Sophy says: PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY. You guys, Skins is back! I would have been really excited when this episode aired if I’d been in the fandom at the time. I do remember whining about the suped-up music when I got to series 4, and then I remember getting used to it, and NOW I REMEMBER MISSING IT LIKE I’D MISS A DEAD FIRSTBORN.
Rin says: Already mentioning dead first borns. Either we’re watching too much Call The Midwife (never!) or.. WE’RE BACK IN THE SKINS RECAP WORLD
I can’t even tell you how excited I was. I was really really really deep into the Skins fandom by this time, in fact it was probably the time I was most obsessed with anything. In the way where I would stay up every night till around 4am to wait for the new content they were releasing for the new series. So by the time it aired I was STREAMING it online with shitty quality whilst having watchalongs with LJ communities…and it was kind of the best thing ever. Obviously this was before Sophy started watching Skins and before RophyDoes happened. SO DON’T GO ACTING ALL JEALOUS YOU GUYS. YOU DIDN’T EXIST BEFORE.
The whole point of that was just to say that I was …excited.
Sophy says: Careful, Em, you’re getting a little close. She’s hooking up the cement mixer as we speak.
Rin says: Look at Effy freaking out. You know her mind is going a mile a minute contemplating whether or not to caress Emily’s face.
Sophy says: Gahhh, the yellow and the sunlight and his scrunchy little face.
Rin says: I’ll always love and appreciate the time and energy the Skins folk put into creating new titles for every new series. I love that they don’t just use scenes from the show itself, and yet they still give you a sense of what’s to come.
Sophy says: Emily and Naomi being separated and Emily looking up anxiously at Naomi and Naomi not being able to back at her is glorious. HOW THE MIGHTY ARE GOING TO BE FALLEN.
Also it kind of seems like Naomi is semi-naked and that is pretty glorious too.
Rin says: Remember that time Naomi was actually naked? That was pretty glorious too.
I don’t want to sound biased, because I am, but those two solo shots of Naomi and Emily might be my favourite ones of the lot. THEY’RE JUST GORGEOUS, OKAY? NO MORE QUESTIONS.
Sophy says: Oh Freffy. I love it when you squish your faces together. ANNNND IT’S KATIE FUCKING FITCH! AND SHE HAS BLACK HAIR! Does this mean she’s going to break out of twin-mode and get her own episode this season? DOES IT?
SPOILER ALERT YES IT DOES.
Rin says: Oh Katie, you have no idea how much more we fell in love with you this series. You too freffs. You too.
Sophy says: Naomi has pretty red nails. THE TUNNEL OH GOD SWEET MEMORIES. STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENED IN THE TUNNEL LATER THIS SEASON AND EARLIER IN OUR LIVES:
Rin says: That’s honestly one of the worst things you ever made. AND IT WAS SO EARLY ON IN OUR CAREER.
I could not be more proud.
Sophy says: PEARLS. Katie and Emsy, beating each other up adorably.
Freds gazing heavenward. Oh Freds. JUST DON’T LOOK.
But don’t look down either.
Rin says: YES PEARLS. If only there was the leopard print suit to go with it.
Sophy says: Looooove the shot of Ceffy. The shot of Freffy less so, because Freddie looks derpy and they both look kind of depressed. Oh well, I suppose that’s fairly indicative of the general direction the relationship is going to take. So.
BURSTING OUT OF DOORS AS A GROUP LOOKS REALLY FUN. I need to hire some friends and try it.
Rin says: HAhahah my friends are always making jokes about how my mum hired them.
Sophy says: Oh Naomi. What secrets are thine pretty eyes hiding. Sigh.
And okay, polka dots. WHY NOT?
Rin says: She’s got Bette Davis eyes
Sophy says: Freds and Katie running towards Effy? And Freds is trying to stop Katie because Keffy?
SOMEONE’S DOING THE GAYEST RACE WRONG?
Rin says: Oh my god. Foster shipped Keffy.
Sophy says: Oh Naomily. I love it when you squish your faces together.
Panda pops looks like a little doll.
Rin says: I remember the entire fandom (exaggeration? probably not) freaked out over NAOMILY getting a kiss in the credits. IT WAS HUGE. Here they were lesbianing it up all over the place, IN THE CREDITS. THE CREDITS! It’s still probably rare for something like this to be featured in a shows credits. Even Rissoles with its river dance credits weren’t this gay.
We already made a macro with this back in 309, but that time it was for Naomily.
I GUESS KEFFY HAVE BEEN STUDYING HARD OVER THE BREAK.
Sophy says: THEY TOOK SUMMER CLASSES IN GAY.
Sophy says: OLD FATHER TIME.
That rooftop is making me anxious.
Rin says: Do you feel the knife going in?
Sophy says: THOMMO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was really excited when I watched this episode because Thomas was my favourite in series 3. But where oh where was my sweet shiny-faced Panda-popping chilli-eating lesbian-comforting boy
Rin says: He wasn’t wearing nearly enough layers. We should have known.
Sophy says: Drumroll please. This… is Sophia Moore. You may remember her from such macros as this and that and the other. You may remember her from the time you complained that she featured too heavily in our recaps if you are that jerk who complained that she featured too heavily in our recaps. You may also remember her from when she haunted you in your dreams.
I’m going to pronounce this one of the best episodes of Skins ever, based purely on the fact that it opens with Sophia. Even if it doesn’t open with the Sophia we all know and love so much as a serious-faced waif with worryingly limp hair shovelling powder into her mouth in a nightclub stairwell.
Where is my sweet shiny-faced jean-shorts-wearing Naomi-stalking solution-having girl?
Rin says: I really love this scene as a opener for the series, and it might actually be my favourite one. It’s one long shot for almost 3 minutes, which is pretty amazing when you take into account the amount of ground Sophia covers and the amount of people she passes by. I’m sure it took a lot of planning! Aside from how much I love how it’s shot, I also like how we get reintroduced to our beloved characters through the eyes of this mysterious girl who is about to mean a whole lot more to us than we could have ever imagined.
It was a really smart/clever way to start off series 4. It’s a real shame it didn’t end as strongly as it started.
Sophy says: So Sophia heads into the club, doped up and miserable about something we have yet to discover and will all be even more miserable about when the time comes, and what’s that? How many Naomily fans actually jumped to their deaths after 402 aired? Shut up? Maybe we’re just a bunch of Quinns and would never kill ourselves even if a demon-kitten ate all the babies in the world and/or Naomi cheated on Emily? Did you ever think about that?
She stumbles past Cook who is vigorously dry-humping some wasted random and doesn’t even bother to say hello.
At least I hope he’s dry humping her? His pants are… mostly on? Right? Okay, now I’m wondering whether his fly is open and it’s all getting too gross for words.
Rin says: We shouldn’t all have to deal with what goes through your mind sometimes.
We just shouldn’t.
AND I WAS ONE OF THOSE NAOMILY FANS. The amount of anger I felt after 402 was through the roof. Okay, it wasn’t 414 Glee, but it was really intense. Of course I’ll leave all of those feelings for the next recap.
Sophy says: The next recap will have too many feelings. It will need drug therapy to calm it down. OR IT WILL HAVE TO TURN OFF ITS HUMANITY.
TURN IT OFF, 402, JUST TURN IT OFF
Sophy says: Next up she passes Freds who has a look on his face like he might be going to give her a headshake, and if he had I would have said it tipped her over the edge, but since he didn’t I’m going to say that tipped her over the edge, and maybe if he’d had some bread on him this would have been a happily ever after kind of deal.
Rin says: To headshake or to not headshake, that is the question.
Sophy says: Next she goes past Katie who’s screaming What? at some guy and generally being the CBSE (cutest baby seal ever). JJ and Panda are just kind of there.
Rin says: It soon became a game of SPOT THE SKINS BABIES even though we didn’t really have to do a whole lot of spotting because they were right in our faces. But I was really into it and enjoying every second of it. Until the jumping off bit.
BUT UNTIL THEN WE CAN JUST RELISH IN KATIE’S CUTENESS.
Sophy says: Oh Sophia. You really were so pretty and fragile and so unlike the photo of you that is Rophy’s favourite thing in the entire world.
Thomas surveys his kingdom and is glad. Not for long.
Rin says: Everything the strobe light touches.. is yours.
Sophy says: Ouch. Not even bread-pointing could counteract this. Sophia walks past Emily and Naomi canoodling gorgeously, and takes in the sight of them with the kind of lazy-limbed I am beyond this that means we don’t notice at the time, but will look back later and think Oh.
And I need to comment briefly on Naomily’s matching new look and how Emily totally picked their outfits out for them and laid them out on her bed and grinned giddily to herself. I can see her telling Naomi over the summer that she might be the hottest thing since sliced volcano but now that they’re going steady the nappy dresses and floral blazers need to go. MAKEOVER.
Rin says: Haha oh my god, that is so true. Naomi did get a MUCH NEEDED makeover, and I’m sure Emily was at the helm of it. In 309 she was still wearing that blasted floral jacket, but yeah — here’s the new Naomi with longer hair that is still thankfully blonde. Not that I don’t think Lily looks gorgeous as a brunette (SHE DOES, SHE REALLY DOES HOLY CRAP) but Naomily are a hairship too. Okay? THEIR HAIR SHIPS ITSELF. RED/BLONDE.
Skins ~~Fire~~ will be interesting.
Note the tildes.
BUT ALSO! NAOMI! EMILY!!!!! MY LOVES!!! SO GOOD TO SEE YOU!!! Best Naomilytrance yet.
Also, Lily’s smiling face in the first cap. I can’t. Oh man. Those were the days. Frame by frame.
Sophy says: Pretty lights, pretty soon-to-be-dead girl.
Rin says: You could say the lights were…
RED AND BLONDE.
Sophy says: Annnnd there it is. I have to say this was a hell of a bold move for a series-opening scene. It really heralded the darkness to come for many of the characters and was beautifully shot and quite haunting even before I had any idea who this girl even was. I can’t help wishing, though, that Sophia’s death had mattered more.
Below we see all the kids taking in the sight of this girl dead on the ground, blood pouring out behind her pretty head, her life over and done with in a second. They are all shocked, even those who didn’t know her, and that leaves me feeling terribly disappointed that Effy isn’t here to witness this along with them. Don’t get me wrong. I love how Effy pops up with her pop-tart at the end of this episode, and I love how she reintegrates herself into Freddie’s life via fry-theft in the next episode, but I’m not sure those moments are worth her missing out on this. Because it would, for obvious reasons, have resonated with her deeply, and I feel the series would have been that much stronger if Effy’s demons – if Effy’s suicide attempt – had been linked to this actual suicide by a sad, frightened little brown-haired girl in the opening moments of the show.
When I was watching this episode again to write the recap I was struck by what a missed opportunity series 4 was, and by how genius it would have been if there’d been a clear thread running through all 8 episodes and the thread had been this moment of self-inflicted brutality. What I was looking for was some kind of domino effect, in which this girl’s death ends up impacting on all of the characters right through to the finale.
Let’s look at who it affects directly. Naomi, obviously, and Emily by extension. This would have worked perfectly if Sophia’s death and her relationship with Naomi had actually been part of the ultimate resolution for Naomi and Emily. I wanted to see Naomi struggle not just with the by-product of the suicide, namely her relationship with Emily being fucked up, but with the suicide itself. I wanted to see Emily struggle with that in relation to Naomi, and the more I think about it, the more I fantasize about Emily’s guilt-tripping of Naomi being a little sharper, a little twistier. My ideal resolution for the two of them would have been to see Emily needle Naomi about the way she treated Sophia and the part she played in her death, perhaps to have Sophia’s brother stick around and have more of a presence, to have Naomi so consumed with guilt for caring more about Emily than Sophia even when Sophia has died to make her care… I would have liked Naomi to eventually break down and mourn this girl, for something that was meaningless to her to become meaningful, and for that, ultimately and ironically, to be what bonds Emily to Naomi again: her pain, her guilt, her regret over not just how she treated Emily, but how she treated this poor girl who felt so unloved and unwanted that she went to her death about it. Sophia provided great conflict for Naomi and Emily. But the resolution to that conflict was disappointingly Sophia-free.
Next up, Cook. He’s affected by Sophia’s death in that he takes the fall for Naomi and winds up in jail about it. That’s brilliant! I love it! Except for the part where he breaks out of jail five minutes later. Except for the part where all he ever talks about with Naomi (to my memory) is how she fucked things up with Emily. Where was the conversation about her guilt or lack thereof with respect to Sophia? ie. the reason he ended up in jail and broke out and hung around town in the most implausible plot-line of all of Skins’ storylines including Foster and the bats and okay maybe apart from the teen drug lord, but let us never speak of series 6 again.
Next is Thomas. He’s affected by Sophia’s death in that he gets expelled, but he also gets a whole lot of money out of it? He seems to be rather haunted by the whole experience, which makes sense, because he is a sweet shiny-faced boy who would take it hard when a girl offed herself in front of him and on his watch. But this episode only teased at a psychological landscape for Thommo, and so very sadly, no further episodes made any attempt to draw it. Thomas basically got put on mute for the rest of the season and it seemed like they just forgot to take him off mute and so let him go to Harvard as a consolation prize. Worst. Sophia should have stuck with him. The problems he made for himself out of his horror at Sophia’s death should have stuck with him. And no, losing Panda and then having her randomly decide to be with him again because it’s the series finale is not good enough.
Panda? Well she’s on mute too, even in this episode, and it’s one of the saddest things about series 4. If I try to compile a top ten Pandora moments in series 4 I get… scrapey shakey trio… and… scrapey shakey trio? Off the top of my head? And that is just wrong when you have someone as brilliant as Lisa around. You could argue that she is affected by Sophia’s death because Thomas is affected by it – he rejects her because of the downward spiral the tragedy sends him on. But… look there really isn’t any point in talking about this. It’s no good complaining that Pandora’s arc isn’t appropriately haunted by Sophia when Pandora does not have an arc.
JJ, well… the less said about his episode-that-passes-for-an-arc the better. I will just say this though: whilst the episode was completely out of place and a waste of time in that it was totally insular and advanced nothing except JJ’s relationship with a guest star… it still saddens me to think how easily it could have worked with my domino idea. If the show had made it clearer that JJ was isolated and thereby forced to come into his own because of the flow of consequences from Sophia’s suicide that might have worked. Though I’ll always struggle to resolve the sunniness of his experience with a season of thunderclouds all around for everyone else. I think that’s why JJ’s episode felt so out of place to me. It was just so damn fluffy.
But for the whole domino idea to really work they would have had to have had Effy be linked somehow to Sophia. Because Freddie is getting nothing from the tragedy. I can’t see how it remotely affects him this season. I could have accepted that if it affected Effy, being the immediate trigger for her descent into depression, because that way it would have been affecting Freddie, once removed. But now that I think about it, that’s another gripe: he shouldn’t have even needed a middle-man to be affected. Really, what’s up with Freddie of all people having no reaction to witnessing a suicide? This is the guy whose mother committed suicide. It would have been nice to explore that thematic connection alongside the Freddie/Effy plotline.
But alas. That’s the thing with series 4. It contains some absolutely genius stuff, but has very little in the way of cohesion. I wish they had approached the season as a whole with an overall plan, using this opening scene as the glue that holds it all together. Instead? I got Foster and bats. And that’s the thing: I would have forgiven them a lacklustre ending and an absence of an arc for one or more of the characters, given that we know there were all sorts of issues with the season being cut short. But the fact that they decided to throw in a massive and random plotline at the eleventh hour? It kind of makes it seem like they just weren’t trying.
And wow that’s a lot of text this early in a recap. Moving on.
Rin says: IT’S A LOT OF NECESSARY TEXT.
Because it’s all true. I definitely believe they had all the best intentions in the world, and it was their plan to have this suicide be the catalyst, and the common thread that runs through the entire series and makes it one brilliantly constructed arc that could be picked apart for years. Unfortunately it has been years later and there is nothing to pick apart because they never really saw it through. It’s like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle that has 20 pieces missing, and no matter how much you squint your eyes to try to ignore the gaps it’s always going to look disconnected and incomplete. And that’s what series 4 is, incomplete.
Had there even just been a couple of the things Sophy suggested it would have threaded everything together in such a way that would have had us flailing over the brilliance of it all. The fact that there was no exploration of Freddie’s mum and literally seeing a girl jump to her death and not having it stir any kind of emotions? Yeah. Missed opportunity is an understatement.
I will always wish for more from this series of Skins, because I KNOW this show is capable of perfection. Skins 5 proved that, and a part of me will always wish that these kids and their stories got the same treatment. Although having said that.. comparing this to Skins 6 — I HAVE NO COMPLAINTS.
Sophy says: Cook looks on in shock, as does Naomi. Oh Naomi you have no idea how complicated your life has just become. Actually… you have some idea. Emily’s the one who has no idea, poor lamb. It’s all downhill from here.
Rin says: I love the direction that Emily has to turn away, but Naomi can only stare and look. And by the end of the episode we all thought it was just because she sold Sophia the drugs. Oh dear. Our poor little hearts were not prepared.
Sophy says: Thomas yells out and Panda looks horrified and small, and this is my cue to talk about how unfortunate it was that we didn’t see the two of them together at all before this happened. Even if the two of them had been being silly and cute together when Sophia walked past them, that would have been something. But perhaps it would have worked better, if it had been a possibility, to have the opening episode be ‘Everybody’ and to end it with this dramatic scene rather than opening it with it. The reason for this: Thomas was such a grumpy-pants all the way through this episode that it made it difficult to connect to him. It was hard to gauge exactly why and how things soured between him and Pandora without being exposed to the way they were before Sophia offed herself. It actually kind of made it feel like it was entirely down to Sophia’s suicide, and that feels like a bit of a stretch to me.
And more generally, it was hard to feel much for the breakdown of their relationship since there was absolutely nothing sweet about it in this episode, and since it’s not as though they left us with loads of cute Thomas/Panda to remember back in the last series finale. In fact there was exactly no Thomas/Panda in the series finale, and they only got one scene to get back together in the episode before that. Bottom line, the show never showed us what Thomas/Panda 2.0 was like, so when it fell apart you were left wondering if it was always going to do so and if so why was all the analysis of its ending so lop-sidedly Thomas’.
The thing is that this is exactly what I would have predicted for Thomas and Pandora. Their reunion at the Love Ball was sweet, but it was some ridiculously eleventh hour, shove-it-under-the-rug confectionery. And that kind of meant that if the writers were going to take Thomas and Pandora at all seriously as characters they would need to split them up again pretty soon. It just can’t be that simple, you know? Thomas just can’t forgive her and trust her that easily. It works for me that their relationship would ultimately sour, that Thomas would distance himself from her sexually, that he would ultimately cheat on her, and that he would feel sorry when it was too late, and that she would not be able to forgive him the way he pretended to forgive her. But the trouble is that none of that was actually addressed or resolved in the show. What did Thomas and Panda get? Another round of eleventh hour, shove-it-under-the-rug confectionery.
Rin says: Ah I had never really thought about that, and it’s so true. They never showed Thomas/Panda being happy and carefree, or ya know, in love — so are we really expected to care when they start to crumble? Especially when you think about how Naomily spent most of their episode being ridiculously cute and adorable and in love and meant to be, only to have it explode in our faces. It made everything hurt that much more, and that’s the kind of attention they should pay to all of their characters. Otherwise…what’s the point?
Sophy says: So this actress who’s been in loads of things but whose name I can’t remember shows up to question Thomas’ boss in a calm yet threatening manner. And I am grouping a lot of caps together here, because really there isn’t much to say.
I will grant that “Do they charm you too?” was probably a pretty clever line in light of the fact that Thomas is going to feel terribly guilty for so cheerfully engaging with the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle of his new English friends and now cease to be, if you will, charmed by them.
Rin says: I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t just straight up charge this guy for letting in so many minors. Isn’t that reason enough to charge him? Or is this one of those ~underage clubs. idek. OVERSEAS RULES CONFUSE ME.
Rin says: Everything about this arrangement smells…..fishy.
Sophy says: Yeah, I was going to say I smell a rat, but…
Sophy says: Thomas is pissed at the club owner, who doesn’t seem to care that the guy on the door was letting in so many underage kids that the place was over capacity by 200 people. Too bad there was still room for Sophia’s head to hit the ground, eh?
The owner does a bit of light-weight threatening to keep Thomas to shut up about it, and I’m all bitch, please, Thomas will eat all your chillies, so don’t even. I guess he senses that too and decides a positive incentive might be useful alongside the usual ‘I’ll send people to break your spine’ stuff. He gives him an envelope full of cash, and there are ways in which Thomas has to be very happy about that, and the happiness makes him feel even heavier of heart.
Rin says: If all of those extras knew what we know now… they would have banded together and formed a human mattress
Sophy says: Thomas and Panda leave the club as a sad song begins to play. The sad song is ‘The Great Procrastinator’ by Ivan Campo and it’s really, really pretty. AND SAD.
I saw something all for nothing because… the right place, the wrong love.
Oh Skins. You and your musical choices. Always and forever.
Rin says: I really love the shot of their hands and Panda’s blue nail polish. AND the shot of the two of them walking away, and looking small.. like children who shouldn’t have to witness these kinds of things.
Rin says: The thing I love most about this is how she came closer to the camera to show us her smile in all of its glory.
She even ducked under the police tape.
Sophy says: Oh, so Sophia has mass? She didn’t just… sophia through it?
Rin says: Oh my, this is true. Does Sophia have mass?? Is she a ghost?? What IS Sophia? These are the big questions.
Sophy says: So they head back to Thomas’ place, and Mrs Thomas is there waiting up looking like a freaking demon woman holding a half-dead child that I thought she might have eaten for a second.
OH MRS THOMAS.
Rin says: I can totally see what you’re saying. HER EYES PIERCE THROUGH THE DARKNESS. It’s unnerving.
AND YEAH. She’s like a Bond villain, except it’s not a cute kitty on her lap, IT’S THE HALF-DEAD CHILD THAT SHE MIGHT HAVE EATEN.
Sophy says: Turns out Mrs T did not eat anybody, but she is not happy to see Pandora tagging along behind her son, because she has missed the last bus home (OH BUS-STOPS, THESE TWO WHEN THEY WERE GOOD AND HONEST AND DONUTS.)
Rin says: To be fair, the first time she met Panda is when she walked in half-naked and it turned her daughter gay. So.
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas doesn’t want Pandora sleeping over but she assures her it’s okay, they won’t do anything. She means sex. They wouldn’t do that, she says. She crumbles under the power of Mrs Thomas’ withering gaze (I WOULD CRUMBLE ALSO) and starts saying how they have done stuff, but not loads, and I’m like oh god, in a moment she’s going to admit that actually ‘loads’ would be accurate, and then she’ll get out the diagrams she drew for Thomas and start explaining things, and I am just covering my face with my hands because Pandora is the best one.
YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE.
Rin says: It’s so perfectly Panda and I adore Lisa and everything that she is. Panda was always the best one at pulling off the rambling hysterical nonsense.
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas is not as impressed as I am. “Someone tell me please where to find a virgin in this town,” she asks.
And Lisa delivers her response with perfect awkwardness: “Well, difficult.”
Rin says: ALMOST THE BEST PART OF THE EPISODE TO BE HONEST. Almost.
If things like Naomi and Emily didn’t exist, I guess.
Sophy says: If Naomi and Emily didn’t exist I might have room in my heart for the lord. As it is there is no room at the Sophy-inn, sorry.
Rin says: THE EFFY POPS UP, THE CHAPSTICK GOES DOWN.
Story of your life, huh Eff?
Sophy says: Ordering a lesbian and getting Effy Stonem is like being punched in the face.
Sophy says: AHHHHHHHHHH. I’m making grabby hands.
Rin says: Sometimes I think we could have had an entire series of just outtakes of the cast being adorably cute together in different locations and that would have been enough.
Sophy says: Panda takes a nap and Thomas’ little brother gets a spoonful of medicine. But you know, he’s going to end up in hospital later, because A SPOONFUL WON’T DO.
Rin says: I reckon, Mary Poppins didn’t know jack.
ONE OR TWO WON’T DO, OKAY MISS POPPINS??
HE WANTS IT ALL.
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas guilt-trips Thomas for being out late, and he tries to explain that a girl died at the club. Merv does a lovely job seeming shaken to the core and lonely and miserable, but I guess it’s not good enough for his mum, because she’s not giving him any Oscars or any hugs.
He puts the envelope the club owner gave him on the table and she asks what it is and when he tells her it’s money she guilt-trips him about that too.
Rin says: I understand that her child is sick and all and she doesn’t approve of Panda etc. but you’d think being at your job and earning money that I’m sure he uses to help out the family.. and then having a GIRL DIE warrants being a little late home.
You drive a strict crack-whipping ship Mrs T.
Or whatever they say.
Sophy says: She says they don’t want the money, Thomas counters gently that they need it though, and she cuts him off. She asks him why he brings trouble to the house when they have enough already, and honestly, if coming home late with a whole bunch of cash he wants to give to you instead of spending it on trainers and drugs is the worst thing your kid ever does… first world problems, Mrs T?
Thomas sits quietly and contritely, absorbing the weight of her words, and…
Rin says: You mean like that time Nick got all of that money for his brother, and then spent it all on alcohol and drugs?
Sophy says: Best brother ever.
Sophy says: AND MRS THOMAS SLAPS HIM. SHE WAITS A COUPLE OF MOMENTS IN WHICH HE DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG AND THEN SHE LEANS IN AND SLAPS HIM ACROSS THE FACE WHILE HE HOLDS HIS SICK LITTLE BROTHER IN HIS ARMS.
I don’t remember really having much of an opinion on Mrs Thomas when I first watched this episode, but boy did they darken her up this season. I mean, I know Rophy’s construction of her in his season 3 episode wasn’t exactly……… accurate. But she didn’t seem this vicious then. And it is vicious, in my opinion. To the point where I actually kind of hate her a lot about it.
Bottom line, Thomas is not a bad kid. Like… his mother appears to know he works at a nightclub, so that’s moot, and he hasn’t even gotten kicked out of school yet??? By Bristol’s standards he’s an angel at this point, and I don’t know, maybe every adolescent in the Congo shits rainbows, but I highly doubt it. This is not just some kind of cultural disconnect for Mrs Thomas, and even if it is, don’t bring your kid to live in a country that has values that offend you and then turn around and blame him for (sort of, not really) adopting them. Ugh. I always find it gross when parents project all the evils of their lives onto their child, and I feel that is what is happening here. When I watched this episode I almost felt like this woman wasn’t Thomas’ mother, because she really seemed to care about him that little. It very much felt like the two younger children were hers and he was some kind of Heathcliffesque blight on her life who existed only to serve and to irritate.
I HATE HER. Seriously, this makes me really angry. And it makes me all the more angry that there was no real resolution to any of it. Just run to Harvard, Thommo.
Rin says: Our Mrs Thomas is a gem, an absolute gem.
But like most Skins parents, Mrs Thomas is a very trying woman. And she wasn’t that harsh in S3, but then again when you think about what kind of parent sends their son to another country to make a life for them. Well they’re either very very desperate and have no other choice, or they’re a drill sergeant. And I think they made her all the moreso in this episode to push Thomas to the limit — whether it worked or not is another story.
And yeah, I kind of hate her for this. There’s a big difference between wanting your child to be the best version of themselves and being strict, and pushing all of your ridiculous standards onto your kid.
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas tells Thomas to “go and do, what you’re meant to do,” and whatever I think maybe she should put her sick child to bed and maybe she should also take some parenting classes and maybe she should also GO DIE IN A HOLE.
Rin says: And maybe I’m only now understanding one of the themes of this episode. That what you’re ‘meant to do’ isn’t always the right choice. Because when Thomas starts doing all the stuff he’s meant to do, church and the appropriate girl, it leads him down a much shittier path than if he maybe just stayed on the path he was on and sorted things out with Panda and the rest of his friends. And now I’m just thinking about how upsetting it is that we never got another Thomas/Emily moment. Cmon show, you know better than that.
Sophy says: Thomas puts Daniel to bed and then stops to say goodnight to his little sister, who is awesome, you will be very pleased to meet her.
Rin says: I loooove love love the lighting in this scene.
Sophy says: Awesome little sister has picked up quite an impressive British accent in the few months she has been in town, which Rin found implausible but I kind of didn’t. At that age kids are honestly sponges. I was at a village school in France for a matter of weeks before I started speaking like a native, and that wasn’t just an accent I had to adjust to, it was a whole other language I’d never spoken before.
ANYWAY. ALS tells Thomas they were waiting up, but she doesn’t mind. She tells him she doesn’t think he’s selfish and my heart aches, because aren’t children just the most wonderful thing? And because you know what, she’s damn right. Thomas isn’t selfish and even if he was… teenagers are. I love that his mum doesn’t get that, but his baby sister does. And I love that she knows exactly what to say to make him feel like he’s not such a Heathcliffy blight on the family after all.
In response Thomas says he doesn’t think she’s tickly, and I’m kind of loving the word that isn’t quite right and is therefore quite perfect, and then he launches into tickles and she’s giggling and happy and they are so fucking sweet and why did ALS not come back at any point in the series?
Rin says: BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T AFFORD ANY REPEAT APPEARANCES, APART FROM BABY ALBERT WHICH — HE’S A BABY. I’M SURE THEY COME CHEAP. And it might not have even been the same baby.
Sophy says: But it gets cuter. ALS insists that the two of them pray together, and makes Thomas kneel down and everything. And the prayer? THE PRAYER?
“Dear God in the sky,” Thomas says sweetly and heavily, “help us to care for each-other. Let the sun shine, send us songs and keep us safe.” “And don’t kill Daniel,” Awesome Little Sister interjects. “Right. Don’t do that.” “Amen.”
Guh. Guh. This writing. This acting. The chemistry between Merv and this kid is fantastic in this scene. There’s such a gentleness and a closeness to the way they interact, and kind of a lighthouse-in-the-storm feeling. I really believe that if Thomas and his sister hadn’t been a one time only deal they could have been just as beloved as the Fitch twins and James or Freds and Karen – and it would have done wonders for Thomas’ (lack of) arc. I guess the same goes for Cook and his little brother in 403, but Cook was already so intertwined in central plotlines and so popular, so I feel like Thomas needed it more. Sigh. If only there had been more of Skins, you know?
Well, more of this series. Series 6 not so much.
Rin says: NEVER SERIES 6, NEVER.
This is definitely some gorgeous development for Thomas and I love that we got to see it. Sibling relationships is something Skins excels at and this is no exception. Also, they really have a knack for picking amazing child actors, don’t they? Well I guess they choose the best actors period, but it always impresses me when tiny people are holding their own against the bigger ones.
AND DON’T KILL DANIEL.
Sophy says: Thomas goes and lies down next to Pandora who, like the adorable fool she is, has migrated to his bed behind Zombie Mama’s back. Thomas kind of just wants to lie there and reflect on the girl who bled all over the floor at his place of work and his brother who is sick and his mother who hates him and his sister who is the purest, kindest soul.
But Panda wants to fuck. Yeah.
WHAT DOES SHE WANT? SURFING AND TURFING!
Thomas objects that they can’t, not with his mother in the house. Panda doesn’t care, and that kind of goes to the heart of why their relationship fell apart and what should have been addressed before it could be put back together. Panda is not a great communicator. She does actually care – not about Mrs Thomas or consequences for her actions – but about Thomas himself? About what he’s going through? Of course she cares. She just doesn’t exactly know how to show it, because her methods of communication are so limited. Oh and she’s selfish. I think a lot of people overlook that because she’s always in Effy’s shadow, running around after her, and not being as insert quality here. But Panda, for all she is cast as the downtrodden BFF, is not as sweet as those types are in Hollywood. She wants what she wants. That’s pretty much how it works. And that’s why it kills me that she never got a story. There was so much to tell. She was such a rich character, all locked away inside Lisa Backwell’s little body.
Anyway, she doesn’t notice that Thomas is troubled because she’s too busy soothing herself. She says her “blood feels frozen” and she keeps seeing Sophia’s face, and it’s wonderful dialogue, wonderfully delivered, and I am just left thinking how there should have been so, so much more of this – how this season should have been already what season 6 tried to be – the dead girl haunting them all to the end – only this would have been so much better because it was less obvious and emotionally manipulative. Sophia shows us how teenagers respond to death – the pure idea of it made gorily real before their eyes. Grace was just another story about grief.
Rin says: For a moment I didn’t even know what ‘dead girl’ you were referring to from series 6….and then I remembered. The fuckers.
Panda never having a story outside of the crazy controlling mum will always make me incredibly sad. She has WAY more potential than just the funny girl who is hanging around to cause laughs. I NEEDED her to have an episode this series, especially because hers the year before had been so successful. I always remember her little Skins Unseen with HER (IMAY) DAD and god, I would have died all over that episode I’m sure. And it would have been leaps and bounds above the S6 Mini episode.
Sophy says: Thomas goes to church the next morning and is bored and sullen about it, which normally I’d understand, but come on, this church is kind of awesome. Everybody’s singing and waving their hands in the air like they just don’t care! Except they do care, loads! That’s why they’re singing!
I don’t know. Maybe he’s just annoyed that he has to wear that boring-ass suit while all the ladies get to dress in fabulous curtains. SEXIST.
Rin says: HAHAH CURTAINS.
Why couldn’t he have worn more colourful traditional-esque robes too?
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE RON’S DRESSING ROBES.
OH MY GOD. That would have been way better than what happens next.
Sophy says: But then church gets better. From Thomas’ perspective.
Across a crowd of worshippers he sees her, good and honest and donuts, Miss Andrea Somethingorotherwhocares, the daughter of the preacher.
THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD EVER HELP THOMAS WAS THE DAUGHTER OF A PREACHERMAN, YOU GUYS.
In all seriousness though, Andrea is the worst. I mean that. She is my least favourite of all the random one-off guest characters if you don’t count anything from series 6, which you shouldn’t, because series 6 doesn’t count. Really, I liked JJ’s girlfriend way more than her, and she was in 406 AKA the episode of doom. And OKAY WAIT I FORGOT MANDEH.
I’ll go into more detail as the recap progresses about my dislike of Andrea and the way she is written and what she stands for, but for now let me say that I literally groaned when I saw her again on this rewatch. I guess a lot of people don’t really care about her either way, because they’re not really invested in Thomas and just wrote this whole episode off and forgot about it. But I was invested in Thomas – very, actually. And sure, I let go of that a lot as the season progressed and it became apparent the writers weren’t going to tell a story for him, but at this stage I was still on the edge of my seat about everything that was happening and ANDREA WAS THE WORST.
And just to make sure everyone knows she’s supposed to be the best, the show abuses ALS by having her tell Thomas to dance and then gesture at Andrea and say “She makes us dance.”
She may as well have nudged him in the ribs and commented on the twinkle in his eye. Bah.
Rin says: I am right there with you. SHE IS THE WORST. NOT AS BAD AS MANDEH.
But still very much of the suckage. I hate everything she stands for and I wishhhh we didn’t have to go down this road again, but here we go.
Sophy says: The Thomases stop to have a quick chat with the preacher man whose daughter Thomas wants to bone. Preacher Man mentions that he hasn’t seen Thomas in a while, and this causes Mrs Thomas to launch into a spiel about how her son is “falling and fornicating” and his friends are bad for him and Pandora is a whore. She only gets half that word out though, because PM cuts her off and says “we do not fight here.”
I was kind of cheering for him because I’d forgotten about his whole I must have your soul angle. Yeesh.
Rin says: Now I can’t wait for that moment
It was one of the creepiest moments, and that’s in a show that had Foster.
Sophy says: Mrs T looks suitably chastened. Nearly chastened enough to get a slap in the face for no good reason. PM starts doing some soul-sucking with Thomas, anticipating what he would say about his friends – that they are not so bad, that they love him, that in times of need they are there for him no matter what.
Thomas says “Yes!” without really thinking about it. PM is all “Are you sure about that?” And that’s when things start to get really indoctrinatey. He tells him that “we are your people. And we will never ever let you down. But we are waiting for you to take the first step. That first step into a wider world.”
And dude is this really how religions work? Like, as opposed to cults? Because I’ve never experienced anything like this and it’s not as though I’ve lived a life devoid of religion. No one has ever tried to make me believe my friends aren’t really my friends or my “people”. But I don’t know. Is this a cultural thing? Is it about ex-pats living in a different world? If it is I feel like Skins bit off a lot more than it was prepared to chew, because I didn’t feel I was educated by this episode, and if you’re going to tell a story that dwells on things a good proportion of your audience have never experienced, you really do need to educate them along the way.
Anyway. ALS pipes up and says “That’s Star Wars!”
Rin says: I don’t know, it just sounds REALLY cultish, and I just. SHUTUP YOU ASSHOLE. Okay yeah, maybe you’re right about Cook and JJ, but everyone else is pretty top-notch, SO SHUT YOUR MOUTH. You must not have been reading the bible correctly, because I’m pretty sure there’s an important verse in there all about Mosemily.
Sophy says: Preacher Man is all “Whaaaa?” and Awesome Little Sister acts it out for him.
Rin says: Another highlight for sure. She’s just the kind of kid you wish ALL little kids were like.
Instead of the ones who go around playing with bratz dolls.
Sophy says: Preacher Man tries to patronise her about her impressions to cover up the fact that he’s using sci-fi movies to recruit teenagers to his faith. He’s all “That’s good,” and ALS, who will not be talked down to, interjects. “Yes,” she says firmly, “Because Obi-Wan Kenobi is like God, only with better weapons.”
BAM. Also I’m wondering what this little girl thinks God’s weapons are. The rod and staff? Lightning bolts? Omnipotence?
Rin says: HAHAAH. Whatever his weapons may be, nothing ever beats the lightsaber.
Yes, I sounded it out.
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas is going to ask to inspect his bible next.
Rin says: ESPECIALLY JOYOUS. WHEN SHE’S PARTING THE BLONDES.
I’ll just. Yeah.
Sophy says: Thomas traipses miserably off to college, and I think it’s around this point that I was struck by just how miserable he is throughout this episode and what a stark contrast it makes with his series 3 episode. When Thomas first arrived he was like a ball of sunshine, you know? Now he’s a little ball of clouds.
He walks through the halls casting a doubtful eye on the lustful and irreverent teens around him and it is a nice throwback to that moment in his episode in series three when Emily calls him cheeky and then she is gone and he forlornly beholds all the litter these privileged children have left for him to clean up.
Sadly there is no Thomas/Emily forthcoming in this episode, and when Thomas arrives in the common room, JJ is doing a magic trick. Let’s not elaborate on that.
Rin says: ESOJGDVOEJSAGOPWJOHPBJAS CHEEKY. I HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT THAT. Well, not forgotten, I will never truly forget anything Emily Fitch does, but remembering that moment and how young everybody was? Tears.
Let’s try not to talk about JJ, even when it’s his scenes. We’ll just talk about the background or something.
I think the only reason I included that cap in the first place is because of KATIE FITCH.
Sophy says: Pandora and Thomas smile at each other awkwardly and Emily touches Pandora’s leg in a protective gesture that tells us the two of them have been talking off-screen. I would have been all for an Emily/Panda friendship being developed, but since the leg-touch is going to be about the strength of it, it seems like a shame to put Emily in Pandora’s corner here. Not that she shouldn’t care about Panda at all, but Katie would have been just as logical as the person Panda confided in, and given that a special bond had been created between Thomas and Emily last season, it was very disappointing that she clearly talked with Panda, but never went to him and tried to see what was up from his perspective.
Rin says: Right? It makes no sense that Emily wouldn’t see how Thomas was considering shoes and the way he treated her.. IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY I’VE EVER SEEN ANYTHING EVER BEING TREATED.
But at this point I was also just CHEERING over all of our kids being in a well lit area and getting to see all of their faces in all of their glory. Come to me my pretties, let me hold you in my arms and never let you go until you get a restraining order and EVEN THEN I’LL GO TO JAIL. I WILL. AND IT’LL HAVE BEEN ALL FOR YOU.
Sophy says: Cook rushes up to Thomas and throws his arm over his shoulders, being all falsely friendly and showing his hand immediately by bringing “that girl” up. It’s worth remembering that the last time Thomas and Cook interacted Thomas punched the guy because he’d been shagging his girlfriend and was busy throwing it meanly in his face for no good reason. I mean, sure, we can imagine there was some kind of rapprochement over the summer, but it sure doesn’t seem like there has been based on Thomas’ attitude at all this friendly fuckery.
He shrugs Cook’s arm off him, asks angrily what he wants, and he says he just thought Thomas might need a friend today (cringe) because that girl was so “fucked up” (cringe). Thomas tells him bluntly that he is not his friend, and then pauses, asks Cook how he knows the girl was “fucked up”. I think the reason Thomas smells a rat is because to the youth of Bristol “fucked up” doesn’t mean ‘has the kind of emotional and psychological problems that lead you to throw yourself of balconies’ but rather ‘is on some serious drugs’.
Cook says he doesn’t know, you just, you know, “assume” (cringe).
Rin says: I just, yeah. Silver platter Thomas. Have at it.
Sophy says: Enter David Blood. You know, one of the things I was most curious about with this season was whether my epic love for Blood in series 5 would make me feel him more in series 4. The answer is not really. Whilst Addison has an excellent physicality there is something about the delivery of the lines that is off. Or maybe it’s just the lines themselves that are off. I mean, “Hi I’m David Blood, Your new college director. And. I’m saying “Hi,” isn’t exactly inspired stuff. And it feels like it was written for a more bumbling, shy, awkward character, whereas Blood is such a cutthroat bitch in this series. Or maybe it’s not the delivery or the lines, exactly. Maybe Blood was so much more enjoyable in series 5 because he was so much more human. Here he’s just an oddball. In series 5 he’s an oddball with a wife and a daughter and something like a heart of his own.
LOOK AT NAOMI’S LITTLE PIGTAILS. AREN’T THEY CUTE. OHHHHHH NAOMS.
Rin says: THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH CAPITAL LETTERS FOR THE EPICNESS THAT IS NAOMI WITH BRAIDS. BECAUSE. I JUST. UNLESS YOU WERE SAVING IT ALL FOR LATER WHEN THE MOTHER OF ALL BRAIDS SHOWS UP, OKAY YEAH I’LL FORGIVE YOU THEN. BUT THIS RIGHT HERE IS ADORABLY CUTE TOO BECAUSE IT’S LIKE ALL MESSY AND WISPY AND.. BRAIDS!!@RGPJOTEDSF;AET13 My love for braids will never end, not in 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years. Hopefully it won’t be creepy when I’m braiding my kids hair and squishing their eurasian cheeks fawning over how adorable they are.
I remember specifically hating Blood in this episode because I thought he was the lamest thing in the world. And no the good kind of lame, the one where they tried way too hard. I definitely think it was the writing, and maybe the shirt.
Sophy says: Freds asks where Harriet has gone and I’m all OH GOD HARRIET WHY WHERE ARE YOU RETURN TO ME. Blood says that she’s “moved on,” and when Emily sullenly asks why, he says it’s because this place is rubbish and they are all rubbish. Blood then says the word change a lot and tells them he’ll expel them and “expunge” them if they don’t get with the program. I think it’s meant to be hilarious but it just doesn’t work for me.
Rin says: Yeah same. I just never found him funny, when they were clearly trying to make him funny. It was like…. Skins US.
Can we love on Freddie now? BECAUSE LOOK AT HIS SQUISHY FACE AND HIS HAIR AND HIS LEATHER BRACELETS. I just. Freds. You have no idea how much joy you bring to these recaps by just being you.
Sophy says: LILY WHAT IS THAT DERPY FACE YOU ARE MAKING AT COOK AND JJ. It is the best is what it is.
Rin says: Even Meg is like ‘Lily….?’
LILY LEGS. HI. NICE OF YOU TO JOIN US.
Sophy says: Blood says Doug has an announcement for them and they all need to listen carefully, because “otherwise… it’s rude!!!” And yeah, that’s actually pretty cute. Doug, who is visibly intimidated by this giant spider of a new college director, shuffles into place and… OGGY OGGY OGGY!
Rin says: The number of teeth Blood shows is actually pretty great too.
Doug tells everyone that the police are here to question them all, and it just so happens that the girl who slept with her and sold her the drugs is sitting right next to the guy who was providing the drugs! The police should have just gone straight into the common area and it would have been case closed.
OGGY OGGY OGGY!