Recap: ‘Euphoria’ S2E3: ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ but 30 years ago and extremely illegal

“Euphoria” season two, episode three offers a complex web of drama from the fictional East Highland High School. “Euphoria” airs on HBO Max, with new episodes debuting every Sunday.

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The HBO Max show released season two, episode three on Jan. 23. (Image courtesy of Warner Media)

Shreya Wankhade, Contributing Writer

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

The third episode of the second season of “Euphoria” finally gives viewers some much-anticipated insight into the life of the intolerable Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane). Set in the 1980s, the episode makes viewers sympathize with Cal for the first time in the series.

The episode opens with a flashback exploring Cal’s sexuality during his final year of high school. He develops romantic feelings for his best friend Derek while beginning to have frequent sexual encounters with his girlfriend, Marsha. On Cal’s graduation day, Derek brings him to a gay bar and their tension is broken as the two finally kiss after a fan-favorite “Never Tear Us Apart” dance rendition. The next morning, Cal’s newfound happiness is quickly tarnished when he receives a phone call the next morning from Marsha telling him that she’s pregnant and keeping the baby. 

Flash forward to the present, when the drug problem of unreliable narrator Rue (Zendaya) is getting worse. She lies, claiming that her drug use is limited to weed while really using benzodiazepines and other controlled substances. 

Rue then strikes a deal with teacher-turned-drug-dealer Laurie (Martha Kelly) to sell a suitcase filled with $10,000 worth of drugs, much of which she takes for her own use. While Rue is busy, Elliot (Dominic Fike) and Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer) strike up a friendship — and with Elliot’s flirty remarks, it hints at more.

Elsewhere at East Highland High School, an inspired and fired-up Lexi (Maude Apatow) decides to challenge the overacted “Oklahoma” with a play she wrote herself. The contents of her autobiographical play are summarized in a montage that takes visual inspiration from reality television, suggesting that Lexi’s newfound voice as a playwright will take on greater significance as the season progresses. 

American actress Sydney Sweeney plays Cassie Howard on the hit show. (Image courtesy of Warner Media)

Speaking of “Oklahoma,” Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney) is mistaken as a character in “Oklahoma” as she constantly changes her looks to please Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). This leads her to a breakdown and the line-turned-famous-TikTok-audio “You guys can all judge me if you want, but I do not care! I have never, ever been happier!” Disappointingly, this anticipated and shocking confession only occurs in Cassie’s brain — Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) is still unaware of her best friend’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend Nate. 

Cassie becomes desperate for Nate’s attention, adopting a long and intricate morning routine while trying to embody different women that he was previously with or attracted to. Cassie’s desperate attempts fail as she is only ever able to get his attention when she and Nate are hooking up, making her even more obsessive.

The episode ends on a Cassie-Nate-Maddy cliffhanger when Nate blows off Cassie to show up with flowers at Maddy’s doorstep. Nate’s intentions in returning to his ex-girlfriend, whom he abused in season one, are debatable. Is Nate going back to Maddy to retrieve his dad’s incriminating sex tape filmed with 17-year-old Jules? Or does he truly miss her in his own messed-up way? 

Cal also makes it a mission of his own to retrieve the sex tape, as he is under the impression that Fez (Angus Cloud), Rue’s drug dealer and Nate’s nemesis, has it. Instead of getting his CD back, he gets his head bashed with a gun by someone who is one-fourth his age and exposes the fact he had sex with Jules and recorded it. 

Poor Cal brought it upon himself. This episode was definitely slower than the ones preceding it, but forecast the storylines and conflicts that will presumably define the season: Lexi’s play, Nate’s love triangle with Cassie and Maddy, Cal’s sex tape and Rue’s drug sale ploy all hang in the balance.

Contact Shreya Wankhade at [email protected]