This episode, the walls start closing in on everyone in Culver Creek as Alaska must confront her actions and the others must react to them. What starts off as an innocent night ends with devastation, and it’s clear Alaska is hurtling towards destruction while taking everyone down with her. Kristine Froseth was extraordinary in this episode, bringing Alaska to life in a way the novel could not due to its more limited perspective.
We open on a basketball game, with a reluctant Miles sitting courtside with his friends. The team is awful, but The Colonel loves it. He’s been kicked out of thirty six games straight and intends to keep that streak alive. He leads the group in chants mocking the other team’s intelligence and is kicked out to raucous applause. Lara is looking at Miles, who nervously looks away as Alaska notices. We montage though several more games as The Colonel creates more and more distractions to get kicked out. Alaska pushes Miles to ask Lara out, since she is obviously interested. Miles is reluctant, but Alaska yanks him over to Lara. An incredibly awkward silence ensues until Alaska quite literally forces them to go on a date Friday night. Lara smiles, happy, while Miles looks nauseous.
It’s Halloween, and the group is eating lunch together. Alaska reveals that the date will be a group date so they can fill the awkward pauses. It comes out that this is Miles’ first real date. The Weekday Warriors approach as The Colonel insults them, but they ignore it in the spirit of the truce. The Colonel thinks this is strange. Takumi leaves to secretly meet with a Weekday Warrior. The Warrior reveals that he has spoken to Paul and that he thinks he knows who the rat is.
Dr. Hyde is discussing karma as Miles watches Alaska and Lara whisper. Miles catches Takumi looking at Alaska (maybe Paul figured out her secret?). Dr. Hyde reveals that the final essay is about the most important question that human beings must answer and how the major religions they are studying attempt to answer it. He tells them to choose wisely.
Alaska returns to her dorm to find Takumi waiting there. He reveals that Paul and Marya will be at the game tonight supporting their new school. If this bothers Alaska, she doesn’t show it, telling him that she’ll be glad to see Marya. They share a look, and something is clearly bothering Takumi.
Miles is getting ready for his date as The Colonel teases him. Miles is nervous and not in the mood for jokes. The Colonel notes this and asks him if he’s aware he’s not going on a date with Alaska as Miles heads to ask her advice on what to wear. When he gets to her room, Takumi is just leaving. Alaska looks depressed but brightens immediately when he enters. He asks if she likes his shirt, and she gets close to him to examine it. As she takes his shirt off to fix it, Miles is clearly in love despite his date with Lara. Alaska starts to iron his shirt as Miles asks what to talk to Lara about. Alaska tells him to try to get to know her, telling him to ask her questions to practice. Miles asks about how she got the name Alaska. Alaska explains that her hippie mother and Republican father couldn’t agree on a name, so when she was seven they let her choose her own name. She chose Alaska because she saw the state of Alaska on her dad’s globe, far from the town she hated. Miles congratulates her on escaping, but Alaska replies that escape isn’t that easy.
Just then, Alaska’s boyfriend Jake enters. He is handsome, tall, and older: everything Miles is not. They kiss as Miles watches, uncomfortable. Alaska mentions that Jake will also be coming, along with Takumi, making it a “triple and a half” date. Miles exits as Jake and Alaska passionately make out.
Miles knocks on Lara’s door. She has rabbit ears on for Halloween and looks cute, smiling sweetly at Miles. They exchange no words as they join the group, setting the stage for an awkward evening. Takumi tells Alaska there’s still time to back out before the game, but she brightly dismisses him, leaping onto Jake’s back. Lara and Miles continue to awkwardly converse. He tries asking her the same name question he asked Alaska, but it falls flat. They all enter the gym, where Alaska tells Miles not to sit next to Lara. She advises him to sit and “be his pleasantly aloof self.” The Eagle sits next to Madame O’Malley, the French teacher. He talks more about his wife leaving him, which is both comedic and sad.
The opposing team enters, including a player called “The Beast.” Alaska sees Marya and shouts across the gym, but Marya ignores her. The Colonel starts yelling jokes at The Beast, including one about Takumi hooking up with his girlfriend. Enraged, The Beast heads towards them both as Takumi reveals he wasn’t kidding about that. The Beast throws a basketball at The Colonel, but when he ducks out of the way it hits Miles directly in the nose. Jake happens to have first aid training, and tries to help Miles. He can only mutter, “I am concussed,” repeatedly as Lara looks on nervously. Just then, Miles pukes all over her. Jake says they need to get to a hospital, and despite what just occurred, Lara offers to drive them (after she changes her clothes).
The game is over, with Culver Creek winning by forfeit after The Beast is kicked out of the game. The Colonel insults the ref and is also kicked out, keeping his streak alive. Alaska approaches Marya, who refuses to acknowledge her. They figured out she was the rat. Alaska continues to deny it as Paul and the other Weekday Warriors approach. Longwell gets too close to Alaska in his anger, and The Colonel shoves him away from her. The Eagle intervenes, and Alaska runs off. The Colonel and Takumi take off, with a reluctant Sara following them.
Alaska rushes by Jake and Miles waiting outside. Jake tries to get her to slow down, but Alaska storms off saying, “I can’t be here right now.” Jake rushes after her, leaving Miles alone to wait for Lara. Lara pulls up in a green limo — her father owns a car service and she got an old car from his fleet. She enthusiastically helps him to the car.
The Colonel, Takumi, and Sara are at the gazebo by the lake. The Colonel is fuming as Takumi tells him to walk it off. Sara is upset that The Colonel got involved. She thinks the Weekend Warriors are right, and accuses The Colonel of always taking Alaska’s side. Takumi is silent, revealing that he also thinks Alaska was the rat. Sara storms off as The Colonel contemplates this new information.
Alaska is in Jake’s dorm, looking for alcohol. He advises that everything will blow over by Monday, but Alaska lashes out at him. They’ve accused her of being the worst thing you can be at Culver Creek, and his well-intentioned platitudes aren’t helping. She sighs, sitting next to him and apologizing. She starts to kiss him and shower him with praise. They lay down on the bed as Jake goes to get a condom. Just then, another girl walks in. Fiona invites him to go to a party before noticing Alaska. Alaska hears the word “party” and sees a chance to escape her thoughts. Jake is hesitant, but she insists that they go.
The Colonel and Sara are having a heart to heart. She knows that if The Colonel stands by Alaska, he will be socially dead at Culver Creek. She asks is he knows how much she gives up to be with him. Tearfully, she asks him to just admit that Alaska is a rat. The Colonel can’t. Sara says she always stands up for him, but that he always stands up for Alaska. Sara says if he can’t pick her, just this once, then it’s over. The Colonel is silent as Sara leaves.
Miles and Lara wait at the hospital ER. She jokes that they are finally able to sit next to each other, and Miles admits the aloof act was not his idea. Lara shares that she likes hospitals because her father was a doctor back in Romania before starting his car business. She open up about moving to the US, which was hard on her. Miles tells her she is really cool, finally seeming to see her for who she is. Miles sees Dr. Hyde, also getting treatment at the hospital. He tries to duck out of embarrassment, but Hyde sees them. He uses the meeting as a teaching opportunity, telling them that small moments like this forge deep bonds. He leaves as Miles contemplates this.
Back at the college rager, Alaska is drinking heavily. She looks lost and like she wants to be lost. She sees Jake talking to Fiona and just stares.
Miles is getting checked out by the doctor, who asks him to name the girl with him. Miles, daydreaming that Alaska is there, says her name, which saddens Lara.
Back at the dorm, The Colonel drinks ambrosia alone. Takumi enters the room. He tells The Colonel that he already approached Alaska before the game about the rat accusation and she deflected. He also saw Alaska leaving The Eagle’s house the day Paul and Marya got caught. The Colonel sits up at this. Takumi says he brushed it off at the time because Alaska was always in trouble, but in the light of this new information is seems damning. Takumi leaves The Colonel, angry and yelling at no one.
Alaska is getting sick in the dorm bathroom. Fiona is looking after her. Alaska says its not the drinking that bothers her, since she is known for how well she holds her alcohol, it’s everything else. She looks in the mirror and sees what a mess she is, makeup running. She notices Fiona’s bookshelf and tells her about her Life’s Library. Fiona tells Alaska she’s not a threat. Alaska seems to envy and admire Fiona — she is the more put together version of Alaska. Alaska says that even if Jake and Fiona aren’t together, they should be. They both deserve that. Alaska leaves without saying goodbye.
Alaska is in a car driving home. She looks despondent. The Colonel walks the campus, looking just as upset. He takes a bottle of spray paint out of his bag. Alaska gets out at Coosa’s Liquors. Lara is driving Miles home. She seems to relish taking care of him, and offers for him to sleep in her room so she can wake him up every few hours. Miles agrees, nervously. He spots Alaska as they drive by the liquor store and demands they stop. Alaska realizes Miles never heard about her being a rat since they left the game. He is concerned, but she says she’s just tired from all the sex she and Jake were having. It’s designed to push him away and it does. He starts to ask more, but Alaska stops him. She gets in the car, and Lara seems sad at being replaced by Alaska again. When they pull up to campus, The Eagle spots Alaska, who he’s been looking for. As Lara and Miles drive on, Alaska stays with The Eagle, looking dead inside.
When they get to the dorm, Miles asks Lara if she thinks Alaska seemed upset. Lara replies that she thinks Alaska can take care of herself. Miles leaves Lara to find Alaska, saddening Lara after everything she’s done for him. Miles peeks in the window of The Eagle’s house and sees him yelling at Alaska. He turns away.
Alaska is telling The Eagle that he promised no one would ever find out it was her who ratted. She asks for his help since she thinks it’s his fault. The Eagle responds that it was her choices that led her here. Alaska pleas with him: this is her only chance and going home is not an option. She needs a scholarship to get out of her hometown — and leave her father. She is distressed, and The Eagle softens. He says that there are worse things in life than being called a rat, fundamentally misunderstanding the situation.
Miles arrives home, and The Colonel reveals that Sara dumped him. He says that he really did care about Sara despite all their fighting. He’s sadder than he thought he’d be. Miles falls asleep due to the concussion, and The Colonel continues playing his video game. Alaska makes her way in the rain to her dorm, looking like a ghost. I have to give major props to the music supervisor here as a haunting cover of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” plays. It’s the perfect song for the moment and it only enhances the growing sense of dread the viewer feels. Alaska sees that someone has spray painted “rat” on her door: it was The Colonel, though she doesn’t know that yet. The title card reads “43 Days Before” as she slowly closes the door.
“I’ve Never Felt Better…” Mixtape:
“The Way You Move” by Outkast
“Move” by Ohmega Watts
“Daft Punk is Playing at My House” by LCD Soundsystem
“All the Go Inbetweens” by Silversun Pickups
“Take Me Out” by Young Summer
Looking for Alaska is now streaming on Hulu.