Frankly, I would have sat down to type out a review for Elite season 4 earlier if it hadn’t been so boring.
This review of Elite season 4 contains major spoilers. Consider yourself warned.
The promo materials for the fourth season of Elite made it very clear the upcoming series was bringing along a lot of changes. A number of OG characters were being written out with new ones were being introduced. And while it’s fun to bring in new faces to a show, it doesn’t always work for every story.
I think one of the biggest missteps the creative team made was not realizing what the fandom wanted. From what I can tell, fans aren’t that interested in the high school setting. They’re invested in certain characters. And writing those fan-favorite characters off will motivate certain viewers to stop watching.
Even The CW’s Riverdale saw sense and decided to do a time skip to keep the same OG cast and follow them be outside a high school setting. I mean, Archie and his crew eventually found themselves back at the school as adults. But at least, aging them up offered some new potential to explore. The same went for Glee, with the creatives allowing the characters to grow older.
I do feel Elite should have gone a similar route. The writers should have allowed the characters to age out of high school and then brought them back to Las Encinas as young adults. Such a decision would have kept fan-favorite characters around and also offered more stories to be explored (avenues you can’t really get into when your cast of characters isn’t even in their 20s yet).
But alas, Elite season 4 decided to opt for the “revolving door”, where past characters are written off in favor of new ones. The fourth season introduces us to a new principal named Benjamin and his three kids Ari, Patrick, and Mencia. Benjamin becoming the principal means Ander’s mom gets fired. Benjamin’s also into making sure the school follows a strict set of rules. He’s also not a fan of scholarship students like Omar and Samu being there without putting in the required academic effort. Immediately, the new students are given the cold shoulder from our familiar cast (Guzman, Omar, Ander, Samu, Rebe, and Cayetana) because they don’t like how Benjamin’s running things. A young prince also starts attending the school, but I’ll get to him in a bit.
I would have been okay with Ari, Patrick, and Mencia if they were written as actual characters. However, it’s quite apparent that they are nothing more than plot devices. The existence of all three characters (more so with Ari and Patrick) revolves around causing trouble for our familiar cast.
Ari ends up catching the interest of Guzman and Samu. Immediately, both Guzman and Samu (who became close friends over the course of the past three seasons) forget about their friendship and compete with each other to see who will win Ari’s affection. And yes, big surprise, Guzman and Nadia breakup because the writers wanted to allow Guzman to pursue Ari without cheating on Nadia.
Things get even more complicated when Ari begins to sleep with both Guzman and Samu (without them knowing) and becomes unable to decide whom to actually be with. I laughed when she said she loved them both. In a sense, if Guzman and Samu were even a bit queer, a trio could have worked. But oh well. I guess more power to Ari for being honest about her feelings at least.
Mencia’s created to bring forth the major mystery in Elite season 4 which opens with a beaten up Ari being saved by the police after basically drowning in the lake during a New Year’s Eve party. Now, while Mencia and Ari are linked to the main mystery, Partick’s got nothing going on for him.
Patrick’s sole purpose involves being the “third person” in Omar and Ander’s relationship. And not only Patrick, but even Omar and Ander (Omander) don’t have anything going on for them as far as the main narrative is concerned. In my review of the third season of Elite, I talked about how the writers seemed unsure about what to do with Omar and Ander. Well, the trend continues in the fourth season. Omar, Ander, and Patrick are so far removed from the main storyline that nothing would change if you wrote out all three of them. (I’m all ears if someone thinks otherwise. So, please let me know if I’m wrong because I replayed certain events in my mind and everything happened the way it’s supposed to without those three being involved.)
Every scene with said three queer characters has to do with trying to deal with their feelings for each other. The entire thing is quite messy and not in a fun way. Similar to Guzman and Samu, the relationship development Omander got in the previous seasons is thrown out of the window the moment Patrick appears.
I’m quite disappointed by how the writers handled Omar. With Nadia off in another country to pursue her education, I thought the latest season would explore Omar’s dynamics with his conservative Muslim parents after that they seem to have accepted him being queer in the third season. However, it was as if Omar’s parents didn’t even exist anymore. From what I can remember, he never mentioned them once, which was a bit odd considering Omar and Nadia’s parents have been part of the previous seasons.
Instead of taking time to allow Omar to explore who he is as a young man and mending his relationship with his parents, Elite season 4 was all about Omar and Ander continuing in the toxic cycle they call a relationship.
Frankly, at this point, I don’t want Omar and Ander to get back together. Omar deserves someone far better than Ander.
The show didn’t even spend time with Ander helping his mother process her being fired as the principal when Benjamin appeared.
There was quite a lot the show could have focused on, moments that could have helped flesh out Omar and Ander as characters, but instead, it was all about hooking up with Patrick and causing more drama.
As for Patrick, I couldn’t bring myself to care about him or his sisters. All three came across as spoiled rich kids who acted out when things didn’t go their way.
Talking about spoiled kids, allow me to share my opinions about Prince Phillipe. I mean, the only major concern I had about Phillipe is the costume department making him wear pants so tight that you could kind of see a lot of what the actor had going on down there even if you didn’t want to. There were moments where I felt sorry for the actor and found myself thinking, “He needs to let them breathe!”
Phillipe’s another rich kid who has never learned how to accept a “No” from someone. He has trouble making new friends. He begins a relationship with Cayetana. Oh! And, apparently, he sexually assaulted another girl but his family covered the whole thing up because he’s royalty.
So, basically, I got another character I couldn’t make myself feel sorry for. From what I could remember, he does end up reaching out to the girl he abused and admits to his behavior (during the finale). I have no idea if that storyline will be picked up though. Also, I’m so not here for a storyline featuring such a character going on a redemption tour and expecting everyone to forgive him because he didn’t know any better.
Coming to the major mystery, involving a murder, the way everything played out had more to do with plot convenience than making actual sense. Ari shouldn’t have confronted Armando on her own in the first place, but she did because of the plot. There was no reason for Guzman to run after Armando on his own and end up killing him, but he did because of… you guessed it!… the plot.
Sigh! Such a mess.
And with Guzman dumping Armando’s body in the water with Samu and Rebe’s help, let’s see if his murder plays a role in Elite season 5 (yes, the show has already been renewed), or if it will be forgotten because the writers had Guzman and Ander go on a road trip together at the end of series.
At first, I felt I was being too harsh on Elite season 4 (I tend to do that when reviewing stuff, especially media I like and want to do better in terms of quality), but it turns out, I’m not the only one. As of writing this review, the Audience Score for the fourth season over on Rotten Tomatoes is 45%. For comparison, the Audience Score for season 3 is 90% with seasons 2 and 1 coming in the high 80% range.
Having gone through certain tweets from the fandom, it’s clear that a number of fans feel Elite season 4 let them down. While there’s always been messy relationship drama in this series, the fourth season prioritized messy relationship drama over already established character development. Also, the main plot’s quite thin, with a considerable portion of fans realizing how the show padded episode runtime by adding in a gratuitous amount of sexually intimate scenes.
Again, Elite doesn’t hesitate from showing characters getting it on with each other. However, I think you can tell when an intimate scene is added for a reason or just to distract you from the poor writing.
Said to premiere sometime in 2022, let’s see what Elite season 5 offers and whether or not the writing team will take into consideration the complaints and opinions from the fandom regarding the subpar fourth season.
All eight episodes of Elite season 4 (approximately 50 minutes each) were released on Netflix on June 18, 2021.
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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