'Euphoria' episode 5 review: A trip down Maddy's past reveals her manipulative instincts, but it's Rue we're worried about more
We saw the backstory of Maddy unfold as we found out why she is the way she is. Yet, like always, it was her present that left us a extremely worried for her.
This article contains spoilers for episode 5: '03 Bonnie and Clyde.'
This week, HBO's teen drama Euphoria, focusing on drugs, sex, and the violence associated with American teens had a lot to unpack as it took us back to yet another pivotal character's past. We saw the backstory of Maddy (Alexa Demie) unfold as we found out why she is the way she is. Yet, like always, it was her present that left us a little concerned and very scared for her fate on the show. But it's not just her that we're scared for. After what seems like a streak of a happy flash for our narrator and central character Rue (Zendaya) in the previous episode, we are back to worrying about her simply because of how intensely her heart wants what it wants: A girl called Jules (Hunter Schafer) who just isn't that into her.
In her past, Maddy is a pageant queen whose career was cut short after a pageant official was busted for sexual assault. Maddy wasn't the victim, but she ended up becoming the victim of circumstances once her aesthetician mother and drunk father decided using her as a medium to communicate in what would be enough to call their trainwreck of a relationship, a marriage. With not much to aspire to, it's understandable why Maddy still sticks with Nate. And as Rue's voiceover tells us, Maddy knew no matter what her boyfriend and textbook definition of toxic masculinity, Nate (Jacob Elordi) did, she would still love him.
We get to see that in the aftermath of their argument from the carnival which took a nasty, violent turn, it left Maddy scarred enough to have a proper breakdown in front of her bathroom mirror. But the consequences of Nate's traumatizing behavior manifested in the form of deep bruises along Maddy's neck after he choked her at the carnival. It's an intriguing shift from the usually direct, unwavering Maddy, as we see her in a newfound angle now. We now know Maddy learned at a young age that all men "want something they can own and possess", as Rue's narration tells us, so her manipulative nature around men and the coy persona dropping hints about what she wanted are explained now.
But all the right kind of practicing porn poses could never prepare Maddy for the violence she suffered at Nate's hands, so she automatically plummets to a no-food spiral and makes things worse for her and Nate, when she passes out at school. Once the authorities find out, the bruises don't take much longer to make themselves seen. Nate's violence is brought into the light, but we already know of the monstrous levels he can reach. When interrogated, Nate makes sure to stress on how much he loved Maddy, but doesn't shy away from sprinkling here and there in his testimony, the fact that Maddy was on drugs the night of the carnival, and also mentions her promiscuity. The worst part? Later in the episode, he asks her to meet and she doesn't take a split second to reconsider going. Maddy might have snapped at her mother in a brutal monologue and sent 200 plus texts to Nate freaking out after that, but she doesn't hesitate to go for what her heart wants, even though it is toxic as it can be.
And that brings us to Rue and Jules. Considering how Rue has labeled herself as an 'unreliable narrator' it's still interesting how she gets all these scoops from people's past like an omnipotent, omnipresent entity you cannot avoid. But this godlike character has her fall approaching too. After finding out the truth about Nate catfishing her as Tyler, and being threatened by him, Jules had gone back to Rue's place and the two had ended up kissing. Again.
But like Rue's potential sponsor Ali remarked, they are high school kids prone to fluctuating feelings - something that has already begun showing in Jules's demeanor. Even as the two go rollerblading, and Rue later sleeps in Jules's bed, the latter can't stop thinking about whether she is ready to bear the responsibility of the being Rue's only crutch through sobriety. And that's not selfish at all because it is a lot to ask from someone who has been through hell and beyond in their lives. So things really don't seem all that bright for Rue, even though she got an underlip tattoo that says 'Rules' right after claiming they are taking it slow.
On that note, Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and McKay make up so there's no more going slow for them and the same can be said for Kat (Barbie Ferreira) who's practically ditching her closest friends in need to explore her newfound liberated sexuality. Kat has realized that men are trash and nothing is as powerful as a "fat girl who doesn't give a f**k." So now she's sporting body harness and collars and roaming around the mall, hooking up with random strangers, while Nate's father, aka DominantDaddy Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane), is the one having heart-to-hearts with his young-trans motel visitors. And life comes full circle!
'Euphoria' airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. PT only on HBO.