I forgot how much can happen in one week of Skam. Season 4, Episode 3 was a roller coaster of emotions. Sana and Yousef have their first real conversation. Sana takes over the Pepsi-Max squad. We find out Even and Sana knew each other from before he started dating Isak. Yousef isn’t Muslim. This changes everything, and we’re only in Episode 3.
Sana finds out Yousef isn’t Muslim.
As with the previous episodes of Season 4, “I Judge No One” saw Sana struggling to navigate her dual Muslim and Norwegian identities with the climactic moment coming when she discovered that Yousef is not Muslim at the end of the episode. Like all of Skam‘s character reveals, it’s a surprise, but one that makes sense with what we’ve seen of the character so far.
Though Yousef likely comes from a Muslim family and seems to be part of the Muslilm community in Oslo, we have seen that he has much more liberal viewpoints than many of his peers when it comes to Sana. (Not that you can’t be both Muslim and liberal, but Yousef’s personality, like Jonas’, seems to be more liberal than his peer group’s — both Muslilm and non-Muslim alike.)
While Elias worries that Sana will be judged for being part of a bus, Yousef encourages her to do it. We know that Yousef works in a kindergarten, which, as a nurturing position, is a job that is outside of the traditionally male gender role and one that is almost always held by women — at least from an American’s perspective. (It could be different in Norway and Europe, though I somehow doubt that it is. Perspectives and opinions welcome!)
Russebus meeting. Sana wants to focus on concept. All the Pepsi-Max really care about is partying. They get drunk in Sana’s living room. Yousef takes the fall for Sana. Sana finds out he isn’t Muslim.
Further subverting the traditional masculinity, Yousef knows how to cook, and is happy to show Sana how to do it, without judging her for not knowing how. Basically, Yousef is pretty progressive when it comes to gender politics in a way that suggests he would be willing to challenge his own family and community’s status quo when it comes to religion, as well.
Sana is subversive in her own way, of course. She isn’t inclined to fulfill the typical gender role of cook and is visibly uncomfortable (and understandably so) when Elias bets her into being his slave for a week. In her role as “slave,” Sana is “forced” to fulfill the traditional women’s role that so many women around the world are actually forced into by their culture.
As a young woman living in a socially progressive country, Sana is aware of her freedoms. More than that, she revels in them. Her POV season has been the story of a Muslim teen trying to decide how she wants to use those freedoms. And it isn’t about abandoning her Muslim identity. Far from it. She loves her religion and her faith, but she also doesn’t want to be completely defined by it. Too many people look at Sana’s hijab and decide that’s who she is. And it is — in part — but it is not all that she is.
This is why Yousef’s atheism is such a shock. In Yousef, Sana thought she had found someone who both satisfied the religious/cultural expectations of her family (“Is he Muslim?” was the first question Sana’s sweet mom asked when Sana told her she liked someone) and who satisfied her own hopes for a partner who sees her as more than her faith or her gender. With Yousef’s revelation, I imagine that Sana is beginning to realize how those two criteria are not mutually exclusive. It isn’t just her family who expects her partner to be Muslim; she might expect that, as well.
But enough serious analysis! Yousef is great. He takes the fall for Sana when her parents come home and find a bottle of vodka from the bus party. He knows how to correctly peels carrots. He teaches kindergarten! I’m worried that the non-Muslilm thing is going to throw a wrench in the progression of their relationship, but I’m also interested to see what these conversations look like. We’ve seen what Sana discussing her religion/faith looks like before in her conversations with Isak in Season 3, and it’s great.
Even and Sana go way back.
OK, I’m exaggerating, but we got another clue in the mystery of Even’s connection to the Balloon Squad. He approached Sana in school to mention that he heard Sana and Isak talking about Mikael. The big reveal from this scene was that Isak wasn’t just close with Mikael, but seemed to know all of the Balloon Squad. He asked about Elias and asked Sana to pass a message onto her mom. This wasn’t a casual friendship or a relationship that was just between Mikael and Even (although, Mikael seems to be the real connection point between Eve and the Balloon Squad). This was a thing.
The plot thickens with the fact that Even doesn’t seem to want Isak to know about his connection to the Balloon Squad. Is he ashamed of Mikael’s behavior or his own? Or is it more complicated than that? The way Sana was acting with Even, it seems like she has a good opinion of him. Perhaps Mikael and he had a relationship or some kind of flirtation, but Mikael is in the closet and, therefore, Even doesn’t feel as if he can talk about it?
Whatever the big secret, it better not endanger Evak. My heart can’t take it.
Sana takes over the bus.
Sana is the ruler of all things russebus. I should never have doubted her powers. When Sana’s squad wins the bid for the bus, the Pepsi-Max girls approach her to suggest a merge. Sana agrees under two conditions: the Pepsi-Max group pays for the bus and Sana is boss. The Pepsi-Max girls agree. Girl gets stuff done, you know? Of course Yousef likes her. (Sana’s mom and I agree on this fact.)
Sana spends lots of time preparing for her first russebus meeting, which will be held at her house. When the big event comes, Sana owns it — a girl in a hijab in a sea of blonde Norwegians. She tells the bus members that they should aim to win one of the biggest russebus prizes in the country. She has studied the past winners for “Best Concept” and she thinks they can do it.
Ultimately, the Pepsi-Max girls don’t seem to really care about winning any prizes. They just want to party and are nervous that Sana, as a Muslim, will not be OK with it. Sana’s answer: “I judge no one.”
What is up with Vilde’s mom? Is she an alcoholic? “Wine-tasting party” is a euphemism for alcoholism?
It was sad and weird that Chris wasn’t at the bus meeting. Presumably, this is because the actress who plays Chris is currently at theater school and doesn’t have as much time for the show. Good for her, but sad for us.
This connection between Isak and the Balloon Squad is putting Sonja’s comments about Even deciding he wanted to learn the Quran in a different context. Did he want to learn the Quran because of Mikael? Or did he meet Mikael through his interests in Islam? Discuss!