'Euphoria' episode 6 explores the dark extremes of Nate's manipulative behavior while revealing McKay's toxic ambitions
This article contains spoilers for episode 6 'The Next Episode'
This week, 'Euphoria' breaks down the NFL pro hopeful Christopher McKay (Algee Smith) in the sixth episode, titled 'The Next Episode'. One would expect it to be all hardcore training and cheers for McKay throughout because so far we have seen him as the one dimensional slightly possessive beau of Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney), and for the most part in this episode he is just that.
But we also get an insight into why he has been so abruptly mean towards Cassie, and it's every bit traumatizing. Probably not as much as what Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi) is capable of, because this episode explores what lies beneath the tip of the iceberg and it's nasty. Terrifyingly nasty.
The episode starts with yet another flashback into the torturous past of McKay. His childhood was the emblem of several others where a little child's dreams are dictated by overly ambitious parents. While Rue's (Zendaya) voiceover takes us to a past where both McKay and his father were rigorously prepping all through his school years to land him a future with a football scholarship in college, the present day scenario couldn't have been more different.
His competitors in college were all bigger and better than him. So naturally, when Cassie's uninhibited, sexually liberated persona with provocative outfits appeared in his life, the shy McKay felt his confidence renewed. But that didn't last long simply because, well — he's a possessive man who cares more about his reputation than about the girl he's seeing.
But that doesn't justify anything that gets done to McKay at college. The setting of this week's episode is Halloween, and before we see the high school party thrown by Cassie and Rue's peers, Cassie goes with McKay to attend his college Halloween party. That is where McKay chides her for her extremely revealing 'True Romance'-inspired Alabama Worley outfit which is, basically, a pretty bra with a short skirt and a blonde wig.
After the party, McKay woos her back and the two go into his dorm to spend some quality intimate time with each other, which is interrupted by a group of burlesque men breaking in. It's clear they are guys from his college, as they pull him off the bed and begin what looks like dry humping him, but his and Cassie screams of shock and horror tell a different story.
It's hard to see if McKay was sexually assaulted while his peers chant 'McGay' in unison, but the episode spirals him into a secret bathroom breakdown, and suddenly you feel nothing but sorry for the boy even though he comes out of the bathroom and wants to have sex with Cassie right away.
Things only get worse for McKay as Cassie attends her high school Halloween party, dressed in the same outfit that she was forced to cover up the previous day. By the time McKay reaches the venue, he has already pissed Cassie off over texts once, and remember Daniel?
He's been a real leech all this while, trying to give Cassie the exact kind of attention her drunk self was looking for. So when McKay walks in, Cassie is AWOL with Daniel, who is pretty much trying to get into her pants before he is sternly shut down by her. Lexie manages to send McKay away from the party, sensing that Cassie must have disappeared for nothing good, and she's true. Daniel being Daniel reacts how every man does when rejected — slut-shaming Cassie and leaving her feeling worse than she already did.
Meanwhile, Jules (Hunter Schafer) is the epitome of miserable in this episode. She dresses up as an angel, and Rue suits up as they go to the party together, but it looks like Jules is too burdened with the idea of being responsible for Rue's sobriety. We see her pulling away every time Rue tries to make an advance and gets drunk beyond her limits.
Rue notices these too and the poor girl — trying her best shot at sobriety — sees the crutches slipping from her grip. Luckily for viewers, there's a moment of clarity later in the episode as we find out that Nate is behind it all. After a week of passive-aggressive shaming and depression sprinkled with meeting Maddy (Alexa Demie) at the motel, Nate decides to blackmail Jules into testifying that Maddy's assault was at the hands of Tyler — the older guy Nate had beaten up for getting intimate with Maddy. Nate uses the exact same tropes of nudes to blackmail Jules and the poor girl doesn't know better.
So with Nate's name cleared and our worries at rest knowing Jules' misery didn't have anything to do with Rue, you'd think this episode bordered on the fine line separating tolerable from excruciatingly dark. But here's the thing: we still don't know what those boys actually did to McKay. Neither do we know if he will ever recover from the trauma or if it will manifest in a worse manner.
What we do know is that KittenKween Kat is still focusing on making bank from humiliating creepy old men on camera, while shutting Ethan out for no fault of his own. However, special mention goes to Rue and Lexi (Maude Apatow) for scaring the wits out of the twins who have been trying to get too cozy with Gia (Storm Reid) — straight out of a mafia negotiation.
'Euphoria' airs on Sundays at 10 pm only on HBO.