Euphoria’s second episode opened with an extended hallucination, as Nate Jacobs found himself in and out of the emergency room following the New Year’s Eve party; the party ended with Fez beating Nate’s head in, just to ring in the New Year.
Fans are dissecting the hallucination—which saw Nate impregnate Cassie and then watch as a pool-side Cal Jacobs, his father, proceeded to erotically baptize her. And so Redditors are now applying every Freud theory they know to unpack the sexual symbolism of maybe the weirdest fantasy (Dothraki bedroom sex aside) so far.
Here’s a quick recap of the fantasy, which, by the way, we still aren’t convinced is Nate’s fantasy; Rue narrates the entire saga, meaning we likely only have access to things Rue witnesses or hears about. (We're not sure to whom Nate revealed the fantasy, but we would definitely keep that shit to ourselves.)
As Nate lies in the ER, Cal sitting beside him, we see a very pregnant Cassie leaning against Nate and reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Rue tells us Nate is convinced he will be a better father than his father, that he won’t “fuck his kid up the way his dad fucked him up—and the way his granddad fucked his dad up.”
In the fantasy, Nate and Cassie are tanning on lawn chairs with Cal doing shirtless yoga pool side. We then see Cal performing oral sex on an unidentifiable man before coming over and inviting Cassie to take a dip in the pool. He performs this weird baptismal thing with Nate watching. Nate then imagines Cal dying of a heart attack, a fantasy broken by images of Maddy finding Cal’s sex tape with Jules. He then violently awakens in the hospital bed while scenes of Cassie giving birth, Nate watching and masturbating to his father’s tapes, and Jules, Maddy, and Cassie having sex with Nate—all of this—flash in quick succession. Then Fez beats his face in, and Nate wakes up.
Roll title credits.
What does Nate’s fantasy mean?
The father figure as an obstacle for sexual gratification is Freud 101, and it’s clear that Rue or writer Sam Levinson, or writer Sam Levinson through Rue, has Freud in mind. But Freud is boring. Reddit knows better.
One Redditor took a more straightforward reading: because Nate had exposure to Cal’s sex tapes from a young age, and likely used those tapes for self-gratification, he is unable to experience “normal” sexual fantasies without his father somehow intruding. At one point we even see Cassie on the sex tape, as if Nate’s fantasies must always tie back to the tapes in order for him to finish—which is sort of what the final awakening in the hospital suggests: climax.
(That climax is also brought on by his future son’s birth and the prospect of his father’s death, implying that the ultimate climax for Nate is breaking the paternal legacy of abuse.)
Other Redditors saw Cal’s “non-heterosexuality” as the ultimate threat, since it reminds Nate that he, too, is not strictly heterosexual. We learned in season 1 that one of the reasons Nate likes Maddy is that she is exceedingly feminine. The same can be said for Cassie and why she “brings out the best” in Nate. Both Maddy and Cassie allow Nate to perform strict heterosexuality and, therefore, feel traditionally masculine. Meanwhile, we occasionally see Jules in the fantasy, a reminder that Nate is still attracted to her. Some Redditors suggest Nate is fixating on Cassie as a stand-in for Jules.
However you read the fantasy, it seems as though Cal is the ultimate obstacle to Nate’s perfect vision of his future.
And we know how Freud suggested this frustration play out.
Watch out, Cal.
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