By Sydney Bucksbaum
October 22, 2019 at 03:50 PM EDT
  • TV Show

This article contains major spoilers about the finale of Hulu’s Looking for Alaska.

After 15 years of waiting and multiple failed attempts to bring this story to life, Looking for Alaska finally premiered over the weekend. But Hulu’s eight-episode limited series adaptation covers all of John Green’s 2005 novel, which means that after finishing those eight episodes with Miles “Pudge” Halter (Charlie Plummer), Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth), and the rest of their eclectic group of friends at Culver Creek Academy, viewers must say goodbye to this story and these characters forever (aside from the inevitable future rewatches). And much like what Miles, Chip “The Colonel” Martin (Denny Love), and Takumi Hikohito (Jay Lee) learn in the series finale, “It’s Very Beautiful Over There,” the finale serves as an important lesson for fans about how nothing stays forever and life continues on, even when you want everything to pause for just a little while.

In the aftermath of the incredibly emotional seventh episode featuring Alaska’s death and funeral, the final hour continued to explore each of the characters’ ways of processing their grief. But in between all the tears, Looking for Alaska still found time to pull off two more epic pranks, all in Alaska’s name. First, Miles, The Colonel, and Jay unite all the students at the school to sneak the convenience store clerk in as a professor of “adolescent sexuality” to give a speech at Culver Creek’s Speaker Day, where he pulls off the most amazing striptease as the student body goes wild.

After that triumph, as Miles’ narrates his final paper answering Alaska’s question about how he’s going to choose the labyrinth instead of ending his suffering, Miles and Chip finally go to the sight of Alaska’s death and break down in each other’s arms. Then the core friend group pulls their best prank yet: stealing Alaska’s memorial bench and relocating it to the smoking hole. After the spectacle of the Speaker Day prank, which was equally in the spirit of Alaska, this one felt deeply personal for both Alaska’s memory and the group of friends she left behind. And her final words to Miles — “To be continued … ” — will forever stay with him as he chooses the labyrinth of life. He may not have gotten the answers he was looking for in figuring out whether Alaska’s car crash was suicide or an accident, but life continues on anyway.

Alfonso Bresciani/Hulu

Knowing how intense the final few episodes are, Looking for Alaska stars Plummer, Froseth, Love, and Lee, as well as Landry Bender, Uriah Shelton, and Jordan Connor stopped by EW to help fans cope with the series’ finale. “The ending was something that was really important for me in getting that right because in the book, that’s probably my favorite part… how it’s summed up,” Plummer says. “Even though it is really sad and honest, I think it also is hopeful.”

While both Green’s novel and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s onscreen adaptation are full of grief, loss, and heartbreak, Lee agrees with Plummer that the way the story ends can provide a kind of uplifting catharsis for viewers.

“I don’t think people, no matter how old or young they are, are good at grieving,” Lee says. “I don’t think that’s something that humans are just born equipped to deal [with], especially socially. There’s something very healing about being transparent about it and communicative and I think it’s really okay to say, ‘Today I’m not okay,’ and letting a community form around you — wow, I’m getting emotional talking about this, because that’s what the experience was for us.”

As Lee’s costars comfort him, he continues, “We had days where we felt like we wanted to kind of clam up within ourselves and then there were other days alternatively where we decided to kind of share it with each other. I think it was always a more fruitful, productive experience to be able to share it and go through something together as opposed to caving in.”

Alfonso Bresciani/Hulu

When it came time to filming the more emotionally draining scenes, the young actors found support in each other.

“It obviously was tough when you have to take yourself to the headspace,” Love says. “We all took the material extremely serious. We just had so much support on set that I always felt comfortable going to those places. Our team was so giving — everyone just gave as much as they could to the work and it was almost therapeutic to address those emotions and just go there. I was sitting in the rain for a little bit and you just feel refreshed after.”

“I would always reach out to you guys before really scary scenes and they would be so supportive,” Froseth adds. “It’s hard because I just care about the character and the story so much; I just want to do it justice.”

Watch the full interview with the stars above now. Looking for Alaska is streaming in full on Hulu.

Related content:

Hulu adapts John Green’s award-winning young adult novel into an eight-episode limited series starring Charlie Plummer as Miles “Pudge” Halter and Kristine Froseth as the titular Alaska Young.
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