'Euphoria' episode 4 review: Nate is an absolute monster, but it's Jules and Rue's final kiss you should watch out for
This article contains spoilers for episode 4 'Shook Ones Part II'.
This week's episode of HBO's dark, intense, and gritty thriller 'Euphoria' focuses on a lot of things, apart from the textbook definition of toxic masculinity that is Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi.) There's teen sexuality, the stigma surrounding drugs, and also an unfamiliar side of Nate's dad, Cal (Eric Dane) - a kinder side - that we didn't think the Dominant Daddy was capable of. But as the main character Rue's (Zendaya) narration breaks down her new best friend turned not so secret crush, Jules's (Hunter Schafer) past in the signature flashback, it is Jules's present that alarms us more about her fate on the show. We knew nothing was going to come out of Jules meeting 'Tyler' aka the name Nate was using to catfish her on a gay dating app, but we didn't know it was going to be this bad. Just borderline traumatizing.
Pretty much the entirety of episode five, 'Shook Ones Part II', is based around Jules and Nate's scheduled meeting at the lakeside after the carnival. The reason why all of this comes as doubly shocking is purely because of the way Nate pads up their meeting with a very tactful admission of how much he liked speaking with Jules in the past few days. He stunts like his daddy, of course, and sticks his finger inside Jules's mouth the same way his father had. It's become clear that Nate has found out about his dad's secret stache of clips where the older Jacobs documents his sexcapades with young trans people. And based on Nate's past behavior which Jules, we now understand why he took all these measures to just meet her.
When Jules fights Nate off after he sticks his finger inside her mouth, he accuses her of being broken, before going on to threaten her with leaking all the nude photos she had sent him in the course of their correspondence. Like a true monster, he explains to her his insidious plan of having linked all of her nude shots to an IP address that would trace back to her, and therefore be incriminating evidence against her for sharing child pornography. He also reminds her that they live in a state where minors are punishable for the offense too, so Jules's photos being busted would mean her having a hard time for the rest of her life - which, because of her sexuality, is already difficult.
More than the context, it's the manner of his threat that proves to be more sickening to witness. Elordi outperforms his own self because his charming face isn't the only facade activated here. It is the tone of his voice, the restrained threat in his advances, and everything that classifies as an ace manipulator which Elordi packs in this episode. While Dane's Cal is a lot toned down in episode 5, as he requests Jules to not ruin his life by divulging their secret motel encounter, Nate makes up for the lack of authority and dominance as he follows his daddy's footsteps, and justifies his catfishing and sinister plans under the pretext of protecting his family. Like he tells Jules, “Don’t try to ruin my life, and I won’t have to ruin yours.”
The other highlight of the episode is Jules's past. We find out that at the age of 11 when she was already hating her mind and her body, her mother institutionalized her at a children's mental health facility, all because she was 'sad.' That's also where Jules's self-harming began, and we find out that soon after, her mother left them. But as Jules's father became the primary caregiver, Jules also transitioned and (Rue's words, not ours!) became a little 'slutty'. Random hookups, even when unpleasant, didn't faze her because she pretended it was happening with another body. Probably why when things get way too real in this episode, she goes back to Rue and resumes their little kiss. That's right; Rue and Jules kiss. Again. And it's probably the only bleak ray of hope in this dark cloud of an episode that 'Shook One Part II' was.
In other aspects, Maddy and Cassie tried Mollys with some pretty grave consequences for the latter. Frustrated with her boyfriend McKay claiming that he doesn't want to explicitly date Cassie because of her sexually uninhibited past, she decides to own her liberated sexuality and dry humps the carousel-horse in front of another boy. Probably aimed at turning the boy on, this ends with Cassie just horrifying onlookers and embarrassing her own self. Maddy ends up with a bruised neck after Nate chokes her for wearing an extremely skimpy outfit. But the most wholesome part of the episode was Rue's sister Gia just wanting to be a regular teen, and smoke up with cute older boys at the carnival. But she can't do that of course because her sister is already a drug-addict, thus creating space for a discourse that the show should definitely spend more time exploring.
'Euphoria' airs on Sundays at 10 pm, only on HBO.