“The Theatre and It’s Double” blends art and reality as Lexi’s play proves to be a hit — a little too close to home.
This recap of Euphoria season 2, episode 7, “The Theatre and It’s Double”, contains spoilers.
Euphoria has always had a style over substance problem. Most of the criticisms that have been leveled at the show over the last couple of years have revolved around its supposed glorification of teenage drug use, sex, and criminality, and a lot of that involves slipping into detached, dream-like visuals, addressing the audience directly, or using omniscient narration to frame the events in an understandable, all-knowing way. “The Theatre and It’s Double”, the penultimate episode of the season, takes this to something of an extreme.
Euphoria season 2, episode 7 recap
It’s the debut of Lexi’s play, an obviously autobiographical account of her life and the social dynamics of high school, with stage actors playing very thinly veiled versions of the main characters. The gimmick is that the play’s narrative often intersects with the actual, real-life one so that it’s frequently and deliberately unclear whether what we’re seeing happened or is part of Lexi’s heightened drama.
Sometimes it’s easier to tell since the characters have alter-egos, such as Rue, who in the play is called “Jade”. Whenever she’s being referred to as such, we know that we’re seeing the stage version of a real event (in this case Lexi reading “Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower” by Rainier Maria Rilke to a freshly high Rue). The real Rue is in the audience with the real versions of everyone else, including Maddy, who puts the whole thing in rather succinct terms: “Is this f*cking play about us?”
Yes, it is.
But the play’s also a hit. There’s nary an empty seat in the audience, except for one supposed to be occupied by Fezco, which Lexi frequently stares at, wondering why he isn’t there. The only time “The Theatre and It’s Double” is abundantly clear about what’s happening is when it cuts back to Fez, who’s getting suited and booted, excited to witness Lexi’s magnum opus. But there’s a problem. Custer arrives and starts conspiring with Faye again, and Ashtray witnesses it, and just as Fez is about to leave, he asks if everything is okay.
No, it isn’t.
It’s a nice cliff-hanger, especially in how it’s rooted in this lovely but unlikely romance between Fez and Lexi. And its lack of ambiguity helps it. Fez’s house, totally removed from the stage and audience, is a reminder that, for all its similarities to real life, Lexi’s play is fiction, a performance. But there are real-life consequences for all the shenanigans, and someone is about to suffer them. It makes Nate, who is aghast at a deliberately homoerotic rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” that makes fun of him and his jock buddies, look ridiculous for how much fuss he makes of its supposed homophobia. Given some of the other stuff the play depicts, such as Lexi’s growing sense of inadequacy as Cassie having – ahem – “matured” quicker than she did, their father driving them home blotto while a terrified Lexi’s ice cream melts through her hands in the back seat, and Maddy spending the night in tears after her parents splitting up, Nate looks silly being annoyed about the gold lamé song-and-dance number.
But that might not be what he’s really annoyed about. In one odd sequence, Cassie, astride him, turns to dirty talk that is basically just her telling Nate that he can completely control every aspect of her life. But it takes a dark turn when Cassie, laying face-down on the bed with ripped fishnets, becomes Nate, and Nate becomes his father, Cal. Suddenly, Nate jolts awake. This wasn’t a scene in the play or in real life, but a nightmare Nate was having. One supposes there’s a reason his unconscious mind drifts to his father violating him. And one supposes it isn’t a particularly pleasant one.