Sophy says: So the big announcement was that the police would like to interview everybody and now all the kids are sitting around waiting their turn.
AND THESE SCREENCAPS, SO BEAUTIFUL. I love the first one because it looks like some kind of art gallery and Katie is modeling through it. I love the second one because Naomi’s face and Katie’s boobs. Um.
But seriously what are they sitting on there? It looks like gym equipment. Are they in the gym? Why is there art in the gym? Roundview is special.
Rin says: Signs that Sophy never really got into PE at school. See’s spare tables and chairs: “It looks like gym equipment.”
I put that second cap in for the Natie shipper in all of us.
Sophy says: We went bowling for PE.
Sophy says: I love how Naomi and Emily’s seating arrangements mirrors the upstairs/downstairs business in the credits. I also love Naomi and Emily’s faces because WHAT THE FUCK ARE THOSE FACES OH GOD.
Rin says: I wish you didn’t say stuff like Upstairs Downstairs That show It was with us for too little time.
Those faces are the faces of people who do not want us to go on with our lives. There is no point when we will never have those faces on our faces.
Sophy says: Emily opines that this is fucked up, because she didn’t even know the girl, why are they being treated like criminals? JJ states the obvious: it’s because she is dead and they were there when it happened.
Rin says: Why aren’t there just 4 caps of Emily? WHY? I think because I thought I would feel guilty, but now all I feel is regret.
Sophy says: Emily is having none of it. She thinks it has nothing to do with them if some kid decides to off herself, and she pushes Naomi to agree in a way that totally makes you wonder whether she’s already sensing what she’s too afraid to ask openly about: the possibility that Naomi is involved in this in some way.
Naomi stares guiltily into the distance for a moment, and man the light in this scene is just beautiful and spare and right for the occasion.
Rin says: RIGHT, NAOMS. I swear it sounds just like gnomes, and I think that’s where the whole gnome thing started.
Oh my Naomi. You poor girl. And I’m sure I will talk about this in more detail later, but her eyes. Her eyes are my favourite as she can express so much even if her direction was probably as simple as ‘look guilty’. But this is the start of it all. This is the moment when she’s lost at sea, wondering if they’re going to find out about the drugs…about her relationship with Sophia.. and what does that mean for her and Emily? It’s all starting to domino and Naomi can sense the dominoes are starting to fall.
Sophy says: When nagged Naomi finally agrees. “Yeah, it’s fucked up,” she says softly and Emily doesn’t seem terribly comforted. Where is her smart-mouthed, snappy Naomi? Where is the girl who hates injustice and will stand on tables about it?
Rin says: I think that’s one of my favourite things about Naomily. They didn’t really get much time, compared to other series we’re used to LONG SEASONS and relationships being 20-episode long things. With Naomily they had 1/4 of that time, but because it was done so well it seems much longer than it was. It felt like they’ve fought tooth and nail to get to this point, to be together openly, and we watched them come so far. So when it doesn’t all add up, when we’re not madly cheering for them and falling over ourselves because they’re that special and adorable and in love. It’s worrying.
I JUST, I DON’T FEEL COMFORTED EITHER EMS. I WANT HER TO TELL ME EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY.
Sophy says: Naomi places a limply reassuring hand on Emily’s shoulder and goes back to brooding. Thomas broods also, in Cook’s direction. Freds broods in a floppy, ineffectual way about Effy.
Rin says: God guys, who died?
Rin says: Sad Angel does not like to be left out.
Sophy says: Cook wilts under the pressure of the withering gaze Thommo learned from his mum, and also the pressure of the upcoming police interview. He decides he urgently needs to go to the toilet.
Rin says: Cook is a bit of a moron to bring the drugs with him to school, let alone not get rid of them ON THE WAY TO the police interviews. Nope, he’ll wait till he’s inside so everybody can see him conveniently leave the room to go to the bathroom.
Sophy says: Emily puts her best adorable, mischievous, interfering face on, and turns round to Freds, asking if he’s heard from “her”. And she is such a little matchmaker, isn’t she? YOU GUYS REMEMBER HER VIDEO DIARY FROM SERIES 3 OH GOD I AM DYING.
But seriously look at her little face. LOOK AT IT. THESE ARE THE FACES THAT WON HER THE TITLE OF CUTEST HUMAN EVER.
Rin says: OH MY GOD, HER MATCHMAKING VIDEO. AHHAAHHA I die. The drawings. That was so random, but also the utter best and so Emily.
We’ve run out of metal and children Emily. We have no way to give you any more trophies.
Sophy says: Freds does that thing where you look away like your mind is elsewhere and pretend not to know who “her” is, and Emily is all “the Empress Cleopatra, who do you think?”
(Of course it’s Effy, a thousand times Effy, is there another “her” in all the world?)
Rin says: Um yes. She calls it a mayonegg.
Sophy says: Once they’ve established who they’re talking about, Freddie says “Nah,” he hasn’t heard from her, and when Emily muses that she thought she might just show up to college, he gets in a huff and has to go away to be alone with his Effy-thoughts.
And I can’t remember whether I was surprised by this at the time – the idea that after everything they went through last season to come to that big “Because I love you,” moment with Freddie and Effy… Effy has pissed off to parts unknown and not so much as sent Freddie a post-card about it. I think I probably wasn’t surprised. This is Effy, after all. Like the Lord she works in mysterious ways. And I guess when her story unfolded in 405 the idea that she would run away from love the moment she was in it makes perfect sense.
Emily is all “Touched a nerve!” She is amused by the abject mess that is Freddie’s love life, which feels maybe a little bit off for her character. I don’t necessarily see Emily as someone who sits around prying into people’s lives for her own entertainment, you know? There was always a healthy dose of empathy to any meddling she did and I don’t feel that coming through here. But maybe I can put it down to the same thing I put down the callous attitude to Sophia’s death. Emily is sensing big, ugly things coming her way and she is in no mood to tend to the needs of others. I can’t shake it though: rewatching this episode I was struck by how even before Emily’s world gets shattered in 402, there’s a definite change in her. Bottom line, she’s less nice than she used to be. And maybe that’s just love. Maybe that’s just the power that comes with it. The charge. The feeling that you own the whole world.
Oh Emily. You have a long way to fall, my darling.
Rin says: Yeah, Emily had become way less ‘wet blanket’ (Kat’s words not mine) this series, and it wasn’t all about the way she changed after 402. Not at all. She has all the confidence in the world now because she got the girl against all the odds. She probably sung the song to boot. And hey, being around Naomi 24/7, koalaing as they do, has to mean that some of Naomi’s snark rubs off on you.
Sophy says: Next up, Emsy teases JJ about Effy, and since JJ has next to no actual emotional investment in “her,” it’s a lot more light-hearted. He says they can’t talk about Effy, because the three of them – him, Freddie and Cook – are “just not going there” because they’re “getting through it”.
This prompts a mildly derisive and extremely cute, “She dumped you all?” from Emily.
Rin says: I probably could have done without all of JJ’s lines here. AND I’M NOT EVEN USING THE HARSH ANTI-JJ PART OF ME. Honestly, when I first watched this episode I didn’t have that many issues against JJ because it was before the episode of doom, and it was before Rophy/Skins/OTP and us going through every episode with a fine lice comb and finding JJ caught within the teeth of the comb over and over again.
I don’t think any of his dialogue particularly added to anything, and it seemed really offbeat. Even for JJ.
Sophy says: JJ says “kind of,” and my first thought is FUCK YOU JJ HOW DARE YOU UTTER THOSE WORDS. But then I’m caaaalm, I’m caaaalm, and JJ is telling us how it’s okay, because Effy is gone and they’re happy, right?
Nobody puts on their happy face for him though.
Rin says: Naomi actually looks rather ‘WHAT THE FUCK?’ …and maybe it’s because she never really took to JJ on account of that time he had sex with the love of her life.
That kind of thing never really goes away and warrants a lifetime of eyebrow raises.
Weird. Eyebrow raises..where have I seen those before…
Sophy says: So much gay disdain. Though I’m not sure how much of it is for JJina and how much of it is for Effy.
Rin says: JJINA. JJINA.
It sounds so wrong, and so appropriate JJ in a wig.
To be honest I think Naomily are upset at JJina, but mostly because they’re pretty oblivious to Effy’s quest to become the gayest. Effy is the invisible girl to them.
Sophy says: Emily surveys the misery around her and says dryly, “Good… as long as we’re all happy.” Thomas flounces off to the toilets to check on Cook. And you guys MUMFORD starts playing, and this was the very first time Rin and I had heard Mumford, and I think it was the first time a lot of people ever heard them too, and now I’m just thinking about Skins and everything it chooses to be musically and it’s a whole single tear/creamy cheek situation.
Rin says: OMG YES. MUMFORD!!! Even though I think Babel was kind of blahhhh, I will never deny the greatness of their first album. Skins (sans s6) was always on point, or even ahead of the game when it came to their music choices. And it’s not just about picking really amazing songs, it’s also about picking the absolute right time and pace. Not just in terms of lyric..but melody..the way it lines up with the shots. It’s really a lot harder than you’d think.
Sophy says: Omg, that extra is giving Merv the stink-eye big time. Must be a Naomily fan. Her pitch-fork is one of those modern collapsible ones and is stored in her backpack.
Meanwhile Cook is in the bathroom, pouring his powder down the toilet.
Rin says: A modern collapsible pitch fork? WHERE CAN I BUY ONE? I will take one with me to LA, march right into Ryan Murphy’s office and KNIFE HIM IN THE FACE. And then go and move some hay about.
Sophy says: I was reading Rin’s commentary and quoting excitedly at her on yahoo. I tried to quote this and the following it what happened:
Sophy says: Thomas lurks, reflected, asks Cook what he’s doing, and Cook is all, “What is this, the dump police?” He’s not fooling Thomas though, who has deduced that someone gave Sophia drugs. He thinks it was Cook and threatens to tell the police. Cook makes an attempt to walk away, but Thomas can’t let that happen. He has a lot of aggression to get out and I think he’s hoping that if he can satisfactorily lay it all on this person he feels deserves it in every possible way, maybe he can avoid doing the terrible thing he’s going to do before the episode is out; maybe he can avoid taking this shit out on Pandora. But see, he won’t. He’s going to strike out at them both – these people who have hurt him so badly and maybe he is only just now letting himself hate them for it.
Rin says: I do get the sense that there is a lot of unfinished business between the two, because if it was just Sophia and nothing else I can’t imagine Thomas going so hard after someone, even if it’s Cook, because he’s just not that confrontational. But if this is just the Sophia on the camel’s back then Thomas can’t just sit back and let it happen. He takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of it and right a wrong.
Sophy says: So Thomas asks Cook how his girlfriend is, because that’s as good a jugular as any. In fact, I suspect he chooses that particular jugular on purpose. Because he has to know what Cook’s response is going to be, and I think a part of him wants that – I think a part of him wants to be attacked about Pandora the same way he was that night in the woods all those months ago. I sometimes feel like Cook’s sudden absence at the end of 308 through to the end of the third series kind of cheated Thomas of his confrontation. It’s like over the summer all of this was put on ice, only the ice kind of melted along the way, and since then what happened between them has been a warm side of beef rotting in the sun, you know?
Yeah? With maggots and stuff?
Rin says: Thanks for the imagery Sophy, really.
I’m sure the high percentage of Vegetarians/Vegans who read our recaps are grateful too.
Sophy says: A scuffle ensues in which some rather wonderful faces are made and no real damage is done.
Rin says: I take more joy out of these caps and their funny faces than I should.
Sophy says: The rules exist for a reason, Thomas.
Rin says: And the greatest rollover text award goes to…
Sophy says: Freds interrupts them before they can really get down to business, tells Cook the cops called his name, and gives Thomas THE. MOST. EPIC. FREDDIE. HEADSHAKE. I mean really. There’s a possibility this is the very best one, you guys, and now that I’m thinking of it I feel like this should be the subject of our next poll. Just which headshake is the GOAT, you know?
THE FREDDIE GOATSHAKE. MMMM.
Meanwhile the headshake kind of had me shaking my head on rewatch. At the time I didn’t really think about it, but really, why is Freddie blaming Thomas about this? Like, if something has come to fisticuffs and Cook is involved, does it really make sense to assume someone other than Cook started it? Or maybe it’s like, Freddie’s gotten to the point where you don’t shake your head at Cook, because he’s like a child with a disability, you know? You can’t hold anything against him. And everybody else should understand that too, SHEESH THOMAS.
Rin says: IT’S SO AMAZING BECAUSE IT’S JUST LIKE, BAM RIGHT OFF THE BAT…. MARK. RIGHT OFF THE MARK. FREDDIE HEADSHAKE. He never fails to deliver and I adore him for it.
It really makes no sense as to why he’s even doing it in the first place, which I think just adds to the wonderfulness of it all. He doesn’t even need concrete reasons any more. Or is that just the way he thinks people exit rooms?
Sophy says: So Thomas decides to go do some studying and I’m all HAHAHAHA OH THOMAS, JUST STOP, SCHOOL DOESN’T LOVE YOU AND IT NEVER WILL UNTIL YOU RUN TO HARVARD.
Pandora comes in wanting a hug. She’s wearing some kind of frilly denim jumpsuit and isn’t it just a testament to who Pandora Moon is that she looks particularly normal in it.
Rin says: Harvard, lol. I still don’t understand that. Did they honestly think people would think, ‘Pandora and Thomas go to Harvard? Seems legit.’ AND THINK NOTHING MORE OF IT? Come on you guys, that’s just ridiculously lazy. At least pick a school that isn’t RENOWNED for being highly competitive and top top top percentile etc. Just, really.
You’d think after all this time I would have found ways to let this stuff go.
And to that I say: You don’t know us at all.
Sophy says: So Panda says she needs a hug – in the third person – and it’s the cutest thing ever except Thomas doesn’t agree. He’s irritated by what would normally charm him, and it takes him a moment to get up from his chair and tend to Pandora’s “needs”. He does hug her, though, and maybe everything would be okay if she’d left it at that, gotten out her books and studied with him for a while in amiable silence.
What happens next is we look away and pretend it never happened.
Sophy says: Alas, she suggests bunking off with all the others and going to get a drink. Thomas asks, rather bitchily, if that’s her “answer to everything – just go and get pissed,” and Pandora tries very hard not to take the bait, saying cheerfully, “No, Hagen-Dazs is the answer to everything – right?”
Rin says: More like pistachio gelato. God, yes.
Sophy says: Thomas says things are “fucked up” and just doesn’t know anymore. And you know, I think this is probably the most disappointing scene of the episode for me when I think about what it could have been and isn’t. I know that Skins tends to dwell in the here and now, focusing on who these kids are rather than where they come from or where they’re going. And I respect that. But I still feel like this episode and this scene in particular was an opportunity for Thomas to reveal a little of his past and an opportunity for poignancy. I wish that instead of generically panning the way things are, Thomas had tried to tell Pandora a story. I wish he’d tried to communicate something important about himself – something Pandora wasn’t understanding – something maybe even he wasn’t understanding – I wish he’d struggled and failed to be heard.
I’m thinking of something along the lines of what happens in the village he grew up in when people die. I can imagine him trying to tell Pandora about the rituals and reverence of his childhood, and her totally missing the point and telling him about the pirate-themed funeral her Aunt Louisa had and how her mother wouldn’t let her go because it was “unseemly” but they had lollies and rum punch at the wake and it would have been whizzer! And then Thomas would be frustrated and say, “No. It is not the same. Pandora, I cannot go back – ever!” And Panda would be confused again, and say how yeah he can go back, they can go back for a holiday after they finish college – that slimy man at the club gave him that envelope with all that cash, right? So they can just take that and –
And of course Thomas would be even more frustrated because it would be even more apparent how little she understood what was bothering him, which is that a girl is dead and nobody cares – which is that terrible things happen and nobody minds.
I would have liked to have seen this come back in the scene where he talks with Andrea in the playground. I would have liked to see him articulate finally what he wanted to make Panda understand. I would have liked him to get specific. I know I’m basically just writing Thomas fanfic at this point, but whatever, I would have liked to see Thomas talk about his dad and the way he died – possibly brutally, possibly dishonourably. Maybe there was no ritual or respect. Maybe that’s what’s shaking him about Sophia’s death.
Look, I don’t want to say the show should have been cute or connected the dots in crayon for us. This is Skins, not Seventh Heaven. But I feel like this episode was simply lacking in story. It’s like all the trimmings were there, but not the actual… bird. You know?
Rin says: Spot on. The truth of the matter is, is that Thomas never really reveals WHY he’s so upset or why Sophia’s death ignited a downward spiral for him. There aren’t any strong connections being made, and he kind of just mulls around from one scene to the other.. brooding and generally feeling like nobody understands. WHICH IS what he’s supposed to be doing, but we never find out what nobody understands.
A scene about growing up in Congo would have been pretty damn lovely, and I would have loved Panda and Thomas getting some actual dialogue that didn’t revolve around Panda trying to bed Thomas every second.
Sophy says: Anyway. Thomas says he doesn’t know and Panda says she does and what she knows is surfing and turfing. It’s terribly poignant in an ugly sort of way. She launches herself at him with kisses, which seems to work for him well enough… but then she unceremoniously shoves her hand down his pants, which really, really doesn’t. And you know what? I don’t love this construction of Pandora as myopically sex-obsessed and totally unable to bring out her sensitive side when it counts. I might be happier with it if she’d had a story this season that explored that issue, turned it on its head, showed us all the ways she is kind and well-intentioned and strong. Basically if we’d had a whole episode that teased out the delicious strand that was Scrapey-shakey trio. But I’m going to stop now. Because I’m a broken record on the subject of the ways the show misused its precious screentime. I’M PUTTING MYSELF IN THE BIN.
Rin says: AT LEAST PUT YOURSELF IN A NICE TRASH CAN.
I hated the way Panda was in this episode, because she isn’t so insensitive that she can’t go a single moment without trying to have sex with Thomas. I mean, really. And it makes her look bad, REALLY bad, that this is her answer to everything and Thomas has to ~push her away.
This is the girl who cried at her own birthday party because things got out of hand and she just wanted to play twister. And she has friends. Loads of them. TWO MORE!
Sophy says: Thomas asks what she’s doing, Panda says she’s making them feel better, “Come on, stupid.” Thomas says he doesn’t want to and Panda is terribly hurt, which I can well understand. But the truth is that what he doesn’t want to do is not so much her, as feel better. Pandora isn’t able to take it in her stride though – she’s frustrated and lonely and afraid that he never really forgave her in the first place and OH GOD I RESENT SKINS FOR NOT GIVING PANDORA A VOICE OF HER OWN THIS SEASON TO TELL US ALL OF THESE THINGS SERIOUSLY DID WE REALLY NEED JJ’S VOICE COULD WE NOT HAVE DONE THE FUCK WITHOUT IT I MEAN FOR REAL?
In the bin. Um. She trudges out of the room and as the door swings shut behind her Andrea’s supposedly angelic voice spills in.
I say supposedly angelic because she has a horrible voice. I’m sorry, okay, I know that’s mean to say, but it’s just so thin and nasal and forced and unfeeling and I just hate, hate, hate that kid’s voice. Then again, she should probably take comfort in the fact that Celine Dion is one of the world’s biggest selling vocalists and yet I also hate, hate, hate her voice to the point where I can barely listen to it. So. Maybe she’s in good company?
Rin says: I just hate the cop outs of, SURPRISE. THIS ‘PERFECT’ NEW GIRL GOES TO THE SAME COLLEGE AS YOU AND WAS RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE THE WHOLE TIME! ONLY YOU DIDN’T KNOW BECAUSE YOU JUST DIDN’T WANT TO ~SEE.
Give me a break Andrea. JUST DON’T.
Sophy says: Well, we all want the best for our children, right?
Rin says: At least then he’d have fans.
Sophy says: Yeah, so. Andrea’s singing. Thomas is listening. This would be beautiful if I could feel any of it. I will admit that the second cap in particular is very pretty, with her shiny hair and her pink top and the yellow door framing her. Nice.
Rin says: No, it’s not pretty.
The way her arm is annoys me.
She has annoying arms.
Sophy says: AAAAAAND THEY CALLED IT PUPPY LOOOOOOOOOOVE. Ugh. Though when I look at their faces and totally forget the context I’m all awwwwww. Because. Aw.
And I must say that “Hello.” “Hello.” would under normal circumstances have been terribly sweet, and that Merv did a lovely job seeming so soothed and at home all of a sudden.
Rin says: STOP TRYING TO BE NICE.
I HATE EVERYTHING THEY DO TOGETHER.
BECAUSE I DON’T WANT THIS STUPID, OMG WE FINALLY GET TO SAY ~HELLO. AND WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? OH RIGHT HERE, SINGING. REALLY LOUDLY APPARENTLY BECAUSE THERE’S NO SOUND PROOFING IN A RECORDING STUDIO AND I CAN STILL HEAR YOU FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SCHOOL.
WHATEVER. GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.
Sophy says: OH MAN I AM LOOKING AT THAT SECOND SCREENCAP AND I JUST WANT TO CRY. BECAUSE ISN’T THAT THE THOMAS WE’VE ALWAYS KNOWN AND LOVED? ISN’T IT? OH MAN.
Anyway, so the point is that Thomas is accompanying his little siblings to some kind of Sunday School at Preacher Man’s house, naturally with a view to getting into Andrea’s pants. ALS is desperate to weee – yes, that’s right, she needs to “W, E, E, E!” Cute.
Rin says: Oh thank god, at least someone is hear to pull me out of this damned pit of damn.
She does such a good job. And I know Daniel is sick and all and is well, a child. BUT KID. PULL YOUR WEIGHT PLEASE. YOUR SISTER IS UPSTAGING YOU BY FAR.
Sophy says: AAAAHAHAHA look at her little face.
PM opens the door and then his daughter appears behind him. She introduces Thomas and PM is all “Oh yes, I know who he is,” and honestly I’m about to go check if that is a quote from Star Wars because it is so ridiculous. What exactly has Thomas done to stand out to this extent? HE’S JUST A BOY. THAT’S WHAT I KEEP SAYING.
They go into the house and ALS yells out “It’s coming out!” which, too much information, but at the same time this kid is super cute and I hope she went on to great things and will one day be known by Rophy as ‘Omg that kid from Skins!”
Rin says: It’s just. Creepy. This man is creepy.
Sophy says: So this is some kind of musical prayer group run by Andrea because she is the daughter of a Preacher Man and basically just the bee’s stupid knees. Children flock to her, of course, she is sweetly vulnerable yet feisty, of course. She is irreverent in her very reverence! She says things like “Everybody Jesus says shut up!” because she is that adorably liberated. God I hate her.
Rin says: GOD, I HATE HER.
SHE’S TERRIBLE AT HER JOB.
Sophy says: WHY DOES ONE OF THOSE ALMOST-TWINS HAVE A SHAKEY. IT IS ONE THING TO BE ALMOST-TWINS BUT IT IS ANOTHER ENTIRELY TO MUSCLE IN ON SCRAPEY SHAKEY TRIO. SEND THEM TO AUSTRALIA! TO THE WORKHOUSE!
Andrea asks the kids what they want to sing and they suggest various popular singers. Andrea’s response makes me go straight from mildly irritated to wanting to punch her in the face. She says that Rihanna and Lady Gaga and Beyonce are “all people who can’t really sing, don’t wear very many clothes and get married far too young.” Uh huh. “What do we call that sorts of people?” she asks. The children cry out “Americans!”
Thomas finds this very amusing. I don’t. It’s just fucking obnoxious, okay? I mean, for a start, I’d be a lot more willing to let this kid’s flat, nasal voice slide if she wasn’t getting on her soapbox about Beyonce, who, let me tell you, whilst I am not a particular fan of hers, absolutely can sing. Second, it’s just so fucking trite, isn’t it? I don’t know. This feels like a bitter twenty-something, not a super-cute manic pixie dreamgirl-esque teen, which, all the rest of the time, is exactly what Andrea is trying to be.
JUST STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME ~ADORE YOU. JUST. STOP.
I don’t know. I might find this whole ‘us against them’ schtick a little more convincing if Andrea didn’t act like just another Skins kid when it counted – ie. when she was needed to take her clothes off in a hospital closet and fuck someone she barely knows for the hell of it. But as it is it just seems like of bitchy and hypocritical.
Rin says: Thou who speaks Beyonce’s name in vain, shall … die.
BECAUSE GET OUT. YOU SILLY GIRL. YOU KNOW NOTHING.
Leave the pop culture references to people who actually know what they’re talking about, e.g. ALS/Star Wars.
Thank you very much please and thank you.
Sophy says: Andrea proceeds to sing an old song sung by African American slaves in the nineteenth century, a song that was sung in a Lorca-themed show I did once and I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks because it is haunting and heavy with feeling.
As I went down in the river to pray, studying about that good old way.
She gets Thomas to join in and honestly I kind of wished he’d sung the whole thing because Merv has a nice voice. But regardless, the whole thing is kind of ruined by the excessively lengthy close-ups of Andrea and Thomas gazing meaningfully at one another, and then the dad standing in the doorway chuckling at how great his daughter is at setting young tearaways on the right path with her voice and vagina. Urg. And meanwhile what was up with the choice to end the scene on a lingering close-up of Andrea having feelings? If Andrea is going to be a personalityless prop for Thomas, which she is, then why on earth would you have the final strains of the song end on her face and not Thomas’? I know it seems like a teeny tiny thing, but it really stood out to me. Because I guess this whole episode never really quite felt like it was exactly about Thomas, the same way Effy’s episode this season wasn’t actually about Effy. Unfortunate.
Rin says: Snorted. With her voice. And vagina. Why.
It lingered on Andrea because the girl has to be doe-eyed and moon over the boy. Obviously. Because that’s how Thomas is going to feel better. BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
Sophy says: Thomas gets himself an orange juice and some one-on-one time with the preacher man. He asks him how it is that he’s been at the same college as his daughter for a year and yet they’ve only just met. Thomas doesn’t know, so PM tells him: since he spoke to him, Thomas has starting noticing things – things that have always been there, but he has never seen. And just when I’m thinking this guy has tickets on himself and it’s kind of creepy how he uses his daughter as a teaching tool, shit gets real.
He tells Thomas to give him his soul. Like, he legitimately says: “Give me your soul. Give it to me!”
Wow. At least let him drink his juice first.
Rin says: I know I made something from this scene YEARS ago. And I had to use the find option and I searched for ‘soul’ and found it
Sophy says: Naomily is everybody’s secret agenda.
Sophy says: Thankfully, before Thomas can sign on the dotted line, Andrea calls out to him. His brother is having some kind of asthma attack and has to be taken to the hospital.
Rin says: Oh my god, signing the dotted line Now I’m just having massive Shanshu Prophecy flashbacks.
I bet Andrea drugged Daniel.
To get Thomas into the Hospital, because that’s her method.
Sophy says: The doctor says the kid has a lung infection and they can clear it up. As he’s explaining this Mrs Thomas comes rushing into the room ready to fawn over one child and throw accusations at the other. When she immediately turns on Thomas and says “What did you do to my babies?” a shiver runs down my spine. Because wow, if I thought the situation was Heathcliffy before… Seriously this woman is the absolute worst. She is just about as narcissistic and cruel as Cook’s mother, and hey, if Skins had been longer maybe the two of them would have realized they had that in common and bonded over it and RUN AWAY TOGETHER. Because I would run away from this, I really would. The fact that Thomas stays, puts up with the emotional abuse, works hard to provide for his siblings… it speaks volumes about the kind of person he is. He can cheat on Panda all he likes. He is nevertheless a very, very good person.
Sophy says: The doctor points out that this is the third incident in six weeks and he is concerned about that. Mrs Thomas gives him the most epic “Bitch, please,” face, and no matter how much I may despise the woman, I will always, always love her faces.
Rin says: Agreed. The actress who plays her is amazing. I could make screenshots of her forever.
Sophy says: The doctor tries to ask about any environmental factors which may be causing the child to have this persistent lung infection. Mrs Thomas gets all defensive the way that piece of shit mothers do and says how her house is clean!!! She looks after her children!!! He can mind his own business!!! Literally.
Thomas gently points out that the house is damp and there is mold on the walls and they can’t get rid of it. Mrs Thomas does not brook this life-saving insubordination and gives him a disgusted headshake of which Freds would be proud.
Rin says: You could argue shame and denial, but really… why would you at this point? What the hell is pride worth when your child is getting repeatedly sick to the point he collapses about it?
YOU’RE NOT WORTH IT MRS THOMAS, NO MATTER WHAT L’OREAL TELLS YOU.
Sophy says: The doctor suggests that social services be contacted to help with that and Mrs Thomas gets all defensive again. Then she turns to Thomas again and lays into him, because that is her go-to coping mechanism. She tells him he knows nothing about raising children, that she has given everything to him, that now he wants to tell her what to do, that he has no respect.
Blah, blah, biddy blah, she’s so stuffy give her a scone.
Rin says: She talks about how all she has done is give Thomas everything she has her entire life, and I don’t doubt that she’s been present in her children’s lives. But these are all the trademarks of a bitter woman who thinks her child owes them something because they had no choice in the matter of being born and were too tiny to look after themselves and survive, so SHE had to take care of them The nerve
Rin says: He’ll never let anyone forget it.
Sophy says: JUST LIKE FIDO DIDO!
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas goes on to say that if Mr Thomas were here he would beat Thomas for having the gall to try to keep his brother safe from disease, and that’s when Thomas snaps. He yells with all the anger he’s been feeling since he saw that girl die – since Pandora cheated on him and Cook rubbed it in his face – since who knows when exactly. He tells his mother that his father is dead “and he is of no use to us.”
Honestly, it’s pretty fucking heartbreaking and Merv’s delivery is pretty fucking wonderful. If what happens next hadn’t happened, or if his father’s death had come back at the end of the episode when he’s talking with Andrea, this might have been one of my favourite Skins moments.
Rin says: It still works, but as it stands it is the pointless kind of working? It’s like if you came up with a brilliant idea, but never saw it through – and Skins never saw it through. Because YAY! Revealing of character backstory!! …never comes into play again.
Sophy says: Thomas leaves the room and walks away. Andrea asks if his little brother is alright and he says no he’s not, nothing is alright. He starts down the corridor and she runs after him, because she has a really special present for him in her pants.
Rin says: Urgh. It’s early. I don’t want to have to deal with this scene. Mock it for me instead, please?
Sophy says: She should be studied.
Rin says: At least she was quick.
Sophy says: Andrea asks Thomas what the matter is and he starts going on about how he hates this place, meaning “this country,” and how nobody here understands. And I guess this is why the episode doesn’t work for me as a whole. The notion that Thomas is experiencing some kind of belated cultural disconnect – that he’s starting to realize how awful living in England is – it just doesn’t really make sense with what’s come before and what comes after. Most particularly it doesn’t make sense given that what he’s angry with right now is surely his mother who embodies that very viewpoint. And maybe he’s channeling her now, casting around for any reason to be enraged other than because his mother is an abusive c-word, because he doesn’t want to face that reality when there is nothing he can do about it. Maybe he’s looking for any other reasons why everything hurts than that his father is dead and that’s another thing that will always be so. But the thing is that I feel like I have to fanwank the entire point of this episode and having watched the thing several times by now and spent a great deal of time mulling it over… I still don’t know what the point was supposed to be.
Either way, Thomas hates England is too simple and it bothers me to have that be what comes out of his mouth when he is at his most raw and his most opened – because it feels like it should be the heart of the matter and if it is then I don’t understand anything. So.
Rin says: Right, especially when the bulk of his story leading up to this is how he was kind of fascinated by the place.. encountered some not so pleasant baseball-wielding characters, but when they were out of the way he loved it because college and friends and opportunities! Right?! It just seems wrong to make it all about this place, when I think he very much knows better and that all of his issues are stemming from the people around him.
Sophy says: Andrea doesn’t understand shit either. She launches herself at Thomas right there in the hallway, drags him into a utility closet in an attempt to fuck the pain away. Basically she takes exactly Pandora’s approach, only less sweetly and more sociopathically.
I’m sorry, but what kind of person knows someone for a few days, spends maybe a couple of hours in their company, and then decides to jump them in the hallway of a hospital when their little brother might be dying of a lung infection as far as they know. It’s just not normal human behaviour, particularly not in a teenager, particularly not in a teenager from a heavily religious background.
And here’s where I’m going to talk about Andrea and why she’s the worst. It’s not because I happen to dislike her singing voice or because she homewrecked Thomas and Panda or anything trivial like that. It’s because she doesn’t make sense. She’s supposed to be this servant of the lord who disdains tarty pop singers and has been shyly coveting lovely Thomas. And yet she’s supposedly not only sexually liberated, but, in my opinion, freakishly sexually confident, freakishly emotionally confident, and not just for a girl her age, but a person. Yes, Skins kids tend to be pretty open about sex – because kids these days tend to be pretty open about sex and the show is intent on representing the reality of youth, rather than what parents think should be the reality. I get that and I respect it. But the fact remains that not all 17 year old girls go from zero to naked in twenty seconds flat. The fact is that this 17 year old girl, from everything we’ve been told about her, wouldn’t.
I MEAN QUITE APART FROM THE FACT THAT SHE PROBABLY ACTUALLY HAS HER OWN STANDARDS OF CONDUCT IN THESE AREAS, BECAUSE YES, ACTUALLY, IT IS POSSIBLE FOR 17 YEAR OLDS TO HAVE THOSE, HER FATHER IS DOWN THE HALL.
HER. FATHER. IS. DOWN. THE. HALL.
The fact that she doesn’t worry about that kind of thing gives me this awful flirty fishing type vibe. Like maybe her dad is cool with her using her vagina as part of the conversion process???
I DON’T KNOW?????
Of course that’s not the case. Of course it’s just that Andrea doesn’t worry about her dad being down the hall because Andrea doesn’t have thoughts outside of making Thomas feel better.
Basically, my problem with Andrea is that she isn’t Andrea. She’s Andrea-for-the-purposes-of-Thomas. When the show wants him to have a wholesome, life-affirming spiritual guide to look up to? She’ll be that. When the show wants her to be some kind of mixture of Pandora and Effy? She’ll be that. There is no cohesion. There is no respect for who she is, because she isn’t really anyone at all. She’s a prop, plain and simple, and it bothers me. It honestly bothers me to see a young female character written as an emotional and sexual prop for a male character, with no further thought given to the character she might have been. I think that is fundamentally why Andrea is my least favourite one-off guest character ever. Because she’s not a character. She’s a pastiche of masculine fantasies or femininity who is there to serve. And honestly, it’s gross.
And I guess my difficulty is that I’m not entirely sure if this scene is meant to be cathartic or deeply ironic or a bit of both. It seems like it should, logically, mark the moment Thomas realizes that there is no us and them, that there is no easy way out of the things he’s feeling. Because all Andrea knows how to do is exactly all Pandora knows how to do. And maybe that is the point. Maybe that is what’s happening. But I don’t feel it was made clear enough. It really did seem for all the world like Andrea’s earth mother vagina healed Thommo and that is just worlds of gross.
Okay, but I shouldn’t whine so much. In series 6 Franky is going to be healed by rape, after all.
Rin says: Every day I try to forget about that. Every. Day.
The problems with Andrea is that Skins so often got it right when it came to the small roles. They treated them with the same amount of respect as their mains, and they’ve given us a lot of memorable characters who were only around for one episode. It’s a testament to their writing and the actors who play them. They got really sloppy this season and gave us a few characters that really missed the mark, and were treated as props to service someone else, rather than a character themselves.
We didn’t need Andrea’s life story, not at all, but maybe if we got a little insight into her motives for jumping a guy in the hall of a hospital in the middle of the day and there were totally people around etc. etc. then yeah. MAAAAAAAYBE it would have made a little more sense and have been a little less gross. Probably not, but at least try. They didn’t here.
It feels way more like they just wanted another CURED BY SEX! moment.
Sophy says: So Thomas goes home to lie on his bed and reflect on Andrea’s vagina and whether it really has healing properties. Meanwhile Pandora shows up at his door, looking particularly adorable. She’s decided they need to cheer up and that therefore a ‘Reeseathon’ is in order – a whole bunch of Reese Witherspoon movies. With donuts. Oh and she’s also brought JJ.
It’s a small thing but that’s a wonderful acting moment from Lisa, when she looks just the tiniest bit frustrated/apologetic at having JJ tag along. And yet in my head canon she asked him to come because she’s so afraid of getting things wrong with Thomas and maybe JJ who gets things wrong all the time with everybody, will make her look normal by comparison. Okay, no. I’m just being mean. She asked him to come along for moral support and so that she wouldn’t be tempted to resort to the surfing and turfing approach again.
So JJ pops his head into the frame and says, “What I like about Reese is she’s a virgin you can believe in.” Annnnd I dislike this line. I get where it’s coming from. Pandora seems to be on Mission Desexualize because she thinks that’s what Thomas wants right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she and JJ have discussed this and that’s precisely how they’ve come to the Reese conclusion. But it just feels so twee to have JJ come out with a line like that in the same episode where Mrs Thomas asks where to find a virgin in this country. And I guess the line feels weirdly condescending and sly for a character like JJ, too, especially given that he’s had sex exactly once and it was a pity-shag from a lesbian so he wouldn’t be a virgin you can believe in anymore.
I don’t know. Maybe the line would be okay on its own, but there’s a mean-spiritedness to the commentary he gives about the Reese movies below that feels out of character. I guess what I’m saying is, I feel like all the Reese stuff isn’t JJ talking so much as… Jamie Brittain. It’s got that snarky I’m-an-artist vibe to it – similar to Andrea’s line about pop singers who can’t sing.
And okay, okay, maybe I’m also kind of a Reese Witherspoon stan and kind of hate it when people wrongly read her down to the level of a Sweet Home Alabama or a Legally Blonde and point and laugh like she isn’t hugely intelligent and hugely talented and fully deserving of her Oscar and your respect.
Rin says: YOU KNOW YOU WERE NEVER GOING TO GET ANY OPPOSITION FROM ME HERE. YOU KNOW I LOVE HER TOO.
I just love how that all read because I could SEE you, well cartoon you, saying it out loud. Like you were standing all confident with your chest puffed out and waving your finger at JJ and how wrong he is on all levels.
And then you eventually get smaller and smaller as you get defensive about Reese Witherspoon in a Skins recap.
It’s the best.
But you’re right, this coupled with the Beyonce comment really seems more like JB pushing his own agenda, than JJ or Andrea ever were.
HE SHOULD HAVE JUST LEFT IT AT LADY GAGA. WE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN BEHIND THAT ONE.
Sophy says: JJ sits between Thomas and Panda on the couch and watches fictionally bad Reese Witherspoon with a gleeful alertness. Panda reaches behind him and touches Thomas’ sad and once familiar face.
Rin says: Thomas it’s okay, it’s just face-braille.
Sophy says: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHHA OMG.
Sophy says: Panda tries to get Thomas to have a donut, because, you know, let’s face it, even Hagen-Dazs is rubbish compared to donuts. But he doesn’t want one. He says it “doesn’t make sense,” and JJ tries to explain to him why one character took another back after they cheated with a third and I’m all I see what you’re doing there, show.
Panda senses the tension in the air and starts babbling about how you can make mistakes and be forgiven for them, and that’s when Thomas blurts out, with an undeniably angry edge, that he slept with someone who isn’t her.
Rin says: This has to be the absolute worst moment to admit to cheating. I UNDERSTAND YOU COULDN’T HOLD IT IN ANY LONGER THOMAS, BUT MAYBE YOU WANTED TO WAIT UNTIL JJ WASN’T IN THE ROOM/SITTING RIGHT BETWEEN YOU AND PANDA???
Plus there were donuts present. They shouldn’t have to hear their parents fighting.
Sophy says: Pandora is aghast. I mean that’s really the only word for her poor darling little face in that moment. Thomas points out lamely that she did it first and it doesn’t help at all, because that’s not how love is supposed to be, is it? It’s not an eye-for-an-eye kind of thing. She tries getting angry with him and that only makes him angry with her again. He tells her he did it, okay, he tells her he wanted to. It’s the very opposite of what you want to hear when someone’s cheated on you, but I do understand why Thomas says it. He feels so downtrodden, you know? He feels so hemmed in and hated. What he wanted to do with Andrea was transgress – fucking her was saying fuck you to Pandora, but it was also saying fuck you to his mother and to the preacher who wanted his soul and to the whole idea of right and wrong and truth and hopelessness.
Pandora doesn’t understand any of that and there’s no reason she should. She tells Thomas he’s fucked it, and pushes past him, runs away to lick her wounds.
Rin says: OH GOD PANDA LET ME HUG YOU. I don’t care if I sound like a broken record! WHY didn’t we get to see more of her struggle throughout all of this? Obviously she was trying, she was trying so hard to try and get past everything wrong she did in the past. But we never got to see her frustration as Thomas distanced himself from her more and more.
And her little gorgeously hurt face tells me that she deserved more. She is WAY more capable than people give her credit for… we just never got to see it put to use very much because she’s Panda Pops.
Sophy says: Thomas takes a miserable nap in very pretty golden light. And wait a second, who the hell is in that photo by his bed? I’m just peering in confusion here because WHO IS THAT EVEN?
Rin says: It’s Panda. Just a very….poor photo choice.
Sophy says: Thomas has a night-time stroll in which I see a bus-stop but no Emily and I am crushed. He then heads to college the next day, where Emily is comforting Pandora in earnest now.
Rin says: I know that’s Emily on the left, but is that Katie on the right? Because I’m only now thinking about how Panda/Katie had a pretty awesome friendship that had a lot of potential. Or how Panda kind of always brought out the best in Katie? OBVIOUSLY KEFFY ETC. But remember the pyjamas? And Katie putting them on first? Panda wanting to return her Love Ball dress but Katie tells her they’ll make it girls night? JOINING IN WITH SCRAPEY WHEN IT GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING KATIE FITCH STANDS FOR? God. Should have been explored.
Sophy says: Yeah, so he gets expelled. The reason? “Involvement in a girl’s death.” And how that embarrasses Roundview. Okay then. Pretty sure he’s not allowed to do that, but whatever. I still feel that this should have come earlier in the episode and contributed to Thomas’ distress leading up to yelling at his mother and sleeping with Andrea. If he’d been harboring an awful secret like this throughout the episode it would have made it easier to relate to what he was going through, whereas placed as it is as the final straw it feels kind of pointless – kind of inconsequential. I guess what I mean is that by the time he’s being kicked out of college everything feels so impossibly bleak already that you barely notice it.
Rin says: He’s already kind of at the lowest point, being thrown out of college doesn’t seem that big of a deal.
ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU REALLY WOULDN’T GET EXPELLED FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS BECAUSE IF HE’S INVOLVED, HOW IS EVERYONE ELSE NOT?
Sophy says: Thomas decides the fact that his mother hates him, his father is dead, he got kicked out of school and fucked things with his girlfriend entitles him to a mopey afternoon at the bar knocking back vodka. And note that having tried Pandora’s second solution without her (sex), he is now trying her first without her (“We all need a drink”.)
Rin says: WHATEVER, GET OUT OF THE WAY THOMAS. I SEE BLURNAOM AND I WANT TO FOCUS AND ZOOM IN PLEASE.
Sophy says: Unfortunately Cook and (FORTUNATELY!) Naomi are there too, huddled in the corner talking about all sorts of things that Thomas suspects but doesn’t know. When Naomi catches sight of him watching them she touches Cook’s arm to warn him, tries not to look guilty as hell, fails.
Cook is all “Heeyyyy, Thommo!” and takes the opportunity to rib him gleefully about cheating on Pandora. Bad move. Thomas approaches them.
Rin says: Cook is the worst instigator. Honestly. YOU CAN’T EVER JUST SAY HELLO?
Sophy says: Wow, Thomas really is having a bad day. Even his head-in-hands is grumpy.
Rin says: They have a tank behind the bar full of the hard stuff.
Sophy says: Naomi tells Thomas he’s “such a tit” because Pandora loved him, and I’m all Wow, Naoms, way to project your denial. Cook chimes in with some more crassness and Thomas decides to pick up where he left off in the not!fabathroom.
He basically grabs Cook, throws him on the ground, and starts beating the shit out of him, yelling at him that this is for selling drugs in his club, which, okay Thomas, you keep on telling yourself that, we all know what it’s really about. Because I mean really, it would be a tad hypocritical for Thomas who has happily sold drugs in clubs with Cook, to then turn around and get pissed at him for doing what he must have known was going on all over the place.
Like, I’m going to cut Thomas some slack because he’s clearly going through a rough time and he has good reason to dislike Cook, but at the same time the lack of rigour pisses me off. You know it’s like if someone goes out and drinks and drives people will be like ‘Omg you shouldn’t do that’ but then they just kind of forget about it. Whereas if someone goes out and drinks and drives and happens to hit a kid who runs into the road everyone’s all ‘OMG. How could you, I will shun you and your kind.’ The action in each case is exactly the same and should carry the same amount of culpability, whether the terrible outcome that was risked happened to eventuate or not.
I love Thomas for caring about this girl, I really do, but I think it’s a bit much for him to be yelling at Cook that he killed Sophia by giving her the drugs. There are people who theorize that a person who dishes out mind-altering substances is responsible for any and all consequences that flow from that, but those people draw a long and judgemental bow.
Honestly, though, I don’t think Thomas meant anything he was saying here. I think he was angry with himself for stepping into Cook’s world and it had very little to do with who sold what drugs to whom.
And hey, did we ever get a rapprochement between Cook and Thomas? I don’t think we did and it’s things like that that make this gen feel kind of lopsided and unfinished. Not as lopsided and unfinished as gen 3, because they literally just stopped writing about those kids halfway through, but still. I feel like when two members of the group come to such an intense place of animosity, it’s something that should be explicitly addressed and resolved at some point. I like to think that if they’d had two more hours of screentime to play with, it would have been.
Rin says: FIRSTLY. Lily Loveless you are looking stunning today. Love the blazer. Blondes/Blazers, new OTP.
Secondly, when she calls Thomas a tit, that is one of the scenes where I was like, ‘LOOK!! SEE!! SHE WOULD NEVER CHEAT ON EMILY!!!’ when the rumours were about.
Also, if no one ever says ‘Congo cock’ again I could live with that.
Cook/Thomas didn’t get anything. Then again basically everything that happens after Cook breaks out of prison (I can’t even type that without frowning) is pretty stupid and pointless. EXCEPT FOR FREDDIE/COOK AT THE END OF 405. That scene can always stay forever.
Sophy says: Naomi eventually gets Thomas to stop, with the help of a random who hauls Cook to safety. She tells Thomas that she did it – that Cook dealt her the powder and she sold it on to Sophia because she needed money. It’s all pretty much the truth except for the part where she calls Sophia “a random”. Not so, Naomikins.
And can we just take a moment to focus on what really matters here which is that Naomi’s hair is pale and soft and feathery and braided gently in that Naomi-ish way that does not offend Rin, and that her skin is almost the same colour as her hair and it is lit up and perfect and her eyes are so light and washed out like a watercolour version of their usual selves and I LOVE HER I LOVE HER I LOVE HER.
It’s refreshing to know that Rin still has it when it comes to capping Lily Loveless. Did you see how many caps there were for such a tiny portion of story? Did you?
Rin says: I’m so glad you noticed.
Honestly, as soon as this scene came around it wasn’t even like I was trying to get more caps. I JUST SIT BACK AND DO WHAT COMES NATURALLY.
When you have a face as beautiful and soft and EXPRESSIVE as Naomi’s you have to show the world.
AND THE LOOSE BRAID AND THE CURLS AND THE FEATHERYNESS OF IT ALL. I can’t. I’VE GONE TO HAIR HEAVEN. IT’S A BETTER PLACE.
Sophy says: Thomas is incredulous, still angry but stopped in his tracks by the fact that it’s this lovely girl who has never hurt him who did the terrible thing and she is so much harder to blame than Cook. He points out, in case Naomi didn’t get the memo, that the girl is dead. And that’s when Naomi really starts to panic. She says she didn’t mean for that to happen, and then when she finds the heart of her guilt and her grief and her fear, Emily is there, waiting to know the truth of her that is a lie, waiting to be unburdened of the love she should never have felt in the first place. It’s all going to come crashing down and Naomi knows this and she is terrified. She is terrified enough to plead, to be pathetic, to be as vulnerable as we have only ever really seen her be on one side of a catflap with Emily Fitch on the other.
She knows it’s wrong. She knows it shouldn’t be her priority. She knows it won’t endear her to Thomas. But she can’t help it. She has to ask.
“Please don’t tell anyone,” she says, and that’s nothing. “Don’t tell Emily,” she adds, and that is everything.
And honestly, Lily is just superb in this scene. I’d actually completely forgotten how good she was and it was quite a surprise when I rewatched. But particularly with the knowledge of what’s coming next, you can really feel the jittery sickness in her stomach with every word she says, you can feel her becoming more and more aware that the end of the world as she’s come to know and love it is nigh with every fluttered breath.
And her eyes are so expressive. I think Lily’s best work is still ahead of her, but she really was very obviously marked for a career in acting right from the start.
Rin says: This was absolutely the scene of the episode, speaking as the Naomi/Lily Loveless stan that I am. But I remember I wasn’t the only one at the time who thought so, and I’m not just talking about other Naomi fans. I’m pretty sure in reviews and such of the episode they singled out this scene as a highlight of the episode, and rightly so. And it’s not just because no one really saw it coming, it’s the way in which Naomi just starts to CRUMBLE the moment she let’s herself think about what she’s done. And I guess this was our biggest hint of things to come because this guilt runs a whole lot deeper than selling someone drugs who then decides to jump off the balcony.
The way she says “Don’t tell Emily” gets me every time because that’s all that matters to her. It really is. Emily is the benchmark for which Naomi measures herself against.
Emily is so good and kind and giving and all the things you ever want to be in life, and it makes Naomi better — but it’s also the thing that makes Naomi feel like she’s suffocating and will never measure up. There will be essays about it next recap. Essays.
Sophy says: Naomi can’t look Thomas in the eye anymore. She leaves, he watches her go, he looks back at Cook and somehow… somehow he’s not quite as angry anymore.
Rin says: THAT LAST INTAKE OF BREATH.
She sees it all. They’re going to crash and burn.
Sophy says: Oh Naoms.
These days I always hear ‘I fucked the dead girl’ to the tune of that song by Ace of Base. I FUUUCKED THE DEAD GIRL AND IT OPENED UP MY EEEEYES I FUCKED THE DEAD GIRL.
Rin says: No. Oh my god.
Sophy says: Thomas shows up at Preacher Man’s door bruised and bloodied and too drunk to say his name right. He asks to see Andrea, and Merv does a lovely job of getting across that Thomas, as messed up as he is, is fully aware of how ridiculous his request is. Preacher Man says he feels sorry for him, and shuts the door in his face, and he’s all STELLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Except Andrea.
Rin says: WORST PREACHER MAN EVER.
WE’RE YOUR PEOPLE GIVE ME YOUR SOUL.
HERE HAVE MY VAGINA OF A DAUGHTER.
OH, YOU’RE ALL BRUISED AND BATTERED AND CLEARLY IN NEED OF HELP?
Sophy says: Thomas starts to walk away but suddenly Andrea is running after him. Why is she running after him? Because her earth mother vagina cares about his feelings so much. Why doesn’t her dad mind that she’s running after a drunk delinquent who’s just been in some kind of fistfight? A boy he has just judged not fit to be seen by her at this hour? BECAUSE. Just because. Stop asking questions. It doesn’t matter. Andrea is not a person.
Thomas says he needs to speak to someone and Andrea nods because that’s exactly what she is. Someone. They go to a nearby children’s playground and sit. It’s pretty.
Andrea asks Thomas to tell her what he’s done that’s so terrible, because she’s moved into the role of confessor for him. He tells her the terrible thing is that he betrayed someone he loves – with her. And this bothers me, because I feel like this scene should be looking to address the source of Thomas’ aggression, not the result of it. It bothers Andrea because it’s kind of mean – but that’s okay – she’s going to have a stiff upper lip about it – because what use would her feelings be to anyone? And you know what, that makes me sad. Because in this scene you can clearly see that the girl playing Andrea has the chops to make us care about her. Her face does all sorts of very poignant things, but unfortunately the writing won’t let her back any of it up. And it sucks.
Rin says: Why aren’t adult playgrounds a thing? I want them to be a thing.
I LIKE PLAYGROUNDS AND SWINGS ARE STILL MY FAVOURITE. WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE LITTLE SHITFACE TO BE DONE WITH THE SWING BEFORE IT’S MY TURN???
I’m sensing there was a point to my outburst. But I can’t remember.
Fire bad. Second cap pretty.
Sophy says: Okay, this is where things get really gross. Thomas tells Andrea that everything about her feels right and like home, but before he can explain to us why that’s a problem she interjects and does it for him. “It doesn’t work like that,” is her wishy washy question-begging resolution to her romance with Thomas. And it gets worse. She then moves into the role of OTP-propper. You know the guest star who has some kind of dalliance with the lead character and then comments on how true the love is between him or her and the other lead character before exiting stage left. You see this all the time, in varying states of obviousness, and it always makes me cringe.
Andrea says, “You love her,” kisses Thomas on the cheek, says goodbye, leaves, and you have the sense that she ceases to exist in the world of Skins when she does. And I think this was around the point I wrote this in my episode notes:
“STOP BEING A PIECE OF FUCKING MAN-TAILORED FICTION-IN-A-FICTION YOU RANDOM NURTURING EMO SEX DREAM.”
Sums it up for me.
It’s just. Even if the whole scenario is ridiculous, if you are attracted to someone enough and trust them enough or whatever to have sex with them in the hospital after only knowing each other a few days.. YOU’D THINK YOU’D BE A LITTLE BIT MORE UPSET. This wasn’t a clear cut one-time deal thing, Thomas pursued her as much as she pursued him. It’s all way too convenient that after all that, she just backs off and fades into the night never to be heard from again.
Sophy says: Thomas goes home and looks upon a drawing on the fridge that ALS has done. It depicts him as some kind of superbeing flying through the air, and honestly it is just sweet as FUCK.
Rin says: It’s the cutest thing in the world. I hope they actaully made her draw it, because it’s adorable. AND THOMAS HAS HIS HAT ON THAT HE WORE ALL THE TIME LAST SEASON AND ALLSAEGAWLEHA;W
Sophy says: Mrs Thomas shows up to have a mildly positive interaction with her son, and honestly I don’t care, she’s the worst and I hate her. Thomas says they came here for a better life and puts the envelope of cash on the table. Mrs Thomas kindly agrees to let him spend it keeping the family safely housed. QUICK, LET’S MAKE HER A TROPHY.
OUT OF ASS.
Rin says: BUT JUST. OH NOW YOU’RE TOTALLY OKAY WITH THE MONEY? AND STILL PUTTING ALL THE RESPONSIBILITY ON THOMAS’ SHOULDERS? Geez. If you’re going to accept the money, at least own it. DONT JUST GET THE NEW HOUSE AND BE ALL, ‘Oh However did we pay for it all? ‘
Sophy says: Thomas goes and hands over a whole bunch of cash and rents them a new place. I must say I love the white, brightness of this scene as opposed to the gloom that has dominated most of the episode. It has a real Brand New Day feeling about it, especially with even Thomas himself in pale colours.
Next stop Panda’s house. Sorry, Thomas, I don’t think a wad of cash is going to fix this.
Rin says: OHHAHOJ PANDA’S HOUSE. Don’t we just have the best kind of memories in that place? DON’T WE?!!
Sophy says: Thomas asks if he can come in, and Pandora says, “No, you fucker.” And you wouldn’t think a line like that could be the cutest, but it really, really can.
Rin says: She should continue to call everyone a fucker for the cute of it all.
Sophy says: Thomas says that they started again before, and asks if they can do it now, which is basically just a nice way of saying what he said earlier, which is “You did it first” (and I forgave you). Except the problem is that he didn’t really forgive her and this betrayal is the proof of it. That’s why Panda says she doesn’t think they can start again.
“You don’t trust me with your thoughts anymore, Thommo,” she says, “And that fucks it.” And you know what, sometimes Pandora can be all kinds of emotionally intelligent and this is one of those times. She’s not angry that he slept with someone else – well she is, but she recognizes it’s not the point. The point isn’t whether she can forgive him or not – the point is that he has never forgiven her. This is terribly sad and terribly true and I wish it had been explored more. Really, I know these two weren’t anywhere near as popular as Naomily, but their storyline in terms of cheating and the ramifications of it was every bit as interesting – or it had the potential to be. Sigh.
Also Lisa looks really pretty in that cap.
Rin says: They have very similar storylines that’s for sure. Panda/Cook, Emily/JJ, the big Love Ball reunion. Naomi/Sophia, Thomas/Andrea. There was definitely space for them to be explored more, but they never really got it. I actually have no idea what they were doing between now and the finale, but I’m pretty sure there was space for at least a couple scenes. BUT NO. We just get an eleventh hour resolution.
For both ships.
Sophy says: Thomas doesn’t want to let go and there’s such a miserable irony in that given how hard he’s been pushing her away for the whole episode.
“But I love you, Pandora,” he says, and Pandora’s reply is simply, “I know you do, Thomas.” And you know what? It’s perfect. I may complain about a lot of things in this episode and this season, but there’s no denying that season 4 contained some of the shiniest bits, you know? And for me this is one of them. I love that Pandora doesn’t spew bile at Thomas or whine or blubber or ask him to prove things to her. She just states the sad truth that is their situation and leaves it like that. And then she retreats, closes the door in a civilized way, and stands there for a moment, absorbing what she’s just said no to.
And I think she is probably sweet and miserable enough that Rin will overlook those particularly meretricious braids, right Rin? RIGHT?
I can hear the buzzing.
Rin says: Sorry, I just always have the shears on — because I believe in good preparation. But I’ll turn them off.
I’M NOT MADE OF COAL YOU GUYS.
I also really love that Panda doesn’t shout or cry or really do anything except be honest about everything. And it’s incredibly mature and it’s moments like these where I ache for that long lost Panda episode. She would have killed it, I am certain of that.
Sophy says: Panda stands forlornly in the kitchen, while pop tarts do their thing. And those caps are so gorgeous and so Skins. The yellow of her knitted tea-cosy-type jumper with the blue of the wall? Beautiful.
Rin says: This scene is also one of my favourites of the episode. I remember flailing and flailing and FLAILING.
And yes. This scene is worthy.
Sophy says: “I told him no, like you said,” Pandora reports dejectedly. A dainty hand looms into the frame to retrieve the pop tarts. “Good,” says Effy in her unmistakably tender-gruff voice. “Eat your pop tart.”
Rin says: Even just her hands got me all excited.
…DO NOT TAKE THAT OUT OF CONTEXT. DON’T DO IT.
Sophy says: You know Effy would. Sleep with one eye open, Rin.
Sophy says: EFFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WHAT? I’VE MISSED HER.
And she’s wearing her badge-blazer!! The badge-blazer is the best. I tried to make one but I ran out of badges.
Rin says: :((((((((((((((( EFFFYYYYYYYYYYY :(((((((((((((((((((((((((((
YOU ARE THE WIND AND THE FIRE AND THE MOON AND THE ICE AND THE STARS OF MY SKY.
And although I totally understand all of the benefits of having Effy be more present in this episode — and having her be involved with the Sophianess of it all (or maybe it was too dangerous to get her around another lesbian?) … I could pretty much forgive all that because of how she is brought back into our world. Because by this time we’d all surely forgotten about Effy and weren’t thinking we’d see her in this episode.
AND THEN TA-DA. Magical Effy. Producing Pop Tarts and being there for her best friend. It just makes sense.
Sophy says: Effy congratulates Pandora for following through and says Thomas needs to think about what he’s done. Pandora says she is glad she is back, and she is comforted enough to bite into her pop tart and smile, and you know, there really is something comforting about Effy being back, even if she is just going to go batshit crazy about it and start hiding under beds and slitting her wrists in bathrooms that would have been better suited to Faberry-style activities and wind up needing Pandora as much as Pandora has ever needed her.
Oh this friendship. It really did have the potential to be one of the best things about Skins, and looking at this scene you’d really think it was going to be.
Rin says: OH, I’M STILL GOING TO HERALD THEM AS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT SKINS. All of the bad can’t outweigh all of their good. They’re the LONGEST relationship on the show as well. Which kind of makes it sad because that means they should have gotten the BEST treatment out of anybody else but yes. Just remember the days of ink faced Pandora hanging from trees, and we’ll be okay.
AND EFFY IS COMFORTING. She’s a warm fuzzy blanket.
Sophy says: Meanwhile, back at the brand new Thomosobaleelamba Ranch, Thomas sits sullenly while his siblings draw. Then Mrs Thomas comes in with some shopping and gets him to put it away while she fawns over her real children because Heathcliff. But I guess I’m supposed to take it as progress that she asked politely.
Thomas puts the shopping away, cries silently – or rather tries not to cry, silently. Just before we cut to credits one stray tear falls. It’s pretty perfect, actually.
SO. In conclusion, I’ve come to most of my conclusions along the way. There’s a certain emptiness to this episode and a lack of cohesion which makes me think it would have been better placed as maybe the second or third episode of the season. I also suspect that would have stemmed the tide a little in terms of fandom complaining it was boring. The thing is that when you’ve been waiting the better part of a year for Skins to come back, you want… Skins. And for a lot of people Skins is Naomily, front and centre. For a lot of other people Skins is Effy Stonem, accept no substitutes. For some it’s Cook. For others it’s Freffy. For a lot of people it’s going to be Katie Fucking Fitch.
But for me and for I think the majority of viewers Skins is about the group and the way they interact together. I think that’s why it was unfortunate to open a hotly anticipated second series of a generation with an episode that feels so alone – so isolated. The issue isn’t actually that Thomas isn’t as popular as some of the other characters. The issue is that this episode felt more like a vague study of cultural displacement than a story about the boy many of us fell in love with in series 3. At the end of the day, what this episode was crying out for was at least one killer scene between Thommo and Emily. What would have made it amazing is a scene between Thomas and the largely absent Effy, because boy was the ‘Give Me Your Soul’ thing begging to be shared between the two of them in some way, given the places Effy goes to in 405 – her terror of being consumed by love and sickness.
This episode needed heart. It needed warmth. It needed to not kind of inadvertently prove the point Preacher Man was making to Thomas – his friends are not really his friends, they don’t care, they’re not there for him, they are not his people. Or if it was going to do that then at the very least the fall-out from it needed to be addressed later in the series in a meaningful way.
However. There are some really great things about this episode. The acting from everybody is lovely, yes, even the girl who plays my nemesis Andrea. Merv is actually really strong with his performance throughout this episode, even if it’s a subtle kind of role to play, and Lily kills it in her big Don’t Tell Emily scene. Thomas’ little sister is adorable. The opening sequence is stunning. The final scene between Pandora and Thomas is pitch perfect. And Effy’s sudden, quiet resurgence is unexpected and expected at the same time, and it is the best.
So it’s a mixed bag. And on balance, the tasty bits are worth it.
Rin says: Yeah, the episode in the bigger scheme of things isn’t that bad.. it just doesn’t feel like a series opener. Especially when it’s the final series of the generation you have spent so long loving and adoring during the hiatus. Every episode counts, every minute counts, because pretty soon you know it’s going to all be over.
I have to reiterate that Merv IS lovely in this episode, and he did hold his own. He has always been able to, and we only prod fun at him for flouncing on twitter that one time. But we really do adore the way he portrayed Thomas for us over the years, and even though he thinks Thomas doesn’t have any fans.. well he has a couple in us.
THE PACKING AWAY OF GROCERIES HAS NEVER BEEN MORE SAD. I definitely felt it the first time around, and even the second time. It’s the music and the single tear that does it. Major props for this moment Skins.
All in all there are definitely moments that make this episode decent, but probably not enough overall to make it one of the ones you rewatch to remember the glory that is Skins.
Sophy says: SHE IS A MONSTER TBH. But also amazing. She is an amazing monster.
Rin says: Have biscuits ever been so menacing?
They could make a terrible horror movie.
Sophy says: UM. SO.
Rin says: Yeah, there’s no point in trying to talk about this.
Sophy says: WHAT AND.
Rin says: Except to say this is going to be a fucking bloodbath.
Sophy says: BECAUSE.
Rin says: There will be baths of blood and we will be bathing in them.
Sophy says: BUT.
Rin says: It’ll get in our hair, under our nails.
Sophy says: I DON’T.
Rin says: And no matter how hard we scrub, it’ll always just be there.
Sophy says: NO.
Rin says: Hurting us until the end of days.
Rophy says: Thank you and goodnight.