Thursday, 5 August 2010

Skins - That’s an awfully long sentence Tony.

Skins: 1x07 Michelle.

Love, on “Skins”, tends to make characters single-minded. The prime example for this is of course Freddie, whose “I met a girl I liked today” defined him for the rest of generation two. Michelle starts out like this too. In “Jal”, she told her friend that she is mostly good at looking shaggable, and she is defining herself over being with Tony, although she knows fully well that it’s not good for her. Her explanation to Jal why she’s with him last episode sounded hollow: she assumed that she must be something special, as Tony could be with anyone and chooses to be with her. Love and low self-esteem are a terrible combination. In the beginning of “Michelle”, there’s the fall-out of the last episode. Michelle waited for Tony to confess, but he didn’t even realize that Michelle knows what happened between him and Maxxie, he’s so sure of himself (sure enough to not expect being kicked in the balls, sure enough to add that subtle bit of uncertainty to “She’ll come back”.
Jal: “Did he screw someone again?”
Michelle: “Again?”
Jal: “I tried to tell you Chell.”
Michelle: “About who?”
But you never want to hear it.
Michelle: “Abigail. Abigail Stock. Why didn’t you tell me, you were supposed to be my friend?”
Jal: “I tried. It’s just Tony, right?”
Michelle: “Did you do him?”
Jal: “What? Don’t be stupid Michelle.”
Michelle: “I bet you wanted to fuck him. Cheers Jal. That’s what friends are for.”
This conversation is essential for the rest of the episode because it establishes that Michelle doesn’t just feel alienated from her boyfriend; he “cheated” on her with one of her friends, and her best friend knew about it, which means that she perceives herself to be completely alone. Naturally, she tries to connect to someone who is outside of her tightly knit circle of friends, and that just happens to be Abigail’s brother, Josh.

Sid and Tony.
In a way, Sid’s revelation about Tony parallels Michelle’s. This is probably why they fit together for a short period of time, right after realizing who Tony is and, at the same time, dealing with the fact that he got hit by a bus and won’t ever be the same again. In this episode, Tony still hasn’t a clue about how actions have consequences and can sometimes lead to things he doesn’t expect or control. He is still performing his little piece, throwing stones at Michelle’s window, reciting Shakespeare, making the lines sound like a hollow gesture.
Sid: “Why don’t you just leave her alone for a bit?”
Tony: “Sidney?”
Sid: “She thinks you're a tit.”
Tony: “She doesn't think I'm a tit.”
Sid: “Why do you pull all this shit, Tony?”
Tony: “Look around Sidney. Fuck all ever happens in this shitty little town. You've gotta improvise.”
Sid: “No matter who you hurt?”
Tony: “So I messed around with Maxxie a bit. SO what? He was bored, I was bored, Michelle was bored, and now we’re not. And she’s gonna feel so good when she gets me back.”
“Fuck all ever happens in this shitty little town” sounds like a quote, like a sentiment Tony picked up from a novel or a film more than something he really feels. So much about him is this carefully constructed and maintained façade – he is the guy who reads Camus and has movie posters of “Blow Up” on his walls, yet is stuck in Bristol with people he considers less intelligent than himself (with the one obvious exception). This entire scene is so reminiscent of Cook, being questioned by JJ why he can’t ever stop what he’s doing (“what happens if you stop?”). There is a lot of Chris in Cook as well, his unrelenting physicality, his joy at simple things, but in his basic frame of mind, he shares much more with Effy’s brother. They come from a completely different place: Cook with no real prospect of a bright future (although we see later that his mother is a rich artist, but he is still the opposite of privileged), while Tony probably already knows that he will eventually go to a prestigious university and will have all the opportunities he wants. I think the bit we get later, when he is giving his psychology presentation on “the role of sex in power relationships” says more about him than his speech to Sid does: “Money and looks mean nothing except for the power they give us.”
Cook: “Cause it’s life, J. You gotta get in there and never fucking stop. Shit is waiting to be done and if you’re not going to do it you’re a pathetic little pussy fart.”
JJ: “What’s so pathetic about stopping. What about other people, Cook?”
Cook: “Fuck other people.”
JJ: “Thing is, Cook, you didn’t answer my question. What would happen if you stopped?”
Cook: “Look at me, J. What else have I got?”
I think when Sid punches Tony instead of answering because really, what could he possibly say to this, and when Michelle really doesn’t answer, a bit of this incredibly self-security drops. It’s subtle

Michelle – Tony – Sid
Tony: “How long are you gonna keep this up for?”
Michelle: “You know what. I never realized how fucking knackering it is to know you Tone.”
Tony: “It’s fun though.”
Michelle: “You think?”
Michelle: “You know what? Tell me you love me.”
Tony: “You know I love you Nips.”
Michelle: “No. Tell me like you’d die for me, like nothing else matters, like your world’s stops turning because of me, like you mean it, you little shit. Go on.”
Tony: “What?”
Michelle: “Wrong answer, Tony. Fuck off, I’m busy.”
Now that we have an example in “Skins” for a speech that involves someone saying they’d die for their loved one, the contrast to Michelle and Tony is pretty clear. At least he doesn’t bother to lie to her because the truth is that he probably wouldn’t, and I never saw them as the kind of couple that would survive graduation. It’s also interesting that Cassie will eventually come to the same conclusion about Sid – that she will always love him, but he probably doesn’t feel the same about her – and that this asymmetry is one of the most awful things that can happen to a person.
Michelle’s reaction to this is telling about her character too. She can’t handle rejection at all, so she goes to Sid to ask of him what Tony can’t provide: not because she reciprocates his feelings, but because she needs someone to feel the same way about her that she feels about Tony.
Michelle: “You love me, you really love me.”
Sid: “Yeah.”
Michelle: “How much?”
Sid: “A lot.”
Michelle: “That will do.”
Of course, things have happened since the first episode, when Sid was still unquestioning and head-over-heels in love with Michelle. He realized that Cassie was beautiful in the last episode, and just before Michelle comes around to his house, he’s looked at pictures of both of them on his computer (“You know there’s other girls, Sid?”). This is, literally, all he dreamed of for the past years of his life, and still, he doesn’t enjoy it at all when an opportunity presents itself.
Michelle: “Do you fancy someone else?”
Sid: “I think I do. But we’re okay, yeah, because this isn’t right when you’re missing someone too.”
Cassie is already a character that is hard to pin down, to grasp. After her own episode, she became a distant entity in everybody else’s, especially in “Sid”. I’m not really sure if she ever becomes less elusive in the second season, because she is a presence outside the main group for a great part of that as well. Of course, this aloofness is exactly what makes her character interesting – because in a way, she is the most perceptive of all of them, yet remains strangely unperceivable to everybody else. In a way, Michelle and Sid enter Cassie’s frame of mind when the come into this weird, Alice in Wonderland like garden of the clinic, and this works so well because Michelle’s perspective in this episode is so bound to other characters. Michelle is the exact opposite of Cassie: She really doesn’t live in her own world, she lives in everybody else’s, and while Cassie struggles to match her own with the outside, Michelle struggles to create a space for herself in which she can be who she is instead of always fulfilling everybody else’s expectations.
Sid: “Erm, cass, I’m sorry you tried to kill myself over me.”
Cassie: “Oh, that’s okay Sid.”
Sid: “I realized something, I’ve been an idiot.”
Cassie: “Yes.”
Sid: “And I was hoping, maybe you would give me another chance?”
Cassie: “Oh wow. Sid. Cool, you’re so lovely. Wow. Great. And if I wasn’t going out with Simon, that that would be amazing.”
Cassie: “See it’s all so exciting. He wants me…”
Simon: “I do!”
Cassie: “And he can never have me.”
Simon: “I’m hopeful.”
Cassie: “It’s just perfect, isn’t it.”
Which is, of course, pretty much exactly a description of the relationship Cassie had with Sid.


Josh (Ben Lloyd-Hughes)  is built up to be the exact opposite of Tony. He is nice. He is helpful, and complementing Michelle, and he talks to her. He stands out among the male characters of the show we’ve met so far because he seems like an adult, like someone who has already pretty much figured out who he wants to be, and succeeded, despite his wacky family and his “neurotic tendencies” (“you wouldn’t like me so much”, he says when Michelle asks him why he doesn’t stop taking the pills). Then Tony, jealous of all things, an emotion that must come as a surprise even to him, creates the best villain “Skins” has ever had. He pays someone to steal Josh’s phone, uploads pictures he’s taken of Abigail, his sister (“Yes. Yes Abigail, you are brainy.”), and sends it to everybody in his directory, including Michelle. The scene where she meets up with Jal is probably my favourite in this episode because this is still “Skins”, doing friendships brilliantly (even though Michelle was so rude to her earlier, at the end of the day, they are still there for each other).
Sometimes, the relationships the parents on “Skins” have parallel that of their children. Malcolm, the useless third step dad, is the guy Michelle’s mum can’t get over, even though he is useless. Michelle, when she talks to him and tells him to either “stay here or get his coat”, realizes that she won’t get over Tony, no matter how much he fucks up – and then she doesn’t take him back, even though she realizes that (Bryan Elsley wrote for all the female characters this season, and the endings of his episodes are always so beautifully done).
Tony: “Can we stop this now?”
Michelle: “And?”
Tony: “Get back to normal.”
Michelle: “Stuff happens. You get over it.”
Tony: “Yeah, but…”
Michelle: “Yeah but. Yeah but.”
Tony: “Whoah, Chell, got nasty.”
Michelle: “Yeah. What are you doing here?”
Tony: “I came because it turns out as it goes I think I might love you.”
Michelle: “That’s an awfully long sentence Tony.”
Tony: “Well yeah but, yeah.. Chell. I said it, okay. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Michelle: “Beg.”
Tony: “Sorry?”
Michelle: “You heard me Tone.”
Tony: “Okay. Look. Please, can we get back. I won’t do any of it again, the cheating, lying…”
Michelle: “Undermining, sneering, taunting, manipulating.”
Tony: “Okay. Yeah. All of those things. I promise, so?”
And then she takes a step toward him, and as he thinks that he won, that his plan worked, she says “so see you”, and walks away.

Random thoughts:

The fall-out between Angie and Chris is just on the periphery of the episode but it’s so well-done. Angie wants Chris to go away, but he’s so persistent and irresistible. Also: HOCKEY UNIFORMS.

I’m really just giving Tony such a hard time for reading these novels because it’s exactly what I did when I was seventeen. I might have even said “you wouldn’t understand this” at some point.

Michelle’s mum reaction to her explaining what Tony did (“Well, you know say you’re sorry or something, I don’t know” is priceless. Oh, dysfunctional, disinterested parents of “Skins”. It also plays nicely into the “nobody sees Tony for who he really is” theme.

Maxxie: “This is all my fault. I got off with Tony on the Russia trip. I only did it because I fell out with Anwar because he said he hated gays so I got upset and then Tony said he’d give me head to cheer me up, you know, and it didn’t mean anything but I lost my head and then he gave me head and then we got deported from Russia. And I’m really really sorry for being a slut, okay?”
Oh Maxxie. There is a little Panda in all of us.

Once again, Sid’s dad’s timing is marvellous. He finds Michelle in Sid’s room, and immediately goes out to call his presumably estranged wife: “Listen. Yeah. It’s conclusive. He’s not gay.” Funniest moment of the episode. Also, who would ever think that Sid might be gay?

“I’m sorry. I never should have said you have a big cock. I now realize I was mistaken.” / “fuck you” / “Fuck you right back”. So there is a little bit of Michelle in Naomi then (she also later says “well that was careless” to Malcolm). When I saw the first generation the first time around, I didn’t really appreciate Michelle, but April Pearson gives such a pitch-perfect performance. The actresses just had a bit less to work with than the guys the first time around (I feel it’s the opposite for the second gen with the exception of Cook, but maybe I’m mistaken).

1 comment:

Hockey Uniforms said...

When it come for sport uniform my site will offers a great collection of pre-made field hockey uniforms, custom field hockey sportswear and team uniforms, field hockey and more. Please see my site.

Hockey Uniforms