"There’s a certain irony to the fact that Euphoria, a series known above all for its over-the-top aesthetics, just delivered a Christmas special about two people sitting in a diner eating pancakes," says Laura Bradley. "After the haunting musical sequence that accompanied Rue’s relapse, it was difficult to know what would come next—both for our hoodied antihero and the series as a whole. And although the look of Friday’s special episode might feel out of character, the direction it charts is promising—and the delivery proves that despite what some detractors of the series might think, its power amounts to more than flash and glitter." Bradley adds: "It’s the kind of feat that could have easily fallen flat on its face, and in the hands of less capable actors, it would have. The writing is strong but demanding—equal parts wrenching and humorous, and full of the kind of earnestness that can sound downright comical coming from the wrong performer."
Zendaya's performance is fine, but the special is unlikely to appeal to hardcore Euphoria fans: "Zendaya’s performance in it is sure to reassure Emmy voters that they made the right choice, but its departure from the filmmaking flourishes that got the show attention in the first place seems destined to bore the show’s core audience: teenagers and twentysomethings who relish the show’s no-holds-barred perspective on the nihilistic, self-destructive teen of the late 2010s," says Madeline Ducharme. "But what could we have expected, really? Back in August, Zendaya herself described this 'bridge episode' as something 'that we can do with a limited amount of people in a safer environment that can, I don’t know, give people something.' Given how wild Season 1 of Euphoria was, both narratively and cinematically, this departure was bound to feel like another installment of Zoom theater by comparison."