Sophy says: We open the show during Naomi’s stand-up act. She’s considerably more successful now than she was in her first attempt so I guess she’s gained in confidence and pizzaz over the whole cancer thing. Figures.
Nevertheless she is downright dreadful. She’s a feminist, guys. That means she has hair on her vagina. Except now she doesn’t because she has “a bit of the old cancer”, which she’s like, really lovably frank about. Are you charmed? Just in case you’re not she’s going to throw in a joke about domestic violence.
Really, show? Really?
Naomi Campbell is a useless stoner who makes jokes about domestic violence for a hobby?
Quite apart from the fact that Rihanna jokes are carbon-dated by now, they weren’t even funny to start with. Like, not even a little bit funny. Really, you guys. They are just. Not. Funny. It’s lucky Naomi Campbell isn’t actually Naomi Campbell in Skins Fire or I would be a bit devastated about the lows to which my darling has sunk.
Less offensive but more embarrassing is where the joke goes. Her snatch has been offered a recording contract and a perfume deal. Yeah, okay. It’s lucky Jess Brittain gets to write into the script that people are rolling in the aisles.
Rin says: I mean. Guys.
I won’t go into it too much just yet because we’re only getting started and we don’t need to open that can of worms just yet.
The thing is, I have always been fond of Naomi from the start. She was the one character from the Skins verse that I felt like I knew inside and out. She was guarded and sarcastic, but vulnerable and loving. I think that’s what Jess was trying to touch on with her LOLCANCER comedy act Naomi was doing. But it just doesn’t fly. It’s not that I don’t think Naomi would make jokes about cancer, it’s very much something I could see her doing, it’s more that I see her making a snipe remark about it to her mum. Or to her friends. Not up on stage as part of her comedy act.
Or maybe it’s still because I can’t get on board with the idea of Naomi being a stand-up comedian in the first place.
I’m easily charmed by Naomi. EASILY. CHARMED. She wore that weird denim nappy dress, those floral jackets, and I was all ‘awww look who has trouble dressing themselves’ about it. She cheated on Emily and fucked the dead girl and I felt sorry for her.
The fact that I can’t laugh at/with/about Naomi when she’s actually partaking in an activity where the main goal is to get us to laugh? Yeah. I think that’s pretty telling.
Sophy says: You know what I just realized? The whole idea of Naomi partaking in an activity where the main goal is to get people to laugh is just off. It’s just way, way, way off. She would never. In fact, right now I’m vividly imagining a scenario in which Emily takes her to see some comedy act and she sits there not getting any of it and doing that thing where you laugh slightly too loudly in the not-quite-right places. It’s delicious.
Rin says: And then the rest of the episode was just scraping and shaking and they lived happily ever after.
Fade out to black.
THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT.
Sophy says: Best series ending ever tbh.
Sophy says: Effy storms off. I’d like to think she’s offended by the very bad comedy that is happening, but unfortunately she’s just being moody about Naomi’s terminal illness. It affects her so much more than it affects Naomi you guys.
She storms into her boyfriend’s apartment whingeing about sitting through Naomi’s act, and how Naomi still isn’t paying rent. She asks if you can ask someone who’s got cancer if they can pay the rent, and I think this is supposed to be one of those gritty, disarming ‘real’ moments, in which Effy is Not Our Heroine.
Unfortunately all I want to do is slap her across the face and say “No, you can’t ask someone who’s got cancer if they can pay the rent, go fuck yourself you selfish little twat.”
And hey, well, maybe you can when a) you didn’t cheat 1.2 million at your highly paid job a couple of months ago, b) you aren’t swimming in pretty dresses you could be selling on ebay so your friend who has cancer could maybe not have to work a 9-5 while she has the cancer so she can pay you rent, and c) your smarmy boss boyfriend doesn’t live in a penthouse apartment. The bottom line is that Effy is not struggling to pay the rent. Even if she was she could always move to a smaller place like normal humans do. Therefore whining that Naomi has not paid her rent is fucking disgusting.
But you know what, it’s probably not supposed to be a ‘real’ moment so much as a textbook defense mechanism at work. The logic would be that if she can be so crass about money when her friend is dying, her friend couldn’t really be dying. Focusing on petty things like rent helps her pretend the cancer-elephants aren’t in the room.
Bossfriend isn’t interested in the rant and goes in for smoochies. Effy tells him “No! Listen to me, I’m angry!” as though she might want him to respect her or something. But of course that’s all a smoke-screen. He tells her to shut up and she promptly says “Okay”. She then dissolves into giggles as he picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, carries her off to bed. It’s like a study in feminine disempowerment and it is played as adorable. We’re supposed to be thinking ‘Look at those two loved up fools.’ Not ‘ew’. Certainly not ‘Who is this girl and what has she done with Effy?’
Things that struck me about this scene: Effy had an extremely normal response to Naomi’s illness and being forced to confront it in the form of lols. It was so normal it was trite. She’s afraid, she reacts with anger. She acts like Naomi’s cancer is the kind of nuisance she can slip into bitchy sentences so she can tell herself it’s not a Voldemort. Speak its name, you know? Take its power. This is the same thing Naomi is doing with her comedy. It’s standard stuff.
Effy Stonem has a standard response to her friend’s possible death.
That just does not work for me. One of the defining characteristics of Effy is that she does not respond the way you think she will; her emotions are just not wired to her behaviour in the same way as most people’s are. That line about her being born backwards was not just something super-cool she said when she was a teenager. It had meaning. It was why she went out with those guys in the first place, and it was why she placidly let them stick a needle in her arm. It was why she fucked Cook when she loved Freddie. It’s why she wanted to die on a soft, warm day.
Yet in Skins Fire Effy reacts to Naomi’s illness the way any number of people who fall within the realm of normal might. She behaves with her boyfriend just like your average overawed girlfriend might. He tells her to shut up, and she giggles and melts into a playful embrace, slaps his behind, they forget their troubles. This is how it works and it only stops working this way when he surprises her with his betrayal.
It looks like Effy isn’t afraid of love making her weak anymore, huh? And yet here that’s exactly what it does.
She doesn’t notice. She falls into all the traps because she’s a regular girl now. And maybe that’s a fair call. Maybe people who are selectively mute and have psychotic episodes growing up and generally go through everything that Effy has been through can wind up thoroughly emotionally indistinguishable from every other young woman three years later. Maybe Effy had a truckload of therapy with a non-homicidal therapist and that’s how she became the person she is in Skins Fire, but here’s the thing, I don’t care.
Effy saunters out of their room in the mdidle of the night to find Bossfriend on the phone barking at someone about money. She gazes adoringly at him and I’m struck by a thought I can’t believe I haven’t had up until now; a thought that shows just how powerfully TV has conditioned me to make assumptions about a female lead and the first man she makes googly eyes at. The question is one Dominic will ask when it’s far too late to be incisive: Why does Effy like this guy?
Really. Why? He has not said or done a single thing that is interesting or charming thus far. And yet she is mooning over him like we have never seen an Effy Stonem moon. (And don’t tell me this is true of Freddie because I’m just going to shake my bread at you, okay? Whether you liked the relationship or not I could write you an essay on the reasons Effy was attracted to Freddie.)
Effy takes a leaf out of her man’s book, blah-blahs him cutely and orders him back to bed. No feminists were harmed in the making of Skins Fire!
Rin says: I think that these two scenes in succession showed us more than anything is that Effy is just a normal, cliche, boring girlfriend. Because where have we not seen the, “No! Listen to me, I’m angry!” while playfully hitting the boyfriend?
Where have we not seen the late at night, boyfriend at the computer — girlfriend comes out in one of his shirts and tells him to “Come back to bed.” ?????
These are all paint by numbers for the girl character who ISN’T the protaganist. Like, the boyfriend is actually doing more important things than Effy at this moment. And?? WHAT?? He has the power. He has the job that keeps him up at night.
Effy just exists to please him.
And wow, I have never felt like Effy was a cliche before, until Skins Fire. ACTUALLY. I’ve never felt like any Skins character was a cliche until Skins 6, and Skins Fire. And yes, I won’t be giving earth wind heart a try either, because I am done with Skins forever. YEP, DROPPING THAT BOMB EARLY ON.
And I can’t believe they managed to dull Effy to the point where she couldn’t even cut butter and could be given to babies as a play thing.
SHE JUST REALLY WANTS TO BE GOOD AT HER JOB YOU GUYS
THAT’S LITERALLY ALL SHE WANTS IN SKINS FIRE.
And the worst thing is that they’ll keep on trying to tell us that this is just Skins grown up, and if we don’t like it, it means that you don’t understand what ~being an adult is like.
I feel like I’m already saying stuff like it’s part of my final rant on everything. I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS YOU GUYS AND WHEN I GET STARTED IT’S LIKE A SNOWBALL AND I’M BALLIN’ DOWN THE MOUNTAIN AND ONLY PICKING UP SPEED.
Sophy says: Earth Wind Heart.
EARTH WIND HEART.
Rin says: Wait! I left out Water!! How could I leave out water?? I always had to be water on the account of my asianess.
Sophy says: Effy goes in to work and gets berated by a Fat Unattractive Mean Coworker who points out that she sucks at her job. He says a report she wrote makes no sense and she apologizes for ‘getting the files mixed up’. I’m surprised Jess Brittain didn’t just have him say ‘You suck at stockbroking’ and have Effy retort ‘Sorry I suck at stockbroking!’
Effy huffs in her lace sleeves and gazes at Bossfriend who is being similarly berated. THEY ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.
Rin says: I just. Getting the files mixed up must be the worst thing in stockbroking.
I would think that she could just, you know, put them back in their proper order. But apparently it means she has to work into the night about it. We’re deep into the world of stockbroking now.
Sophy says: Effy throws papers around to express her frustration. She then looks out the window and stares at Dominic in the building opposite. She smiles. Looking back I guess she’s thinking ‘I know how to solve all my problems’.
Rin says: These shots were really pretty. Except that I couldn’t even appreciate them because we all saw it coming.
Sophy says: Effy comes home to a tackle-hugging Emily. I really wish I could feel something about this but I just can’t. Actually, I find I’m feeling a lot more about it in screencap form that I did in the actual episode. I guess because I can make up my own dialogue to go along with the extreme adorableness.
Rin says: Oh yeah, it’s way better in screencap form.
Isn’t that awful? THE MOST AWFUL?
Emily Fitch returning to our screens doesn’t have us jumping for joy.
Rin says: She’s such a Thomas at the end of 401. Crying into cupboards.
Sophy says: CRY YOUR NEON TEARS STONEM. CRY THEM GOOD.
MOAR NAOMILY, THOMAS.
Sophy says: Naomi indicates to Effy that she hasn’t told Emily about the cancer, which probably wasn’t necessary on account of how mostly your girlfriend doesn’t engage in tackle-hugs with the world’s shiniest smile on her face after getting that kind of news, but whatever.
Rin says: WAIT. For a second I thought Naomi was wearing Mr Men pyjama pants and I almost forgave Skins Fire for everything. But they’re just flowers. So. No feelings have been changed. Well, except for the ones where I feel like I really need a pair of Mr Men pyjama pants now. I literally just tried to google them and I don’t think they exist. URGH. FURTHER ANGERED.
Sophy says: If you were an 18 month old baby I could get them for you.
Sophy says: After the Effy/Emily cute hug and quippy comment about her outfit is over, Naomi and Emily interact for a few seconds in the most pedestrian way possible. Naomi says Emily’s photos are really good and she’s really proud of her.
Cherish this, you guys. It’s one of three conversations Naomi and Emily have in the entirety of Skins Fire. And that’s counting the one on Skype in the last episode.
I didn’t cherish it, I just kind of spat it out in disgust. But now I am looking at that cap of Emily standing there gazing adoringly at Naomi and thinking of all the things this scene could have been about and wasn’t and oh.
Rin says: It’s not about them. It’s about Effy. We have no time for Naomi and Emily to interact okay? It doesn’t matter that they were one of the most beloved ships to come out of Skins. They’re only here as wallpaper for Effy’s room. Actually scrap that, Effy would really enjoy Naomily wallpaper. She’d be all like Veruca in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and eagerly lick the walls.
Sophy says: MMMM LESBIAN WALLPAPER.
I can also see what appears to be a double-bass case. Effy and Naomi are such hipster bohemians.
Sophy says: Cut to Naomi and Effy at Naomi’s scan. They have a brief discussion to the effect that Naomi isn’t telling Emily about the cancer because she’ll drop out of her internship over it and Naomi doesn’t want that because she knows how hard she worked to get it. She says she’ll tell Emily when it’s all over, indicating that she intends to fight this and beat it, and that therefore there’s no reason for Emily to be set back in her career about it. It’s impossible to say how realistic this idea is, given that we haven’t been given any details about Naomi’s cancer.
I am very, very, very, very uncomfortable with the idea that it’s okay to withhold this kind of information from your partner. Having said that, if Naomi had a reasonable prospect of success in beating it I could understand delaying.
So we’re cool.
Rin says: I don’t understand why we never get told what kind of cancer Naomi has. Is it because being too specific would mean you would actually have to do a bit more research and figure out specifics and timelines and whatnot? I literally picture them sitting in front of the script, writing, and then briefly thinking, “Hmm, what type of cancer? …Minor detail! ”
I mostly get it at this point though, that she doesn’t tell Emily straight away, given the impression that it’s still early days it seems. Even though she really should tell Emily, seeing as how lying and being deceitful almost ended them a few years back, BUT YA KNOW What’s a bit of non-specific cancer vs. fucking dead girls.
Sophy says: This bothers me so much.
Sophy says: Effy goes with Naomi to have her scan but then freaks out and walks away during. This would be understandable if she was still seeing horizon-Sophias, but since she’s as sane as the next girl these days she is just a crummy self-involved friend. Especially because Naomi makes it clear how much she needs her to be present with her through this, being unable to let go of her hand till the last minute.
And then, you know, I rewatched the scene and it’s possible that Effy just scurried over to the other side of the room rather than actually leaving it. But either way. All I can think is ‘Grow the fuck up, Cash princess.’
Rin says: That nickname is way too cute. Like I can see Betty calling Gladys that. Sorry Bomb Girls, referencing you whilst we’re in the thick of this just seems wrong.
The lead vest is really cute on Effy.
Oh and I do like how they light/colour the hospital scenes in contrast to other scenes.
SEE. SOME POSITIVES!
Sophy says: We cut immediately to Effy/Bossfriend because that’s, you know, important. (Silly Rin hasn’t even capped the OTP madness that is Effy/Bossfriend’s scene outside her apartment, why Rin, why???)
Bossfriend is important too, in the sense of being too cool for Effy apparently. See Effy invited him for dinner to meet her friends but is surprised he actually came, and chuffed, naturally. It must be awful having a boyfriend you see as so much more special than you that you assume he wouldn’t want to meet your friends.
Bossfriend pops champagne and chats with Naomi. Naomi is a little overwhelmed by the idea that he gets million pound bonuses. Bossfriend comments that they’re not always a million. Naomi and Emily chuckle and are all ‘Okay then, as long as they’re not all million pound bonuses, keeping it real’. It’s not mean-spirited and it’s completely understandable.
Rin says: BECAUSE I GIVE ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKS ABOUT THEM
The ‘not always’ and their response was actually kind of cute. It’s one of the more natural exchanges that happens because it seems like friendly dinner banter. It really does. Although that might all be down to the way Emily laughs. Who knows.
Sophy says: Effy decides Naomi’s mild joking gives her license to be a vile bitch. She calls Naomi out on ‘lounging around all day’ and it’s a good thing Emily didn’t know about the cancer at that point or she probably would have taken to her head with some kind of rock.
Meanwhile, let’s take Effy’s question seriously. She asks if just because Bossfriend isn’t an unemployed comedian that means he doesn’t live in the real world. The answer to that is no. But the fact that he’s a smarmy shit who cheats to make disgusting amounts of money, pimps his girlfriend out to other men like him and ultimately packs her off to jail whilst covering his own ass? He doesn’t live in the real world. He lives in a world of Bossfriend cliches.
Oh by the way apparently he went to ‘Oxbridge’ to learn how to become a stockbroker, which is shorthand for ‘stuffy, rich people school’. Effy didn’t need to go there though, guys. She just has hunches. Which according to Dominic is how stockbroking works, so A+.
Rin says: Effy is such an asshole, seriously. Who says that when a. you’re having dinner with guests, b. she’s your “best friend”, c. she’s your “best friend” who you’ve just been to the hospital with and got freaked out whilst she was getting scans because of how real it was.
ALL THIS FOR JAKE??? JAKE??????????????????
Who we have no idea why you even like him, let alone to the extent of being an asshole to your oldest friends?
Sophy says: I ALWAYS FORGET HE’S CALLED JAKE. Who is the worst Jake, the Glee-ruiner or the Skins-ruiner???
Sophy says: Naomi calls Effy a “shining example” that she and Emily look up to her mocking her for being so fucking high and mighty about her boss-fucking money-making new life.
Bossfriend says that they should indeed look up to Effy and proposes a toast as follows:
“To Effy, the most fucking together person I’ve ever met in my life.”
I actually erupted into laughter at this point. And not for the same reasons Naomi and Emily do.
Because of course. Of course Bossfriend says that. Of course he proposes the weirdest, most contrived ‘I love my girlfriend’ toast ever. He has to, you guys. So that Jess Brittain can reference Effy’s past and all.
But look, first of all, we have not seen any particular evidence of Effy as being ‘together’. I’m not saying we’ve seen any evidence that she’s not together either. But I’ve known plenty of people who are just as together as she is and I’m willing to bet Bossfriend has too. Maybe one of his employees who doesn’t throw paper around in frustration or mix up files and produce nonsense reports? It might have worked if he’d added ‘for her age’ but then… that would have highlighted the creep-factor wouldn’t it?
Anyway, regardless of whether Effy gets Bossfriend’s blue ribbon for togetherness, it’s still just a peculiar thing to say about your girlfriend. And his delivery is hilarious too. He lingers over the ridiculous words, draws them out the way a comedian would, as though he’s forgotten he’s not supposed to be in on the joke.
But the worst part, the absolute worst part about this scene is that Naomi and Emily laugh. They laugh and laugh and laugh. And Emily says “Don’t be mean, she’s a good girl now.” And it’s like nails on a stupid bitchboard.
Effy wasn’t a ‘bad girl’ when we last checked in. She was mentally ill. She tried to kill herself. She was institutionalised and treated by a lunatic who was obsessed with her. This lunatic erased her memories and manipulated her thinking. He then beat her boyfriend – Naomi and Emily’s friend – to death with a baseball bat. He then tried to beat their other friend to death. Their friend killed him and went on the run.
DEAR JESS BRITTAIN, THIS IS NOT LOLS.
Neither Naomi nor Emily are heartless morons – nor is Effy for that matter. So stop trying to make them all be heartless morons.
That’s really all I have to say. But it’s worth taking a moment to absorb the fact that that right there is the sum total of our connection to who Effy was in Skins gen 2. We’re taking a moment. And we’re done.
Rin says: I am shaking my head in disbelief. It’s actually shocking the lack of care Jess has given this scene. In what world. IN WHAT WORLD. Do Naomi and Emily make fun of the time Effy was mentally ill, tried to kill herself, etc. mentioned above. It’s ridiculous and careless and if something like this actually happened in real life I’m pretty sure you would cut out those friends and never see them again.
At any rate, I can’t even with the toast. Embarrassing.
Rin says: Seems like Effy should have been the one to try her hand at stand-up.
Sophy says: Zing!
Sophy says: Effy storms off to bed – in a together kind of way. Bossfriend follows.
Rin says: ONLY BECAUSE NAOMI GESTURES AT HIM TO FOLLOW HER.
Otherwise he could have been stuck at that table forever!
Sophy says: Naomi and Emily interact for a few seconds. They discuss Effy. This is their third and final conversation in Skins Fire. I have nothing further to say.
EXCEPT LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE FACES.
Rin says: Fuck
They never. Speak. Again.
WOW. SHOW. WOW.
Why didn’t anyone over there realise how absurd that was? That the audience would never get to see how Naomi and Emily dealt with Naomi dying??
IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS OKAY?? Laughing and laughing.
Sophy says: I hope an apologist comes and tells us I’m wrong because they talk at the airport. I really do.
Sophy says: Effy and Bossfriend are trying to have grown up sex. Or should I called it together-sex. Yeah.
Meanwhile Naomi and Emily are gasping obnoxiously from the other room, you know, the way comedy dykes do. I think this is probably supposed to be charming. I think we’re probably supposed to be thinking how tingly it is that our lesbian couple have lots of sex just like regular people. Great. As long as the lesbians are fucking.
No need for us to step into the bedroom, right? No need for us to hear the things they say to each other after what? 3 months for them? 3 years for us. No need for us to hear any specifics. No need for us to touch base emotionally. Naomi and Emily are A Happy Lesbian Couple in Skins Fire. That’s it. That’s all we get.
That and the cancer.
Bossfriend whines about sucking at stockbroking. The figures are low. Has has nothing to tell the investors. Effy says it’s just the recession. Jess Brittain has done about as much research as your average fanfic writer and it’s funny, actually, because all along I’ve been thinking how she clearly doesn’t care about Skins, only about her stockbroking plot, but now I’m realizing that she doesn’t actually care about her stockbroking plot either.
Bossfriend says he needs another big win. He then says he needs “an Effy special”. Actual bile rose in my throat. Bile and giggles.
Effy tells him she was just lucky that one time. He’s not buying that bullshit! She’s brilliant! Why he thinks this is anybody’s guess. I’ll tell you what struck me though: how depressing this cliche is. The young female who gets her male boss’ attention with the lie of her genius – the lie of her competence, even – and is rewarded with him, him, him, in her pants! Even more depressing is what comes next. Effy comes clean – sort of. She says she “had some help,” and honestly I don’t buy for a second that she would tell him that, but there you go. Bossfriend tells her there’s nothing wrong with that and that he could do with some more of it and can she make it happen again. And this is where Effy conforms in a nail/coffin way to her cliche by being willing to do things that get you sent to jail to keep him interested. Worlds of yuck. Worlds of anti-Effy Stonem.
I’m not going to pretend that the Effy Stonem we once knew was some kind of fine, upstanding law-abiding citizen or anything, but she wasn’t this girl. She would never in a million, BAJILLION years have been this girl. Effy/insider trading I can handle, but not where it is to please her man. I mean wow.
Rin says: What no. There is no possible outcome where the Naomily sex noises were supposed to be charming. THEY WERE SO GROSS. Even Kat had to clarify on twitter that it WASN’T HER who was making them.
AN EFFY SPECIAL.
LET ME DIE.
Again, why does Effy like this guy??
It sounds like a food order.
Which Effy would totally make into a vegan option to attract the lesbians.
Don’t be offended. You know it’s true.
Rin says: Now I’m just picturing the cashier asking if you would like fries with that, and Effy’s in the little fry tray area just sitting there looking all eager and excited, praying they say yes.
Sophy says: Naomi and Emily make out on the travelator at the airport. It’s a bit magic but a bit hard to enjoy when you’re processing that yes, Emily’s going back to New York already. No, Naomi and Emily are not getting a scene out of it – not one without Effy lurking in the background for no good reason that is. Their dialogue consists of “Bye. I love you.” and “Love you too.” Yes really.
Rin says: It’s probably one of my favourite shots that we’ve gotten out of Skins Fire, and it doesn’t even have anything to do with the fact that they’re smooshing faces. But yes, it was still magic as Sophy said, and full props to the Director/DP.
YES I JUST SAID THAT I DON’T EVEN CARE WHEN THE PRETTY GIRLS ARE KISSING.
Sophy says: What on earth is Emily wearing. I’m kind in love with it. In a what on earth way. LOLOLOL EFFY lurking like some kind of Sophia.
Rin says: Emily is wearing what Emily wears! It reminds me of purple pantaloons.
Sophy says: Naomily say goodbye. This is the second time their lips have touched! What fan could ask for more.
Rin says: At least the chemistry between these two is still there. Which kind of makes me sad because WHAT A WASTE. These two are something special when they’re onscreen together, and it’s a real shame they only ever get to say a few lines IN TOTAL to each other because stockbroking is more important.
IN WHAT WORLD.
Sophy says: This is the best thing to come out of Skins Fire. These two caps, right here, right now, out of any kind of context please and thank you.
Rin says: It’s sad how very true your statement is.
p.s it reminds me of Faberry in the bathroom during The Great Giving Of The Metro North Pass Of 2012. Ok bye.
Sophy says: YOU GOT THEM IN!
Sophy says: It’s worth noting though that Kat rocks the hell out of the scene. In fact, Kat rocks the hell out of all her scenes in Skins Fire. I’m a big fan of both Kaya and Lily but neither of them was really able to do anything interesting with the dreck that is this script. Yet somehow, Kat Prescott manages to make a little magic. All the awards, including the cutest human ever award, reissued with much reverence on this occasion, some three years after it was first given.
Rin says: I love Kathryn Prescott. It makes me angry that she has not been in more things since Skins.
IN WHAT WORLD do you not hire her? We’ll talk more about this later when she makes her return trip.
Can I also just briefly mention how well her internship must be going, that she can afford to pop back to London because she had ‘a few days off’?? Like wow. I want that internship. Unless of course Get Fitch is now a million dollar company and her trip was fully funded by Rob. OH FITCHES. COME BACK TO ME. Although no, stay where you are. You are much much safer in the past than this cruel Skins hell we’re in now.
It’s just funny to me that there’s so much focus on Naomi being the worst human being in the world for not working and having money for rent, and here’s Emily just popping in from New York! Surprise!
Sophy says: I know right! She probably could have bought Naoms a new Unidentified Internal Organ.
Sophy says: Always present, always naked.
Rin says: Is Naomi too overwhelmed by the sight of Mandeh following Emily, or slightly relieved she will no longer be the gropee? Column A/Column B?
Sophy says: Naomi crumples once Emily is out of sight. Effy asks why she won’t tell Emily the truth. Naomi says it’s because Emily matters to her more than the truth does, and it’s a nice line. Or it would be a nice line for anyone other than the character who nearly destroyed this very relationship because Emily mattered more to her than the truth did. Sure, the context was different then. What mattered to Naomi more than being honest was keeping Emily for herself, not doing what she thought was best for her. But it’s still a little difficult to hear Naomi Campbell talk about how honesty doesn’t matter in reference to her relationship with Emily Fitch and not flash back to that hideous moment on the roof when all of her lies were found out.
Naomi tells Effy she wouldn’t expect her to understand. I’m entirely unsure as to why, because Effy is neither a particularly truthful nor unloving person – the Effy I know, that is. The only explanation for the line is that Jess Brittain wanted Effy to end the scene reflecting on how maybe she should take a leaf out of Naomi’s book and be dishonest for her one true love Bossfriend. I hate to have to even engage with such an idea, but it really does seem like the line is there for that reason. Worse still, it seems to me that Naomi’s entire MO of not telling Emily about the cancer is there because there wouldn’t be time to have Emily actually be a part of that story. And why would we want that anyway? Skins Fire just isn’t about that relationship.
Rin says: I do like the moment where Naomi bowls over after Emily has left. It’s a nice touch.
I started another rant here, but it started going into end rant territory again. I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. So. More on that later.
Sophy says: The token office asshole gets up in Effy’s face about the fact that she re-fucked up that report she fucked up. He makes nasty remarks about how Effy wouldn’t have this job if she didn’t have the boss’s dick in her mouth, and I wish it wasn’t basically true so I could be more outraged by it. Bossfriend gave Effy this job based on deceitful and unprofessional behaviour. I guess you could say he had an extremely counter-intuitive hunch about her. No one would believe that had nothing to do with the fact that she is one of the most physically stunning women he has ever seen, including in the movies. Not when he traded in his old model for her in the bedroom.
Effy tells the token office asshole who has a point to fuck off. Bam! Her mousey co-worker who I guess is now her unimportant underling offers support, telling her the guy was way out of line. Effy tells her to fuck off. And that is out of line if anything ever was. This girl who was once her friend first of all warns her she’s about to get a serve, then sympathizes with her about it when many others in her position would be too peeved at her sudden, unmerited ascent to care… and Effy thinks it’s okay to straight up tell her to fuck off.
This is one of those pithy things people do sometimes in movies and on TV that I have never heard a single person who is not mentally ill doing in the real world.
Rin says: Don’t you sometimes wish we had the Effy of series 1 back? The one who didn’t talk?? That would be nice sometimes.
Sophy says: Effy looks out the window and smiles at something she sees below just the same way she smiles out the window at something she saw in the next building. The something is Dominic, and the reason for the smile is made clear and gross as we cut to Effy asking him if he can please risk his job and also jail so she can impress her boss again.
He says no and she says that’s okay in that particular flat, inviting way people say things are okay when they’re not really. He tries to get her to say something more reassuring like how everything will be fine and she doesn’t know what she was thinking asking him to do something like that by telling her it seems like she’s doing okay. She doesn’t. She says things are really bad for her firm and then says how upset Bossfriend about it and I’m suddenly confused. Because I’d assumed nobody could be this crass unless they were intending to be manipulative, and manipulative is something I can live with in terms of Effy and her characterization… but there’s has never ever been a stupider move in terms of trying to get the boy who has the hots for you to do what you want than telling him it’s for your current beau’s peace of mind.
Nevertheless, Dominic only huffs. He will eventually comply. God only knows why.
So Effy says Bossfriend is “really worried” and that he asked her to help him and I could puke from all the encoded patriarchy that’s going on there but whatever. Dominic asks why Effy likes Bossfriend and as noted above, it’s a question that needs an answer. Unfortunately Effy’s is not enlightening. She says Bossfriend makes her feel like she’s good at being a stockbroker. Well, gee, wow. The other day this guy told me he thought I was good at my job. It didn’t make me want to hook up with him, or, you know, throw away my future for him.
Even when Effy was crying in bed in a mental institution I have never once seen her as pathetic. But this girl? This girl is beyond pathetic. She likes the man who likes her for being something she’s not because he makes her feel like something she’s not. That’s bad enough. But then it’s not even coherent, is it? Because this is Effy speaking about how she feels about Bossfriend after she’s told him the truth about her entire lack of stockbroking genius. How on earth that happened and changed nothing about their relationship dynamic is beyond me. I get that Bossfriend is a creepy, disingenuous, self-interested fuck and that therefore he would not be above pretending to feel exactly the same way about Effy so that he could harness her low self-esteem to make himself some more cash. But why on earth would Effy continue to feel safe and comforted and successful due to being in a relationship with him now that he knows she’s a fraud? To quite Buffy, that makes the kind of sense that’s not.
Dominic has a little meltdown about how pathetically in love with Effy he is and Effy tells him it’s just a crush and calls him a twat. That’s a line I might have enjoyed from the real Effy. From this boring pussy of a woman it just comes off as bitchy. Dominic responds by listing all the ways Effy is ruining his life – by making friends with him and getting him addicted to cigarettes and just generally refusing to fulfill his Nice Guys Don’t Always Come Last dream. It’s all kinds of gross, which I’ll discuss later, but the actor actually does a pretty nice job of it. A touch I do like: he tells Effy she should stay away from him for a bit and not come to this smoking spot anymore… and then promptly sits back down beside her. Sad and cute. Or it would have been if it had been left there. Instead the point is laboured as Effy says minxily “I think you’ll find this is my smoking spot,” and Dominic smiles like that has made everything he just said go away. Blah.
Rin says: But wait, didn’t Effy like him BEFORE HE EVEN REALLY KNEW HER NAME? It was made clear that she had been making eyes at him before she was even promoted, or did anything except be the secretary at the office. So I don’t see how ‘he makes me feel like I’m good at what I do’ is a valid answer. Plus, wow, way to actually not have any real reason that is about him as a human being. And only about you. Just, wow.
Then again, there are no qualities in him that are attractive, so I guess we’re just scraping that barrel anyway.
I hate that Dom smiles at what Effy says. He had his moment where he was asking for some actual respect and care, but of course that all goes down the drain because Effy is Effy and EVERYBODY LOVES EFFY. That though, was one of the great qualities that Effy had back in the day. With Fire’s Effy, it doesn’t even make sense. Except okay, she’s gorgeous beyond the telling of it, but surely we’re not just expected to think that’s the extent of why everybody falls in love with Effy.
Because it never was.
Sophy says: Effy’s late for the doctor, but thankfully doctors always keep you waiting, so no big. It’s not like Naomi needed anyone to sit with her and read old copies of Woman’s Day to keep her mind off her impending doom.
The doctor has bad news. Although I think we should all just count ourselves lucky he doesn’t have a baseball bat.
Rin says: From some of these caps you could almost say that Effy got diagnosed with cancer, and Naomi is asking questions as a concerned friend.
MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT.
EFFY SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THE NON-SPECIFIC CANCER.
Sophy says: Again, Jess Brittain puts in fanfic levels of research, as the doctor tells us the radiotherapy didn’t work, so it’s time for chemotherapy and Naomi conveniently cuts him off before he can explain further. Naomi berates him for no good reason, but I think that’s just supposed to be one of those things people do when doctors give them bad news.
Having said that, his news isn’t actually that bad. He says he’s “very optimistic” about her being able to beat this with chemo. So I guess that answers my earlier question. Up to this point, at least, it’s been pretty reasonable for Naomi to expect to be able to recover without having to bother Emily. Too bad things are going to nosedive rapidly into There’s nothing we can do territory.
Naomi huffs her way down the corridor and Effy tells her she’s going the wrong way because they’re taking “my car”. Naomi says she doesn’t have a car though. Turns out she does now. And not just any car. A chauffeur driven BMW. Yes, this is a sure sign that the company is in dire straights. No wonder Effy feels she has to resort to moar insider trading. And no wonder she had to whine about her friend who has cancer staying at her place for free for a while. Gag.
Rin says: It was off-putting how rude Naomi was to the doctor. This is what, her second or third appointment and she’s already this frustrated at what isn’t really terrible news. I feel like this scene didn’t need to exist, or if it was to exist, then we needed to see the scene where Naomi is told there are no other options. We don’t get a lot of Naomi’s feelings towards her cancer. We get a few. We get last episodes breakdown, with the confusing “You win!” (because it’s about Effy still) andddd we get this. Then a bit of crying over leaving Emily behind. And then we get SHE’S AT PEACE WITH DYING.
And all of it has to do with Effy not being able to deal with it.
Hahahhhhhhhhhhhah. Why. Why. Why.
Sophy says: LILY’S FACE THOUGH. Dominic is waiting at the door with flowers for Naomi, which would be super-sweet if it weren’t for the fact that it’s probably just so he can get a glimpse of his Mystery Princess and if it didn’t serve to highlight the ridiculousness of Naomi going through this with only Effy Stonem for support. So maybe she’s not telling Emily. But where the hell is her mother? Where are all the other friends Jess Brittain has not bothered to write for Naomi?
Rin says: Naomi has no mother. Naomi has no other friends.
Isn’t that the best
Naomi is dying. Gina must be one heartless bitch to not be at Naomi’s side.
Also I’m pretty sure Naomi wouldn’t have her own health insurance, and would be under Gina’s. So, I don’t see how there is any way that she wouldn’t know. And I’m pretty sure when you get diagnosed with cancer, they ask about who to contact, and family etc. At what point does Naomi go, ‘Nope. Don’t tell my mother?’ SHE HAS A REASONABLY GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH GINA.
In what world does a daughter not tell her mother, whom she loves, that she has cancer.
Although, for all we know. Gina died in the last 3 years.
p.s. Gina would have called Emily.
Sophy says: Gina would have called Jess Brittain and asked her to stop.
By the way did anyone else notice how off the score was in this scene? I don’t know if it was off in other places too, this just really stood out to me because I went back to get screencaps and noticed it for the third time. There was just something distinctly un-Skins about the music as Naomi and Effy got out of the car and walked along the pavement to Dominic/flowers. It sounded like something out of a quaint British romantic dramedy starring like, Simon Pegg and a more attractive female?
AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICED THIS? I bet I’m the only one who noticed this.
Sophy says: I bet he didn’t even know what the lily meant until Effy came along!
Rin says: And it’s not a real bouquet without Lily heads.
Sophy says: Dominic watches some TV with Naomi while Effy loiters. He then decides to do the insider trading thing after all. I have no idea why. Maybe seeing her pull up in the company car just highlighted how much of a financial damsel she is? He leaves Effy with a thumbdrive saying that something is going down tomorrow. Again, Jess Brittain keeps it vague so as to avoid actually having to actually know anything about business.
Rin says: This is one of those scenes that specifically had to happen because of when Naomi later says she just wanted her best friend to sit with her and watch tv. So here’s Effy ~at a distance, when she watches tv with Dom instead.
Dom needs to be less pathetic.
We’ll see him say so later. We’ll also see him not care about that later. Amongst other things.
And then he disappears into a puff of smoke and no one ever heard from him again.
Sophy says: It would have been cool if he actually had disappeared into a puff of smoke. I wish JJ was here.
Sophy says: Some gas company is getting some mining approval tomorrow which will send the share price up, despite environmental activists objecting which has had the share price down (because people are worried that means it won’t get this approval). I may be wrong but I would have thought this was the kind of thing hotshot traders worked out using their brains. I thought the whole point was being more informed and more cool-headed than everyone else. But apparently it’s about hunches and USB drives.
Bossfriend says they need to buy the shares – they need to buy it all! He’s an idiot who’s gagging to get caught. He asks Effy how much her portfolio is and she says it’s 10 million and I’m giggling because yes, of course, they put her in charge of 10 million dollars, why the fuck not. Bossfriend says that’s not enough, because he’s an idiot who’s gagging to get caught. He asks if Effy knows a co-worker’s password, which, sure, of course, why wouldn’t she know a co-worker’s password. This writing.
It only gets worse when Effy tells him that “they reset them last week. It will be his surname.” Can someone please confirm for me that this does not actually happen? Because if this actually happens the world is a stupider place than I thought.
A stockbroking firm resets the passwords on its accounts, accounts from which sums like 10 million dollars can be splashed around, and it does this “last week,” and chooses the the most obvious thing possible for the reset so that any fifth-rate criminal mastermind wannabe dipshit like Effy and her Bossfriend can log right on?
Bossfriend enters the embarrassment-password and says “Bingo. Go Effy!” I physically cringe.
Meanwhile, I think my favourite part is that he and Effy choose Mark’s account to hack into for their illegal activity. I didn’t realize it until just now but Mark is one of two people in the office who are not just extras. He’s the one who hates Effy’s guts and resents Bossfriend promoting her because she’s on his dick. Of course you’d use his account! How else can you make absolutely sure you get caught?
Rin says: HAHAHAHAHA. I JUST. WOW. The password is his last name.
THAT’S THE KIND OF STUFF THAT HAPPENS AT HIGH SCHOOL. Like, your default password and then you CHANGE IT IMMEDIATELY.
But of course, at a million dollar firm, PSCHH I’m surprised they even have passwords! Just turn off the monitor, that’ll keep your stuff secure!
And it’s just plain stupid. Talk about being the worst criminals ever. Was there no point that either of them thought, oh.. maybe they monitor this kind of stuff. Maybe they check the times, amount etc. that we invest and compare it to the profits. NOPE. JUST PUT EVERYTHING WE HAVE INTO THAT STOCK AT ONCE AND TOMORROW WE’LL BE BILLIONAIRES. No one will notice.
He’s the fucking head of the company.
I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE ARE UNREALISTICALLY STUPID.
Sophy says: Next Effy sits around clicking her pen watching her criminal activity pay off. This is, I think, working, for her. This is interspersed with a sex montage. Don’t get too excited, it’s not Naomily.
To be honest though, it should be…
It’s a shame that we had to sit through meaningless grossness between two people I don’t care about who don’t actually care about each other instead.
Rin says: Roll! Roll! Roll!
Honestly though, this may be one of the worst montages Skins has ever done.
Why didn’t they just have sex on a bed made of money? I don’t think you’ve quite been heavy handed enough.
Sophy says: LOL KAYA. Still bringing the gay, even in the giant funsponge that is Skins Fire.
Rin says: Aw, bless her. Kaya trying her hardest to bring the real Effy back.
Sophy says: Effy goes to a fancy party and dances with the mousy girl from the office who has of course completely forgiven her for her antisocial abusive behaviour.
More grossness between Effy and Bossfriend while Mark looks on. Gee, I wonder how long before he reports them? I mean, even putting aside the fact that he hates them, any normal person in his position would be keen to cover their own ass if this thing blows up. And I mean what the fuck even did they tell him in the first place? ‘Hey Mark, we just had this hunch last night while we were fucking and it was too good to not hack into your account and spend everything?’
I love the fact that Rin’s capping reflects none of this. I’m less fond of the fact that Rin’s capping reflects Effy’s Friend Who Has Cancer calling her and Effy not replying. Gross. In the unforgivable way, actually.
Rin says: I’m surprised half the caps made it into this recap as it is.
Oh hey, here’s Effy just snorting a bit of coke. Yayyyyy. Skins!!!
Sophy says: Effy surprises Naomi with a new flat. I’m unsure what the significance of this is other than that Effy is rolling in cash and is one of those people who buys people things instead of engaging with them emotionally. Yawn.
Rin says: She’s so disconnected from her feelings! She can only show her affection with new flats!
I think I kind of hate how Effy is 45 and in some kind of motherly role for Naomi. These two girls are supposed to be the same age.
It’s just because Effy is so together! She’s all grown up! LOOK AT HER FLAT!
Sophy says: It’s times like these I am absolutely certain this was meant to be Panda. Right? This had to be must-have-been Panda. Because that hat is just a thousand percent Panda. The entire vibe of this scene? It’s totally Panda abandoned by Effy.
BUT ALSO LILY’S FACE THOUGH.
Rin says: Her icy blue eyes in this light are amazing. Yes.
They alone might be the whole purpose of this little side tour we’ve taken into meaninglessville.
Sophy says: LOL THIS APARTMENT. I don’t know. It’s just… worlds of fugly. Naomi made a Patrick Bateman gag about it which was probably on point but I don’t know how realistic that is. I mean, American Psycho was something I read when I was growing up.
Rin says: The apartment was probably Effy’s way in trying to normalise things. SHE HOPES NAOMI WILL GET BETTER AND LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY LIVE IN IT.
And to make up for those times when she wanted to ask cancer girl for rent.
Sophy says: I find it amusing that despite hitting the bigtime Effy still dresses exclusively in TopShop. Not that that’s a bad thing. I mean, I only really know because I had to go find out who made this top because I liked it so much. It turned out it’s a dress and the bottom is super naff. Oh well.
Effy gets a call from the FSA. THEY KNOW!!!!!! How could this possibly happen???
She and Bossfriend meet up on the bridge like they think they’re some kind of Alice Morgan and John Luther. They are not. They can gtfoff the bridge.
Effy damsels about the situation, pleading with her man to tell her that everything’s going to be okay and she won’t get in trouble for being a lazy, stupid criminal. Her man tells her everything will be fine and to tell them nothing. He asks whether she understands because that’s what smarmy, misogynistic pricks ask women when they’ve burdened them with a simple sentence. He then lays it on extra thick by saying that if he means anything to her she’ll do exactly as he says. Wow. Wow, show. I just. Wow.
Effy is comforted and charmed, smiles as he cups her tender cheek. I could vomit up last week’s lunches. ALL OF THEM.
And I should say that it was so obvious how this was going to go down at this point that I actually assumed it would not go down the way it did.
Rin says: GET. OFF. THAT. BRIDGE.
YOU ARE NOWHERE NEAR AS BEAUTIFUL AND POIGNANT AND LOVELY AS LUTHER AND ALICE.
Now this has to be Effy at her most pathetic.
And at her stupidest.
Who knew they could turn Effy Stonem into the damsel?
Rin says: Not that kind of cancer.
Sophy says: There’s a time and a place, Effy. Actually there’s not. But still.
Sophy says: Effy comes home to find Naomi full of cancer. She’s crying and throwing up and sweating and losing her hair. It’s all happening, you guys. She even vomits on Effy, which I find super edgy and poignant, how about you?
Rin says: When I first saw this scene, I had the fleeting thought that this was all such a waste. Because imagine the lengths Lily had to go to in order to do scenes like this. And it should hit us emotionally, and we should feel like Naomi going through all this is killing us too.
But we don’t. Because the story is so awful and disconnected that it doesn’t matter how well these two do acting-wise, and it’s completely not their fault. So I’d like to just point out that I don’t think the failure of Skins Fire has anything at all to do with the actors. The writing was just not up to Skins standards.
Sophy says: Effy’s response to this is to call Dominic. She tells him she didn’t know who else to ring because Naomi won’t let her take her into hospital. First of all, that’s a massive contrivance right there. When you’re weeping in pain and fear from how sick you are, you don’t do that prissy thing where you don’t want to go to hospital. But the bottom line is that Jess Brittain wanted Dominic there, because this is about Effy, not Naomi.
If this were about Naomi Effy would have called her mother. Or one of her other friends. Or a locum. Or forced her to go to hospital. Or I don’t know, called Emily at this point, because are you fucking kidding me with this, show?
At least Dominic isn’t an idiot and knows that the idea is to get Naomi’s fever down via showers and drugs, and I don’t know be nice to her. I found the cute, flirty banter they engaged in a little contrived under the circumstances, but still, it got the point across. Actually engaging with someone like they’re a human being when they’re in pain and scared tends to help.
Rin says: Whether or not Naomi wanted to go to the hospital should be irrelevant. The doctors would have given them a specific list of things to expect, and Effy would have known about them — and given that she’s the one who has been going with her to the hospital, and generally been given the caretaker role, it seems absurd that she wouldn’t know what to do. Also I find it odd that after having taken such great care of Tony after his crash, that Effy wouldn’t know the first thing about taking care of someone.
Naomi has to have been in really bad shape, if tomorrow they basically say ‘LOOKS LIKE WE WERE WRONG. YOU’RE DYING,’ so I’m pretty sure it would warrant a hospital visit. And what is Naomi going to do? Fight back? She can’t even walk on her own.
Effy has a car service ffs.
Sophy says: Dominic says he can sleep on the sofa and hang around at Naomi’s place tomorrow. Because “they won’t miss me.” Does Jess Brittain understand what a job is? I think she probably does. But she just doesn’t want to bother dealing with the fact that Effy should obviously be hiring a carer to come and be with Naomi and, you know, calling Emily.
AND GINA FFS ARE YOU KIDDING SHOW GO DIE IN A HOLE YOU ARE THE FUCKING STUPIDEST AND WORST.
I don’t care that Naomi objects. I really don’t care in the slightest. At this point Effy has a duty to inform Emily if she even remotely cares about her as a human being. Because clearly Naomi is not in her right mind and/or running scared again and the fact that Emily winds up paying the price for that is just wrong. Naomi not telling Emily is not romantic at this point. It’s not heroic. It’s not selfless. It’s just stupid.
Rin says: Again, the fact that Gina isn’t here is DISTURBING.
Gina has, without knowing, become the worst parent there ever was.
Rin says: I’m beginning to worry how many times you’ve animated single eyes now.
It might start to become normal.
Wait no, it’s still horrifying.
Sophy says: I cried a little making it.
Sophy says: Effy goes in for her meeting at the FSA and sees Mark the all-purpose meanie leaving. Her outfit is kind of amazing.
Guess who’s running this investigation for the FSA, you guys? Yeah. Could they just not afford another actress, or is this supposed to be poetic?
Effy and The Woman make bland, snappy small-talk. Effy exposes her guilt almost immediately by being needlessly aggressive. She straight-up tells this woman who is investigating her to get to the point quicker because she’s boring her. What are we in high-school? God I hate this child.
Yes, child. Effy Stonem is now a dim, weak, rude, profoundly ordinary child.
It gets worse. The Woman makes it clear that she knows what Effy was up to. Effy responds by saying, quivering with petulance, that it’s not her fault Bossfriend didn’t want her anymore. Classy. She accuses The Woman of being out to fuck her man over, and lol okay Effy. The Woman says Bossfriend did this to himself and will sell Effy out. Effy gets up and The Woman says they need to carry on the interview. Effy teen-bitches back at her “You carry on!” She advises Effy to give him up and Effy’s response is “Fuck you!”
The Woman opens a file with Dominic’s picture in it, Effy goes dooooown in an elevator, etc.
Rin says: Oh man, Effy is the worst. The actual pants worst.
SHE IS A COMPLETE CHILD. And I thought the whole point was about them growing up.
Or maybe it’s a commentary that no matter how much you try and appear to get yourself together, the real world will always send an older copy of yourself to bring you down to reality.
Sophy says: Dominic has left her a message saying that he’s taking Naomi in to the hospital because she’s still puking. When Effy gets there Dominic informs her that Naomi’s treatment isn’t working. This is not how this works. You don’t come in for an impromptu hospital visit one morning because you are having bad side-effects from chemo and get told the chemo isn’t working. That’s something that is determined at a scheduled point in time, and that is usually not as soon as the chemo has begun to have an effect on you. Nevertheless, Naomi and her doctors are promptly resigned to her inevitable death. The point is how Effy is going to cope with that.
Rin says: EFFY DO YOU HEAR THAT? Naoms is going to die. What are you going to do about it?!
Wait wait sorry, jumping the gun. That will literally be said later.
Sophy says: If I cared about any of this Lily’s delivery of “And it’s snowing,” might have broken my heart.
Rin says: NOBODY BREAKS MY HEART.
AND ANYWAY, WHY WOULD I WANT THAT?
Sophy says: Effy tells Dominic about how the FSA are onto them. Dominic tells her she’s an asshole because who cares because her friend is alone in a room dying. And wow. I’d assumed Effy had been forced to leave the room while they did some procedure, but I guess she just popped out for a quick sit. Naomi will be fine. She’s watching the snow.
Rin says: At least someone is aware of all the assholery that is going on.
Pity he leaves the hospital and leaves Naomi alone too? …?
Sophy says: Effy comes back to the hospital room to find that Naomi’s gone. She roams the halls looking for her with increasing panic. And this is the point at which the failure to mention or even purposely call to mind Effy’s breakdown in season 4 and the ways Freddie tried to save her becomes glaring. I was struck with a sense of familiarity here, but it was only on second viewing that I realized why: remember that time Katie said Effy had gone to the bathroom and wouldn’t open the door and Freddie ran through the corridors as his panic mounted.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the moment is about to come – the moment when Skins Fire reveals itself to at least have some connection to the show we all used to love – the moment when it proves to have some intention to speak about who Effy is now in terms of who she was then.
But when Effy finds Naomi outside in the snow and they hold each other the way Cook once held Freddie and Naomi talks about hurting someone you love so much by dying on them, there is not one single fuck given about the fact that Effy herself has been through something very close to what Naomi is horrified at putting Emily through. There is not one single fuck given about the suicide attempt or the bludgeoning. There is not one single fuck given about Freddie or what he used to mean to her.
I’m not hurt by it, because nothing in Skins Fire touches me. But I feel the complete lack of insight here deserves some kind of slow-clap. The 405 parallel is an accident. This is so resolutely the case that Rin didn’t even bother to cap it and I don’t even mind. Says it all.
Rin says: Yes, Effy was supposed to have a panic-striken, SHE’S LOST NAOMI, in the halls of the hospital.
No, I didn’t care enough to cap it.
Thank god you mentioned the parallel that they seem to have no idea is an actual parallel, because someone had to. I like that you brought up how Effy knows what it’s like to be Naomi, but also Effy knows what it’s like to be Emily. She did AFTER ALL lose Freddie. But ya know, that was THREE whole years ago. It’s just that easy to get over the murder of someone you love.
She knows BOTH sides of what Naomi is going through right now, but we will never ever get any connection between the two.
It happened, but it didn’t happen.
Sophy says: These two screencaps should be banned. They give impressionable teens unrealistic expectations about faces.
Effy asks Naomi why she would be outside when its so cold! I guess she’s being wilfully obtuse? It’s like asking why she hasn’t combed her hair or asked Dominic to tape X-Factor.
Naomi says that she promised Emily once that she would never hurt her again. It’s a nice line, beautifully delivered. It does kind of serve to underline the lack of giving a fuck about Freds though; we can reference that time Naomi cheated on her girlfriend, but we can’t reference that time Effy’s boyfriend was baseball-batted to death by her lunatic shrink. And meanwhile, Effy should probably have told her not to lose sleep over it, Emily will be fine and stockbroking her heart out in a new city in no time.
Naomi gives a little speech about how nothing ever mattered before this because she and Emily are she and Emily and they love each other. I think Jess Brittan and her co-writers for series 7 expect the Naomily fandom to be moved and satisfied by this. No need to bother with an actual narrative for them or any actual scenes in which they discuss anything other than Effy and photography. Let’s just have Naomi make a meta statement about how wonderful Naomily is – on a rooftop! That will do the trick.
Sorry guys, the fandom is smarter than that.
I also found myself bothered by the “We’re Naomi and Emily and we love each other,” line. At first I thought it was just felt a little written rather than felt, what with the third person pomp of it all. But then I realized it was because I’d heard it before. Remember “We have fucked in every sense of the word. We are Cook and Effy!” anyone? I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like Naomily deserved something original. And you know, a story. Or maybe just a conversation.
I will give major props to Kaya here, because she does a lovely job telling Naomi she’s just cold and needs to get inside. She really does seem quite distraught and it’s impressive that she can get that across to me given that I pretty much have nothing but contempt and long, drawled yawns for this version of her character.
Also, all the awards to Lily’s eyes though, seriously, except for the ones that go to Kaya’s.
Rin says: They both have Leslie Knope ‘Prettiest Eyes’ badges sewn onto their jackets.
And yeah, I really didn’t feel anything for the ‘We’re Naomi and Emily!’ because it’s been done. And like Sophy said, Naomily aren’t usually given sloppy seconds when it comes to the writing for them.
They’re, ‘Be brave and want me back!’ ‘You make me feel less alone. Less lonely.’ ‘We were special.’
Getting all meta about it just doesn’t fit with them. And yes, it did feel like a complete jab at the fandom, with a wink and them saying, ‘Righttt? Right?!!!’
We wanted actual interaction.
Not your bullshit eleventh hour half-assed swing and miss attempt at trying to condense the entirety of Naomily into a single sentence that has been used before.
Sophy says: Sheesh, Effy, at least give her your jacket.
Rin says: I actually thought she would give her her jacket at some point.
That might be the only twist that Skins Fire offered.
Effy does not believe in chivalry.
She is not the chipmunk.
Sophy says: SHE IS NOT THE CHIPMUNK!!!!!!!!!!!
Sophy says: I really like Effy’s cardigan. In other news, Effy wakes up to find Dominic banging on her door. He bursts inside to panic about going to jail and smokes a cigarette. I would sympathize with him except he brought this wholly on himself and I don’t appreciate supposed Nice Guys who call people bitches.
I am also extremely skeeved by the fact that a few seconds after he does that the ‘bitch’ is kissing him and a couple of seconds after that he’s eagerly accepting his sexual compensation. At least he stops when Effy starts crying.
Rin says: Haahahaah, I JUST. BRING ON ALL THE CLICHES.
HE’S DRENCHED BY THE RAIN, OF COURSE.
It’s like Tom during that Parks and Rec episode where he stands outside in the rain, waiting for Ann because it works in the movies.
It obviously works on Effy because now she’s suddenly kissing him. Because that’s all Effy really has to offer now.
Sophy says: Remember how she launched herself at him? REMEMBER HOW WE SNORTED AND KEYBOARDMASHED AT EACH OTHER? That was probably the highlight of the episode.
Sophy says: In a different context I could actually like this. Effy’s guilt at not being able to be a decent friend to Naomi who actually deserves it is harnessed by The Nice Guy’s You ruined me trip. She tries to fix it – with sex – with the fulfilment of the fantasy – the little man is worthy, the beauty is blinded by love.
Only it doesn’t work. Because the fantasy is dead for both of them. This Effy is no prize. She is beautiful, yes, but she’s also bland and weak – not at all the human fortress he wanted her to be – dark, sweet and always-secret. She is just another girl, worth none of the fire in his belly.
And Dominic? He’s not the knight in shining ugly either. It turns out he’s wimpy, whingey little twit who only ever wanted into Effy’s pants. He sold himself out for her secret vagina – even though he had no reason to think it was never going to be his. And now that it’s all gone to shit? He acts like there was some kind of a deal – or worse, like the woman is at fault simply for existing – she is a temptation and can therefore be blamed.
It’s so fucking biblical. And not in an awesome The Fades kind of way.
But regardless, what Dominic says is truth: he is fucking pathetic, both for risking his whole life over a pretty face and then for blaming the pretty face for it when it doesn’t pay off.
Neither Effy nor Dominic fits this fantasy anymore. It’s all over.
So why did I preface this little rush of appreciation with ‘In a different context I could actually like this’? Because to pretend this is a clever scene instead of an accident you have to ignore all the characterization surrounding it. Jess Brittain doesn’t intend Dominic to be revealed as a douchebag or for his eyes to be opened to the drabness of Effy. Despite his nauseating outburst at Effy he continues to be treated the cliche of the Good Man she should love. Effy just wants him left out of it you guys. He doesn’t deserve any of this.
Dominic does deserve this – the investigation and the possible jail. He absolutely deserves it. But because Jess Brittain writes cliches not people she is unable to see that. What Dominic did was just as wrong as what Effy did. He did it with her. Freely and willingly. Twice. But you know, he had the hots for a hot girl. He was nice to the lesbian with cancer. He is The Good Guy.
Effy continues to see him that way. And you can bet your life somewhere off-screen a Dominic is gazing wistfully at a photo of Effy Stonem, his Mystery Princess still and always.
Rin says: “SECRET VAGINA.” EFFY WOULD BE APPALLED YOU WOULD SAY SUCH A THING. It is after all her greatest asset for the Race.
I really don’t understand the point of Dom, after all is said and done. I guess he’s supposed to be just another Good Guy that Effy ruins by being Effy.
But after this scene we never see him again. His story doesn’t even have some sort of closure except for insta-sex. I suppose he just goes to jail too.
Yay. Exciting stuff.
Sophy says: The next day Effy shows up at work to see Bossfriend who has called her in having previously ignored her. He’s set her up to take the fall for their insider trading, which, as douchey as that is, I’m not sure what else she expected him to do. What are they Romeo and Juliet? She’s pretty much a goner no matter what he does because they have found the link between her and Dominic. It’s a tad naive to expect people to go to jail purely out of solidarity. But our Effy is one naive little chicken isn’t she? Then again, he’s pretty fucking naive if he thinks that’s going to be an end to it as far as he’s concerned.
A high drama cliche occurs in which Effy commands her cowardly lover to turn around and look at her, because maybe that would make all the difference. He says he’s so, so sorry and she slow-mos out of the building.
Rin says: I can’t believe they even bothered with this scene, like everyone didn’t it see it coming. Let alone the reaction shot of Effy where she is COMPLETELY SHOCKED that he has sold her out. Rofl. Effy, come on. Stop. Put your pointless faces away and try to get out of this with some dignity.
Sophy says: Naomi and Effy lie on her hospital bed. Naomi asks Effy to tell her what she’s thinking and Effy won’t – perhaps because she wants to keep distressing truths from her – sound familiar Ms Campbell?
Naomi abruptly lays into her for doing nothing all this time – for living in a fantasy and not being there for her – for not doing simple things like keeping her company and watching TV with her while there was still time. It’s pretty sad. Just like how Emily will be pretty sad that Naomi denied her simple things like keeping her company and watching TV with her while there was still time.
But there you go. Naomi isn’t here to gain insight into herself. She’s here to provide insight into Effy. So Effy lies back down on the bed and asks Naomi to tell her what they’re going to do. Naomi says she’s going to die, which might be supposed to be poignantly straightforward, but really just has me giggling because Yes, indeed, isn’t that just exactly all she’s been here for.
She asks Effy what she’s going to do, and honestly she may as well have tacked a “More importantly” onto the start of that question.
Rin says: Ahahahaha, when they were brainstorming stories and they asked what Naomi would do, that was their solution. ‘She’s going to die!’ they said with smiles on their faces.
And oh my god, too right. Naomi says all she wanted was HER BEST FRIEND TO WATCH TV WITH HER.
NOT THE LOVE OF HER LIFE.
SHE NEVER HAS TO KNOW.
EFFY, USE NAOMI’S SKYPE AND KEEP UP THE ILLUSION UNTIL EMILY FINISHES HER INTERNSHIP.
And then Emily will find out and smile about it because how thoughtful of Naomi! Now she can take better photographs, and Naomi is dead. Yay!
Sophy says: Not!Effy strides through an airport in sleek black pumps on her way to somewhere. Effy stands still as the world passes her by. It’s a nice contrast.
Emily approaches. Shit’s about to get real for her five minutes of screen time. She looks like such a little cutest human ever in her heart-jumper and little skirt that I could cry. And not because “Naomi has cancer,” but because Skins has cancer. Skins has been sick since series 6 and now it’s dying and it’s so sad because Emily Fitch could still pass for Emily Fitch and she is wonderful.
Rin says: I LOVE EMILY FITCH BECAUSE SHE’S DRESSED IN CHRISTMAS THEME, DESPITE HER GIRLFRIEND DYING.
Sophy says: I didn’t even notice that. I was already too annoyed at the idea that Naomi dies at Christmas time. Because of course.
Rin says: Not that kind of slap.
Sophy says: Shh, let her have her moment.
Sophy says: Effy has the nerve to ask her how she is and she slaps her in the face. I don’t normally condone violence, but honestly, that’s a good call. Maybe should have brought a rock?
Rin says: That would be some kind of sweet payback, yes.
Christ, remember Keffy? REMEMBER? How beautiful they were? TO MOVE PAST SUCH THINGS AS ROCK VIOLENCE?
Sophy says: The shot of Kat’s face in the car makes me feel things I absolutely cannot feel. MY BABY.
Emily gets out of the cab and asks Effy to stay where she is. This has probably happened to Effy a lot with Naomily. STAY WHERE YOU ARE, EFFY. GET BACK. UNHAND MY UNDERPANTS.
Rin says: Unhand my underpants.
But I have to start by saying that Kat Prescott and Emily Fitch might be the only things to get out of Skins Fire unscathed. As in, this is actually Emily right here, and it’s so great to see her again — but also very unfortunate because all they’re giving her to do is a couple minutes of heartbreak and seeya later. Like wow, welcome back Emily! You will have the worst thing to ever happen to you happen, okay great, have a nice life!
Sophy says: Emily tells Effy she’s already stolen her time with Naomi and I want to cover my mouth because of how fucking meta that is. She breaks my heart though. Even in a context in which I don’t believe in this story and have been unable to connect to it emotionally and don’t consider that person dying on a hospital bed to be Naomi… Kat Prescott still breaks my heart.
Rin says: This is why god made two Prescotts.
HE KNEW THE WORLD NEEDED MORE THAN ONE.
Sophy says: Well for starters he knew going into it that one would have a full time job parting the blondes. So.
Sophy says: Emily goes into the hospital to see Naomi for the first time since she has found out she is dying and we go… off with Effy. Sure. Why not.
She cuts a deal with The Woman. She’ll admit to the insider trading if she keeps Dominic out of it. The Woman is more interested in Bossfriend. She tells Effy that he’s a nice guy but he’s weak and greedy. Effy tearfully confesses that she “thought it was real.” Oh man. All the ways this is someone other than Effy Stonem. All the ways this is a cardboard cutout in a coming of age tale. The Woman completes the picture for us, explaining that Effy Stonem was “inexperienced” and Bossfriend “took advantage”. Gag me.
Effy sheds an agonized tear as she agrees to name Bossfriend in her statement. She seems pretty chill about going to prison though. Priorities.
Rin says: Effy totally heard about Orange Is The New Black, and just wants to be where all the lesbians are.
Sophy says: AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH SOMEONE WRITE CROSSOVER FIC, QUICK.
Sophy says: Effy heads back to the hospital and finds Emily lurking in the corridor. Apparently she hasn’t been able to bring herself to go into Naomi’s room yet, which is ludicrous, but Kat almost sells it to me with her jittering panic and her from-another-time warmth. She tells Effy she needs more time, and I think the idea is that it’s ironic seeing as how Naomi and Effy made her wait months before giving her the opportunity to be here. It’s a little twee, but again, Kat sells it.
Rin says: I hate everyone in the world that this will all go to waste. That this is where Emily Fitch and Naomi Campbell end up. I mean, not in my world because I find it very easy to disregard any of this as actual canon.
BUT EVEN THE NOTION.
It’s incredibly sad to think that anyone anywhere on the Skins team was okay with this. That this is doing these characters justice.
But this scene outside the hospital is probably the only time I actually felt something, and it only has to do with Kat’s performance. Full props.
Sophy says: Kaya also does a lovely job of delivering a gently cathartic “She’s dying, Emily,” at which point Kat breaks down into full Emily Fitch style sobs and I want to reach into the screen pull her away from this mess and tell her everything will be okay, she still has Thomas’s shoes, she still has JJ on a sad sidewalk, she still has Katie’s hand around hers, she still has pizza and parents, and she and Naomi are kissing in Freddie’s shed, where nobody ever died and the future was theirs as much as it was everybody else’s.
Rin says: Hey, that’s where ALL of us are.
And I didn’t really like Effy in this scene at all. Because, THE NERVE. THE NERVE. I mean, I get it, she had to get Emily into that room somehow.
But wow. Effy gets to be the one who is now all of sudden Mother Theresa about it and totally zen.
I mean honestly, can you imagine poor Emily? Not having KNOWN FOR MONTHS that her girlfriend is dying horribly from non-specific cancer? And going about life all la di da in New York and thinking this is the time of her life. And now there’s probably only a few days left with Naomi.
Like, traumatising much
Sophy says: SERIOUSLY. One of the most awful things about this story is the way Emily gets violated. I really feel that not telling her until now is just quite simply something you have to call VIOLATING HER. And it is beneath Naomi. It is beneath what Emily means to her. I reject it with every fibre of my being.
Sophy says: The whole thing is actually rather lovely up until Effy indulges in unnecessary cliches along the lines of how Emily needs to be strong for Naomi like she was strong for her. As if Emily wouldn’t be strong for Naomi. As if that’s even a question. Emily has always been the definition of strong for Naomi. She has always been fucking popeye on steroids when it came to Naomi, okay?
I resent the idea that Effy Stonem is going to tell Naomily how to be Naomily, and especially that she’s going to tell Emily how to be the Emily part of it, because to me, Emily and Effy are worlds apart, they barely ever even had any kind of bond, and I hate the fact that Effy gets to be the hero spirit guide love mentor now having given the most useless limp, wallowy little fucks about all of this for months, having been nothing like what a friend should be to Naomi and even less of a friend to Emily.
I will never be okay with the fact that Effy didn’t call Emily till now. It is wholly indefensible except by saying that Naomi is her friend and Emily is nothing to her so why should she care. Neither will I be okay with the fact that Naomi didn’t call Emily till now and I am flat-out sickened by the idea that we’re now calling that strength.
What it is is cowardice. Naomi was afraid to hurt Emily. She was afraid to ruin things again. So she hid from their relationship. She made the choice for Emily and that’s just never right. Emily will suffer much, much more for that long lie and the short time in which Naomi was ripped away from her than she would have if she could have spent the last few months by her side. Who knows, with someone who actually loved her enough to be proactive about her recovery beyond showing up to doctor’s appointments and saying he seems like he’s doing a good job, Naomi might have beaten the damn cancer.
Ugh, ugh, ugh. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Rin says: YEAH. That’s why it was more upsetting to me. EFFY IS TELLING NAOMILY HOW TO BE NAOMILY. Like she knows better than them. Get out. Haha oh, you’re actually saying everything that I felt now. :X:X:X Yes, I type along as I read your commentary.
Yeah, it is all types of wrong that no one called Emily until now. (AGAIN, GINA? NOWHERE TO BE SEEN.)
It maybe would have been okay if it was only those first few weeks or whatever and they thought that this was just going to be a blip on Naomi’s radar. But as soon as things got serious? She should have told her.
It’s straight up betrayal that Naomi didn’t tell Emily. She has the right to know, whether or not you think you’re protecting her or what-not. Because you’re not. Emily is not someone who needs protecting in the first place. She is a strong person who can make up her own god damn mind, okay? SHE’S NOT A DELICATE WALLFLOWER LIKE MARLEY.
But again, whatever. The only reason Emily wasn’t brought in sooner is because we had to deal with Effy’s insider training. Let’s all appreciate we got to know all about that, instead of a main character dying.
Sophy says: As much as I care nothing for this cancer plot, I am glad that Emily Fitch has been spared ruin by her lack of “development.” She remains perfect, as she breathes in and out, steadies herself, and heads into that hospital room to curl up in bed with her sweaty, sick, perfect, one and only woman.
Rin says: Kathryn Prescott man.
And the getting into bed thing was cute.
Pity Naomi/Effy already had that beforehand.
Sophy says: Skins Fire. Or ‘The one where Naomi and Effy spend more time in bed together than Naomi and Emily.’
Sophy says: Effy looks on, of course. And I could have handled that. Naomi taking a moment to give her a meaningful smile and a ‘Thank you’ on the other hand? Give me a break. And don’t even get me started on the implication, which is that Naomi still didn’t ask for Emily and that it was only because Effy finally grew some balls and went behind her back that she’s even here now. Just like Emily would never need Effy Stonem to motivate her to be strong for Naomi, so Naomi would never need Effy Stonem to secretly let Emily into her final moments on this earth. It’s just not a possible thing. Sorry, Skins Fire. But no.
Rin says: RIGHT? Naomi is all glad that Effy called Emily, for her final days, because …Naomi was still too scared to do it on her own? Despite her dying pretty soon? Like, now Naomi doesn’t even have to deal with consequences. SHE’LL BE DEAD.
But no, it’s Effy. Magical Effy, who is responsible, AND THANKED, for the Naomily we are about to receive. SHE GAVE US AN EFFY SPECIAL YOU GUYS.
EXCEPT NO. WE DON’T EVEN GET NAOMILY. We just cut back to Effy again.
Rin says: Even the beautiful Chris, Freddie and Grace can’t override the terror that is Sophia Moore.
JUST WHEN NAOMI THOUGHT SHE HAD PUT ALL OF THAT BEHIND HER.
SHE WILL NOW FOREVER BE STALKED IN HEAVEN.
Sophy says: She can’t even kill herself about it.
Sophy says: Effy signs her statement. It is of course far more important that we witness this than say, Naomi dying. Or saying actual words to Emily before she does. She shares a final gaze with Bossfriend because that drab, emotional void of a relationship is OTP round these parts.
Rin says: Skins Fire needs to get their priorities right. These scenes are not more important than Naomi dying.
These scenes actually never had to exist.
Sophy says: The whole special actually never had to exist. More on that in a jiffy.
Sophy says: Effy drives off to jail and smiles. Why? No good reason. She’s ruined her own life. She is going to go to prison for who knows how long. When she gets out she will struggle to find a job let alone one that keeps her in pills and pretty dresses. Her so-called best friend just died miserably before she could get laugh-lines. Freddie is in plastic bags. Cook is on the wind. Tony doesn’t give a shit and Panda may as well never have existed.
This is no time for thoughtful, liberated smiles. This is a time for blubbering and pleading. This is a time for crying into your mum’s shirt. This is a time for hanging your head in shame at how unfathomably fucking stupid you’ve managed to be. This is a time for choking on all the ways your friend should not be running out of time.
Of course, it’s not if you’re Effy Stonem. If you’re Effy Stonem it’s time for one of two things: horizon Sophias or enigmatic, I know more than you do expressions.
Effy Stonem might have smiled on her way to jail. But first, this is not Effy Stonem and this has not been her story, and second this is not how Effy Stonem would smile. If Effy Stonem smiled on the way to jail she would look us straight in the eye and tell us nothing we didn’t need to know. And when I think of an episode that could have ended that way… I yearn.
The real reason Effy smiles like this? Because it would be too depressing to end with her breaking down in tears in a jail cell, that’s why. Jess Brittain didn’t want people to go away from this episode with a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach a la that time Foster bludgeoned Freddie to death, so she tried to do with this final shot what Bryan tried to do with an entire episode that was 408: shove everything under the carpet. But really, if you don’t want to end on a phenomenally depressing note, don’t write an episode in which your lead debases herself repeatedly to get a man to want her and goes to jail. Maybe don’t write a side-plot for a fan favourite that consists entirely of getting cancer and dying.
Which, okay, let’s dive right in and talk about the fact that Skins basically trolled us with the Naomily here. This is Effy’s story, yes. Nobody was expecting it to be Naomily’s story. I didn’t even need it to be Naomily’s story, as much as I would have loved them to have their own, because Effy is one of my favourites and I could watch a whole series that was all about her. But given that Naomi and Emily were going to be in the special I expected them to be there for a reason – that is to say, a reason other than to simply serve as a backdrop for Effy. As it is I feel like when it comes to Naomily my time has been entirely wasted – because none of this, not even Naomi/death bed/Absence of Emily, was about either of them. Someone commented to our Part 1 recap saying that all Skins episodes focus on one character with the others playing secondary roles and so this is no exception. I figured I’d reply in the recap because it’s pertinent. Yes, most (not all) Skins episodes focus on one character. Yes, the others tend to have secondary roles (not always). But having a secondary role doesn’t equate to being a prop. Let’s look at 308. It’s Effy’s episode, right? So why is it a huge turning point for Cook? Why does it contain the climax of a long-running plot for Thomas and Pandora? Maybe the same reason one of the stand-out Freddie/Effy moments for me took place in 304, which was Panda’s episode. But hey, that episode was choc full of intimate and pivotal Naomily too, so go figure. I have never seen a Skins episode in which secondary characters have been used the way Naomi and Emily are here. They don’t exist except insofar as they relate to Effy. Literally, Effy hangs around in the background of every scene they have, and when, for the briefest moment, the two of them are alone, they talk about Effy.
Skins Fire pretty much trashed Naomily. And hey, it also trashed Freffy – from beyond the freaking grave. Naomi died, but at least there was a hint that Emily would go on to live in the world and, I don’t know, give a crap. Effy, however, does not appear to give a crap about Freddie. This is underlined by the ways in which heavy themes of love, loss, guilt and abandonment pervade the episode and draw absolutely no reference from her, however subtle, to the boy who died loving her three years ago.
Skins tells us Effy is completely unruffled by the loss of Freddie. Skins tells us Freddie/Effy didn’t matter. And people might think I’m naive for believing that it would matter in the long run, but I’d say they’re naive for believing that it wouldn’t. I’m not a fluffy-headed romantic. Not in the least. I don’t think Freddie and Effy were destined to end up together and kiss in the rain and make babies and help each other through Alzheimer’s. Under normal circumstances they’re two kids who might have dated and fucked and said they loved each other times a million a million times and wound up barely a memory for each other – whatever it was they shared as teenagers wholly lost to time.
But the thing is that their circumstances were anything but normal. It’s because Effy almost died in his arms – because he almost lost her the exact same way he lost his mother – that Freddie would never have been able to forget her if he’d lived. It’s because Freddie was murdered by Effy’s psychiatrist after rescuing her one more time and telling her everything would be okay and they would be together that Effy would not have moved past him this quickly and easily, without a trace. It’s his absence that would bind him so tightly into who she is. And you would be able to sense it – see it and hear it and feel it – you would be able to look at who she is now and know all the ways Freddie and what he meant to her shaped her.
I know some have theorized that Effy doesn’t even know Freddie is dead and just thinks he ran away because he couldn’t handle her mental illness, and I find that a major stretch logistically, but regardless, it does not make it any more believable that she would be so untouched by what they went through together.
And okay, I didn’t expect there to be any explicit reference to Freddie in Skins Fire. Sure, that was something people wanted from the Skins movie from the time it was mooted – for the mess that was the end of series 4 to be cleaned up a little. But I was aware that doing that would mean admitting it was a mess in the first place, and that that was very unlikely to be a thing that happened. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect Effy’s mental illness to be, well… gone. It’s not just that it’s not handled well in Skins Fire, it’s that it’s actually not handled at all. It’s just a whole it happened but it never happened kind of a deal, really and that’s not acceptable given the end of series 4. Having Effy be totally sane and not addressing anything that might have happened to get her there in Skins Fire means that Bryan’s rosy-cheeked, sensibly sad, ready-to-Kylie portrayal of her in 408 becomes what it might have used this opportunity to defend itself against being called: a ludicrous cop-out.
The thing is that even if I take my Naomily and Freffy hats off I feel that my time has been wasted more generally. Because I dislike Skins Fire’s Effy. Because I am bored by her. Because I wish we’d never met, basically. And I really hope no one tries to tell me I just can’t handle how adult Skins Fire is. I am a fan of many adult dramas. I even loved one these guys wrote! (With the exception of the lesbian episode, ‘Dates’ was excellent.) I would have loved to meet an adult Effy navigating an adult world. Skins Fire is not that.
The new characters don’t help matters. Dominic turns out to be just about as revolting as Jake – maybe more revolting on account of how it’s unintentional. The redheaded workplace sidekick may as well not have been there. The angry coworker misses an opportunity to be funny. These characters, like the New Effy and the New Naomi are worn-out and humourless, and that is because Jess Brittain wrote them and Jess Brittain is not a writer.
Being able to construct something akin to a logical plot, being able to make sentences happen… this does not make you a writer. This does not make you capable of the kind of magic Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain made when they created Skins or any number of the other writers made when they honoured the show with their episodes.
The Skins novels were awful. Mini’s S6 episode was only successful to the extent that Freya Mavor is Freya Mavor. Let’s not speak of ‘Mini and Franky’. Yet still when the news came that Jess would be writing Effy’s TV movie I was ready to give Bryan and Jamie the benefit of the doubt in making that choice. I said to myself that people learn and grow. I said to myself that Jess must have presented them with an incredible draft, such that even knowing the impression it might create with people to ‘keep it in the family’, they simply couldn’t not choose her to have this opportunity – no, to shoulder this sacred responsibility of saying goodbye to people who have long made their mark on the world, who are not real but who live and breathe inside the minds of kids everywhere, who matter.
Look, I’m sure Bryan and Jamie genuinely believed Skins Fire with Jess Brittain at the helm would turn out great, because why the hell would you shoot your own franchise in the foot? But looking back can either of them honestly say that Jess Brittain was, as far as is objectively measurable, the number one candidate for the job? She’s better than Jack Thorne? She’s better than Sean Buckley, Ben Schiffer, Georgia Lester?
I hope they really believed that at the time, however ridiculous it may seem to the rest of us. But you know what makes me so very sad? I can tell myself they must have believed it because surely they would not act against their own self-interest. But I no longer have any illusions whatsoever that either Bryan or Jamie cares about the fans.
How could I given what’s happened over the past few years? Series 6 was an attempt to gain a following amongst people who did not love series 5, at the expense of people who did. Those fans made it very clear they did not appreciate characters they had taken the time to get to know and love being turned into whole other people, and yet that’s exactly what’s happened in Skins Fire. But hey, they also made it clear they were not into the random dark shit after series 4, and what did series 6 deliver? What did Skins Fire deliver? Random dark shit, that’s what.
Bryan and Jamie don’t listen to us, you guys. Or worse, it seems to me that these days they listen and then they make a concerted effort not to act on what they’ve heard. Going by some of their responses to the criticism leveled at their writing you really do get the impression they are angry about it and have decided fandom is, collectively, not worth their respect. And here’s the thing: a lot of people in fandom did get pretty nasty for a while there. I’m a firm believer that if you put something out there creatively, and especially if you profit from it, you should lump it with the best grace you can manage when people, say, write 5000 words discussing the ways what you put out there sucked, or perhaps paste your head in the clouds and give you the power over lightning you’ve always dreamed of. But it’s different when you’re getting abuse tweeted at you and especially when you’re watching it happen to your family too. I understand that that’s frustrating and hurtful and I don’t think it’s okay and I wish people wouldn’t do it.
But it’s a terrible thing to judge many by the actions of few. And it’s a terribly sad thing to find yourself responding to legitimate criticism with highhanded petulance – especially where that winds up negatively impacting your work and damaging your legacy.
There are many reasons Skins Fire failed, but perhaps the most significant one is the same reason Cassie’s and Cook’s are unlikely to be particularly successful however well-written they may be. Bryan and Jamie missed the point. And they missed the point because they don’t care about the fans anymore. They are no longer in touch with their audience – or perhaps even the very idea of writing for an audience. And I’m going to back up for a second here and say that you should absolutely not pander to certain fan groups when you’re writing a TV show and you should absolutely not write every episode feeling as though someone like me is looking over your shoulder seething or rejoicing – your artistic integrity is your artistic integrity. But as with all matters including chocolate, moderation is key. When you’ve created a show like Skins you can’t just write it for yourself anymore. Because over time it has become something the fans have created with you. They may not have had artistic input, but they have given it their passion and their love – their time and their money – their energy. Fans are the reason your show has had a chance to grow. And for that reason they can and will judge what it has grown into.
When Bryan and Jamie decided to do Skins specials they should have been aware that this was not simply an opportunity for them and Jess to write cool stories. They should have been aware that this was an opportunity for the fans to say goodbye to stories that had burrowed their way into their hearts and inflamed their imaginations – to stories some of them had even grown up alongside. This crucial aspect was rigorously and intentionally ignored. As Jamie said in an interview recently they deliberately chose to avoid referring to events in the characters’ pasts because they “wanted the films to stand on their own.” Presumably the same logic underpins the decision to severely limit the number of characters involved in each special – Cassie and Cook are alone as far as I know, and Effy was accompanied by two characters she had threadbare relationships with when we last checked in – two people who did have a very meaningful relationship with each other in gen 2, but between whom all meaningful interaction is now assiduously avoided. Obviously it would be well nigh impossible for the specials to stand alone without referring back to previous series if, say, Cook or Panda were in Effy’s, or JJ or Naomi were in Cook’s or Sid or Jal popped up in Cassie’s life again.
It doesn’t matter to Jamie or Bryan that that is what we want. Because this was never about us getting to say goodbye. I mentioned above that series 6 basically gave the finger to existing fans in an attempt to woo new ones. What’s horrifying is that the exact same thing has happened with these specials. Why do you need new episodes of a television show to stand alone? Because otherwise new viewers might not feel at home.
And that word right there – home. It puts me in mind of how I felt a couple of weeks ago when I saw the trailer for the Veronica Mars movie. Once I’d come down from my dizzy, squealing high I found myself reflecting on how much Rob Thomas gets it and and on the ways he loves and respects his fanbase. I thought about Skins and the ardent love we had for the show right up until 601 happened and how we would have been feeling at the start of this year if the writers had never ruined it – if they’d wanted us to care – if they’d released a trailer that had us quivering tearfully and grinning from ear to ear because it felt like we were home again. It hurts me that that will never happen – and that it seems that Bryan and Jamie never even cared whether it did.
It really hurts me.
Skins killed the dream. Skins ate itself and then shat itself out, basically. And I will never stop being so very sad about that.
So that’s it. That’s how I feel about Skins Fire. It was bad television. It was pointless. It is not Skins to me the same way that series 6 is not Skins to me. And perhaps more than anything my heart aches for the people who are not so able to compartmentalize – for the people who can’t help seeing this final installment in the story of Naomi and Emily, particularly, as canon. Our dear, clever, soulful friend Heather Hogan puts it best, but I have to say that bringing Naomi and Emily back just to kill one of them was cruel. Doing it as a subplot in which the two of them would have exactly no meaningful interaction or personal development? Was cruel. Perhaps Jess Brittain didn’t realize that. But it’s hard to believe that it escaped Bryan and Jamie’s attention too.
Is it possible they did it on purpose? Is it possible they knew how cruel it was? Is it possible they were aware they would leave legions of LGBT fans, many of whom have lived quite enough of their own unhappy endings, sitting there feeling like the eleventh hour reprieve in Freddie’s shed – the last minute ‘Your love is still beautiful’ – the last minute ‘You can stay’ – was a lie? That it’s as laughable as the idea that Mini and Franky were ever meant to be anything other than best buds?
I’d like to think it’s not possible. I’d like to think they were simply unaware of how culturally significant Naomi and Emily’s against-all-odds happily ever after was. But it will never change the fact that this happened in Skins Fire: Naomi lied to Emily again, about something even more important than whether she slept with someone else. And then Naomi died.
Rin says: Where to start, where to start.
Probably by saying that I honestly didn’t expect that these specials would be THIS awful. I went in having no expectations, and tried to stay away from interviews etc. I wanted to watch these and not be influenced by anything other than what was presented before me. And maybe when they opened with the shot of the bridge and we slowly found Effy standing there in the rain without an umbrella, maybe I felt like “Holy crap, there’s Effy Stonem. It’s happening.”
And then the charm of that, the nostalgia of it all, wore off pretty quickly. As each scene passed I started to get the sinking feeling that this just wasn’t going to be the Skins Comeback that I had so desperately wanted after series 6 aired. There was not going to be any redemption found here, there was not going to be any sense of ‘Oh we fucked up, let us make it up to you.’ I think Sophy is right in saying that Bryan and Jamie straight-up don’t care about the fans, and actually despise them a little. I’ve never actually watched a show and felt more like the writers just did not give a fuck, as when I watched series 6, and now Skins Fire. I’ve mostly made my peace with series 6 as something that is separate from 5. And I have done the same with Skins Fire.
It doesn’t mean that it hurts any less.
I have the same feelings that Sophy does, in that maybe the writers received a lot of criticism over twitter or whatever the fuck else, and took it to heart as being a representation for how everyone else felt. There are out-of-control mean fans, I get that. But there is also a much bigger majority of people who genuinely loved and adored you for the show that you had created. And a lot of those people might be like me, who don’t even really pay attention to that stuff on twitter because they would rather tweet about how delicious ramen is, than directly tweet at writers to tell them how much you hate them. And for me I get the feeling that part of Skins Fire was one big ‘Fuck You’ to the fans, and for people like us? The ones who definitely spent a lot of time loving on the show (including all the criticisms we had), have to have something that they loved for YEARS taken away from them.
Why did they find it okay to give us back characters, one of which has been there from the beginning, only to have them be out of character and/or die.
This is a Skins Special how? What exactly was the point of it all?
What is the point of bringing back a beloved character, who could have easily remained untouched because NONE of the plot called for it to be specifically Naomi that died?
Oh right, because it’s a real story. It’s one that actually happened, therefore that means it’s worth telling?
What’s so real and riveting about it? People die? Because that’s about as much as I can draw from Naomi and Emily’s presence in Skins Fire.
Can we please ask how they thought the fans would react? Because they are not that disillusioned to believe that this is a story that we would actually think was worthy. Right? This isn’t just about Naomi dying. I’m not frustrated that she got killed off, some of my most favourite characters have been killed in the past and they’re some of the most pivotal heart wrenching bittersweet moments that I’ll always treasure. I’m frustrated and angry because there were no grounds upon which Naomi getting cancer should be allowed to stand on. It should never have been brought to the table. I don’t even think they necessarily deserved a perfectly wrapped package of a happy ending, but they at least deserved the chance to make one. Giving us an ending that is so concrete as one of them dying is not okay. So when I ask how they thought the fans would react, the only answer conceivable is that they knew it would hurt and anger fans. It seems purposeful that they sought out to squash a fandom that they never seemed to really understand from the beginning. A section of fandom that was never fully embraced, and actually they kind of hated that fandom a bit? That’s what it feels like.
I find it hilarious that they wanted these episodes to be able to stand on their own. I don’t see a casual viewer watching these episodes and thinking, “Wow! That was really compelling television! I must have more!” I cannot wrap my head around the idea of not making these specials for the fans. I don’t mean fan pandering, I really don’t. But surely somewhere in the original concept for making these episodes there was that excitement that they could really do something great and give the fans ONE LAST HURRAH that would have our heads exploding. Something that felt as uniting as We are a mess, We are failures, And we love it. If they wanted to simply tell a story that didn’t draw from the heart of Skins…why not just write the scripts for another show. Because Skins Fire could have been any other show. There was nothing in them that was Effy, Naomi or Emily specific. It was generic.
Every time Naomi and Emily should get their little moment together, they are chaperoned by Effy. And each of the three scenes where maybe they should have gotten some time alone, ends on Effy’s face. Actually, that’s probably true for every scene of Skins Fire. Because remember, Skins Fire is Effy’s turn to shine. Wait, let me expand. I love Effy, and if it was the Effy we all loved, and a story we actually cared about I wouldn’t mind in the slightest. Effy is Skins in the way where she was there right from the start. She’s the girl we’ve spent the most amount of time with, so I fully understand why she deserved further development in one of the three stories they were going to tell. But with the way they’ve presented these episodes, we literally have no time to connect with any of the other characters outside the realms of Effy ~Fire.
Maybe that’s a part of why it feels like this isn’t the Skins we know and love. Skins excelled at their format, character focused episodes that still managed to progress the storyline of the other characters whose episode it wasn’t. Just because it wasn’t your episode, it didn’t mean you were moved into prop status, serving only to the current plot at hand. Each character was still a part of their series arc, and they would only do things if it fit within their story, you know? And I think that’s pretty much how Naomi and Emily started. Since their storyline only came to a head in Naomi’s episode, which was ep 6, it meant they needed some real development beforehand. And some great examples of this is their scene in 302 Cook, and their scenes in 304 Panda. They were always kind of a side story that was only happening between them, and us — the audience. They continued to grow on the sidelines — and they continued to never really have anything to do with anyone else until Katie and Emily. I think they more than proved that they can get across a whole sea of emotions, that has nothing to do with the allotted time they have onscreen. It’s just that they didn’t want to give them that chance, and they could only exist insofar as things that were just happening to Effy.
In Skins Fire, we never see who Naomi and Emily are in the present day. They have no scenes together, and never speak to each other in any meaningful way. So how could they expect anyone to truly care that Naomi dies?
Why were they even included in Skins Fire? Ratings. Plain and simple. They needed the Naomily fandom to tune in because they knew that they’d be in trouble otherwise. I’m not usually one to think of ratings as a reflection of how good something is, but didn’t the ratings for the second episode almost halve? That says something.
What we’re used to when it comes to Skins is the unexpected. When we’re laughing we could start to cry, when we’re crying we could suddenly be laughing. The writing was at most times on a level where you had to pick apart the genius of them, and at times it broke us how beautiful some of the dialogue was. There were twists, there were turns, there were things we didn’t even know we wanted until it happened.
With Skins Fire, nothing is unexpected. It is all predictable. You could almost say that it was so predictable that it was almost too predictable which meant that SURELY it wasn’t where they were headed. But no, everyone was who they seemed to be, and there were no surprises.
All that this return managed to do was put the final nail into the coffin. It just confirmed for me that the Skins we fell in love with, the one I’ve lost sleep over, the one that gave me such joy that only true brilliance can give… that Skins is dead. It’s like some kind of sad, ugly, closure was given — and I can finally be done with this show and am no longer under the pretence that series 6 was a bad bad fluke. I will always love series 1-5, that will never change. But as for the future? Well, I’m no longer interested in what this team of creators/writers, who I used to trust, have to say. It seems to me that they’ve lost sight of what a privilege it is to be in their position, to get to create work that is immediately accessible to thousands and thousands of people across the world and the responsibilities that come with that.
I could be sadder about it, but I think we’ve been coming to terms with this for a long time. Skins brought a lot of us together, and I will always love it for that too. This won’t be the last thing I ever write on Skins, we still have the series 4 and 6 recaps to finish, but for now it’s goodbye.
Rin says: I know of sympathy vomiting, but this is just too much.
Sophy says: And yet it will never be enough.
Rin says: Run. Save yourselves.
Sophy says: THOMAS, RUN TO THE ANTARCTIC. EVERYBODY ELSE, GET A PLANE LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE.