Recap: ‘Euphoria’ S2E5: Rue Bennett struggles with the reality of addiction

“Euphoria” season two, episode five offers viewers a harrowing look at addiction. “Euphoria” airs on HBO Max, with new episodes debuting every Sunday.


Zendaya plays a 17-year-old recovering from drug addiction. “Euphoria” is a serial teen drama available on HBO. (Photo by Eddy Chen/HBO, courtesy of Warner Media)

Shreya Wankhade, Contributing Writer

Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault and suicide.

Spoiler warning: This recap includes spoilers for “Euphoria,” seasons one and two.

Season two, episode five of “Euphoria” showcased the rawest and most devastating depiction of Rue’s (Zendaya) addiction that viewers have seen so far. A far step from the glitter and glamorization of drug use that we saw in season one, Rue’s drug use this episode was stomach-churning to watch. Zendaya’s portrayal of the volatile protagonist had viewers hating her one second and rooting for her the next. 

In the first 15 minutes of the episode, Rue’s mother (Nika King) confronts Rue about her relapse. Assuming it was Rue’s sister, Gia (Storm Reid), who told her mom, Rue begins to become aggressive towards her mom and sister.

A combination of her withdrawal and confrontation regarding her usage makes Rue go ballistic once she realizes that her suitcase worth $10,000 of drugs is missing. Unable to find the suitcase, Rue proceeds to violently destroy furniture and say hurtful things to her family. The climax to this intense scene occurs when Jules (Hunter Schafer), who has been listening from another room the whole time, admits that she was the one who flushed the drugs alongside Rue’s mother.

It is then revealed that Elliot (Dominic Fike) was present during Rue’s breakdown too, which leads to Rue smacking Elliot in the face and calling Jules a terrible girlfriend, ultimately ending their relationship. This scene might be one of the most convincing reasons to never get into hard drugs that viewers have ever seen.

Rue initially agrees to go with her family to the emergency room to detox. This occurs after Rue reveals the plan she had to kill herself by the end of the month, claiming that the lives of her loved ones would be easier if she wasn’t around.

Director Sam Levinson does a beautiful job of capturing the familial tensions of the car ride to the emergency room. As Rue argues with her mom and Gia watches, crying, the camera switches perspectives, sporadically muting the dialogue to convey the overwhelming nature of this moment. On the way to the ER, Rue’s mom reveals that she is taking Rue to rehab, causing Rue to freak out and jump out of the car into the middle of oncoming traffic.

The rest of the episode consists of Rue running around her town and causing chaos wherever she goes. Her first stop is Fez’s (Angus Cloud) residence. When she realizes Fez isn’t home, she makes a run for Lexi Howard’s house, where she is greeted by Lexi (Meaude Apatow), Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Maddy (Alexa Demie), Kat (Barbie Ferreira) and Suze (Alanna Ubach).

Rue uses the bathroom, where she desperately searches for some type of drug in Suze’s medicine cabinet. She then proceeds to steal jewelry in order to make up for the lost suitcase. On Rue’s way out, her mother shows up at the Howard’s residence and Cassie, tone-deaf and smiling, gently recommends that Rue take things one day at a time. 

This irritates Rue to her limit and she snaps, spitefully revealing to Maddy that she saw Cassie and Nate (Jacob Elordi) together shortly after New Years. This pushes Maddy to call Cassie pathetic and chase her up the stairs. During all of this, Rue finds her way out the door and retreats back to Fez’s house. 

At Fez’s house, Rue attempts to steal his grandmother’s medicine as she goes through withdrwal, which leads him to physically remove Rue from his house. This is the second episode in a row in which fan favorites such as Fez, Kat and Lexi are only briefly shown as background characters in another character’s storyline –– hopefully we see more of them in this Sunday’s episode.

Aimlessly running around looking for drugs after being kicked out of Fez’s house, Rue finds an open garage with no one home. She is able to break into a safe and steal some cash, but once again finds herself in a terrifying situation when the homeowners return. Rue manages to escape, but then throws up in front of the police. Considering the otherwise serious tone of the episode, this leads to a police chase so comical that it feels out of place

After evading the police, Rue makes her way to the one person who she knows she will be able to get drugs from: Laurie (Martha Kelly). Desperate for anything that might alleviate her unbearable withdrawal symptoms, she pleads with Laurie to give her any drug. Laurie is hesitant at first, seeing as Rue has no money and offers to pay her with jewelry instead, but acquiesces in the end. 

Rue’s interaction with Laurie is uncomfortable as Laurie bathes an agonized Rue and intravenously administers her morphine. When Rue later wakes up, she notices multiple scars on her arm that she doesn’t recognize. Laurie’s questionable motives and the strange men in her house leave viewers wondering whether Rue was sexually assaulted.

Making yet another narrow escape, Rue runs away from Laurie’s house and returns home. Viewers then hear Rue’s mom call out her name in disbelief, forcing the audience to question how long Rue was gone and contemplate what she has been through over the course of this harrowing episode.

Contact Shreya Wankhade at [email protected]