There is an episode, in the Zerocalcare series for Netflix Tear along the edges, which truly turned us around. Not only because this animated series is objectively wonderful, but because it has been able to touch strings that only our generation (and that of Zero) can make vibrate.
They are the strings of social inadequacy, of insecurity about the future, of the naive belief that by remaining motionless and clinging to the thought “there’s time” everything would have been fine.
But it’s not like that, it can’t be like that and Tear along the edges He slaps it in our faces like the “pizzas” we’ve all had, at least once.
In the penultimate installment of the series Zero traces the story of his friendship with Alice, the presence that hovers, elusive and enigmatic, over the whole story. We still don’t know exactly what happened to her, only that her friends are traveling to her city, united by the thought of her. A semi-serious journey which, between one unexpected event and another, serves Zero to tell the years that bind him, Secco, Sara and Alice in an indissoluble friendship.
Alice is, from the start, Zero’s impossible dream: not because there are objective impediments to the realization of their story, but because neither of them has the courage to make the first move. Of course, as Zero recalls at the beginning of the episode, both he and Alice had the “talent” of getting engaged at the same time, making dating impossible and leaving the relationship at the “friend” level. But we know it’s an excuseone of the many that Zero camps in the course of the series, and which will be duly unmasked by his armadillo-consciousness.
Zero would like to be with Alice, but does absolutely nothing to fulfill a desire that he has pushed so deep that he is no longer fully aware of it. Like so many other chapters in his life, Zero just observesto live in a mechanical way and certainly super efficient but never “alive”, pulsating.
Alice has been in a swampy, insidious and probably toxic situation for years and he couldn’t (nor would he) intervene. The situation seems to unblock itself when finally, any night, she calls him in tears to announce that she’s over, this time forever. And even if she had already said that phrase on other occasions, Zero understands that this time she’s serious. He gets dressed, crosses the city at night to show up at her broken friend’s door with ice cream and her best intentions, and what happens?
What can happen when two who have always touched each other without ever really touching find themselves embraced one evening, with their hearts uncovered?
And because that’s exactly what non it happens in Tear along the edges?
In any other TV series, this situation would have been handled by the writers in one and only way (very alla Dawson’s Creek, to recall a quote from this episode). Two people who have always secretly wanted each other find themselves in a situation where they can finally make their wish come true. They embrace, confide in each other, finally exchange the words of love that have stuck in their throats for years and, finally, they exchange a passionate and liberating kiss with a heartbreaking soundtrack in the background.
But this doesn’t happen in Tear along the edges. Zero has the opportunity to finally be with Alice, to deepen that relationship that has been bogged down for too many years at a level that is not fully satisfactory, and he lets it slip.
And why does he do it? Why is unable to “really be there”, to fully experience the moments, to simply be hugging a girl without thinking of anything else than being close to her in a moment of weakness. Because Zero’s extreme intelligence is useless if it doesn’t make him capable of facing life.
“It’s not important to me that you’re always there, but I need to know that when you’re with me, you’re really there. You understand it?”
Zero explains with incredible clarity what are the reasons for his inadequacy. He seems perfectly aware of what his problem is with him yet he can’t stop himself from making the same mistakes. At the same time, though, it’s all too easy to understand him and find yourself empathizing with him. The feelings of othersas well as ours, are sometimes so large that they become unmanageable and they scare us. So we, rational and planning people, demonstrate our love by making up for what we are unable to say on a practical and empirical level:
“And we don’t need words
To explain what is hidden in the depths of our hearts”
Zero is there and always will be for Alice. That evening, however, she takes home the weight of having lost the first and perhaps the only opportunity to really be therebody and soul, even with words if necessary. Because words are needed. Words can make all the differenceZero will realize it in the final episode, when the weight of what he could do and didn’t do will become, for a moment, unbearable.
That feeling of unfinished, of having simply observed a situation from the outside, hovering like a ghost over one’s life instead of living it (a beautiful graphic metaphor by Zerocalcare) becomes a boulder of truth once home. His conscience makes him metabolize what happened in the worst way, as is his custom, “pizzas in the face”:
“You are a black belt in how to dodge life”.
Who has never experienced a moment like the one told in this scene by Tear along the edges? The generation of Zerocalcare and the one immediately following it was raised in a society in which the need to elbow to survive in a world with limited resources goes hand in hand with the absence of “antibodies to life”. We want everything but we don’t know how to get it (and it’s not entirely our fault either).
Zero’s tactic to be able to pass unscathed in the tangles of life is do the opposite: stay still, pretend to be dead, for fear of changes. Too bad that those who pretend to be dead, sooner or later will no longer even have to try to pretend: life will end anyway, not before having overwhelmed him with the awareness of never having really lived.
We see it in the next scene, if possible even more difficult to digest than the one with Alice, because it speaks to us of a reality that is too current, too painful not to touch us deeply. Why don’t we have the life we dreamed of? What did we do wrong? Were we to move incessantly, as society dictates to us, or to remain motionless, as the voice that we have inside whispers to us and that tells us that nothing can go wrong if we remain still?
People make choices that affect their lives, for better or for worse. As much as it may hurt us, confronting ourselves with the lives of others can help us understand if we are doing something wrong. It took a simple chance encounter with one of his former students for Zero to make him realize that standing still is not the solution. Comparison with others can be merciless and can lead to an abyss with no return. The abyss in which Alice ended up, even if in this episode we don’t know it yet.
The penultimate episode of Tear along the edges it’s more emotionally devastating than the last one, net of the emotional scope of the funeral scene with all that goes with it. Zero’s remorse is less excruciating than the regret shown to us in this 1 × 05, when he had the opportunity to make a change in her life and preferred to dodge it.
But it’s just at the end of the episode, when we were already broken, that Tear along the edges rages. The reality of Alice’s deathwhich we had already imagined for a while, enters with arrogance, leg outstretched, pizzas in the face. It is a reality with which one cannot fail to come to terms and there is no need to hide: it is no coincidence that it is the most direct character in the series, Secco, who says how things stand.
In just over twenty minutes, Zerocalcare strips us emotionally, discovers our most sensitive sides and stages them in an episode that perfectly blends irony and drama. But he doesn’t leave us completely hopeless: despite his inadequacy, despite the lack of courage shown up to that moment in facing life, Zero concludes that all is not lost. You have to find something positive to hold onto so you don’t end up torn in half, fractions, mumble like a piece of paper kept in your pocket for too long.
“You were good, you were good. I repeat it to myself a hundred times because I need beautiful thoughts to cling to”.
Giulia Vanda Zennaro
The 1×05 episode of Tear along the edges will also be told, in-depth and analyzed on Thursday evening 30 March at 21.00 on our Twitch channel: you can find us under the name hallofseries_com. We are waiting for you!