Do you like moody teen dramas with killer soundtracks? Do you like it when John Green makes you cry ugly tears into your pillow and/or in public spaces? Do you like binging television, and binging series adapted from beloved books? If you answered "yes" to any one of those above questions that Hulu’s Looking for Alaska is for you. Based on the Green book by the same name, his first novel has made it to the small screen and if you’re looking to watch something full of feelings, look no further.
The series stars Kristine Froseth (from Netflix’s The Society) as the titular Alaska Young and Charlie Plummer as Miles “Pudge” Halter who meet their junior year of high school and soon find their lives entwined with one another. This is now the part where I confess that I have not read Green’s critically acclaimed Looking for Alaska, so please don’t come at me because things have changed from page to screen because I don’t know. Judging from the pacing of the show, and how it’s a limited 8-episode series, it’s safe to assume that it’s sticking pretty close to the source material with a few things changed here and there.
It’s also the perfect show if you’re looking to lose yourself in a series that has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and if you know Green’s prior works, you know the kinds of characters we’re going to meet along the way and some of the life lessons we might learn. Welcome to Culver Creek Preparatory High School.
Episode 1: “Famous Last Words”
It’s a dark and stormy night. Yes, that sounds ominous and that’s the point. We’re not sure what’s going on but it’s pouring rain and a group of state police troopers are looking at...something. They try to flag down a car that’s about to drive into their blockade but the car doesn’t stop moving. Instead, it appears to accelerate. It swerves, flips over, and crashes into a ditch upside down.
This is all narrated by Miles, and we’re going to meet him in a second. He explains to us that he’s fascinated by famous last words from famous (and some not so famous) people, and as we’re watching this rainy car wreck unfold he rattles a few of them off before telling us his favorite: “I go to see a great perhaps,” spoken by François Rabelais. Miles wants to find his own “great perhaps” before he dies — whatever that means, he’s still not sure.
The year is 2005, and now we see Miles for the first time. He’s living in Orlando with his parents but it’s about time to head off to Culver Creek Preparatory, where his dad once went and he feels like he’s got to go, too. Culver Creek is basically a boarding school where kids move in for the entire year, except that it looks nothing like Hogwarts and instead it’s in Alabama. At first glance, you might think it’s a sleep-away camp because it sure has that vibe.
Arriving, Miles quickly meets his roommate, Chip "The Colonel" Martin (Denny Love), and The Colonel nicknames Miles "Pudge." So we’re going to call Miles Pudge from now until the end of this recap because everyone else does. Why does The Colonel call Miles Pudge? It’s ironic, of course, because Miles, er, Pudge is tall and lanky and that’s just how The Colonel rolls. The Colonel then introduces Pudge to some of his other friends, namely Takumi Hikohito (Jay Lee) and our titular tween manic pixie dream girl, Alaska Young.
Pudge meets Alaska by grabbing her boob. Yes, it’s done on purpose because Alaska is trying to show The Colonel how her college boyfriend, Jake (Henry Zaga), grabbed her boob over the summer and she’s still in shock from it. Almost immediately, Pudge is taken with Alaska and you know what that means — this will be nothing but trouble, and furthermore, this won’t end well for anyone.
But, Pudge is certainly still going to try. The Colonel and Alaska agree to meet down but the river later, and Pudge tags along. However, Alaska doesn’t show and The Colonel soon leaves. Of course that’s when Alaska shows up and the two of them share their first few moments alone.
This is where Alaska tells Pudge about her favorite last words: Simón Bolívar and "Damn it. How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!" Pudge is intrigued because he’s not familiar with this one, and asks her what it means. Alaska isn’t entire sure herself but she makes a deal with Pudge: If he can figure out what Bolívar was referring to, she’ll help him find a girlfriend at Culver Creek. It’s a deal.
The first episode of the series is just a whole lot of introductions to the Culver Creek world, including the so-called Weekday Warriors, aka the students who live close enough to Culver Creek so that they can go home on the weekends to their cushy homes (that have air conditioning). The Colonel happens to be dating a Weekday Warrior, Sara (Landry Bender), so even though he hates this group of students he’s got a tiny soft spot for them. Also he and Sara constantly bicker and fight and even he wonders why the two are dating.
Later that night, Alaska’s roommate, Marya, and a Weekday Warrior, Paul, are caught drinking and hooking up. Here’s where Mr. Starnes (Timothy Simmons) — who’s nicknamed The Eagle — comes into play because he immediately removes the kids from the school. Also, please note Mr. Starnes is played by Veep’s Simons, a.k.a. Jonah Ryan, which often times makes it hard to see The Eagle as anything other than a bumbling government aide, but we’re going to try.
Paul is, clearly, furious that this is happening and starts screaming that someone ratted them out and demands that whoever it is confess. Obviously, no one does, and the whole incident leaves the school rattled. And classes haven’t even begun yet!
And since Pudge’s first 24 hours at Culver Creek haven’t been eventful enough for him, while he manages to survive the first day of school he barely survives that night. He’s awoken in bed and literally kidnapped by some angry Weekday Warriors. They drag him down to the lake and wrap him in plastic wrap before throwing him into the water. He somehow manages to wriggle and swim free before climbing ashore where he then runs into Alaska who’s not having a great night either. She sends Pudge away before they can talk and he walks him in his wet underwear, alone.
The next morning, Pudge wakes up to The Colonel screaming because the Weekday Warriors peed in his shoes. This is the last straw for him, and he, Pudge, Alaska, and Takumi vow to get revenge on the Weekday Warriors one way or another.
The episode ends back where we began at the scene of the crash as "102 days before" flashes on the screen.
Episode 2: “Tell Them I Said Something”
Since this is a series about young adults during their school days, of course there’s got to be that one teacher that really connects with them. That’s Mr. Hyde (Ron Cephas Jones). He’s the school’s religion teacher who only has one lung left and that’s a topic of conversation a lot. One day during class, Mr. Hyde catches Pudge looking out the window and kicks him out of class. When Alaska protests this, she’s kicked out, too.
The big event for this episode is Sara’s debutante ball which is a Big Thing for the Weekday Warriors. The Colonel thinks that he’s taking Sara, and that he’s got to get a new suit, so he’s been writing papers for other students in order to make a little extra money. While Sara is touched at his dedication to do this, she has to break the horrible news to him that he actually won’t be taking her, since she’s got to go with someone else who belongs to the country club. The Colonel is still more than welcome to come to the ball, which Sara wants, but they can’t necessarily spend the evening together.
Considering that Alaska and Pudge (and Takumi) are still looking to get revenge on the Weekday Warriors for all that’s already happened, they play a series of pranks on them. You know, normal kid things that are totally easy to do like building cement brick walls so they can’t get out of their dorm rooms, and also pouring blue hair coloring into their shampoo. Normal stuff. The group wants to attack the ball and do the prank to end all pranks, but The Colonel puts his foot down and downright forbids them to do so, knowing how important this night is to Sara.
However, that doesn’t stop them.
Sans The Colonel, the remaining three give all the guys heavy doses of laxatives so they’ve got to go. Then, they duct tape plastic wrap over the toilets so when it’s time to go nothing actually makes it into the toilet ball (and on top of that, a lot of the boys still have blue hair). This plan works surprisingly well and actually knocks Sara’s escort completely out, so when it comes time for her to be “welcomed” into the event, she doesn’t have an arm to take. The announcer calls out for someone in the audience to escort her, and The Colonel thinks this is his chance (and Sara’s into this idea, too).
This is the perfect ending to the prank... except that Sara’s dad overtakes The Colonel and escorts his daughter himself. The Colonel is upset, as you can imagine, and it’s only made worse when the staff at the club starts trying to track down Alaska, Pudge, and Takumi. In order to save his friends, he sets off the smoke alarms in the banquet hall sending everyone in their best evening wear fleeing, and allowing the group to escape.
At least this ends on a good note for The Colonel because he and Sara share a nice moment, in the empty room, sopping wet. I know we’re supposed to see them as a horribly mis-matched pair but I kinda like them and I would like to call them the OTP of Looking for Alaska. There, I said it.
The kids almost get away with all of this. But The Eagle finds Pudge’s Florida keychain in the cement bricks and gives him an ultimatum. Right now, The Eagle can only loosely connect Pudge to these pranks, and hopes that he’ll confess and rat out everyone else involved. Pudge refuses to talk, and instead is forced to stand trial in front of his classmates.
It honestly doesn’t look like Pudge is going to get out of this one, but The Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi literally stay the jury to let him off easy. Also, Alaska has decided to set Pudge up on a date with one of the jurors, Lara (who is from Romanian and speaks with a thick accent. This honestly isn’t important but the way she says her name is ah-mazing).
The Weekday Warriors then call a truce. They’re done with the pranks for now and want it all to stop. The Colonel isn’t keen on this idea, but Alaska agrees to it maybe a little too quickly, citing that she doesn’t want to be expelled and that these pranks aren’t helping her studies whatsoever.
At the end of the episode, Pudge and Alaska sit together sharing a cigarette. Pudge asks why she’s smoking it so quickly and she tells him she’s not smoking to enjoy it, she’s smoking to die. The end title card reads, "84 days before."
Episode 3: “I’ve Never Felt Better”
So, basketball is a big thing at Culver Creek. It’s also a big thing for The Colonel who has a habit of attending basketball games and then getting kicked out of them for being too rowdy. And also for rushing the court and making his own baskets, and just generally being a huge nuisance for the players and refs. It’s a whole thing.
Culver Creek is soon set to play the school were Paul and Marya now attend Harsden, and Takumi tells this to Alaska. He’s starting to grow suspicious that Alaska is the one who ratted them out and he expects her to shy away at seeing the two of them again, but instead she’s excited. Maybe she’s not the rat?
Alaska is also excited to see her boyfriend, Jake. He shows up to go with her to the game because it’s actually a giant double date for everyone involved here — with Pudge pairing off with Lara (Sofia Vassilieva). Pudge asks for relationship advice and she gives him some horrible advice... maybe to sabotage him? It’s unclear. But part of her advice is to sit not next to Lara, which leads to dire consequences for Pudge.
For some reason, The Eagle and The Colonel are now consiprazing together to stop Harsden from winning this game. Okay, sure. This involves The Colonel taunting one of their players while he’s getting ready for a free throw. Going right for the jugular, The Colonel yells that Takumi hooked up with this player’s girlfriend, which enrages him so much he chucks the basketball right into the crowd and it hits Pudge directly in the face, knocking him unconscious. Lara and Jake manage to get him out of the gym where he promptly throws up all over Lara. What a great first date!
Back inside the gym, Alaska tries to talk to Marya but she’s not having it. She calls Alaska a rat, which others overhear, and soon they’re all ganging up on her. Alaska denies this, trying to fight them off as best she can and explain that she’s not one that got them expelled. The Colonel steps in to try and help her and it quickly turns into a shoving match between him and some of the Harsden students.
Sara really hates that The Colonel always takes Alaska’s side and tries to get him to see that she is, in fact, the rat. However, he continues to stand by his friend. Eventually, Sara gives him an ultimatum and it’s either her or Alaska. When The Colonel doesn’t say anything, she knows he’s made his choice and she breaks up with him.
Meanwhile, Alaska goes back with Jake to his dorm where she turns to him for comfort (and sex). Before they can get too far, the two are interrupted by someone else on Jake’s floor inviting him to a nearby Halloween party. Looking to get her mind off of everything, Alaska begs to go and he obliges. Alaska quickly becomes too drunk too fast and finds herself throwing up in a toilet. One of Jake’s friends gets her out of the party and cleans her up, and Alaska realizes that she and Jake are never going to make it in the long run.
And because everyone is having an awful night, Pudge and Lara end up at the hospital where they run into Mr. Hyde. Pudge 100 percent has a concussion and mistakes Lara for Alaska, which clearly upsets her. The doctor explains that someone’s got to look after Pudge for the rest of the evening and Lara suggests that he come back to her room so she can watch him all night. At first he doesn’t get it, but then he gets it.
On the way back to campus, Pudge and Lara just happen to find Alaska who’s waiting for a ride back herself. The Eagle stops them before they can return to their rooms and asks if they’ve seen Alaska, who is missing. Before they can concoct some sort of story to cover for her, she gives herself up and goes to talk to The Eagle.
Maybe to the surprise of no one, Alaska is the rat. She was caught drinking on campus and in order to get off easy, agreed to point The Eagle in the direction of other students breaking the rules. However, no one was supposed to find out about this arrangement. The Eagle threats to expel her, but she knows she won’t be able to find another school that takes her in. Trying to calm her down, The Eagle explains that there are worse things in life than being called a rat, but Alaska doesn’t believe it.
Back in his room, Pudge finds a broken hearted The Colonel who is upset about Sara — and so upset about Sara that he actually spray painted "RAT" on Alaska’s door.
Returning home in the rain, Alaska finds this message staring her in the face. The end title card reads "43 days before."
Episode 4: “The Nourishment is Palatable”
For the most part, Alaska finds herself completely ostracized from everyone at Culver Creek and spends her time walking around campus with her headphones in, almost trying to be invisible. This doesn’t stop her from heading to The Colonel and Pudge’s room to play Mortal Kombat.
Upon seeing her, The Colonel leaves and Alaska later wakes Pudge up with the game. He presses her, asking why she ratted out her roommate, but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead, she asks if Pudge is sticking around campus for Thanksgiving? Pudge informs her that he’s going home to Florida, but she still keeps asking him to stay with her over the holiday.
The Colonel and Takumi think that it’s a bad idea for Pudge to stay behind and try to talk him out of it. Takumi stayed behind with her the year before and they hung out, drank in the woods, and made candles — honestly, that sounds like the best Thanksgiving ever? Pudge later calls his parents to tell him that he is coming home, and that’s that.
But then the phone rings again, and on the other end is Alaska’s Jake. He tells Pudge that he hasn’t heard from Alaska in a bit and believes that their relationship is over. This is all Pudge needs to hear to call his parents back and inform them that nope, he’s staying put at Culver Creek. (Alaska and Jake later break up for real.)
As everyone else leaves campus, Pudge and Alaska gather rations for their time together, with includes a lot of alcohol and snacks obviously. Oh, and candles! Once again, this sounds like a great Thanksgiving. The two later head out in a canoe onto the lake and travel to a nearby diner. Pudge tries to ask Alaska why she doesn’t go home during the school breaks, but she doesn’t want to talk about it.
What she does want to do is raid everyone’s room on campus for contraband alcohol and there is a surprising amount of it. They also find some porn and Alaska wants to watch it. Miles is... for lack of a better term, freaked out.
On a walk out in the woods, the two run into Mr. Hyde, who invites them over to hang out with him and his dog. After some small talk about their families, Alaska asks Mr. Hyde about his family and if he’s ever been in love before. He tells the saddest story about his lost love, and how he passed away many years ago from what is presumably AIDS. Mr. Hyde hasn’t loved since.
Meanwhile, The Colonel and his mom are grocery shopping and he starts spilling information to her — like that he and Sara broke up and that Pudge and Alaska are back at school, together and alone. His mom doesn’t like that these kids are together and alone and won’t have a home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving, and wants to invite them over. The Colonel is completely against this, since he’s still upset with Alaska but his mom insists.
The Colonel finds Alaska and Pudge sleeping together outside underneath the stars and forces them home with him. He’s embarrassed by where he lives because it’s in a trailer park, but it’s clear that he loves and admires his mom so much because she’s a self-made woman who takes care of everyone.
This Thanksgiving is actually wonderful for everyone. Alaska and The Colonel manage to put aside their differences for one day and things certainly feel like they’re back to normal. The Colonel’s mom asks makes everyone say what they’re thankful for, and the kids reluctantly agree to go along with it. This later leads to dancing, with The Colonel and his mom and Pudge and Alaska paired off.
The good feeling doesn’t last forever, as Alaska tries to mend things over with The Colonel. He’s still pretty upset about what she did, and believes that they can’t be friends anymore. The Colonel tells her that she also needs to break off contact with Pudge, because otherwise he’s going to have a tough time at school.
Alaska doesn’t want to do this, and Pudge knows something’s up. Pudge then — foolishly? Stupidly? — tells Alaska that he’s actually the most thankful for her. This is not what she wants to hear right now and storms out of their shared-bedroom at The Colonel’s house, yelling that she’s going to go sleep outside with The Colonel.
Returning back to Culver Creek, The Colonel tells Alaska that she has to exit the car before they reach campus because the two can’t be seen together. Alaska obliges, and then The Colonel’s mom makes everyone walk back. As the episode ends, "21 days before" is displayed on the screen.
Episode 5: “I’ll Show You That It Won’t Shoot”
The Colonel is out of cigarettes, and you know who has cigarettes? Alaska. You know who The Colonel doesn’t want to ask for cigarettes? Alaska. On a quest to find cigarettes The Colonel, Pudge, and Takumi run into some Weekday Warriors who advise them that they need to keep staying away from Alaska. They’re also planning a huge prank for her, and they don’t want any of her former friends interfering with what they’re going to do.
What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to Alaska? The Weekday Warriors snake a hose into her window completely flooding her dorm. The next morning she wakes up to find her life’s library completely destroyed from the water. The Colonel is just as upset about this as she is, because what the Weekday Warriors did is just downright awful.
So, The Colonel hatches a plan to get back at them with dire consequences.
But before that can even happen, Pudge is determined to ask Lara to the school’s christmas dance. After a few failed attempts, he manages to prom-posal her with a burrito and she agrees to go with him.
And now back to this prank, which it this: The Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi are going to send out fake college admission essays for the Weekday Warriors, specifically citing the laxatives that they used during Sara’s Debutante ball. The Colonel asks Pudge to be the lookout for the dance, but he doesn’t want to go along with it since he just wants to dance all night with Lara. Eventually he agrees to help out, since his involvement in the prank is minimal at best.
The Colonel gets The Eagle to believe that he, Alaska, and Takumi have gone home for the weekend, giving them an alibi for their prank. So while The Eagle knows that they're not there, the second he realizes Sara and her new boyfriend have left the dance he goes looking for them, causing Pudge to go and alert the others.
Takumi causes a distraction with firecrackers, while Pudge and The Colonel try to draw The Eagle away from them while Alaska and Lara finish up the college essays. Somehow, they pull this all off (even though the swan that lives in the lake takes a bite out of Pudge's butt).
Since The Eagle believes half of this group is away for the weekend they can’t return to their dorms so they camp out in a nearby barn. To pass the time, Alaska gets them to play a “best day, worst day” game with the group where they all have to go around and say their best day, then followed by their worst, of course.
The best days sound pretty good, but then when it’s time for the worst days things get grim. The Colonel talks about the day his dad left, Lara explains how she had to leave her dog behind in Romania, but it’s Alaska’s story that brings the whole group down. She tells the story about how one day after going to the zoo with her mom — literally, one day after — her mom had an aneurysm and died in front of her. She didn’t know what to do so just stayed next to her mom for an hour until her dad came home and started screaming. Alaska blames herself for the death since she didn’t call 911, and her dad definitely blames her for not taking any sort of action, even though she was a child at the time.
Alaska is upset from telling the story to all her friends and heads outside. Pudge follows her out and tries to talk, but he has trouble getting across to her. He promises that he’s her friend, to which Alaska responds “cool.”
Back inside the barn, Pudge climbs into a blanket next to Lara, and the two kiss for the first time. The end title card reads, "7 days before."
Episode 6: “We Are All Going”
Following their night together in the barn, Pudge and Lara are now getting hot and heavy with makeout sessions. They are young and ”in love” and are inseparable now, which is driving both their roommates crazy. Also, it’s driving Alaska crazy, though she won’t admit it. Instead, she’s using some pent up resentment to take swipes at Lara, which everyone just shrugs off. These two love birds have more important things to deal with, like figuring out how to do blow jobs (since neither one of them has given or received one before).
They eventually turn to porn to figure this out, and oh yeah, this is going to go well! When that fails, they ask Alaska for help and she begins to give them detailed instructions with a tube of toothpaste and a peach. Resourceful, I suppose? Eventually, they figure it out. So proud of these kids.
While they’re off cuddling and spooning together, the rest of their group has more important things to worry about. Their college essay prank has caught up with them, and now the Weekday Warriors are involved... and so are their parents.
The Eagle pulls The Colonel into his office and grills him about what happened the night of the dance. More parties are getting involved in this investigation and this isn’t going to end well for The Colonel, or anyone else. The Eagle threatens to expel him, and gives him 24 hours to get everything straight and sorted before he starts pulling Alaska, Takumi, and Pudge into his office for questioning. There could also be legal action taken, too.
As The Colonel debates what to do, he goes home to see his mom for help and returns back to Culver Creek knowing that there’s no way out of this. Alaska, Pudge, Takumi (and Lara) try to put their heads together to figure something out, but it’s no use. The Colonel knows his fate has been sealed and he can’t save himself without taking all his friends down with him; his friends can’t save him without implicating themselves. It’s a lose-lose either way.
We see some flashbacks between Alaska and The Colonel’s first meeting and how they grew to become close friends they are now. Alaska seems to be taking The Colonel’s expulsion the hardest, and tries to get him to fight for his place at Culver Creek, and when he admits defeat she mopes around. The Colonel later gets drunk and passes out, leaving Alaska and Pudge to tuck him into bed.
And now that we’ve seen flashbacks, it’s time for a flashforward. Sometime later in life, Alaska is helping out at one of Pudge’s book signings, because he's written a book about — what else? — famous last words. Even better, this is happening at Alaska’s bookstore called “Life’s Library.” Pudge isn’t so sold on this future, and presses Alaska for more. She’s still not entirely sure where her life will take her, but she just knows she wants to help girls be their best unapologetic selves.
Pudge’s future isn’t important to Alaska right now, and she switches to a game of truth or dare. This game quickly turns to asking the other if they wanted to kiss that night at The Colonel’s house which, you know teenage hormones, soon leads to them actually kissing.
The two end up in bed together where Pudge whispers “I love you” to Alaska, but off in the distance a phone rings and she goes to get it. He watches her go in a sweet, somber moment… and then she comes racing back into Pudge and The Colonel’s room completely frantic, yelling that she “forgot.” She screams that she has to get away and begs them to distract The Eagle so she can do so.
The Colonel sets off firecrackers which leave The Eagle running around campus trying to catch him as Alaska jumps behind the wheel of her car.
Alaska leaves campus, with one last look at Pudge who has opened the Culver Creek gate for her. The episode does not end with any countdown.
If you are familiar with the book, you know what happens next.
Episode 7: “Now Comes the Mystery”
The next morning, The Colonel and Pudge wake up to a knock on the door from The Eagle. The whole school has gathered in the gym when the kids realize that Alaska is missing.
The Eagle tries to start the meeting, but Pudge begs him to stop until Alaska shows up. Seeing Jonah from Veep fight back tears is honestly heartbreaking. He then has the horrible task of telling Culver Creek that the night before Alaska was in an accident and was sadly killed.
The whole school is distraught as they cope with the news, but Pudge refuses to believe it. He thinks she’s just pulling another prank and she’s going to come back at any second. Pudge asks for details about her accident, and The Eagle explains: It was dark, rainy, and Alaska came across an overturned truck in the middle of the road. Instead of swerving to avoid it, she drove straight towards it and was killed instantly. The police believe she was intoxicated, and we know she was.
The Colonel goes over to The Eagle’s house and explains that he set off the firecrackers, and he let Alaska go the night before so this is all his fault. He begs for The Eagle to kick him out of school, but instead they embrace in a hug.
Pudge, The Colonel, and Takumi then gather down by the water to grieve together, and Takumi blames the other two for letting her go. This causes The Colonel to have a small panic attack, and Pudge confesses that they all feel guilty. Takumi response with a harsh, “you should.”
The boys deal with their grief in different ways, with The Colonel taking long, long walks around town to parks unknown (including the highway), while Pudge plays video games and refuses to talk to his parents. Eventually all his emotions start spilling out, as Pudge blames himself for not trying to stop Alaska and telling her that she shouldn't drive, and everything can wait, and all of that.
It’s Mr. Hyde who eventually provides some solace for the kids, encouraging them to find a way to get through all of this. He cites how this grief can be somewhat of a maze, and asks them all to stick together to make it to the other side. Pudge goes to him to ask for help dressing for the funeral, and Mr. Hyde gives him the same tie he wore to the funeral of his former partner.
Alaska’s funeral is rough for everyone — even The Eagle. Pudge and The Colonel meet Alaska’s dad for the first time, and The Colonel doesn’t hold back when it comes to blaming him for Alaska’s death. If he hadn’t blamed her for her mother’s death all those years ago, maybe she wouldn’t be the woman she was, and maybe she wouldn’t have fallen into reading, maybe her books wouldn’t have been destroyed, maybe she would have had a car with working airbags that could have saved her from the crash. This hits her dad hard, who breaks down in tears.
After the funeral, Jake and his friend from before — Fiona, who helped Alaska while she was throwing up — head over to talk to The Colonel, Pudge, and Takumi. Jake reveals that he was the one who called her the night she died. In a flashback, we see their conversation. Jake’s end of the call is completely harmless, and he’s simply calling to wish her a happy anniversary because it’s been two years since they met — even though they’re not together, he’s still thinking about her.
However, this threw Alaska off. She couldn’t process the anniversary of the day she and Jake first met and that’s when she got into her car and drove off.
Pudge, The Colonel, and Takumi don’t understand why this anniversary date would freak Alaska out so much and press him for more information. But, he doesn’t have any.
Back on campus, the boys sit around and smoke trying to figure out what caused Alaska to run off. Later, in her bedroom, they go through her stuff trying to figure out her life, and also what caused her to do what she did in her final moments. In the margins of one of her books, Pudge finds Alaska’s favorite last words, “dammit, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” with Alaska’s handwritten note, “straight and fast.”
This strikes a chord in Pudge. What happens if Alaska’s accident wasn’t an accident, but purposely done? It’s a hard thing to swallow, but it might be true.
Episode 8: “It’s Very Beautiful Over There”
This is the first time suicide has come up in the series, so here’s a trigger warning just in case. The boys start looking into Alaska’s behavior over the past few months, and wonder if she was contemplating dying by suicide. The boys don’t think this is a likely scenario, because of all the drinking, smoking, and sex she had (even though yes, you can be doing all of these things and still be depressed, kiddos). Eventually, The Colonel comes to the conclusion that Jake’s call made Alaska so upset because she had just been hooking up with Pudge, and she was distraught and drove off. Pudge refuses to believe this scenario and he and The Colonel get into a shoving match in the cafeteria over it.
The boys decide they need answers straight from the source, and head to the local police department to talk to the officers who were on the scene that night. One of them explains that he had never seen anything like Alaska’s accident before, because she didn’t slow down or brea, but instead kept on driving fast and straight into the overturned truck. Her blood alcohol level was well over the legal limit, and the officer eventually agrees to get them her police report.
Pudge is now convinced that it was a suicide attempt and you know what they need to do now? Get as drunk as Alaska that night so they can recreate her mindset. I can’t stress enough that this is a horrible idea. Pudge is the guinea pig for this, and gets super drunk and immediately passes out. Unsurprisingly, they’re still not sure what was going on in Alaska’s mind that night.
Later, during a phone call with his parents, Pudge can’t help but notice that there’s a small drawing of daisies next to the pay phone. Via some flashbacks, we see that Alaska was always drawing flowers and had them scattered about her own room (and somehow, this is also the first concrete mention of Alaska’s connection to daisies in the entire series). Rushing back to his room to look at the police report, Pudge discovers that Alaska had plastic daisies in her car the night she died — that’s the daisy on the dashboard we see during the car crash.
Pudge calls Jake asking if he knows anything about these daisies — was Alaska maybe bringing him the flowers? Jake tells Pudge about the first time he met Alaska, and how she was sitting on a bridge, drinking, and had a daisy in her hair.
So where would she be going with the daisies on the night of her death? After some investigation, Pudge and The Colonel piece together that Alaska “forgot” the anniversary of her mother’s death, which also happens to be the first time she met Jake. She was so distraught about forgetting this date she realized she needed to rush off, with flowers, for her mother.
The two are pretty proud of this conclusion and tell Lara and Takumi. But, the latter doesn’t really care about it anymore. Alaska is gone and even though they’ve “figured out” the mystery of her death they’ll still never really know it all. Alaska is gone and can’t answer for herself, and these answers unfortunately died with her.
The kids all head home, with The Colonel to his mom and Pudge to Florida to be with his family. First, The Colonel tells his mom that he doesn’t want to go to church. Then, Pudge’s mom suggests that maybe he stays home in Florida instead of going back to Culver Creek saying that he will “weather this storm.”
And here’s the iconic John Green quote you’ve all been waiting for. “If people were rain, I was drizzle. And she was a hurricane,” Pudge yells at his mom. “Everything falls apart, memories too. And then you’re left with nothing, not even a fucking ghost.”
Eventually, Pudge calls The Colonel and tells him that he’s not coming back to school. He doesn’t want to see a world (namely, Culver Creek) that Alaska won’t see herself. The Colonel wishes him good luck, and hangs up the phone.
And since The Colonel didn’t want to go to church, The Colonel’s mom brings church to him. Mr. Hyde shows up out of the blue to talk to The Colonel. Though he doesn’t want to talk, eventually Mr. Hyde gets through to him, breaking down in tears over how much he misses Alaska. Mr. Hyde misses her, too.
After some deep soul searching for himself, Pudge returns back to Culver Creek and reunites with The Colonel. And in another surprising twist, Takumi and Lara have now paired off together, clearly finding each other in grief.
The Eagle dedicates the Alaska Young memorial bench, and the group decides to do one last prank for their own Alaska memorial. The plan is all set for Speaker Day 2006, and Pudge and The Colonel lead in their chosen speaker, a prestigious nearby doctor.
Except this dude does not have a doctorate in anything, and instead he’s a stripper. His speech starts off explaining how boys objectify women’s bodies, when Lara and Sara suddenly stand up and scream that he should take off all his clothes. Backstage, Takumi turns on Kelis’ “Milkshake” — because remember this is 2006 and that song was a bop. The stripper starts stripping in the name of Alaska Young and soon, all the boys are stripping, including Pudge and The Colonel. It is sheer chaos, and The Eagle is so stunned he doesn’t know what to do. It’s very weird and strangely touching.
After the stripper leaves the assembly, The Eagle follows the group outside, and surprisingly he’s not mad. He’s actually pretty impressed they managed to get a stripper. Also, the speech he gave to the students sounds like something Alaska would have written herself, and The Eagle can’t help but laugh about it.
If you’ve been holding back tears this entire show, now is the time to start crying. A long voice over from Pudge finishes out the series, as he explains his lingering thoughts and feelings about Alaska. Pudge and The Colonel drive past her crash site, with Pudge driving a little bit faster past it, just like Alaska did. The two then get out at the site of her crash to embrace and cry together.
Pudge is also sad that he doesn’t know Alaska’s last words, but he does know the last words she said to him, “to be continued.” He’s going to take that to heart, and he chooses to keep continuing on for her, through that labyrinth. The rest of the group does, too, because even though Alaska is gone she hasn’t fractured their friendship — they’re even stronger now because of the loss they’ve suffered. They’ve also stolen her memorial bench and brought it to their spot by the lake. Alaska would like that.
And because we honestly haven’t gotten enough of John Green’s juicy dialogue, Pudge’s last line will really give you a gut punch: “I will always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor with my crooked heart. Thomas Edison’s last words were, ‘it’s very beautiful over there.’ I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere. And I hope it’s beautiful.”
Well, that’s it. Looking for Alaska is based on the novel, and we’ve reached the end of the show which means we’ve reached the end of this story. There won’t be a season 2 so don’t start asking for it, but at least we’ll always have these eight episodes. Also, please remember to be kind to one another!
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.