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An Unseen Sibling in Euphoria May Hold the Darkest Backstory Yet

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Euphoria season 2 episode 4 spoilers follow.


A scene in this week’s episode of Euphoria featured a moment that excited some of the more conspiracy-inclined fans. Near the end of Cal Jacobs’ meltdown, the man picks up a framed family portrait on the wall, contemplates it for a moment, and decides to take it with him as he walks out of their home, seemingly for good.

In such a game-changing, emotionally complex scene, it’s easy not to notice that the old portrait he takes with him has three boys in it, not two. This has renewed fan speculation over a potential third Jacobs brother, who’d be the youngest of the three. It’s a mystery fans have been talking about since the pilot episode, where this portrait was first seen.

“I have no idea,” explained Jacob Elordi, who plays Nate Jacobs, when asked about the picture in a 2019 interview with EW. “I was like, ‘You do realize that there’s a different child in this picture?’ And everyone just didn’t really say anything. I don’t know.”

jacob elordi as nate jacobs, euphoria, season 2

Sky

Season one never elaborated on a third Jacobs brother, and in the years-long wait for season two, most fans concluded that it was just a continuity error. After all, it’s not uncommon for shows to change minor details like this after their pilot episode.

In the first episode of Twin Peaks, Donna Hayward had a younger sister who was never seen on the show again. The same thing happened in That ’70s Show, where Donna Pinciotti’s younger sister vanished after the pilot.

If a TV show can erase a character even after they’ve shown up on screen, it’s not hard to believe Euphoria could erase someone who only showed up once in an old photo.

The continuity error theory was shattered, however, with the portrait’s recent reappearance. After a two-year filming gap and multiple people on set showing awareness of the third child in the picture, there’s no way it was an accident this time around. In a show as visually-focused as this one, something like this couldn’t have slipped through the cracks twice.

This raises some obvious questions: what happened to this other son? Why wasn’t he home during Cal’s drunken rant? Where was he at the carnival back in season one? Why wasn’t he mentioned during Nate’s backstory montage? Why isn’t he in any of the more recent Jacobs family photos?

Some of the theories floating around are outlandish. The most popular one still is that Ashtray is the third child, which didn’t even make sense back in season one, let alone in season two where we’ve seen Ashtray as a baby, way younger than the kid in the picture.

eric dane as cal jacobs, euphoria

Sky

Most of the other theories tend to take a more tragic direction: a big one floating around on fan forums is that Nate, being the psychopath he’s been shown to be, bullied his younger brother so much that the kid committed suicide. Either that or he was sent away to some kind of psych ward, similar to the place that Jules was sent to as a child.

Some fans have suggested the kid was LGBTQ+ and was disowned by the family for it, or that he was killed by a family member and the murder was covered up.

The idea that the circumstances around his disappearance were hushed up seems like the most likely of these theories so far. After all, as Cal stares at the picture in the middle of his drunken rant to his family, the words “We all have secrets,” come out of his mouth.

Although Cal was outwardly talking about his son Aaron’s porn habits at the time, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the show timed the line the way it did. As much as the Jacobs family likes to hide stuff from each other, it seems possible that the hidden history behind the third brother is something they’ve all been on the same page about from the show’s beginning.

None of the theories spreading around have a ton of evidence behind them so far, but it’s telling in what all of them have in common: they’re all incredibly dark. This is Euphoria, after all, so no one expects the story of the missing Jacobs brother to have a happy ending.

Will this mystery be answered any time soon? Possibly not, and fans seem mostly okay with that. In a recent thread about the topic on the Euphoria subreddit, one user responded “I literally do not care, they need to finish up their other storylines.”

With Rue’s spiraling addiction, Fez’s troubles after Mouse’s death, Lexi’s play, the Cassie/Nate/Maddie love triangle and the still unresolved question of what will happen to Cal’s sex tape, Euphoria’s got enough on its plate that it can afford to wait a little longer on this one.

euphoria

HBO

When (or if) the show decides to address this mystery, the way it chooses to go about it should be a good indicator of where showrunner Sam Levinson wants to go with Nate’s character. Nate has been the closest thing to a villain the show has had so far, but the show can’t keep him in that role forever if it wants to stay fresh.

The show’s current status quo, where Nate gets away with his crimes and continues to manipulate everyone around him, isn’t sustainable. At some point Nate needs to either be written off the show (be it through death, imprisonment, etc.) or he needs to become a less hateable person.

If Levinson decides to reveal that Nate was responsible in some way for his brother’s disappearance, that would be the surest sign yet that there’s no redemption in store for this character.

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