As HBO’s Euphoria speeds towards its season 1 finale, penultimate episode “The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed” has more plates spinning in the air than ever before. Many of them push the plot forward, like Cassie Howard’s (Sydney Sweeney) pregnancy revelation and Rue Bennett’s (Zendaya) detective work in the middle of a bipolar episode.
But one moment stands out as a beautiful piece that speaks to both Euphoria’s complicated narrative and its ability to capture the baffling haze of drugged out teendom: Jules Vaughn’s (Hunter Schafer) psychedelic, twisty hookup at a rave. It’s a scene that collapses all of Jules’ many desires into one sexual experience and likely leaves fans asking a long line of questions. Did Jules really choke her new friend Anna (Trinkets’ Quintessa Swindell)? Did the terrifying Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi) really go to the party? Who did Nate’s makeup?
Since all of these pressing inquires are sure to affect the upcoming finale, “And Salt the Earth Behind You,” they need some answering.
Jules’ hookup begins with her kissing Anna at the rave. Everything is light and sexy as the two make out and Jules mutters, “I think I’m really high.” Then, as she sways to the music, Nate appears in the crowd, rave-ready in glitter highlighter and heavily faux-hawked hair, and stalks towards her through the teaming masses. He looks beautiful, like a brightly colored predator. The strobe lights at the party make Nate’s march even scarier — you never know how close he is until he’s already there. When Nate reaches Jules, he says she texted him to come. Seconds earlier, she had asked Anna if she should text Rue.
You’re left wondering, for second, if Jules actually reached out to Nate — a person who may still possess a piece of her heart in the turmoil of his disturbing manipulations — in her intoxicated state. Jules admits she is scared of Nate. He swears he is “Tyler,” the lovable person he posed as during his catfishing scheme. Nate apologizes as he corners her, and adds, “You are the most beautiful person that I’ve ever known.” When Jules says she wants to kill Nate, he says he’s all hers and they kiss. Then, Nate transforms into Anna. In between strobe light flashes, the switch between Anna and Nate continues as the encounter escalates to oral sex on the dance floor. Eventually, when the moment turns into continued sex on a bed, Jules’ partner switches between Anna and Rue.
Neither Nate nor Rue was really in that rave or that bedroom (the real Nate is at home being a snitch while Rue suffers through a depressive episode). They were both hallucinations caused by Jules subconscious thoughts and needs surrounding these two central fixtures in her life.
The meaning of all of this goes back to Jules’ first big conversation with Anna while she does her makeup. “If I can conquer men, then I can conquer femininity,” Jules tells Anna with a lit joint in her mouth. Nate is the embodiment of masculinity for Jules — hulking, impossible, and still sexually alluring. That’s why they kiss during her rave hallucination and he apologizes. That's a huge part of Jules wishes Real Nate, who is blackmailing her with nudes, would do. But, she also conquers him during their fantasy hookup, stuffing her fingers in his mouth in the same way both Nate and his dad Cal (Eric Dane) did to her. She slaps him, calls him a bitch, and screams that she wishes the whole world could know who he truly is.
It’s an intense exchange that Jules likely didn’t say out loud. Instead, it was all in her head as she really hooked up Anna. It’s unlikely Anna would have let Jules actually choke her in a rave and cram her fingers down her throat without notice.
Then, with “Nate” conquered, Jules is able to move on to her complex feelings for Rue through sex with Anna. As Jules says to Anna before their encounter turned deeply sexual, “You remind me of her. My best friend.” Through sex with Anna, Jules can explore her feelings for both people as a form of “leveling up” in her own queerness. It's a process she chatted about with Anna, a non-binary character, as their portrayer Quintessa Swindell told Refinery29, earlier in the episode.
When Fantasy Rue tells Jules, “I know this isn’t gonna end well,” at the end of her sex scene, it’s not because they’re both women. It’s because there are so many layers to their friendship — and the threat of Real Nate constantly linger above them. Still, Jules very much loves Rue. That's why she cuddles into “her” after that portentous promise.
Thankfully all of this tension doesn’t stop Jules from finally reconnecting with Rue, whom she's been avoiding, at the close of “Trying to Pee While Depressed.” After a glittery, mind-bending trip through her own psyche, it seems she’s at last ready to figure out what she wants from Euphoria’s best relationship.
The only question that remains is what the state of that relationship will be come the finale.