week isn’t helping in that regard either. Either way, it’s a lot for Cal to take, so he eventually goes to see Fez again, and finds himself on the wrong side of Ashtray’s shotgun. He thinks – because Nate intimated it – that Fez is blackmailing Nate with the tape, but Fez is totally open about the fact he had no idea the tape even existed – he assaulted Nate because he deserved it, and he isn’t interested in the family’s seedy misbehavior. He just wants Nate to leave him, Rue, and Jules alone, and Cal agrees to make sure he does.

Anyway, Rue. She begins “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” dancing around the house and breaking the fourth wall, as mentioned, and she’s pleased to discover that the ruse works for now. She, Jules, and Elliot all become friends, although there seems to be a lot of burgeoning sexual chemistry between Elliot and Jules, especially since Rue increasingly spends time away from them on hare-brained schemes that we’ll get into momentarily, and also that she and Jules still aren’t sexually active, despite some close calls and Jules’s rather determined efforts. Elliot obviously recognizes all this, and he states his observations out loud, which makes him either an honest person or someone trying to sabotage a relationship for his own benefit. It’s hard to tell right now.

This is clearly long-game plotting. So, too, is the play Lexi has been writing ever since she failed to intervene in the initial confrontation between Cal and Fezco – she’s validating her “observations” as an artist studying her subjects, but there’s something a bit too knowingly meta about this whole thing for me. Of course, we’ve toyed with these elements before, even earlier in the episode when Rue addressed the audience, but you can almost write that off as her own imaginings, a way to justify her behavior to an audience she feels consistently judged by. It’s fitting for an addict. Through Lexi, though, it’s clearer that Sam Levinson is promoting some wanky film-school analysis, and I’m just not sure where I stand on it.

A lot of Lexi’s problems are juxtaposed with Cassie’s; introvert versus extrovert, sexually repressed versus flagrantly provocative, and so on, and so forth. Cassie has adapted her morning routine so that she now gets up at 4 am just to make herself look good enough for Nate to notice, but he never notices. The joke here – if you can call it a joke – is that Cassie eventually comes to school wearing the exact same outfit as Maddy, the two of them achieving a kind of Nate-snaring singularity. This, we see later, is emotionally taxing for Cassie, because she obviously recognizes that Nate doesn’t care about her but can’t stifle her impulse to be his plaything.

Speaking of stifling impulses, we return to Rue, who has a business proposal. Fez won’t hear it since it involves him fronting her five grand’s worth of drugs, so she instead goes to his new connect, that woman who lives in the bizarre pocket dimension apartment where random unsavory types, several of them naked, just move from room to room as though such a thing is totally normal. Rue’s plan is to use her friends to peddle the gear, and since they’re all worried about college admissions and the dissemination of private information, they won’t narc – and even if they do, they’ll avoid harsher sentencing because they’re underage. The woman likes this idea and is willing to float Rue $50K of drugs, but Rue makes a mature decision and talks her down to $10K, which she drags around in a wheeled suitcase.

With the potential of being handed to “some real sick people” if she doesn’t make the payments on time, Rue takes the suitcase to NA, where she weaponizes Ali’s admissions about his personal life against him, and then drags it home, where she immediately starts dipping into the supply. This does not bode well.

You can catch Euphoria season 2, episode 3, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys”, exclusively on HBO.

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