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In the aftermath of their revenge against the Weekday Warriors, Miles, Takumi, The Colonel, and Alaska must contend with unexpected consequences, and Alaska makes a fateful decision that will change everything. The final scene is brutal and haunting, and again, I have to give credit to the music supervisor for the show. Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” has never been licensed for television until now, and the acoustic cover played over the last scene left me in tears.
We flash back to 1997, where a young Alaska and her mother are enjoying a day at the zoo. It’s a happy memory that Alaska described as her “best day” in the previous episode. Present day Alaska wakes up as the title card says “One Day Before.”
Takumi and The Colonel are discussing their prank, thinking they’ve gotten away with it. Alaska joins them in celebration. They see Lara and Miles passionately making out, and Alaska pretends to be happy as they continue walking. Lara and Miles move to his bedroom, where they very awkwardly attempt to have sex. They are interrupted by The Colonel, who snuck in without them noticing. Lara quickly leaves, and The Colonel expresses pride in Miles’ newfound sexual abilities. Miles says he and Lara haven’t discussed going all the way yet and that they are both virgins, but The Colonel feels it’s a matter of time.
In the library, Miles and Lara are sitting closely when they are interrupted by Hyde, who waxes poetic about young love. Miles claims they were just discussing Lara’s final exam question, which is how religions based on love can lead to war. Hyde doesn’t comment, and wishes them both well. Miles’ question is bleak, asking why people believe in an afterlife. Lara insists that there must be an afterlife, but Alaska chimes in, seeming to echo Miles’ belief that there is no afterlife and that people waste so much time thinking about heaven that they miss the “big party” on Earth. Lara doesn’t get the metaphor, and the group falls into an awkward silence.
Outside, Sara is waiting for The Colonel. She tips him off that the Weekday Warriors know about the prank. They’ve gotten lawyers involved. The Colonel appreciates the info, but he asks what the point was in telling him if he can’t do anything. Sara counters that she doesn’t know why she bothered and says that she knows it was him in the woods the night of the prank. The Colonel asks why she bothers with Longwell, after all the times they made fun of him. Sara says The Colonel is complicated and smart, but that she just wants to be happy, which he made difficult. They watch as the Weekday Warriors’ parents and their lawyers arrive to meet with The Eagle. Sara says she’s sorry as The Colonel leaves.
At the Smoking Hole, Takumi and Alaska are relaxing. Takumi asks what’s bothering her, thinking that it’s seeing Miles and Lara together. She reveals that Jake has been calling her every day trying to get back together. She goes to call him at the payphone, and Fiona picks up. Alaska is silent, but Fiona realizes it’s her. Alaska hangs up as Fiona calls Jake over, telling him Alaska’s on the line. He calls her back, but Alaska leaves the phone as it rings.
In Lara’s room, Miles and Lara continue to very awkwardly make out. Her frustrated roommate Ruth leaves, telling them that they have an hour. Lara asks if he’s ever had a blowjob, which stuns Miles. Lara says she’d like to give one and starts to try, but it’s painfully obvious that neither of them have the slightest clue what they’re doing. It’s both touching and very funny. Miles suggests that they just keep watching TV, and Lara quickly agrees. The show they’re watching? The O.C., creator Josh Schwartz’s first show that premiered in 2005.
The Colonel sits alone in his room, and The Eagle’s trademark three knocks are heard. They go to The Eagle’s office, where The Eagle tells The Colonel that he is bright, funny, and understands the value of hard work, which is why he is sad to see this prank cost him his spot at the school. The Colonel tries to feign innocence, but it’s clear that The Eagle knows the truth. The Colonel points out that none of the Weekday Warriors will suffer permanent consequences. The Eagle concurs, but he notes that what The Colonel did was technically a crime and beyond even his jurisdiction. The Eagle seems to agree with The Colonel, but his hands are tied. The Eagle asks The Colonel if anyone helped him, but also says that he thinks just The Colonel’s expulsion will satisfy the angry parents. The Colonel says that it’s interesting that only “the black kid whose mom serves hash browns” will take the fall and that the Weekday Warriors have wanted this chance from the beginning. The Eagle gets uncharacteristically personal, asking why The Colonel gave them that chance. It’s clear that The Eagle genuinely wanted The Colonel to succeed. He says The Colonel has 24 hours to either accept the expulsion or fight it, potentially bringing the rest of his friends down with him.
Alaska enters Hyde’s classroom, where he is napping. Alaska gives him her final paper. She says she failed, because her question doesn’t have an answer. Hyde counters that the best questions don’t, which is why they’re worth asking. She leaves, and when Hyde unfolds her paper it reads, “how will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?” Hyde looks in her direction, seemingly puzzled and a little concerned.
Miles and Lara are watching porn to attempt to educate themselves. It’s as awkward as it sounds, and they quickly stop. They go to Alaska for help, and Alaska seems weirdly delighted to assist. Miles is uncomfortable, but Alaska tells him not to leave, since she will teach him how to “reciprocate” for Lara. The Colonel heads home to see his mother, who is concerned. When he returns to campus, he meets up with Takumi. As they walk away, the camera pans to Lara’s awful green limo. Inside, she and Miles are kissing. She says it’s a better location since her roommate is always around. She gives Miles a blowjob, which he seems to enjoy.
He bursts back into the dorm to share his newfound joy, but finds a somber scene as Alaska, The Colonel, and Takumi process The Eagle’s ultimatum. We flash back to 2003 when Alaska first met The Colonel. It reveals that Alaska used to be friends with the Weekday Warriors until she met him. She offers to help him get revenge through pranks, and it’s clear their friendship is going places. Back in the present, they all try to think of a way to save The Colonel. He wants to avoid getting them all in trouble, since it was only his deviation from the plan that led to them getting caught (he was spotted going after Sara and Longwell).
Miles goes to The Eagle to plead The Colonel’s case. The Eagle says that he knows the students see him as an enemy, but that he only wants what’s best for them. Miles gives an impassioned speech about how much the school means to The Colonel, and The Eagle agrees that it will be a sad day for Culver Creek when he leaves. Miles asks why he gets a free pass due to his legacy status when The Colonel doesn’t. The Eagle notes that The Colonel wouldn’t have needed all those advantages if he had just followed the rules. Miles is crushed, and The Eagle seems just as depressed.
Back at the dorm, the group is drinking and trying to ease The Colonel’s suffering. They say they should build a statue in his honor, a permanent memorial. But The Colonel says life will go on at Culver Creek without him. Alaska says they’ll always be friends, but The Colonel says that she’ll just feel guilty, and he’ll feel resentful, and that is no recipe for a friendship. Alaska, in tears, says she’ll go confess, but The Colonel meanly says that if that were true, she would have already done it. Miles leaves The Eagle’s office and sees Lara. He’s miserable, but Lara sees it differently. She asks why he can’t be grateful for the life he has and always want some intangible “great perhaps.” She sees Culver Creek as a way out, not as some sort of quest to find herself. She is sorry that The Colonel is being expelled, but she needs this school in a way that Miles does not. He says that if she can’t understand why his friends are important to him, then they’re done. He leaves her in tears.
The Colonel is kicking Takumi and Alaska out of his room while Takumi asks if it has to be this way, with The Colonel being a jerk to everyone who has cared about him. The Colonel says it will be easier to move ony. Alaska leaves, and it feels unfinished. Knowing what the characters do not, that this truly is their last night together, makes the scene all the more devastating. As Alaska leaves, she sees Miles and suggests that they go smoke. Miles tries to reassure her that this isn’t her fault, but she says that The Colonel was right. Miles tells her about his fight with Lara, and Alaska welcomes him to the losers in love club. Miles naively thinks that if they just go back and apologize to The Colonel, they can all spend their last night together. Alaska humors him, and they go back to the dorm, but The Colonel is asleep. They put him to bed, and Alaska suggests alcohol and truth or dare.
We flash into the future, where Alaska is in a bookstore holding a book written by Miles called Famous Last Words. She sets up a display for his book signing at her bookstore, called Life’s Library. We flash back to the present, where it’s revealed that this is Alaska’s answer to a truth or dare question about where they’ll be in 10 years. She jokes that he’ll be a feminist novelist, and she’ll be a bookstore owner or professor. She just knows that she’ll be far from home, doing something that she loves. Miles says he believes her. Miles picks truth. Alaska asks if Miles wanted to kiss her in Dolores’ room on Thanksgiving. After a delay, he says that he thought it was obvious that he did. He asks if she wanted to kiss him, but Alaska says he has to ask in the form of a truth or dare question. He does, and she admits that she did. She didn’t, because The Colonel advised her not to. Alaska asks if he was happy when she and Jake broke up, and he says yes. He wants to know why they broke up, and Alaska says she wanted to be available for Miles. He is shocked, but she says it doesn’t matter because she’s bad for everyone. She says he shouldn’t want her. But Miles stands up for herself, saying that he gets to decide that. He says that everyone treats him like a child but that he is responsible for his own actions. Alaska dares Miles to kiss her, and he does as a beautiful cover of “I’ll Follow You Into The Dark” plays. They go to bed, and Miles says, “I love you, Alaska Young” as she sleeps. Then, Miles is rudely awakened as Alaska leaves, saying “to be continued.”
It’s a nice scene until Alaska bursts back into the room, distraught and saying that she needs to leave. She is muttering that she forgot and that she always screws up. She asks Miles and The Colonel to distract The Eagle, and when Miles asks if she’s okay to drive, she just snarls, “I’m f**cking invincible.” She’s clearly unwell and hysterical, but both The Colonel and Miles go to help her without hesitation. They light off fireworks as Alaska escapes to her car. Miles sees Alaska as she drives away, looking distracted and sad. It’s a strong contrast from her earlier happiness, and as she drives away, there is silence and no title card.
“We Are All Going” Mixtape:
“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” by Mary Lou Lord
“This Heart’s On Fire” by Wolf Parade
“I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness
“Young Forever” by JR JR
“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Miya Folick
Looking For Alaska is now streaming on Hulu.