Zendaya delivers a masterclass in “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird”, an impeccably crafted 52-minute downward spiral.
This recap of Euphoria season 2, episode 5, “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird”, contains spoilers.
The second season of Euphoria hasn’t been universally beloved, least of all by me, and it seems with every episode there’s always the lingering question of whether Sam Levinson cares more about sneaking in an erect p***s than crafting a coherent narrative. To some, the brilliance of the two “special” episodes seemed to have been forgotten about as the first season’s debauchery resumed as if it had never stopped to begin with, and many thought that we’d never again see the caliber of acting and the depth of feeling those two hours were able to conjure.
Those people were wrong.
Euphoria season 2, episode 5 recap
“Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” might not do a lot for those who’re really invested in the various subplots of this season, but it’s a tornado of a performance from Zendaya that deserves an awards nod at the very least. With Rue’s relapse out in the open after Jules confessed everything to her mother, the opening ten minutes are a frantic spiral of threats, pleas, splintered doors, upended side tables, tears, vicious insults, snarls, and smiles, with Rue running through every trick in the book to try and locate her suitcase full of missing pills which, we later learn, have been flushed down the toilet.
The loss of the drugs means that Rue is down $10K and in quite a pickle given she isn’t exactly well-positioned to recoup the money, but she’s also stinging from the perceived betrayal of Jules and Elliot. She unloads on the former, particularly, with every bubbling resentment she kept under control since they parted ways, and while Hunter Schafer’s performance rightly won’t get the same credit that Zendaya’s will, the defeated repetition of “I love you” in response to such a torrent of abuse is as powerful as anything in the episode.
I’ve said in previous recaps that Rue is really the villain of this story, and that comes to the fore here with how calculated her attacks and manipulations are; how she probes for the weakest spot to attack, how she cowers and crumbles when she feels she has been defeated. She – seemingly gratefully – accepts being taken to rehab and then flees the car into oncoming traffic. She makes a break for the Howard house where she outs Cassie for sleeping with Nate just to buy herself a moment of chaos to escape in. She steals jewelry from there and heads to Fez’s place, and he’s forced to wrestle her outside when he catches her trying to take his grandmother’s medication. She breaks into another house and steals more loot and is forced to flee once again when the owners return and a gun is mentioned.
This litany of bad decisions leads Rue right to Laurie’s doorstep, where she tries to pay off the loss of the suitcase with her meager haul. But she’s visibly entering withdrawal, which makes her vulnerable to Laurie’s suggestion of taking morphine intravenously. It’s only when she’s being bathed and injected that you realize the depth of the danger Laurie represents; her unflappable manner, her performative kindness, it’s all a snake gradually wrapping itself around its prey.