Euphoria finale explained: What happened to Rue in And Salt the Earth Behind You?

Zendaya in Euphoria finale
Euphoria finale explained: What happened to Rue in the season finale? Pic credit: Eddy Chen/HBO

Euphoria concluded last night with quite the perplexing finale. Some fans were heartbroken, while others were scratching their heads trying to figure it all out.

With Season 2 of Euphoria already confirmed,  one has to wonder what does it all suggest for the future of Jules and Rue. Where does the show go from here after such an emotional, ambiguous finale?

Let’s break it all down and try to decipher the meaning behind Euphoria’s ambitious conclusion and what this means going forward. As always, keep in mind that heavy Spoilers will follow.

Euphoria ending explained

In the episode, Rue (Zendaya) changes her mind about going with Jules on a train to see her friends TC and Anna. This starts a very trippy ending with flashbacks, moments of her crying, and a musical number that includes a choir. It’s all very abstract but does have some meaning when looking through the lens of addiction.

As she let’s go of Jules, Rue begins to have flashbacks of when her father died. We see her move towards the room slowly, and what’s revealed is that the sweatshirt she has worn all season belongs to her deceased father. As she leaves the room, she slowly puts it on and tightly embraces it like she is being held by her father.

While this is going on, the episode crosscuts between memories of her fighting with her mom, the present moment of her crying her heart out over Jules, and another flashback of her mom talking at a church about Rue surviving an overdose.

All of these things serve to depict Rue’s mental mindset before relapsing. Having lived with an addict, sadness usually brings all the devastating moments to the surface, which then makes it hard not to succumb to the substance abuse.

After this, it gets a little confusing because once Rue relapses, everything around her turns into a strange music video and even a choir gets involved. And all of this takes place around a song Zendaya herself sings called, “All for Us.”

She snorts the unknown substance and then falls back on the bed. And as the drug hits, she floats up to a standing position and begins to stumble around the home. She stumbles around the kitchen, hugging her mom and then her sister–both are completely unaware of her presence. She also dances with her father, which shows that the scene is not based on reality. Then it cuts to outside and a gospel choir is bouncing her to the melody.

It then turns into an interpretive dance accompanied by marching bands and the choir catching her in stylish ways. As the musical dance number ends, she climbs on top of the gospel group, who are all helping her ascend and as she reaches the top, she looks around in a disoriented way and then falls, followed by the scene blacking out and going to credits as she does. This entire scenario could be a metaphor for the drugs making one hit rock bottom right after they get high.

But as one Redditor points out, this entire sequence could represent how one feels while feeling high and that Rue is an unreliable narrator:

I doubt Rue pretty much all of the time. She’s an unreliable narrator but rather than as a writing prop, I think she’s unreliable because she’s an addict and addicts are liars (source: am one), but I think in that moment when she relapses, we see the euphoria she experiences, her dad is alive, she’s loving on the family, you’re singing and dancing and there’s a choir. Personally I don’t hear a choir when I’m f**ked up but I 100% am a star in my own music video so I think that’s rather accurate. I thought it was an insanely innovative way to portray the feeling of a high.

Honestly, however one interprets the finale isn’t wrong. It’s clear that the creative minds wanted this ambitious ending to be left open to interpretation and it’s better for doing so. It’s a perfect ending to one of the most engrossing shows on television.

As far as Season 2, it’s clear that viewers will see Rue in a devastating place when the show returns. Hopefully, fans will get to see Rue and Jules’ romance rekindle at some point though. They had great chemistry all throughout Season 1.

The entire season of Euphoria can be streamed on HBOGo and HBONow.

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