This One’s for the Moms

Photo: HBO

Following maybe the series’ best-ever episode, last night’s Euphoria episode shifted focus for a second from the darkness of our main-character teens (by the way, have you seen the new Cut cover?) to the moms watching it all unfold. While we are no strangers to them and their complicated relationships with their kids, last night offered the characters a chance to reflect on what’s happening inside the minds of their children.

“My mom is one of those rare people,” Rue says. “Say what you want about Christians, but at least they believe in forgiveness.” It’s that forgiveness that we see propelling Leslie away from the cruel screaming and relentless chasing last week and into taking care of Rue, who is suffering through withdrawal. Leslie bathes Rue and carries her to bed, all with a pained look on her face — the same expression we see flash across her face as she overfills a glass of water, unable to bear the sounds of Rue painfully trying to unwrap a Jolly Rancher. But that pain isn’t anger; it’s love. And fear. And the realization of how broken her daughter really is.

Last episode, Rue’s harsh words about Leslie being a bad mother hit hard and deep (and sparked a debate online around labeling Leslie a “bad mom” and how oblivious she seemed to be to her daughter’s drug use). Is she to blame for Rue’s addiction? For the first time last night, it feels as though Leslie is starting to ask herself that question, and watching it unfold is heartbreaking.

Meanwhile, in the Jacobs’ household, Nate’s mom seems to be taking Cal’s messy departure too well, dancing and drinking and smoking as her sons watch. “Whatever you do, don’t marry anyone you meet in high school,” she tells Nate. “And do me a favor: Don’t take your anger out on me.” Of course, this riles up Nate, who clarifies that his anger was specifically for his dad, and she just begs to have a nice time. It becomes clear she doesn’t understand her son and has maybe given up on trying. She begs him to think back on what happened, on what caused this anger and darkness inside of him, but he just wants to know what the point is. “I’m just trying to understand,” she says sadly. I don’t even know if Nate understands why he is the way he is, but he definitely knows he is not a good person — and without his dad around to blame, he is probably unsure of what his anger is going to look like, which terrifies his mom, who knows she can’t do anything but love him.

There were moments of (dark) humor last night too, like when the two drunkenly talk about their dislike of Maddy, and she says, “You didn’t have to go so far as to choke her.” “I didn’t choke her,” he says matter-of-factly. “Hmmm,” she answers. As he reiterates that they dropped the charges, that he didn’t choke her, she says, “Okay, just don’t be so upset that you end up choking me. ’Cause I won’t drop the charges — I’ll fucking clean house,” she admits, then laughs. And, of course, there’s Cassie and Lexi’s mom, Suze, who is coping with the fallout of Cassie’s secret relationship with Nate by asking Lexi to hide all the knives behind the bushes. “You really think she’s going to stab herself?” Lexi asks. “Your sister’s very emotional. Yes,” she answers, attempting to deal with the reality of her messy daughter’s actions. But with all their witty exchanges this episode, like Suze declaring, “Oh, she needs a fucking exorcism,” after Cassie storms out of the room, it’s the haunting look in her eyes as Cassie packs a bag and leaves to go stay with Nate that feels like the moment of truth for Suze. She knows that Cassie is making a mistake that she is going to have to pay for, but unable or unwilling to do anything about it, Suze lets her leave.

How we so often forget that parents see everything, even in Euphoria. Nate’s mom never believed that her son was innocent of choking Maddy, and she knows there is nothing to do but beg for some kindness from her son. She wants to know what she did wrong and ultimately is scared of how flawed he is. And even as a cozy family dinner (featuring a forgiving Ali) is unfolding at the Bennett house, Leslie knows this isn’t a sign that Rue is going to get clean. The episode ends with Leslie at her breaking point, finally conveying the truth about her daughter that she had seemed to want to never admit. “You don’t understand my daughter, okay? She is going to kill herself. She needs to be there. Please don’t do this,” Leslie sobs on the phone, demanding that Rue be placed in an inpatient hospital to a doctor who says they don’t have room. “Please, she is going to kill herself,” she repeats over and over, reminding us that even though it doesn’t always feel like it, the mothers are there and they’re watching.

This One’s for the Moms