Season 4, Episode 8
June 9, 2017
If there was ever any doubt that Skam would have a happy ending, I think this past week’s clips removed it.
There was a significant amount of drama heading into this week: Sana was holding considerable secrets, and harboring resentment and guilt in equal measure. As the week progressed, she revealed her secret to Chris, and then eventually (accidentally) to Eva: she had been the one to create the account, and create the chain reaction of bullying. By mid-week, Chris basically told her that her friends were reevaluating their perspective on her, and she went to a meeting with Sara and Ingrid and the rest of the bus believing that her friends had abandoned her. It’s a definitively low moment.
And then the Girl Squad rolls up in a bus (or van, rather) just for them, Los Losers taped onto the side, celebrating Sana and welcoming her back into the fold. The Pepsi Max girls are left to watch as they drive off, happy and smiling and just generally elated. And when we get to Eva’s birthday, everyone is there: the Girl Squad, the Boy Squad, and the Balloon Squad have all come together, and are happily playing croquet with no evidence of any of the drama that had unfolded between them outside of a brief moment where Magnus makes insecure small talk with Elias.
And I will be frank: I call bullshit.
The idea that these people would suddenly feel like close friends is a deep fiction, constructed because the show wanted to essentially resolve the central tensions that drove the season in time to turn its attention to deeper unresolved challenges. This is obviously very similar to the rooftop party back in season two, but there was no global conflict operating in that season that would complicate such an event. I saw the chat where Vilde encouraged them to invite the balloon squad, but it’s super weird to pick up in the clip and for it to feel like everyone is just having a great time. Shouldn’t the arrival of the balloon squad have been some version of William’s arrival at the end of the episode? Shouldn’t there have been at least some early tension?
But it’s clear that Skam doesn’t really have time for that kind of tension right now. Even with the girl squad, I still don’t understand if Chris’ claims about the impact of Sana’s choices were accurate, or why the girl squad ultimately changed their minds if so. Sana’s message about being neither Muslim nor Norwegian enough is something I’ve talked about in these reviews before, and I gladly accept it was persuasive and heartbreaking and potentially mind-changing. But we skip over some pretty considerable decision-making, and the lack of any type of debrief about it among the girls is disorienting. I totally accept they would forgive her, but to not see that play out feels like the show sweeping it under the rug, and moving onto the relationship drama as a way to close out the season.
It’s not surprising that Noora was actually counseling Yousef about Sana instead of hooking up with him: I’ve been saying it in these reviews for a while, and it’s another example of the show using its close perspective to point to the way situations can be misinterpreted. But something about Sana smiling her way through their chat history was just too happy for me—sure, there is still stuff to work through, and William’s arrival (and Sana’s betrayal by reaching out to him through Noora’s email) adds some drama, but the show speeds through the initial resolution to get there, which seems to me to be a disservice to the complexity of the season to date. It ended up making it feel like this was actually the season four finale, making it a condensed eight-episode season and then leaving the final two episodes to clean up past-season drama.
That’s an understandable decision: there is a clear narrative challenge to resolving the show given its tight POV structure, and I’m not shocked that Andem is angling to resolve the William and Noora relationship in order to bring each of the series’ core character arcs to something of a conclusion. But in the context of this episode, the “ending” of it all was deflating. I appreciate that everyone is happy, and certainly was thrilled when the Girl Squad reunited and when Sana was able to experience the relief of knowing that Yousef felt the same way, but I’m not deeply convinced that the happiness emphasized in this party was truly earned, and that’s a bit of a disappointment coming from a show that through its format has the ability to tell stories on a more granular level.
- I’m traveling this week, so I didn’t get to all of the texts and other transmedia elements, which meant I watched the episode before I saw Vilde pushing to invite the Balloon Squad. That helped make sense of it, but my reservations stand.
- I still want a DTR on Eva and Penetrator Chris, to be honest, and I fear we’re never going to get it.
- This morning’s episode feels like a sendoff for Guru Eskild and Linn—it feels like we’re now on a farewell tour, so curious to see how many of the supporting characters get scenes with Sana in the next two weeks.