Las night’s episode of the new hit HBO drama, Euphoria, has my head spinning!
First of all, it is hands down the best episode of the season so far. I liked that this time around every character had some stakes in what was going on. Of course, the thing I was most eager to see was the teased climax of Jules finally meeting the real “Tyler.”
Before we get into that however, I think it’s important to side-step and touch on the interaction between Jules and Cal (Eric Dane). After an uncomfortable encounter between the pair at the chili stand, Cal goes out to find Jules. I was expecting this to become violent, aggressive, verbally abusive, etc. However, what we got in the interaction was a complete 180 from Cal. The big, confident, and controlling man folded into fear and surrender.
It’s outstanding to me to see the character not only outside of his “head of family” role, but the power role he has played in the glimpses we see of his sexual episodes as well. Dominance has always been the center of his identity and in this moment we see him begging a child to not ruin his life.
He completely acknowledges that in that moment he holds no chips. He knows Jules recognized him and that she told her best friend. He surrenders (wisely) and simply begs that he be allowed to keep what he has.
What got me about this moment as well is how Jules interacts with him. In fact, what gets me about Jules overall is how she seems to engage with all these people uncomfortable/scared by their identities; she gives it no weight. Cal is terrified and begging for his life and she’s not really scared of him, but seems to casually try and calm him. She completely understand through empathy; she understands that for men, masculinity is a high commodity and not being burdened by that weight herself, she can simply show compassion for people like Cal who are imprisoned by it.
Now, the same can’t be said for Nate…
We all knew that interaction wasn’t going to go well. You don’t have that kitchen fight in the series premiere and then magically fall in love over an app. I never suspected that this graphic teen drama was just Glee in disguise.
Instead we find out that “Nate the diabolical” had known the entire time he was talking to Jules! He only did everything he did because he had seen her in one of his father’s videos and wanted to do what was necessary to protect his family. You might think this is noble of him, but I’m not on that boat.
Nate has the same illness as his father; control and dominance are the things that matter most. So much so that Nate clearly is always thinking several steps ahead of everyone else to ensure he keeps his position.
Do I think he is gay? Straight? I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t think it’s the most important thing to his character. He has become my favorite on the show because, interest in men or women aside, it would appear that his first and only love is power. He will defend and attack whatever he needs to in order to maintain it. I think that’s communicated clearly by his attack of Maddy; we saw an entire opening segment about his fascination with her and it was clear it wasn’t love, but rather he found something he could own that had not been owned before. When his pieces act out of line with what he wants-he attacks.
By the looks of next weeks episode it’s clear the fiasco is not yet done. Nate is my favorite character not because I like him. He is my favorite because I think his story is dark, deep, rich, and there are so many ways it can be taken that it becomes nearly impossible to predict.