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Thinking Through Euphoria Season 1, Episode 4: “Shook Ones Part II”

While watching Sunday night’s Euphoria, “Shook Ones Part II,” I felt optimistic. Although the show can often feel like a bleak drive through the darkest parts of teen life, a trip to the carnival gives Euphoria some true messy excitement. Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and Maddie (Alexa Demie) live their Hot Girl Summer dreams while Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Rue (Zendaya) make up quickly after last week’s awkward kiss. Even Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane), fetishist extraordinaire, proves himself to be kinder than you would ever assume Euphoria would allow.

Then you get to the final scene of the episode, which brings Jules face-to-face with “Tyler,” the boy she has fallen for over the last three episodes. “Tyler” is, as we viewers have always known, actually Nate (Jacob Elordi, towering over everyone this week), the person who threatened to kill Jules the moment he met her. The results are one of the most jarringly upsetting scenes you’ll see all year. Let’s talk about it (and then some far less harrowing stuff, too).

Jules & “Tyler” finally meet

This scene tells us a few things about Nate. At surface level, we are reminded Nate is capable of the kind of brutality few people can even dream of. Only this time, we see emotional sadism rather than the physical violence of “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy.” Towards the end of Nate and Jules’ lakeside meeting, he stuffs his hands into Jules’ mouth the exact same way his father did in the premiere (this is confirmation Nate found the recording of Jules that Cal made and kept it). When Jules asks Nate to stop, he tells her, “God are you broken inside … You’re so broken you don’t even trust yourself.”

It’s unclear what Jules did to make Nate say such a vicious thing to her. Asking him to stop choking her isn’t exactly the behavior of a broken person. And their weeks of text messages, many of which we’ve seen over the last few episodes, prove Jules is a sunny, self-assured, and caring person. The only evidence Nate has that could even suggest otherwise is the video of her sexual encounter with Cal and, by telling Nate not to recreate the moment, Jules proves that hookup didn’t break her.

However, this moment inspires Nate to reveal the true depth of his cruelty. He has decided he cannot trust Jules and has created a vast contingency plan to force her into silence about her relationship with both Jacobs men. Nate has compiled all of the sexy photos Jules sent him — including a few taken on school property — and made an account in her name. Since the photos technically qualify as child pornography, Nate threatens to inform the authorities about the account, should Jules ever tell the world about Nate’s sexuality or his dad’s sexual appetites.

Nate then paints a horrible picture of what life would be like if Jules were to be convicted of disseminating child porn. He tells her she’ll be treated like an animal.

It’s a frightening level of malevolence that stands in strict contrast to Cal’s behavior. Mere minutes before this meeting, Cal politely thanks Jules for agreeing not to blow up his life by revealing their affair. That conversation took place in a similarly desolate area. Hypothetically, Cal could have threatened the vulnerable Jules. It is evident the possibility never even crossed his mind. Nate, on the other hand, nearly kills Jules at the end of their conversation.

This encounter also shows us just how confused Nate truly is. The date may eventually give us further confirmation he’s a monster, but it doesn’t begin that way. He starts out by telling Jules he’s “not trying to hurt her” and “isn’t the person” who threatened her in a kitchen. He’s sweet and charming while speaking about falling asleep to Jules’ texts and waking up to them, too. It’s possible this is all a trick to get Jules close enough to tell her about the child porn scheme, but Nate is a giant. He doesn’t need to convince potential prey to get close to him.

As Nate proves with Maddy earlier in the episode, he has no problem going right up to someone and grabbing them. That is why his girlfriend ends “Shook” crying in a mirror while staring at her neck bruises. So, it instead appears Nate is grappling with the person he wants to be (a person who loves Jules and his happy with her) and the person he believes he needs to be (a terrifying predator who “protects” his family) throughout his conversation with Jules.

Whoever Nate is, he needs to stay away from Jules. At least the last scene of the episode, where Jules tearfully goes to stay with Rue, is one of the most beautiful of the series so far.

Cassie’s carnival ride

One of Euphoria ’s greatest blind spots is its understanding of teen girls’ sexuality. It is almost always reactive to the whims of men and wildly performative. This issue arises again when Cassie and Chris McKay (Algee Smith) have an argument at the carnival. At last, McKay admits that he doesn’t want to officially date Cassie because of her alleged past. It’s gutting.

So, Cassie pops some Molly and goes to find a hot boy to seduce in retaliation. It’s teenage Daniel (Keean Johnson), a grown-up version of Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) middle school boyfriend from “Made You Look.” The pair jumps on the carousel and Cassie simulates cowgirl-style sex on her inanimate horse as Daniel looks on, slack jawed. She eventually either climaxes or fakes orgasm really well, moaning along the way. While Daniel is transfixed by the display, most onlookers are horrified. When Cassie realizes as much, she is left embarrassed on the ride until it ends.

The last time we see Cassie in this episode, she is crying on her porch. Maybe this season will end with Cassie owning her libido in a way that has nothing to do with McKay, or Daniel, or any other man in her life. Someone get this girl a vibrator.

The mystery of Gia

“Shook Ones,” finally turns the spotlight on Rue's traumatized younger sibling, Gia (Storm Reid). What we find is a little sister desperate to get into average teen hijinks, which is impossible due to Rue's dangerous missteps. Gia just wants to smoke weed outside of the town carnival with cute older boys, like any other girl flirting with rebellion. But, Rue has to drag her sister out of the situation and back home. Their mom Leslie (Nika King) is already too paranoid about Rue’s whereabouts to have another daughter doing drugs.

Gia’s growth in Rue’s shadow is a fascinating story — and one Euphoria needs to dedicate a whole episode to exploring.

Maddy’s carnival outfit

Where did she buy it? Who made it? I will have so many questions for the rest of my life.

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