Euphoria Season 2 Recap

by John Downey '23 on March 26, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Euphoria Season 2 Recap

Zendaya and Company Shock Viewers Once Again

Caitlin Ariel ’24

After the finale of Euphoria’s jaw-dropping first season in 2019, fans had to wait an agonizing two and a half years for its sophomore season, which aired on Jan. 9. Indeed, with the pandemic delaying the filming of season two, it seemed like forever since fans had seen a new episode of the smash-hit series. 

During this wait, however, watchers’ patience was rewarded with two special episodes: one dedicated to Rue (Zendaya), and another to Jules (Hunter Schafer), with both installments following each character as they cope with their dramatic breakup with one another. 

These specials only heightened fans’ anticipation for the show’s second season: its premiere raked in 19 million viewers, officially making Euphoria the second-most popular HBO show behind Game of Thrones. Even as credits rolled during the finale, fans were still begging for more. 

Director Sam Levinson seems to broaden the scope of the show’s storyline in this season much to the benefit of two characters who suffered from a want of development in season one: Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fezco (Angus Cloud). Lexi, who was relegated to a supporting role in season one, recognizes her passivity in Euphoria’s story and begins to control her own narrative in the most obvious way possible: writing and performing a play about her life for the entire school. Fezco’s story similarly comes to prominence early on in the new season, with its first episode offering viewers a flashback to his childhood. 

Sydney Sweeney’s character, Cassie, continuously sneaks off with her best friend Maddie’s (Alexa Demie) abusive ex-boyfriend Nate (Jacob Elordi). As Nate and his father Cal (Eric Dane) further entrench themselves in their messy and problematic dynamic established in season one, viewers see a new, troubling side to Cassie. Last season, the character came across as an overthinking, quiet girl, but under Nate’s dangerous influence, she spirals into an explosive and commanding figure. 

Of course, Zendaya dominates this season, proving that she truly deserved her 2020 Emmy win. Rue’s season two storyline picks up right where viewers left her at the end of season one, not shying away from the uncomfortable, tragic realities of her drug relapse that emerged during the season’s finale. 

Unlike last season, however, Rue is accompanied by newcomer Elliot. Elliot is played by Dominic Fike, who is well known for his song “3 Nights,” which currently has 680 million streams on Spotify. Elliot almost seems to be taking Jules’ place this season, as he and Rue grow close, but he, like Jules in season one, is unsure of how to handle Rue’s destructive actions. Rue’s behavior causes Elliot and viewers alike to feel a strange mix of sympathy and anger as they watch her turn on those she loves. Zendaya’s pre-season warnings about season two being “difficult,” specifically for her character, certainly ring true.

Overall, the flashiness of Euphoria’s first season is substituted with rawness in its sophomore run, a dramatic shift reflected in how Levinson switched from digital to film when filming the second season. The bold purples and blues that fans have come to associate with Euphoria are exchanged for darker and neutral colors, making the show feel more emotional and grounded. Levinson and the actors dig deep to find new dimensions to the characters viewers thought they knew, and as the season progresses, those at home cannot help but become connected to their drama. It is this powerful connection that kept viewers coming back every Sunday night as the season aired and will keep them anxiously awaiting the series’ third season, which is slated for a 2024 release.

Season two of Euphoria is now streaming on HBO Max.

Struggles with Secrets and Lies

by John Downey '23 on February 10, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Struggles with Secrets and Lies

Euphoria’s Unpredictable Second Season

Grace O’Connor ’22

HBO’s Euphoria is well-known for its fantastic character development and incredible set design, both of which led to a wildly successful first season. Season two of the hit show, which premiered last month, has once again pulled in a large audience—viewership is up nearly 100 percent from season one. According to Variety, the premiere, which first aired Jan. 9, has drawn 13.1 million viewers on HBO and HBO Max, with the rest of the season set to see similar numbers. This growth represents an increase of approximately 100 percent from the nearly 6.6 million people who tuned into Season 1 of Euphoria when it aired in 2019. These statistics affirm the audience’s loyalty to this beloved show and its hugely talented cast. 

Season two of Euphoria dives deeper into its characters’ struggles and relationships with one another. Nate, for instance, is notorious for his abusive behavior, and his unhealthy relationship with Maddy in season one kept fans at the edge of their seats. Given his problematic history, fans were surprised and unsettled to see a budding romance form between Nate and Cassie early on in season two. This troubled love triangle is just one of the unexpected developments in Nate’s story. Season two also explores his father Cal’s hidden past, which Cal had long tried to conceal from his wife and children. 

Another character who must grapple with secrets and lies is Rue, who is on the verge of exposing the fact that she has resumed her use of addictive drugs to Jules and her family. Notably, Euphoria portrays Rue’s battle with drug addiction in an authentic way. According to Forbes, “The tragic irony is that Rue has spent so many episodes striving for [a] relationship [with Jules], only to reduce herself to a state of dissociation, unable to feel what she desperately wants.” Season two masterfully brings Rue’s struggle in her personal relationships to light: she slowly learns to be vulnerable with others and upfront about what she is going through. 

Despite the differences in the characters’ lives that make them individuals, there is one common denominator between them. As Forbes explains, “the characters strive to break free from the chains of morality and consequence, embracing their sinful desires, spilling secrets like body fluids.” The characters each risk their well-being to hold onto their secrets, and their struggle to do so makes for a narrative that is intriguing and entertaining.

Season two of Euphoria is currently airing on HBO and available for streaming on HBO Max.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

by John Downey '23 on January 29, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

Harry Potter Cast and Crew Reunite for Reunion Special

Madison Palmieri ’22

Although the last Harry Potter book was released 15 years ago, and the last Harry Potter movie 10 years ago, fans’ passion for the beloved series has not diminished in the slightest. While the past decade has brought more Potter content in the form of the spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Broadway play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, among other additions, passionate fans remain nostalgic for the stories that first introduced them to the magic of the Wizarding World.

To celebrate this passion and nostalgia, members of the cast and crew from the eight Harry Potter films recently reunited in an all-new HBO Max special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. 

First announced on Nov. 16, 2021 in commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on Nov. 14, 2001, the reunion special began streaming on HBO Max on New Year’s Day. 

To fans’ delight, many beloved actors returned for the occasion. The “golden trio” of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) were certainly the most notable appearances. However, “Potterheads” were also excited to see fan-favorites Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Oliver and James Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix LeStrange), and Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) return to the screen.

The special consists of a series of solo and group interviews in which the cast and crew take viewers through each Potter film, reminiscing about their fond memories and sharing fun facts about their time making the movies. Notably, many of the interviews take place on sets from the films, such as the Gryffindor and Slytherin Common Rooms. The special also features never-before-seen footage from auditions, takes, and other on-set moments.

One memorable scene in the reunion comes when crew members from Chamber of Secrets reveal that Richard Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore, thought that the animatronic used to portray Fawkes the phoenix was real, and they never told him otherwise in order to preserve the magic.

Another interesting revelation was Emma Watson and Tom Felton’s discussion of their relationship. Watson explained how she “fell in love” with Felton in their early days on set, recalling how she’d always look for his number—7—on the call sheet every morning, and if she saw it, she knew “it was going to be an extra exciting day.” Although Felton only saw her as a friend during their time on set, they both expressed that they share a unique bond in the reunion special.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of Return to Hogwarts was the “in memoriam” segment, in which the assembled cast and crew paid tribute to members of the franchise who have passed away in recent years, such as Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) and Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy). Furthermore, in a poignant reflection on his own mortality, Coltrane mused that even though he won’t be around to see how the legacy of Harry Potter lives on in future generations, “Hagrid will.”

This is precisely the magic of Harry Potter, and precisely the message captured in the reunion special: no matter how much time has passed, the Wizarding World’s characters and stories will always be there to welcome fans home.

It is quite fitting, then, that Return to Hogwarts closes with one of the franchise’s most famous quotes: “After all this time?” “Always.”

Film Preview: Dune

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Film Preview: Dune

The Anticipated Film’s Release

Kate Picone ’22

After much anticipation, the sci-fi epic Dune starring Zendaya, Timotheé Chalamet, and Jason Momoa debuted on Oct. 22, 2021 on HBO Max. The film has gained much attention because of its notable cast and the intriguing themes of its source material. 

Dune was adapted from a novel of the same name written in 1965 by Frank Herbert. The book was revolutionary for its time because it deals with anti-corporatism, pro-eco radicalism, and Islamophilicism. Directors and producers have wanted to transform this book into a movie for quite some time, but have been hesitant because of the content and Herbert’s reluctance to allow them to use his ideas. However, there was one previous film based on the book prior to the 2021 adaptation. This one was released in 1984, but it was less than a success despite boasting a strong cast. 

The 2021 version seems to be doing much better. Reaching a rating of 8.3/10 on IMDb and 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is safe to say the public is enjoying the newest adaptation of Dune. Critics have expressed that it is a must-see for sci-fi fans due to the cinematography and, of course, the plot itself. 

Dune follows many different characters whose stories intertwine into a cohesive narrative, but the main character is Paul Atreides, played by Chalamet. He is an intellectually gifted young man challenged with the task of rising to power while reckoning with his father’s failure to lead well. His development from the picture of helpless youth into a true leader is a focal point of the film. Indeed, Atreides foresees a crusade coming to his planet and has a vision that he must be the one to lead his people through it in order for them to prevail. There is no shortage of action throughout the story, with everything from giant sand worms to bloody battles. 

Notably, some fans have critiqued Zendaya’s lack of presence in the film. The trailer suggests that viewers will be seeing a lot of the popular actress in the movie, but audience members have complained that she appears minimally. This has been disappointing to fans of the Dune novel, as Zendaya’s character is a prominent symbol of commentary on anti-colonialism throughout the book.

However, director Denis Villeneuve has explained that there will be a sequel to Dune that deals more extensively with the latter half of its source material. He promised that Zendaya will be a bigger part of this second, upcoming installment. 

While quite long – a whopping two hours and 35 minutes – audience and critics have agreed that Dune does a great job at drawing the audience into the story and making the time fly by. Dune is currently showing in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max.