The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article contains spoilers for HBO's Euphoria. Reader discretion is advised.
How did the sweetheart of season one become the villain of season two?
Season two of Euphoria introduced us to a Cassie Howard that we hadn’t seen before. Our messy but lovable blonde had been transformed into some monster with actions impossible to excuse. How did we get here?
In the show’s pilot, Cassie is labeled as a wh*** by several characters before audiences even see her on-screen. Nate and other boys go on and on about Cassie’s sexual history, valuing her worth based on her sexual prowess. Future fling, McKay, tells the other boys he thinks she’s cool and smart regardless of her sexuality and past. When Cassie is revealed to us, she’s not this “sex-obsessed wh***” the boys were whining about.
She’s soft-spoken and sweet in her conversations with McKay and even puts down the idea of her being the kind of girl she’s rumored to be. She’s just a victim of a bad reputation. As the season progresses, we meet Cassie’s friends, Maddie and Kat, and sister, Lexi, with whom she has loving relationships. Her mom says Cassie has such a “good heart,” and Maddie blesses us with the iconic “B**** you’re my soulmate” line about her blonde friend. In her relationship with McKay, she tries to show him love in the ways she knows how. For example, Cassie notices McKay is uncomfortable with a dare at a party (if you can even call taking a shot with a live fish in that, it’s quite literally hazing, but that’s a topic for another day) and takes the shot with McKay.
Don’t get me wrong, I know she wasn’t perfect in season one, but she still had a moral compass. She acted like hurting someone’s feelings was an inexcusable crime. She’s more likely to embarrass herself or put herself through hell before harming a hair on anyone else’s head. I’ve been trying to avoid talking about it, having all but blocked it from my memory, but you can see this in the god-forbidden carousel scene of episode four. She and McKay get into a fight, and instead of taking that discomfort and hurting McKay directly, she does molly, and the Carousel incident happens. But this inability to hurt someone’s feelings comes back to bite her multiple times in season one, especially in her relationship with Daniel. Daniel wants her so bad. Like embarrassingly and disgustingly bad. Like, will not leave him until she agrees to have sex with him. Cassie toys with the line of cheating on McKay because she doesn’t want to hurt Daniel or McKay since she likes both of them (I don’t know how she liked and entertained Daniel, but I was still Cassie Hive at this point, so I ignored him).
In the final episodes of season one, we learn so much more about her character when she finds out she’s pregnant. When she tells McKay, he freaks out and quickly dismisses her out of pure fear of being a teen father. Cassie responds to his outburst by saying that she isn't going to keep it but “just wanted to dream about it for a minute.” The scene closes with the two of them hugging on the couch, and it can be assumed they’ve broken up. In these episodes, we also learn she's an ice skater, picking it in the loving eyes of her father. Spliced together, we see Cassie get an abortion, attend her school’s winter formal, and perform a routine on the ice.
Cassie is such a delicate person, easily persuaded by the affection of those around her; she’d do anything for the people she loves, even if it means giving up on herself.
So she’s a lovely girl who's been through the wringer; you want to root for her watching season one and cry when she cries.
However, Cassie’s entrance into season two is rough. Lexi reports to Maddie that the sisters got into a fight over Cassie drinking, and Cassie ran off. In Cassie’s drunken stroll around a gas station, she sees Nate, Maddie’s abusive ex, and he gives her a ride to the party. Getting into his car is already a little weird given how loyal Cassie seemed to be to Maddie in season one, but this level of messy is expected from Cassie. She doesn’t like to hurt people’s feelings and wouldn’t say no to save her life. But what is out of the left-field is that Cassie proceeds to hook up with him in the bathroom at the party. After, Cassie meets up with Maddie, and they dance the rest of the night with Cassie’s face in a permanent frown.
Moving from that nightmare-worthy party, Cassie sobers up but continues to hook up with Nate. This entanglement takes the forefront of her arc in season two and ruins each major relationship she has. It renders her unrecognizable and irrational.
Amidst all of this craziness about being with Nate, Cassie is helping Maddie get over Nate and see her true worth. Cassie tells Maddie that she deserves to be with someone who is “passionate and loving, who yearns for you and can’t wait to see you, who you’re not gonna fight with and is just who’s gonna love you…like really truly love you.” To be a good friend, Cassie tells Maddie how terrible Nate was for her but then turns around to hook up with him again.
Her fling with Nate is also very toxic. Nate tries to end things with her at one point, and she gets out of his car and runs away from him. Later, we see the two arguing in Nate’s room about his relationship with Maddie as he recently ditched Cassie to see Maddie. Nate tells Cassie that she isn’t the sweet girl she claims to be since she’s hooking up with him behind Maddie’s back. This being a shot to her “sweet girl” image, Cassie tries to take some moral high ground and says that Maddie and Nate were broken up and had a toxic relationship, so she’s still a good person. She casually tosses her friendship with Maddie away and refuses to talk to her after Maddie discovers the truth. After the truth comes out, Cassie gets into frequent fights with her sister and mom, ending in her moving into Nate's home. At his house, Cassie lets know he can use her and essentially treat her as a doll if that's what he wants.
It was looking terrible for Cassie, and it just got worse. At the showing of Lexi's biographical play, Cassie gets emotional at the sight of her past life and excuses herself to the bathroom to shed a few tears. At this moment, we can see Cassie's roots poke through the false persona she's sported this whole season. But, this real self is shoved down, and she heads back inside. This time, Nate gets offended at a certain scene and runs out, Cassie trailing behind him. He breaks up with her, blaming her for Lexi's entire play, and leaves. Then, Cassie rushes back inside to get on stage and degrades her sister in front of the crowd. (Mind you, this is the same Cassie that gave Lexi dating advice and cuddled with her last season). Cassie decides to tell on herself next, alerting the auditorium that she stole Nate from Maddie. This enrages Maddie, who then gets up and chases her out of the auditorium. The last time we see Cassie, she's a disheveled mess, and it is safe for us to assume that Maddie beat her up as the camera pans to a cool, calm, and collected Maddie.
Cassie made this transition from questionable victim to probable villain, contradicting each aspect of her character that was building up in season one. In both seasons, she craved love; but in this recent season, she chased and forced this romance with Nate in exchange for the love between her, Maddie and her family. I said left-field earlier, but it honestly doesn’t cover how unreal her choices are this season. Cassie jumps from not wanting to hurt anyone to happily backstabbing and hurting each person in her life. And to top it all off: Nate broke up with her in the end!
I'm convinced season two Cassie is like some insane being sent from an alternate universe because there is no way the Cassie we met in season one would abandon all of her morals that fast. I'm honestly praying that in season three, Cassie goes on an apology tour and slowly regains her sense again.