If you are a character in an HBO series, you are almost certainly at war. There’s Succession, in which a group of siblings compete for control of the family empire while vultures circle in the background. There’s Industry, in which a bank’s trading floor doubles as a frontline for colleagues’ backstabbing and romantic betrayals. And don’t forget The White Lotus, which pits its horny guests against each other, with the goal of having at least one of them die.
Euphoria is a show that is frequently overlooked in power rankings, but if there is one thing the series has proven, it is that rising to the top of the social order amidst drug dealers and OnlyFans is possible.
After a total meltdown in season two, perhaps only one character is poised for total dominance at Euphoria High ahead of season three.
Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney) went from quiet people-pleaser to crazed anti-hero in just a few episodes. Cassie double-crossed her best friend Maddy (Alexa Demie), pursuing an illicit affair with Maddy’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Nate Jacobs, proving she was more than just a doe-eyed blonde.
Cassie was at her lowest point in Season 2: abandoned by everyone after failing to win Nate’s love, she then incinerated her last remaining allies in her family. But there was a sense, in scenes like her screaming that she had “never been happier,” that hitting rock bottom was liberating. Cassie, who was initially a people-pleaser, had found her voice by the end of season two.
Her sister Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) play satirised Sydney Sweeney’s friendship group in the final episode, portraying her as shallow and false. Cassie climbs on stage after the curtain call to yell to the audience, “Oh, okay… well, if that makes me a villain, so fuckin’ be it.” I can play the fucking guitar.
Season two paved the way for Cassie to become the villain, with hints pointing to her steady descent into madness. “You know what you don’t realise, Nate, is I don’t care what happens to me,” she smirks during a fight with Nate. When he accidentally calls her Maddy, she warns him that she’s crazier than his ex ever was.
With the series concluding with Cassie’s total unravelling, what choice does she have but to embrace her inner evil and strive for total dominance? Are we in for a transformation that also serves as a primer on what it takes to be a ruthless, no-nonsense winner? Someone along the lines of Shiv Roy or Harper Stern? Being pleasant has done nothing for Cassie, it’s time to go full dark side.