TV & Movies

Cassie Howard Is Down Bad

In Euphoria’s latest episode, she has a drunken meltdown that leads to a chaotic sequence of events.

Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard in 'Euphoria' Season 2, Episode 4. She is wearing a pink swimsuit an...
Eddy Chen/HBO

Spoilers ahead for Euphoria Season 2, Episode 4.

When you’re in high school, it can often feel like there’s nowhere to put all your huge feelings. Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney) opts to bury them in a massive quantity of Smirnoff Ice. In Episode 4 of Euphoria’s second season, she spends Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) birthday party half-crying and downing as much alcohol as possible to numb the guilt she feels about her secret affair with Nate (Jacob Elordi). She knows it will be difficult to see him with Maddy again, so she slaps on some crystal-encrusted eyeliner and tries her best to grin through the pain.

This culminates in a chaotic sequence of events. At one point, Cassie dances to Sinead O'Connor's “Drink Before the War” alone, singing along while getting tangled in a gentle forest of pink balloon strings. The song — about the calm before the storm, about a heartless man who doesn’t know how to love — feels especially resonant in light of Cassie's situation.

As the show cuts back and forth between Cassie, a drunken mess, and Nate’s father Cal (Eric Dane), a drunken mess on the other side of town, you see two broken people pushed to the edge by their circumstances. Cassie has been trying to scrub herself of guilt, literally dry brushing her skin raw at 4 a.m. before facing Nate at school. Somewhere deep inside, she must know that things won’t work out with him, that it’s only a matter of time before Maddy finds out and ends their friendship. Yet here she is, having a drink before the war.

Watching her scream along to Sinead in her pink cottage-core frock is equal parts tragic and beautiful. For a moment, she is the center of the world. But as the shot pans out to Maddy and Nate watching her, shaking their heads and calling her tragic, the illusion is lifted, the music fades, and it all feels very, very sad.

Eventually, Cassie joins her friends in the hot tub. She’s drunk and giggly, and it feels like she might actually be able to handle being around Nate and Maddy at the same time. That is, until Maddy starts calling Nate out for all of his failed promises: for claiming she’s the only person he cares about, for saying he wants to get married and have babies with her. Cassie starts puking uncontrollably, no longer able to hold in her disgust or guilt, and certainly none of the Smirnoff Ice.

As she throws up all over herself, her secret lover, and her best friend, Cassie screams: “I’m sorry!” She’s not quite ready to say what she’s sorry for, but it is not just for the puke. She’s sorry to Maddy for sleeping with her boyfriend. She’s sorry for lying about it. She is sorry to her friends, her mom, everyone, the world, but mostly she is sorry to herself. And she’ll definitely be sorry about the hangover the next day.