SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched Season 1 of “Euphoria,” you are about to be spoiled on the whole thing!
Winter formal was in full swing at East Highland, a daydreamer was at an abortion clinic, hearts were broken at the train station, and there was a nearly 15-minute sequence in which no one talked but a gospel choir in maroon sweats sang — such was the finale of Season 1 of HBO’s “Euphoria.” It’s been more than two years since the eighth episode of “Euphoria” aired on Aug. 8, 2019, and though two special episodes dropped during the pandemic before Season 2, it can be hard to recall all of the things— and there were so, so many — that happened in that finale.
The specials gave fans peace of mind that Rue (Zendaya) had not died of an overdose, in spite of her powerful dance sequence suggesting otherwise, and allowed viewers to zero in on Jules (Hunter Schafer), who seemed doomed to be just another Manic Pixie Dream Girl until this episode gave her some well-earned depth. Both Zendaya and Schafer spoke with Variety recently about the significance of those chapters in terms of moving the story forward, as well as a mysterious newcomer in the upcoming season.
We’ve learned much about the exes post-finale through the specials, but what about the other characters in Rue’s inner circle? Instead of cramming all of “Euphoria” again before Season 2’s premiere on Sunday, read on for a summary of the six developments to remember from the finale.
Cassie (Sydney Sweeney)
Cassie’s two sides — the front that she puts on for the rest of the world and her actual self at her most vulnerable — were juxtaposed in this episode by showing Cassie having bubbly girl-talk and looking like a pageant queen at the formal, contrasted with scenes showing Cassie, in a blue sweatsuit and bare-faced, getting ready to have her pregnancy aborted. During the abortion appointment, we learn that there is a history of depression in her family — as well as a history of opiate dependency and alcoholism — as she gives her medical history to a nurse at the clinic. Cassie put on the bravest face she could before the abortion, but during it, she floated away and dreamed about her ice-skating days — simpler times — as a child.
Kat (Barbie Ferreira)
Kat and Maddy wordlessly made up after getting in a silly row about the “old” versus “new” Kat, and for the most part, they had a fabulous time at the dance as the best-dressed pair at the table. Kat took advantage of a moment alone with her sensitive and sweet crush Ethan Lewis (Austin Abrams), and apologized for her behavior at the carnival — and, in that same breath, admitted her feelings for Ethan. Ethan, in turn, revealed his own crush on Kat — which started as soon as they sat next to each other in class, aw — and vowed to not let her get hurt. He’ll do anything to make sure it is him who gets hurt instead. (Presumably, after they walk off to go dance or make-out or whatever, they are officially BF/GF).
Lexi (Maude Apatow)
The severely underrated and underutilized Lexi Howard, sister of Cassie and friend to Rue who was not given much substance in the seven previous episodes, was finally given the chance to sparkle in Season 1’s finale. We saw Lexi get drunk and let loose — and it was all very cute. She trailed off on surprisingly profound rambles about not having found her personhood yet in high school that made her (well … Cassie’s) friends giggle. (And she offered advice to the blonde drunk girl Nate blew off at the dance.) We also saw Lexi accompany Cassie to her abortion appointment, and share an unspoken closeness with her sister.
Fezco (Angus Cloud)
Fez, the second-most underrated and underutilized character in “Euphoria,” gave a kiss to his comatose grandmother, and then proceeded to break into the house of an unethical doctor and pound the ever-living hell out of him in front of his child. The whole scene felt uncharacteristically aggressive for the slow-moving and smooth-talking Fez, but even he couldn’t escape the inevitable violence that follows shady business. Fez returned to Mouse (Meeko) with the money he forcibly took, forking it over with blood-stained hands. But his fate is left on a cliffhanger. Did he manage to escape Mouse — or did Mouse escape him?
Nate (Jacob Elordi)
Nate, in both the flashbacks in this episode and the current happenings throughout it, had a rough time in the season finale. In the flashbacks, we saw him attempting to have sex with Maddy and not being able to do the deed. Infuriated, Maddy expressed how turned-off she is by his toxic masculinity, and how she doesn’t care if he is into guys — if you recall, in previous episodes Maddy found a stash of nude pics of dudes on Nate’s phone. Nate then violently intimidated and threatened Maddy, as he consistently does throughout the series when they’re “on” in their on-again-off-again courtship. Maddy stormed off, and Nate went into the bathroom to fantasize. Current-time Nate performed miserably on the football field for almost the entirety of the game, only to miraculously save the day in the final 10 seconds. While he gets praised by teammates, cheerleaders and peers — who have all conveniently forgotten the battery charges against him in order to celebrate victory — his father, Cal (Eric Dane) is not amused. Cal confronts Nate, Nate comes out to him about his sexuality — and Cal proceeds to beat his son down as we see Nate cry for the first time in the series.
Things get worse for Nate at the dance (more on that later), and his final scene is a showdown with Rue, in which Rue courageously asked Nate to back off from both Jules and Fezco. Nate hurled some choice insults at Rue, and amid all of the tension, complimented Jules and revealed (at least some) of his true feelings for her.
Maddy (Alexa Demie)
In Nate’s cold open during the second episode of “Euphoria,” titled “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy,” we learned that one of the things Nate loves most about Maddy is her loyalty. But by the season finale, Maddy had just about had it with Nate and his toxicity, and her allegiance to him was seemingly broken for good by the end of it. Right before Maddy stormed off from the Jacobs’ household, she took a disk containing footage of Cal’s (messed-up) sexual encounter with Jules. She then bumped into the Jacobs patriarch, who told her that the relationship she had with his son is “unsustainable,” actively encouraging her to dump Nate. Maddy (wisely) took Cal’s advice: after an epic dance battle full of mind-games and sexual tension, Maddy embraced Nate in a slow dance and broke up with him, telling him that she hates the way he makes her feel and that he is psychopathic.
All in all, a pretty great winter formal for Maddy Perez.