Looking for Alaska Review: The Rat Escapes the Labyrinth

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When faced with a great loss you have two choices: You can drown in your grief, or you can fight like hell to live through it. 

On Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7 and Season 1 Episode 8 the students and faculty of Culver Creek were faced with a tragedy, each person dealing in their own way. 

Keeping reading our review to see how our time at Culver Creek ends.

Paying Respects  - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Alaska Young is dead. 

Alaska was young, beautiful and full of life, until she wasn't anymore. 

She was a force of nature, or how Pudge so accurately put it, Alaska was a hurricane. Even as a viewer it was impossible not to be drawn into her.

If people were rain, I was drizzle, and she, she was a hurricane.

Pudge

Her death was like a punch to the gut. Even as a fan of the book knowing that her death was coming, it made it no easier to actually see. 

The Call - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Death can sometimes feel cheap on TV shows, meant solely to shock viewers rather than to move the plot forward. This was not one of those times.

Alaska's death felt like an inevitability. This was not a sneak attack on viewers. We were shown time and time again that Alaska was headed to this eventual end game. 

Like Pudge, the Colonel, and Takumi, we as viewers were left with many unanswered questions by Alaska's death. That's the point though. Death is never a clean-cut ending. Alaska's death is no exception.

Related: Looking for Alaska Review: The End of Days

Pudge and the Colonel were obsessed with figuring out why Alaska died. Yes, they knew it was a car accident, but they needed to know what lead her to that moment.

The Ex - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

As Takumi pointed out, though, finding out why would not solve anything. Alaska would still be dead, and they would still be hurting, and all the answers in the world would not take away that pain. 

This mystery can't be solved. We have to live with that for the rest of our lives.

Takumi

Still, like Pudge and the Colonel, it was impossible as a viewer not to wonder what happened. 

All signs pointed to Alaska taking her own life. 

Throughout the show, we were shown that Alaska was in pain. She may have put on a brave face and hid it behind her carefree facade, but there was no mistaking that Alaska Young was broken. 

The Student Becomes the Teacher - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Alaska spent most of her life being told by her father that she was the reason her mother died. Eventually, after you are told something enough times you start to believe it. 

Even as Alaska told the story of her mom's death during best day/worst day during Episode 5, it was clear that she blamed herself.

Related: Looking for Alaska Review: Snitches Get Kisses 

When the others tried to remind her that she was just a kid, she didn't know any better, she shot down their reassurances. 

During her conversation with Pudge outside of the barn, she told him that she was worried about what he would think of her if he knew the truth.

An Unlikely Pair - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Those aren't signs of someone who knew she wasn't at fault. Those are clear indications that in Alaska's own eyes, she is the reason her mom is dead. 

That kind of burden, carrying that type of blame that is something that can chip away at you, piece by piece until there is nothing left. 

Alaska had so much left, but did she forget it, even for just one moment? Just long enough to make a terrible decision? 

To say that Alaska was impulsive would be an understatement. 

We know that she was triggered the night of the accident by forgetting the anniversary of her mom's death. Given the fact that she was highly intoxicated and upset, could she have in one split second decided she was done? 

I Wanna Hold Your Hand - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Alaska may not have been suicidal, but in someone who never thought things through like her, all it would have taken was one-moment. 

Related: Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 1 and 2 Review: Famous Last Words/"Tell Them I Said Something..." 

Whether she died by her own choice or by a terrible moment of misfortune, neither make Alaska's death less tragic and neither affects those she left behind less.

Throughout the final two hours of Looking for Alaska, we witnessed our favorite characters move through the various stages of the grieving process. 

From the moment that it was clear that Alaska wasn't at the assembly, it was obvious that Alaska was the reason that they were gathered there. However, Pudge was not willing to accept it. 

Let it Rain - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Even after it was revealed that she was dead, Pudge remained in denial, refusing to accept it as the truth. Pudge even went as far as claiming that it was part of one of her elaborate pranks. 

It must have been hard enough for the Eagle not only to identify Alaska's body but then to have to deliver the news to the student body. Adding in having to convince Pudge that she was actually dead was just the icing on the cake. 

Pudge: Why are all these people crying? She's not dead. She does pranks. This is a prank. She's really good at pranks.
The Eagle: Miles, Miles, I saw her. I'm sorry.

Once the initial shock wore off, no one was exempt from the haze of sadness that enveloped the Culver Creek campus. Each person handled their depression differently.

Back to Reality - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

Pudge couldn't manage to get off the couch.

Related: Looking for Alaska Review: Teen Drama Done Right

The Colonel went on an endless walk.

Takumi and Lara found solace in eachother.

The Eagle struck by no matter how much of a hardass he was, he couldn't save her, shaved his iconic mustache. 

The rest of the student body, who only recently had been ostracizing her and labeling her as a rat, poured their grief into gifts at her accident site. 

Wait - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7

The world of Culver Creek may not have always appreciated Alaska when she was alive, but they surely could feel her absence. 

In an attempt to cope with their sadness over Alaska's death, anger was spewing out of those closest to her.

There is no one to blame for Alaska's death, not even Alaska, but when a death as untimely as Alaska's happens, it is natural for people to place blame wherever they could.

Pudge and the Colonel were already feeling guilty enough about their roles in Alaska's death. The last thing they needed was to turn on each other or have someone as close to them as Takumi placing his own blame on them.

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You have to wonder if Takumi's anger towards the Colonel and Pudge came out of his own anger towards himself.

In the Labyrinth  - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 8

Takumi had been with the Colonel and Alaska that night. He knew that the Colonel had given her a mental beatdown. Instead of staying with her and making sure she was in an ok place, he went to bed. 

Takumi is not in any way responsible for her death, just like the Colonel and Pudge aren't either, but blaming themselves is easier than blaming her. She isn't there to take their blame; they are. 

One of the most poignant acts of anger came from the Colonel at the memorial services following Alaska's funeral. 

Denny Love has had a stellar performance as the Colonel all season long, but nothing compared to that moment. 

From the moment the Colonel was sitting at the table looking at her father, you could see the anger seething from him. From his mannerisms, to even just the look in his eyes. You could tell he was a man on the verge of snapping.

Enemies Become Frenemies - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 8

Watching the Colonel attack her father to the point of having to be restrained by multiple people was such a powerful moment. 

Colonel. You broke her. Hey, you broke her. If you were ever there for her, none of this would've happened. She wouldn't have been so sad. She wouldn't have drank so much. She would have had a car with fucking airbags. It should have been you. It shouldn't have been her. It should have been fucking you.

In that moment, the Colonel was giving Alaska the defense that she had never gotten during her life. 

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Her father blamed a child for something that was completely out of her control.

His Milkshake Brings all the Girls to the Yard - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 8

Her father did not show her the love she deserved when she needed it most. Alaska didn't just lose her mom the day she died, she lost her father too.

All the tears in the world would not turn back time and allow him to go back and be the father that he should have been to her. That is a cross he will have to bear his entire life.

Another incredible performance that came out of the funeral was Pudge's reaction to his final goodbye to Alaska.

Pudge: I love you.
Colonel: I know you did.
Pudge: No, not past tense. I love you, and I'm so sorry for letting you go. I'm so sorry.

Pudge's desperate declaration of love was heartbreaking and was enough to rock you to the core. Pudge has always worn his heart on his sleeve, but at that moment it was displayed with flashing neon lights for all to see.

A Helping Hand - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 8

The love we have for people does not disappear when they die. Alaska's body may be in the ground, but she existed, and so did Pudge's love for her and that doesn't just stop. 

Overwhelming sadness and anger don't last forever, though. Eventually, life keeps on going, and when life at Culver Creek resumed, we were given the best gift we could have asked for; one last final prank to honor Alaska. 

Watching the whole student body coming together to memoralize Alaska was satisfying in many ways. 

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No matter what wars were being waged at Culver Creek, they all were able to put that aside to pay tribute to one of their own. 

Sad Beautiful Boy - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 8

Gus "subverting the patriarical paradigm" with a strip tease to "Milkshake" should go down in history. 

If you weren't almost in tears laughing as he crawled towards the Eagle and the rest of the faculty in his speedo then you weren't watching the same show. 

As each new man stood up and stripped down all in the name of Alaska, it just got better and better. 

While the funeral memorialized Alaska's death, this prank memorialized Alaska's life, and it was everything she would have wanted. 

My goodness. Subverting the patriarchal paradigm? It's like she wrote that speech herself.

The Eagle

Alaska left no one that she touched unchanged. The impact of her life could be seen in many small moments. 

Getting Tipsy - Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 8

Takumi started the show, not wanting to be in love, but through Alaska he found Lara. 

When we met Pudge, he was a socially awkward meek young man in search of a Great Perhaps, but as we see him light his final cigarette of the series, there is a confidence to him that can be felt. 

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Pudge found his Great Perhaps in Alaska, in the Colonel, in Takumi, and in Culver Creek. 

And then Alaska had to go. Because I screwed up and the Colonel screwed up, and we let her go, and she slipped through our fingers. We will always live with things done and things left undone that day. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions, but we can't know better until knowing better is useless.

Pudge

Looking for Alaska is the type of show that is few and far between these days. 

In the hands of anyone other than Josh Schwartz, Looking for Alaska may not have gotten the treatment it deserved, but he brought this timeless coming of age story to life in a magical way that can stand the test of time. 

You may not be able to relate to being at a boarding school.

You may not have partaken in underrage drinking.

You may have never played a prank in your life.

You cannot say, though, that you came  out of watching Looking for Alaska not feeling something, and that is the hallmark of a great show.

Alright TV Fanatics, over to you guys! Are you sad that Looking for Alaska was only a limited series? Were you satisfied with the ending? Comment below! 

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Now Comes the Mystery Review

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Meaghan Frey is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Looking for Alaska Season 1 Episode 7 Quotes

When you stop wishing things won't fall apart, you'll stop suffering when they do. Until then, this will hurt, but you will survive until you don't.

Dr. Hyde

Pudge: Why are all these people crying? She's not dead. She does pranks. This is a prank. She's really good at pranks.
The Eagle: Miles, Miles, I saw her. I'm sorry.