Skam Season 4 Episode 2 Review: Norwegian Party Girls

How will Sana afford a bus? What happened between Mikael and Even? And why did Noora really leave London?

Is anyone else kind of afraid that Sana is going to rob a bank or something? At the end of this week’s episode of Skam — Season 4, Episode 2 — Sana outbid the Bus Formerly Known As Pepsi-Max for Mari’s bus. She said their bus is willing to pay 320,000 krone. Even though the bus has nowhere near that amount of money. Selling toilet paper will only get you so far, you know? I’m just not sure what Sana’s plan is here. And, from the looks of it, neither do her friends.

— Kayti Burt (@kaytiburt) April 21, 2017

According to my Google research, 320,000 kroner is equal to $36,845.05. Um, that’s a lot of money. No wonder Noora is calling her friends delusional for their belief that they could swing that. I’d expect this kind of nonsense from Vilde, but not from Sana, who tends to have a good head on her shoulders. It seems she was particularly swayed by the Pepsi-Max’s comments that they are a “cool, normal Norwegian party girls,” implying that Sana and her bus aren’t.

It’s unclear if this is directed specifically towards Sana or if it is more of a general statement about the eccentricity of our girl squad (probably the former). Either way, it understandably stoked Sana’s ire. If this season is all about Sana trying to balance both her Norwegian and Muslim identities, then this is one of the many microaggressions she has to deal with that undercuts her right to embrace both.

(And how fitting is it that this group of girls used to be known as Pepsi-Max, given the recent promotional choices of that particular brand? Although, to be fair, it sounds like the Pepsi-Max girls are socially aware enough to not want to be associated with Pepsi right now, so that’s something, I suppose.)

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Racist microaggressions notwithstanding, it was nice to see Ingrid again. Even though she has popped up occasionally in Seasons 2 and 3, we haven’t had a real scene with her since Season 1, when she was relatively integral to the plot. I would have liked to see her and Eva acknowledge each other in some way in this scene, but this is Sana’s season and Eva and Ingrid are more amicable strangers these days than anything else, so it’s not completely weird that they didn’t interact more specifically.

This was also a great cameo from Mari’s, whose amused response to the Pepsi-Max v. Sana showdown was hilarious. Mari is a character who was introduced to the audience through Noora mistaken presumption that she is was a party girl looking for William’s affections, only to be revealed to be nothing like that later.

One of the chief joys of these later Skam seasons has been getting minor references back to earlier seasons that aren’t integral to understanding the current plot, but make this world just a little bit richer and reward loyal viewers (which, let’s face it, pretty much all Skam fans are). This scene is given even deeper meaning because it is actually Isak’s ex-girlfriend Sara doing most of the talking/dissing. The plot thickens (with layers)!

What happened between Even and Mikael?

The internet had a bit of a meltdown this week over this very question as Skam Season 4 headed into its second week and we got a further glimpse into the social web that is Sana’s life. Did Mikael break Even’s heart? Did Mikael judge Even for his queer identity and/or mental illness? Was Even the one who somehow wronged Mikael? Did Even break Mikael‘s heart? So many possibilities for how the Balloon Squad and Even might be connected!

Between the Hei Briskeby video that went up hinting that something went down between Mikael and Even, Isak’s reaction to seeing Mikael on Sana’s laptop screen, and the Season 4 promo, it does seem like Sana’s actions will somehow lead to Even getting hurt. And, now more than ever, Mikael seems connected to that inevitability. Perhaps the bus acquisition will play into it?

For now, though, Evak seem to be living in a perpetual honeymoon period where they float through life on the promise of sunshine and rainbows. This can’t last, but that doesn’t mean their relationship won’t last. Julie Andem would not do that to us, especially with the Noora/William sadness that has plagued Skam post-Season 2.

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Yousef sends Sana a Facebook friend request.

But let’s talk Sana again, because she is the main character of this season, which means she is the one keeping her feelings to herself with only us viewers as confidantes. The other big news in Sana’s life this week? Yousef sent her a Facebook friend request, along with a meme encouraging her russebus activities! (#malefeministally) The request and encouragement are a follow-up to a short interaction they have when Sana catches Yousef dancing in her house. (Guys, Yousef has moves.) Like in previous encounters, Yousef tries to initiate contact with Sana, who seems interested, but shy, but Elias bursts onto the scene and gets in the way.

Elias is pretty vocal about what he thinks about Sana being on bus. He also implies that their mother will not be OK with it. Sana points out that he was on a bus, but Elias insists that it’s different because he’s a boy. The fact that Yousef encourages Sana to do what she wants rather than what Muslim-Norwegian society and her specific family might think is OK for her makes me like him more than ever. We already knew he had good taste if he is interested in Sana, but this is another check mark in the pro column for Yousana.

Sana is obviously falling hard for Yousef. When she sees his friend request and message, she can literally not stop smiling. It’s adorable. I’m not sure why Sana and Yousef weren’t already Facebook friends. It seems like she runs into Elias’ boy squad all of the time. Perhaps she just puts a lot of energy into avoiding them. Perhaps this is the nature of her relationship with her brother. Whatever the case, Yousef is reaching out now. Not only amidst balloons in a train car, but across the interwebz.

The classroom computer scene is a parallel to both Season 1 when Eva first sent Noora a Facebook friend request and Season 3 when Isak internet-stalked Even. It’s also just a great example of something Skam does so well: show the role that social media plays in teenager’s (and, let’s face it, adult’s) lives. Sending and receiving a Facebook request isn’t a frivolous or unimportant activity.

It may be a mundane, sometimes daily activity, but it means something. For better or worse (and Skam doesn’t make us choose, like so many TV shows and movies do, treating social media as an erosion of our social fabric), social media is an integral part of how we form and maintain relationships. That doesn’t have to have a value judgment. It just is.

Skam did something really clever in Season 3 by making Sana and Isak lab partners and friends. Not only has it enrichened both of their characters, but it gave us a reason to hang out with Sana in Season 3 and it gives us a reason to hang out with Isak (and, by extension, Even) in Season 4. Well played, Andem.

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— Kayti Burt (@kaytiburt) April 19, 2017

Sana and Noora have a heart-to-heart.

Though I loved seeing Even and Isak happy and loved seeing Sana crush over Yousef, my favorite part of this week’s episode came in the conversation between Sana and Noora. (This show does female friendship so well.) The dynamic between Noora and Sana has always been an honest one. They may not hang out one-on-one as much as Noora and Eva or Sana and Chris do, but they seem to intensely respect one another. We saw this in Season 2 when it was Sana who Noora went to to talk through her feelings for William. Now, we see a slightly less honest version of that conversation as Sana tries to talk to Noora about Yousef, though without mentioning her own feelings for him.

It’s apparently too early in the season to have the kind of transparent, no-holds-barred conversation that we saw from Noora and Sana in Season 2. Those convos tend to come when the protagonist is really starting to figure things out. That being said, there is still a degree of honesty to this conversation. Sana is trying to warn Noora off of Yousef. It’s hard to tell how much of her warning is genuine concern for Noora and how much of her warning is genuine concern for herself, and the feelings she has for Yousef.

I think it is probably a combination of both. (Skam does complicated so well — that’s why it is such an authentic show.) When Sana tells Noora that Yousef will eventually dump her, it’s not fair to Yousef, as Noora graciously points out, but it also seems to come from a place of intense frustration. Frustration with the way her culture can clash with mainstream Norwegian culture and frustration that her white friends don’t understand how this other world she is a part of works. (Though, as I said in last week’s review, the idea that these two worlds are or even could be kept separate is not tenable.)

In Noora news, she admitted to Sana that her story about leaving London (and William) because he was working all of the time wasn’t the whole truth. They were interrupted before she could elaborate, but it sounds like there is much more to the story than Noora originally led her friends to believe. Did William cheat on her? Did she cheat on William? Was it something far less dramatic than that?

Perhaps Noora was the one who ended things, rather than William and his neglect. This seems the most likely explanation for me, if there is any hope of William and Noora getting back together and it not being a seriously shitty situation (or maybe there is no hope, full stop). I just wish I knew what Noora was thinking. Sometimes, it’s physically painfully to see a former POV character in a scene and not be inside of their head anymore. It’s time like these when I wish we could have multiple Skam seasons with multiple POV characters happening at once. Alas, I will have to settle with one season of a time of this amazing show.

(But can someone please give Noora a hug? Thanks.)

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3.5 out of 5