Rin says: Grace is beyond frustrated that no matter how hard she tries, it doesn’t seem to be working. And she needs it to work. She needs to not be sent off to the horse poo school.
BUT WAS IT WORTH 7 YEARS BAD LUCK GRACE? WAS IT?!
Sophy says: Maybe she won’t need 7 years of bad luck…
Rin says: It’s at about this time that I started thinking that Mrs Grace might be dead, like Dexter’s dad. She just kept popping up! Like she was always just waiting offscreen.
Sophy says: Oh wow. “And make a happy ending” means kill them all.
Anyway, Mrs Grace delivers one of the most simultaneously hilarious, creepy and heartbreaking lines in Skins history: “What’s going on, sweetheart? Tell Mummy, and she’ll make it better.”
Grace tells her she can’t make it work – she can’t make the happy ending. Mrs Grace tells her to try. When she says, pitifully, that she’s trying so hard already, all she gets back is “Try harder then, darling,” and it’s so brilliantly robotic and alienating and bizarre, and poor Grace is just sitting there like Why is my mum such an awesome weirdo and fuck my life.
Rin says: GRACE’S LITTLE HEAD IN HER HANDS, AND HER LITTLE FACE. Oh I could just hug her to death!
And this is Skins being glorious in their locations again. Just, beautiful.
I also like the idea that this is where Liv goes to hide and be by herself, but they’ve been such great friends for years that Grace knows where to find Liv.
Sophy says: Grace decides not to fuck her life. She decides to sort Liv’s out instead.
And yes, it’s so cute that Grace seems to know where Liv would be. And it’s so cute that Liv is sitting down by the water, sulking, smoking and reading a comic book. Liv, you are the best thing. Never change.
Rin says: The Naomily Testament???????
Where do I sign?
Sophy says: It’s a life-changer.
Rin says: She’s reading a graphic novel. A GRAPHIC NOVEL. I love Liv forever?
Sophy says: I love how I called it a comic book above. And got equally excited.
“I think everything is going to be fine. Everyone is going to get what they want. I promise you. I know it.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because it’s the only thing I believe in. Because it’s the only thing I’ve got left to count on.”
Rin says: Liv is feeling pretty down and out, on account of what she’s done in the past. But more than that she’s worried about what Grace thinks of her.
And on the one hand, Grace’s response is a way to get Liv to come back to the play, and on the other it’s a complete Grace response in terms of her unwavering optimistic outlook on life. And it’s one of my favourite things about Grace, that the fact she thinks believing is enough to make it real.
Sophy says: This is where Grace takes a leap of faith, and it is a true leap. Because this time a part of her is actually afraid it might not work – she might not be able to make a happy ending. Nevertheless there is nothing left to do but surrender herself to her mother’s blind mantra of try. Why? Just because. Will it work? Of course it will, now stop asking questions.
She takes Liv’s hand, hopes.
Rin says: It’s opening night! And the Bloods are front and centre with the marker.
And Nick is with that LOLLSSSYY girl from Alo’s episode, having a beer. Classy.
And Grace! Peering from behind the curtains. <333 But also it kind of looks like it’d be really easy to photoshop that picture into Grace playing a Cello.
Sophy says: Why on earth would you want to photoshop her playing a cello that is so weird. This one time I turned her into an eel.
I love how a student is just sitting there swigging a beer in the audience and nobody bats and eyelid. Nick’s sidelines spiral is both adorable and depressing. Lolsy girl is lolsy.
Also Rin, I’m a bit horrified that you didn’t pick up on her extreme transgression of the no braids rule. You’ve gone soft.
Rin says: All of their costumes and make up are amazing. I’D GIVE YOU TOP MARKS GRACE.
Rich has the skinniest legs ever. How does he keep upright?
Sophy says: He seems to be propping himself up against Alo there.
Mrs Grace waving is the cutest.
Rin says: Identical twins!
Sophy says: PARENT TRAP!!!
“I want to thank you all for everything you’ve put into this. I know it’s been hard for everyone. But we’re ready. So… let’s show those motherfuckers how this story ends.”
Rin says: Grace needs to take this on the road. As in, she should be a motivational speaker. Travelling around the country, speaking at schools. She’d make a great career out of it.
Sophy says: GRACE BLOOD, LIFE COACH. I see it. Although I have to say, she seems a little anxious when she delivers this speech, and I really like that. Because she hasn’t landed yet. There is still a cavernous emptiness beneath her and she won’t know till she gets to the other side whether it still works – whether her entire philosophy of life is sound, still, or seriously fucked.
If she can’t make this happy ending, she may never be able to make another as long as she lives. I think that’s what’s going on somewhere in the back of Grace’s mind right now.
Rin says: Rich comes up to Grace, all serious face with, ‘We need to talk.’ and Grace shuts him down quickly, telling him they’ll talk after the show. Which, fair enough. The curtains raising!
Sophy says: OH GOD. THIS IS NOT THE TIME, RICH.
He is such a dick. I mean. I really love him. But Rich is a dick.
Franky’s little smile-and-clap at Grace is so adorable. I love that even in the midst of all this guilty, jealous angst, she still has that bright spirit that has seen her through so much fuckery in her time. I think that’s something Grace and Franky recognized in each other very early on and it’s why they bonded so quickly – they both have a deep and abiding warmth – a special kindness – an infinite supply of love.
Rin says: Twelfth Night is well under way, and we’re right up to Mini’s favourite scene. Or it was her favourite scene.
I mean, look at the placing. Gracie is peeking, cause she’s the director and this is her baby. Matty is because it’s Liv and Franky.. and Mini? Looking all dejected? She has no place here..unless of course she’s there for Franky. And to see what their kiss is like.
Because it can’t just be about friends supporting friends, otherwise the others would be looking on too. So it’s very purposeful that Mini is included along with Grace and Matty.
Sophy says: Mini is totally just standing there thinking ‘Pff, they’re not going to win any e-online polls with that halfassery.’
And Rin is right. Mini has been purposefully included in the curtain-peeping, just as we purposely got a shot of her rolling her eyes like she doesn’t care but she totally does when Grace apologized for the last minute changes. You know, the ones that involved her not making out with Franky again. Oh Mins.
Rin says: HAHAHA. No one else is going to be winning any e-online polls any time soon. /shines tin-hat
Rin says: Matty, may you forever make crazy faces forever and ever.
Sophy says: Seriously what. Is that.
I think the Matty hate in fandom is unfounded and irritating. But even I am just looking at this screencap thinking Seriously what. Is that.
Rin says: He kind of looks like the Transformer autobot symbol?
Rin says: Liv and Franky are kind of awesome and amazing at the whole drama thing. They need to do more. Or like, put on a little play every Christmas.
Sophy says: Oh god, that would be the sweetest thing. They really should have done a Christmas unseen to that effect. Or, you know, any unseens at all would have been nice.
Rin says: Lawl, still waiting on Katie’s unseen.
Rin says: Sophia: Not just a one-trick pony.
Sophy says: MULTITASKING.
Rin says: Rich comes out, and glares at Blood, rather cheekily and full of determination.
Sophy says: Yeah, this is, I think, when we’re supposed to understand that Rich, all characteristic dickishness aside, was in fact wanting to speak to Grace about the fact that her dad is a bigger dick than he could ever hope to be, and that he’s going to stand the fuck up to him out there on that stage by being the best young, not black Sidney Poitier he can be.
Rin says: There’s a pause as we’re not quite sure (yeah, as if) what he’s going to do….AND HE NAILS HIS PART. Successfully winning a place in our hearts.
Alo wins his place by being deplorably bad. And he’s not even trying to sabotage Grace. It seems like Blood approached the wrong man.
Sophy says: THAT RANDOM. CAN’T.
Rin says: I like his tassels. They speak to me.
“You’re a sick bastard, do you know that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Me and her! It turned you on! Have you any idea how weird that is?”
“You were kissing another girl. Of course it turned me on.”
Rin says: Just the way Matty is all, OFC IT TURNED ME ON
Lol. Just lol.
Sophy says: Oh god, I loved “Of course it turned me on!” The delivery was so perfect, and in the midst of all the teen drama I was just laughing and laughing because of course it turned him on.
One thing I really appreciated about this scene was how it exploded the myth of Matty as the special sensitive snowflake. He was never the cliche of fit and mysterious that he might have seemed to be early on. I mean, yes, he calls strangers glorious headfuck things, but he’s also just a guy – a big dumb guy who inevitably, basely, gets turned on by his girlfriend kissing the other girl he can’t help liking. And he admits it openly. Like a big dumb guy.
As for Liv, I was kind of in full-body cringe mode during this scene, because really, creepy sex eyes aside, all Matty did was look at them the wrong way and she’s calling him a “sick bastard” about it? I kind of wanted Panda’s mum to sidle up and say “We’re caaaaaaalm, we’re caaaaaaaaalm,” because if there’s one thing I don’t enjoy it’s seeing characters I love humiliating themselves.
The whole possessive hysteria phase was rough for Liv. And I didn’t enjoy watching her suffer through it.
Rin says: He shan’t be beat.
Sophy says: He is to guyliner what Sandy Cohen is to eyebrows.
Why, Ringer, why.
Rin says: Liv has finally had enough of being a spectator to the Matty and Franky Show, so she confronts him. She asks if he loves her, and he responds with, ‘I love you.’ But that wasn’t the question Matty! And when she asks again, his silence is more than enough of an answer.
Sometimes when they throw around the word ‘love’ it’s a little off-putting. Cause I sit there going, “Love?? Really?” But then I think about how lame it would be if they used the word ‘like’, or if they had to expand on what they really mean in an overcomplicated way. So ‘love’ works in that regard, that it gets straight to the point and doesn’t make light of the matter.
Sophy says: I would have preferred it if they hadn’t gone with the word “Love” because it just allows people to mock and dismiss in a way that, say, “Do you want her” wouldn’t. But you know, as much as people deride Matty for idiotically thinking he’s in love with Franky when we’ve barely seen them get to know each other, I think it’s worth pointing out that Liv is the one who chooses the word. And would it really be appropriate for Matty to say “What? No! Of course I don’t love her – I barely know her – it’s just that I’m insanely attracted to her, that’s all.” This really wasn’t a time for splitting hurtful hairs, so I can understand why he said nothing at all.
“You can’t go now. You can’t leave me.”
“You told me it would all be OK.”
“It will be! It will. We just have to finish. We just have to finish the play.”
Rin says: Grace immediately does some damage control because she can feel her play coming apart at the seams. So she tries to focus Liv into just finishing. And part of me thinks that this isn’t just about the play, it’s about everything that Grace believes in. If you flounce and just give up, then you’re never going to achieve anything. Which is basically what her mother has taught her with all her stories — there is always hope, and things will be okay. There just always has to be a way. And when Grace breaks the mirror, it’s her mum that sets her on the right path again. And when she can’t at the end, it’s Rich who reminds her there’s always a way. Which is probably something he learnt from Grace.
Sophy says: I totally agree with everything Rin is saying, in a slightly darker shade. I think at this point Grace does feel like her play is coming apart at the seams – and like everything that makes her who she is is coming apart with it. When she says “It will be!” I think she is trying to convince herself as much as Liv. When she insists that all they have to do is finish the play, I think she’s starting to fear that beyond that finish line everything will be as fucked as it is now. Basically, I think she’s acting a role for herself… and she’s not really buying the performance.
Grace is the most confident, positive character Skins has ever written. But right now I think she’s hanging by a thread.
Rin says: Mini. Look on more forlornly.
Oh what’s that? You can’t? You’re at 100% full forlorn?!
Sophy says: She totally wants to jump into this conversation and be all “DO YOU LOVE HIM???” at Franky.
Rin says: Haha she already has her fist half-cocked to shake at Franky’s face.
Sophy says: You’re doing it wrong.
Rin says: Leave now and never come back.
Rin says: Liv tells Matty to forget Franky, which apparently translates into, ‘treat her like the invisible girl’ as he walks past her.
Sophy says: Oh God. You know what I mentioned just now about watching a character I love humiliating herself? This was truly one of Liv’s least fine moments. If the boy can’t answer you when you ask him if he loves someone else, that means he loves someone else. Or at the very least it means he doesn’t love you enough. So you dump him, Olivia. YOU DUMP HIM. You do not get all up in his face and order him to stay away from someone like you’re his mother?! Just.
It was such a horrible moment. And you know, Matty didn’t come off much better. I can well understand hanging onto limp relationships, even when, as here, they are beginning to become toxic. But not when you’re 16 years old? Not when you’ve been together all of a few short months?
Matty. When you can’t answer your girlfriend when she asks you if you love someone else, that means you do love someone else. Or at the very least it means you don’t love your girlfriend enough. SO YOU BREAK UP WITH HER.
Okay, maybe not in the middle of the play.
But, you know. At the earliest possible opportunity that’s appropriate.
I also thought it was kind of hilarious the way Matty bumped past Franky like some of this was her fault or something. Hilarious and angering.
The most Franky has done up to this point is be attractive and get the wrong kind of look in her eyes at times. Matty should be shooting her an apologetic glance, not an accusatory one.
Rin says: I just don’t get why he has to bump her along the way So rude. It was all very over-dramatic.. or maybe they’ve all become caught up in the play and taking method acting way too seriously.
Rin says: Ah! The show must go on!
What I really liked about this portion of the play/episode was how dramatically the mood had shifted. Everything felt much heavier than it had before.. and I am utterly in love with the score at this point. Just. Gorgeous.
Sophy says: I totally agree with Rin. The score is stunning, and really helps to create this overall sense of how things have changed – how finishing the play will not fix this, even if it gets Grace her A.
Rin says: I don’t like where this is going……
Sophy says: Grace/Rachel is totally like Maggie/Monobrow baby on The Simpsons.
Rin says: Omg, that damn monobrow baby.
Sophy says: OMG let’s hope it never comes to fisticuffs for Grace and Rachel.
Rin says: GRACE IS PLAYING THE INVISIBLE CELLO AGAIN!!!!
Sophy says: Oh my god, stop.
Rin says: Liv/Laya during this scene is all kinds of amazing too.
Sophy says: Yes, Laya was particularly impressive in this scene. She really excelled at letting the personal hurt spill into the performance, whilst still believably making an effort to keep things contained for Grace’s sake.
Rin says: And then the mood is completely turned on his head when THIS GUY STARTS SINGING. And the way he finishes by holding out his arms. Oh random guy, well done.
As soon as the play ends, Doug (DOUG!) and the rest of the crowd burst into applause. A good show then! The cast come out and then turn to welcome Grace onto the stage with them, and RICH’S FACE. I CANNOT. AND WILL NEVER.
Sophy says: HAHAHAHAH THAT RANDOM.
He was kind of awesome to be honest. I hope he gets an episode in series 6.
On a random, shallow note, I really dislike Grace’s makeup in this scene. The green eyeshadow doesn’t work with the yellow light.
Rin says: Rich/Grace/Shakespearean-costumes forever?
Blood also looks deviously terrifying. I wonder what plans he might be concocting in that little mischievous head of his. Mayberry plans, perhaps??
Also in between these two caps, we see Mrs Grace ‘whooping’ enthusiastically which was SO ADORABLE and I have no idea why I didn’t include a cap. There was also a shot of the marker looking very pleased with the performance, so it seems like Grace isn’t going to get anything less than an A+.
Sophy says: Blood actually looks the most genuinely happy I’ve ever seen him. Like, I look at that and think ‘Aw, he’s decided to throw in the towel on the whole being evil thing, and give these crazy kids a chance’. So misleading.
MRS GRACE WHOOPING. ALWAYS.
“But I have decided that you will be returning to Mayberry’s after all.”
“What? What?! Fuck!”
“Have some decorum, young lady. You’re not in Scotland!”
Rin says: I like how the other people involved in the play, who aren’t our kids, conveniently slink off-stage for the final bow.
In the college halls, Blood is congratulating Grace on her play, which she gets to revel in for about half a second before he drops the “LOL, YOU WERE NEVER GOING TO GET OUT OF GOING BACK TO MAYBERRY’S ANYWAY :-j” Grace has the appropriate reaction of ‘FUCK!’ and oh my gosh, despite being a huge asshole right now, I kind of love Blood’s response.
Grace pleads with her mum to help her out, but ah, Mrs Grace is the parent who just goes along with whatever the dominant parent wants. Despite knowing better.
Sophy says: Jessica’s “What? What?! Fuck!” was absolutely superb. Laugh-out-loud, head-in-hands superb.
It’s actually sad when you focus more closely on Mrs Grace in the background, because her demeanour totally bears out my ’emotionally stunted by domestic abuse’ theory. She looks so anxious. So afraid. And it kind of breaks my heart when she sides with Mr Blood on the school issue with the most retreating of not-the-reasons: “We wanted you to finish your school year in a good place.”
“Thanks so much!”
Rin says: And Grace’s response to her mum is PERFECT as she mocks her with an imitation of herself, complete with condescending tone.
Sophy says: Again, the Oscar goes to Jessica Sula. Perfect delivery. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
“I’m doing this because I love you. I just want better for you.”
“No, David. You just want a different daughter.”
Sophy says: Ohhh! Calling the parent by their actual name. That’s a burn.
This is an interesting moment though, because it’s a point at which Grace asserts her independence. She has worked so hard for so long to be all things to all people, and she’s starting to realize that it’s just not going to jive. Her father requires too much of her. She can bend and bend and bend and it’s not enough. She can bend and bend and bend him and he always bounces back into the same shape. Basically, they’re at breaking point – she’s at breaking point – because it didn’t matter that she finished – it didn’t matter that she made the happy ending. Time carried on and the world kept on failing her with it.
Rich stops Grace in the hallway, and she tells him, on the verge of tears, that she’s going away – for good.
His first response is “What about us?” because, you know, he’s a dick. But at least he’s a dick who cares now. At least he’s not saying “I don’t know” to things like “Shall we just not bother then?”
Rin says: ‘At least he’s a dick who cares now.’
ALSO, I think a lot of us can relate to Grace at this point. That no matter how hard you try to make someone happy, it just doesn’t work. Even if you did everything that they asked of you. And when you literally have nothing left, no other options, that’s the kind of soul-crushing experience that brings people like Grace to the point of hopelessness.
And that’s what I really fucking love about this whole setup/plot. That it’s so simple and normal. If we take a step back, we could say that Grace doesn’t at all have to say goodbye to her friends at Roundview, she could stay in touch and it’s only for a year. Having to change schools really isn’t going to be the worst thing that will happen in your life (HAAAAAAAAA), but it is a big deal. Because she’s still in school and still safe in that protective bubble of youth, where you shouldn’t have to worry about the big scary world. So of course when she’s being forced to do something she really doesn’t want to do, it feels like her world is ending. Roundview, Rich, the others, this is her world.
“You were right, Rich. You were totally right. I’m not real.”
“Yes, you are. You’re real to me. I was a twat for saying…”
“I’m a story. A character. A fucking fiction. But you’re not. The others aren’t. My parents aren’t. And I don’t belong here.”
“Where are you going?”
“To a fucking castle in the clouds.”
Sophy says: TO A FUCKING CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS. OH GOD. Perhaps it would have been more romantic and thrifty for me to quote that line only, but I really felt that the dialogue as a whole had to be honoured. It’s just that good.
It’s now that we see just how much everyone has been hurting Grace throughout this episode, just how much she’s suffered behind her many ready smiles. It’s now that we see her acknowledging her separateness – her loneliness.
Grace has let down her hair, repeatedly, and nobody has had the decency to climb up. This has led her to conclude that she doesn’t fit with everybody else. And I find it interesting that the solution, as she sees it, is for her to go away.
Go away, not change. Because like Franky, the one thing Grace absolutely will not do is conform. She may be a natural mediator, a born peacemaker, all things to all people. But on the question of being all of those things? She does not compromise.
Because she doesn’t say “I was kidding myself to think I could be part of a story that I wrote every day.” She says “I was kidding myself to think that the world around me would get it.” She’s not going to become a real girl – not for Rich, not for her parents, not for anyone. She won’t let her play-acting become real. She won’t let herself be trapped in the role of Grace Blood, person.
What becomes clear in this moment is that if Rich is going to be in her life, he’s going to have to be in her world – he’s going to have to believe in her fairytales. What becomes clear is how selfish he’s been, and how blind. And I love that the moment he recognizes his dickishness, he openly acknowledges it in a way that makes it impossible not to forgive him.
And can I just say that “To a fucking castle in the clouds” is one of the most memorable lines ever in Skins?
Rin says: It really really really is. Made all the more better because it’s such a Grace thing to say and Jessica delivered it perfectly.
And you were right to include all of the dialogue, because it’s necessary. I adore that Grace has been beaten down, but instead of becoming more like the person the world is telling her to be, she becomes even more determined to be who she is. And if people think that’s not real? Well, then fuck, she’s not real! She’ll be more fiction than ever.
Rin says: It’s just so clear to me how easily Grace slips into Miyazaki character.
Sophy says: I don’t even.
Rin says: Rachel Berry. Forever.
She’s who Sinead O’Connor was singing about.
Sophy says: Single tear and all.
Sophy says: My darling is lying in bed thinking about how much reality sucks when her mother walks in with supper on a tray. If she’d really wanted to help, milk and cookies would have been more of a soothing TV cliche.
Rin says: This scene is freaking gorgeous. The reds, the creams, her skin, the night gown. All of it.
Sophy says: Mrs Grace sits down on the bed and says it kills her to see her daughter like this. She assures her it will all work out okay, but Grace isn’t falling for that. She may be a fiction, still, but her mother isn’t, not anymore – she’s exposed the realness of herself by being dominated by her husband, by shrinking under his crushing reality. She couldn’t make a happy ending for Grace, because she had to be so very careful to keep her own. So what good are her assurances now?
Rin says: She’s a more English, black, Judy Fabray.
Sophy says: I heard you saying that in Grace’s not-black-Sidney-Poitier voice.
“You know, you’ve spent my whole life filling me with stories, things that aren’t true, were never true. You told me everything was going to be okay as long as I tried. All these stories, all these lies I believed. Great Expectations – lies. Sense And Sensibility – lies. I believed it all and now I’m miserable. And it’s your fault.”
Rin says: MRS GRACIE JUST MAKES A RUN FOR IT.
Parenting at its best you guys.
Sophy says: ROFL. GOLD STAR.
But on a serious note, Mrs Grace running out of the room is one of my favourite things in this whole gorgeous, fascinating episode. Because she can’t handle it. Grace is throwing things and telling her it’s all her fault. That’s one scary thing. But another scary thing is that the things she is throwing are the stories she has built her life on – and I don’t mean Grace here. I mean Grace’s mother.
It’s been traumatic for Grace to accept that the world may not allow her to fix things as she sees fit. But nowhere near as traumatic as it is for her mother. Grace is young. She has the rest of her life ahead of her. She has chances to break away, to be free, to make her own choices and be at peace with them. It’s too late for her mother; she’s given herself over. I think of it sort of like Stockholm syndrome. You know the situation isn’t okay, and that’s why you have to keep pretending that it is even harder.
All Mrs Grace has is pretending. And that’s why she has to run away before she gets too much reality on her.
Although it could be simpler than all that. Because to be honest, Rophy would probably flee the room if Grace started throwing our DVDs around and telling us TV was all lies.
Rin says: Flee from the room or punch her in the face and tell her, her face is all lies!
Sophy says: So it didn’t work. The play did. But the happy ending didn’t. And now perhaps it never will. Grace lays back down and ponders the fact that she may never again be able to bend the world to her will. This is it. It’s happening. She’s growing up in that cruel, dulling way you wish people like her never ever had to grow up. She’s seeing the evil in the world, and all the ways its strength and breadth exceed hers.
Rin says: I love how she just plops back down and resumes crying, and then we see her little sweet innocent face and oh my god she’s so young and small and puppy and please don’t kick it, Skins?
Sophy says: Grace skips out onto her balcony all Is it a bird?? IS IT A PLANE???
Rin says: Oh my god. Wouldn’t it have been the greatest if Superman (Dean Cain Superman) had shown up?
Rin says: It’s been over two fucking years. Give it a rest JJ.
Sophy says: He’s just not a nice person.
Sophy says: When Grace heard the pebbles and hurried to the window I realized they were going to go the Romeo & Juliet route, and quite honestly, I was apprehensive. Skins has used this cliche very well before with Tony/Michelle
and Freddie/Cook, but the fact remains that you always run the risk of a cheesefest as soon as balconies are involved. You run the risk of letting the cliche use the characters, rather than having the characters use the cliche, and this scene sails close to the wind that way, because there is nothing cynical about it – because it is pure, unbridled, naive joy. Basically, it is as close to the spirit of the source material as you can get.
I am not a sucker for the source material. Or rather, I am only a sucker for the source material when read cynically. And I only really enjoy a Romeo & Juliet riff in my TV when it’s the asshole’s version.
This is not the asshole’s version. It’s Grace’s version, made for her by Rich.
And I absolutely adored it.
Rin says: And here’s where I just about started to die and melt and be a puddle on the floor.
Because oh my god. This is beyond sweet and lovely and completely within the realm of this entire episode. And Romeo & Juliet, it’s been done time and time again and somehow here it feels completely new all over.
And this is my FAVOURITE musical moment of the series. Radical Face – Welcome Home, Son — I can’t hear the start of this song without getting chills. Pleasant, pleasant chills.
Sophy says: Rich appears and belts out the classic It is my lady, it is my love. He’s only being about as ridiculous as he usually is, but Grace smiles, because he’s being more consciously ridiculous than he would ever have dreamed of being if it weren’t for her. It if weren’t for taking his own leap of faith, right here, right now.
There is a moment, in the midst of these caps, after the perfect bold relief of “It is the east and Juliet is the sun,” when Rich looks at Grace and Grace looks at Rich and everything clicks into place – the whole scene, the whole episode, their whole relationship, everything that makes them who they are and what they will be for each other – it all works. Grace’s world rights itself, suddenly, unexpectedly, and Welcome Home, Son starts to play.
This moment is a triumph of writing, acting, and musical accompaniment. This moment is a singer reaching for a high note and hitting it.
Rich hurries to the drainpipe, because this whole happy ending deal would not be complete without a heroic physical exploit of some kind.
And also because if he rang the doorbell at this hour Blood would probably call the cops. Or, you know, he would probably call the caps if Rich rang the doorbell at any hour.
Rin says: I’m sorry but, that third cap? All the awards.
Look at Grace, high up in her tower. Ready to let her hair down.
Sophy says: Rich struggles up the drainpipe in an ungainly, unhandsomeprincely way that makes it clear how very unsuited he is to this role. And that’s why it works. That’s why it makes Grace’s face and heart light again.
It’s because of all the damn effort he’s suddenly making for her.
In some ways Grace’s episode retraces Rich’s episode, only on a much larger scale. In Rich’s episode Grace was the initiator of all things. She was the one trying all the time, even if trying is not necessarily an effort for people like her. She’s all about the identity sushi, and so it is a genuine joy for her to spend a day learning to be metal. She’s not putting anything on in that episode, not exactly. It’s just that putting things on is who she is. She was born to meet people halfway, whereas Rich was born to stay buried inside his sulky, one-track self. So Grace makes all the running, over and over again, and just when you’re thinking he’s an ass who doesn’t deserve her, he gets lucky and goes deaf. This leads him to his first act of openness, and oh his face when he watches Grace dance.
In this episode again, Grace is the one trying, and not just for Rich this time, for everyone, including herself. Because if Rich’s episode was all about what Grace means to him – about him – for him – Grace’s episode is all about what she means to herself and to the world. The stakes are much higher for Grace in this episode. It’s about her whole way of life – it’s about the only way she knows how to exist in the world – it’s not just about a boy anymore, we have moved on from all that. And then this strange little coda happens and we’re right back where we started. It is all about a boy – the boy – because now he is all about her. Because now he is the one trying. And this time Rich doesn’t just tip-toe to the door of Grace’s world and peer in. This time he makes himself a part of it.
Rin says: And that’s the thing. This moment isn’t romantic and beautiful because it’s Romeo & Juliet, it’s because it’s Rich, completely abandoning everything that “Rich” is because he just wants to make the girl he’s in love with happy. Because if she’s not real? He doesn’t want to be real either.
“…as is a winged messenger of… heaven.”
Sophy says: Okay, so Alex’s delivery of the above line is one of my favourite deliveries of any line by any actor in all of Skins. It was just utterly perfect in the way where it lights me up. And so this was the moment I decided that alongside Freya, he was the standout discovery of this generation. And I actually think all of these kids are great, so.
Know what the funny thing is? The delivery was so perfect, because it was so damn out of character. Heaven was completely abandoned and almost drunk in the completely opposite fizzy light way to the dull somnolent way he was drunk at the club. He is drunk on love here – honestly, as cliched as that is, it’s the only way I can describe what I’m seeing. Rich is drunk on love and not in the least bit embarrassed about it.
CAN YOU IMAGINE? RICH HARDBECK NOT EMBARRASSED?
He spends his whole life being embarrassed – the first-hand kind, usually, usually disguised as the second-hand kind. Embarrassment is pretty much what he’s all about.
But in this moment Rich is free – of his own insecurities, of the limitations the too true stories of our lives impose on us all. And that’s because he’s in Grace’s world now, where he can buy flowers that are not for his mum, quote the girliest sappiest stuff out loud without a hint of an eyeroll, play the romantic lead, not the wacky sidekick, climb a drainpipe while he’s at it, and yes, he can propose to his girlfriend of far too few months – he can fully believe in the impossible dream of eloping together and living happily ever after.
Rich can do all of these things on this night because he is a fucking fiction, and he can do fucking anything.
Rin says: Um. So. I kind of feel like wanting to cry right now. And it has to do with this scene and the sheer beauty of it and how Skins can be so fucking perfect at times.
Sophy says: Grace hauls Rich up into her room and sits him down on the bed, at which point he is all adorably “Alack,” hand to the forehead. He continues to quote – to exist inside the story – and Grace persists in playing real, telling him to be quiet, her dad will hear them, he’s sweet but this – them – the fairytale, can’t happen.
Rin says: Haha I love that he’s just about ready to pass out from the climb. It’s the little things like that, that make this scene work so well. Because it’s already so out there with the Shakespeare and the balcony’s they needed to add in the touches of Rich being Rich, in order for us to have a bit of a giggle because they’re moments of self-awareness, from Rich, from Skins, that we’re being a bit ridiculous and we know it. But hey, it’s a story? Deal with it.
Sophy says: “There’s nothing we can do,” Grace says, “it’s over,” and Rich is all “Ohhhh,” because Grace is not playing the game right at all. “Wouldst thou leave me so unsatisfied?” he asks, and it’s supposed to be flirty, silly, fun, fanciful, but Grace still lingers in real world. “Tell me,” she says, “Tell me what’s left to do?”
“The exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine?” Rich says, like it’s just another day at the office. Grace is perplexed – gently perplexed. She hasn’t even gotten the place where he might mean what he seems to mean yet.
Rin says: And Grace has the most adorable perplexed face in all the lands?? Y/Y??
Sophy says: ELEVEN HUNDRED AND TWELVETY Ys.
“What do people in Shakespeare’s plays do when it’s all fucked, when they’re trapped? How do they work it all out? Maybe stories are just stories, or maybe… we can make our life a story. So marry me, Grace Violet Blood.”
Sophy says: He does mean it though. Sort of. As long as he’s in Grace’s world, he means it. Rich asks Grace to marry him, and it’s honestly one of the most ridiculous and most perfect proposals I’ve ever seen on television.
A lot of people were very anxious about this teen wedding stuff after this episode aired, and I can fully understand why, livid as I am now about Rachel and Finn on Glee. But I didn’t really feel anxious when it happened on Skins. The reason? I trusted these writers enough to know that they weren’t going to completely insult my intelligence. I was fairly convinced that the wedding would not go ahead in the finale, because this whole thing is about tonight. It’s about Grace being able to finish the story.
And look, there are similarities. Both Finn and Rachel’s decision to get married and Rich and Grace’s decision to get married are both about solving problems. But whereas Finchel are very earnestly trying to fill respective voids with each other, Rich and Grace are just trying to solve a logistical problem. They’re really just trying to say no to the horse poo school – no to the wicked witch Mr Blood and his attempts to keep them apart. But I always had faith that they’d realize they were kind of using excessive force with the whole matrimony thing, and choose to just be together instead. Once they realized that option was on the table.
Rin says: Yeah, I was surprised by how much I wasn’t worried that they were teens proposing and accepting. I was preeetty sure they weren’t going to go through with it, because Skins is always just so mature about a lot of things, and never treat these kids as kids. They respect them enough to not let them have a foolish teen wedding.
Unlike that so-called Finchel.
Sophy says: Grace smiles, looks tender and sad and as though she might be about to say something sensible like “You’re sweet, Rich, but…” Rich leans in to kiss her quickly, and by the time he pulls away, Grace seems to have understood what he’s doing – what they can both do together for tonight at least.
Because it’s not about getting married, not really. It’s about believing they can.
Rin says: There is.. nothing more. beautiful. than. this. and. them. and. the welled eyes. and.
being things for each other. And. how it makes me unable to capitalise letters. and. things.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world
That has such people in it.”
Sophy says: Grace could not have found a more perfect way to answer the proposal. Jamie Brittain could not have found a more perfect set of words to end the episode.
When Rich says earlier “See how she leans her cheek upon her hand,” both of Grace’s hands are firmly upon the ledge. When he recites “And Juliet is the sun,” he doesn’t do something corny like substituting his girl’s name for the heroine’s. Because this is not about Rich and Grace being just like Romeo and Juliet. They really bear very few similarities to those two crazy kids, and that’s why it’s so perfect that Grace answers his proposal not with Juliet’s lines, but with a quote from another Shakespeare play altogether. Because she’s never going to let the stories tell her – she’s going the tell the stories.
Rin says: This is the kind of TV that makes me proud I love it so much. You know? The kind of TV that is art.
Because it is art. It’s a stroke of creative genius and deserves to be recognised as such. If people ever tell me that I’m wasting my heart on TV, I’ll shove this in their face and won’t let them go until they admit that they are wrong.
Everything about this scene is glorious. The acting, the writing, their shiny faces. And I just want to LAUGH in the faces of everyone who said Jessica Sula can’t act. Cause, lol. Get out. You. Morons.
This kind of verse is just one of those things that I would expect to find under Grace’s character description. Because it’s just so her and speaks of everything that she believes in. That the world isn’t ruined and filled with bad, bad people. And it really is the perfect set of words to end the episode, because Grace has found herself — and this time we feel like she’s never going to lose sight of that again.
Sophy says: Sorry. That wasn’t the episode talking. That was us. Talking with our faces on our keyboards.
I cried when I first watched this scene. Subsequently, just the opening hum of the song had the potential to set me off in various awkward places such as the bus. And, you know, as beautiful as the scene is – as beautiful as this couple is, I was a bit perplexed by the violence of my emotional response. Normally these kinds of feelings are reserved for ships I’ve watched grow over a long period, who have layered and layered their way over my heart, like some kind of papier mache of TV goodness. I haven’t spent nearly enough time with Rich and Grace to feel this way, and yet?
On reflection I realized two things. 1) That is a testament to the exceptional writing in both of their episodes – that with so little time such fullness of emotion has been achieved. 2) It’s not really about Rich and Grace at all for me.
Wow, that sounds wrong. I’d never want anyone to get the impression that I didn’t adore these two, and in fact think theirs is one of the loveliest romances Skins has ever written. It’s just that they’re kind of more than that for me. Just like this scene is not about a particular story, but the generality of stories – the very concept of concepts… so Rich and Grace are not about Rich and Grace for me, but about the pure, raw experience of love and learning, holding on, letting go, and that one bright moment in your life when anything seems possible.
Basically this episode sent me on a nostalgia trip of the most hideous and painful kind. Because the way Rich and Grace feel in this scene, the way they are in this scene… I know it. I understand it. But I also understand that I will never, ever feel it again. And that perhaps I never quite felt it right at all.
Skins pulls this shit on me a lot – guts me with the knowledge of how old I’ve gotten and how I’m now watching television looking back at an impossible dream, instead of forward at a dream equally impossible but not known to be so. That’s the point.
Rin says: Totally. I had a similar reaction in the way where I felt like on the one hand it’s Rich and Grace being their beautiful selves, and on the other it’s so-o-o-oooooooo-o nostalgic because of how free and optimistic they are. And how beauteous mankind is.
Although I think I was left feeling with a lot more optimism about everything, which may just be the way Rophy always works, but I felt like it was a closing of chapters. Almost like a cathartic experience, because we all lose our youth, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing? The future can be as equally exciting? Something like that? I’m sounding more unsure as I go along?
Maybe Rophy aren’t good for each other in the way where we’re both addicted to the past.
Sophy says: LET’S BE CO-DEPENDENT NOSTALGIA-NUTS FOREVER.
Rin says: Careful, the wind might change.
Sophy says: I’d marry it in a heartbeat.
Rin says: So many slow claps.
Sophy says: I consider this episode to be among the most perfect of Skins episodes. I can understand why some other people don’t, particularly if they wrote it off as a trite teen romance with a ridiculous ending cribbed straight from a classic. But I think there is so, so much more to it than that, as I’ve no doubt made clear with the past three pages of gushing.
So, let me just say that I disagree, 507-haters. I disagree with all my heart and I will be clapping till my hands bruise.
Rin says: I DO! I DO! I DO!
Sophy says: GRACE, CHRIST. THAT BOW-TIE.
Rin says: HE JUST WANTS TO FUCK YOU AND THEN FUCK YOU UP!
Salivation was had.
Sophy says: The level of sheer madness Rin and I went through on first watching this ‘Next time’. I can’t even tell you.
We were two crazy people. And by that I mean crazy for us.
Rin says: That second cap? How? Pants?
Sophy says: Sorry Franky, Effy’s winning.
Rin says: Our hero.
Sophy says: And so say both of Rophy.