Thursday 13 January 2011

Skins - Don’t you wish you could go back to when you hadn’t lost anything?

Skins: 2x09 Cassie.

Cassie has been like a ghost this season – elusive. Extremely perceptive about other characters, but difficult to predict herself. It all starts in their apartment where Chris is recuperating from his operation. Everything seems blurry, and we, like Chris, only see scenes without any real connection. Characters enter the room and are gone in the next scene. Michelle looks at him. Jal stares at him from the distance and doesn’t really know how to talk to him. Cassie reads a novel to him – Margaret Atwood’s “The Edible Woman” – and it’s one line that both seems to fit her and, in a way, foreshadow what is going to happen – “Being a person is getting too complicated”.
When he finally comes out of his drugged state, the first person he asks for is Jal, but she is painfully absent for most of this episode.
Chris: “Love conquers all, you know that. I bet. It even conquers a genetically acquired subarachnoid haemorrhage.”
Cassie: “That would be good.”
Chris: “I should have told her.”
Cassie: “Shouldn’t have secrets, Chris. Neither of you should.”
Chris: “Right. Because we love each other.”
Cassie: “Because you love each other.”

Cassie understands love, but Sidney, asleep in the other room, doesn’t, and Cassie in this episode seem to carry that knowledge around, that the one person that she loves does not understand the consequences.
Cassie: “What do you have to say to me?”
Sid: “Er, I’m sorry I’m such a tit.”
Cassie: “No.”
Sid: “My life never made any sense to me until I met you.”
Cassie: “No.”
Sid: “Erm. I never really loved Michelle and it was all a terrible mistake and I must have misheard her when she said that I was her best lay ever when she really wasn’t that great in bed.”
Cassie: “No.”
Sid: “Good luck in your exam.”
Cassie: “Thanks.”
Sid: “What do you have to say to me?”
Cassie: “I’ll love you forever Sid.”
Sid: “You will.”
Cassie: “Yes. That’s the problem.”
I even understand why some people love this pairing so much, because they got all the great moments, and the great poetry, but this conversation reveals how terribly they do not match.
She has time to ponder everything during her psychology exam which she sits alone in a lecture hall, with Harriet slowly getting annoyed at the fact that she isn’t actually writing anything.
Cassie: “Is it possible to truly enjoy power?”
Harriet: “Sorry?”
Cassie: “It’s question three.”
Harriet: “I’m not supposed to help you with your exam.”
Cassie: “I stopped eating and then everyone had to do what I said. That was powerful.”
Harriet. “And did you enjoy that?”
Cassie: “I think it was the happiest time of my life. But I had to stop before I died because… Otherwise it wasn’t fun. You wouldn’t understand.”
Harriet: “You’re wrong, Cassie.”
Cassie: “Did you cut yourself, too?”
Harriet: “People will do anything. People will do anything to work out why they feel bad, won’t they.”
Cassie: “And did you? Work it out?”
Harriet: “Like I said. I’m not supposed to help you with your exam.”
Cassie: “I want you to tell me.”
Harriet: “What?”
Cassie: “How to stop bad things happening.”
Harriet: “Doesn’t work, does it. That’s why you have to start eating again.”
Cassie: “I fell in love.”
Harriet: “Ah, love. Why cut yourself when you can be in love?”
Cassie. “You think passing an exam will make me happy?”
Harriet: “Cassie, passing an exam generally makes life more complicated. But there’s lot of other stuff that makes things bearable and you don’t even have to use a knife.”
Cassie: “Like?”
Harriet: “Disco.”
This conversation, and the absurdity that follow, is… well, it uses all the different stylistic elements “Skins” has, and its brilliant writing, and its wonderful characters, to the best. Cassie sees what is going to happen but she does not have the power to stop it from happening. The only power she ever had was doing damage to herself. The horrible, horrible things that happen in this episode are beyond her power, and all that will be left for her to do is walk away.
Some of the things that happened in this season can’t just be forgiven and forgotten by throwing a simple dinner party. Sid and Chris try anyways, but Cassie hasn’t forgiven Michelle; she ridicules Tony and Michelle who are going to study on opposite ends of the country – “Wow. You two must really love each other. Like, hardcore. So tell me what the point is?” – and than it all falls apart because eventually, secrets do come out.
Michelle: “I’m sorry about what happened. Cassie I fucked up. Tony fucked up. Sid fucked up. Jal fucked up worse than any of us but it doesn’t all have to turn to shit.”
Sid: “That’s it. I’m not putting vanilla in anything ever again.”
Michelle: “Come on, let’s just go.”
Chris: “Guys? How has Jal fucked up?”
The grand secret that everybody was keeping from her; that she got an abortion while Chris was at the hospital. We do not see the conversation that takes place because this isn’t their episode.
Cassie: “You don’t know why I’m the way I am?”
Sid: “It’s alright.”
Cassie: “No, it’s not alright. Something makes me hate everything. Everything. That’s what I like about you, Sid. You never try to explain things.”
Sid: “No. Probably would if I could.”
Cassie: “We’re finished. You realize that?”
Sid: “Finished?”
Cassie: “Two weeks from today we get our results and it’s all over. We’re grown-ups. We’ve made it. Done.”
Sid. “That’s good, isn’t it?”
Cassie: “Everything ends badly.”
Sid: “It doesn’t have to.”
Cassie: “No?”
Sid: “I’ve got you.”
Cassie: “Don’t you wish you could go back to when you hadn’t lost anything? Everything’s in the future. More shit to happen, that’s all.”
Sid: “I love you. I’m here now. That’s the best I’ve got Cass.”
I think part of her really wants to believe that this is enough, and discard all her doubts about the future. There is still so much more to lose.
The next morning, Sid is gone and Chris is the only one left in the apartment. He explains to Cassie that he talked things through with Jal, and that he understands her choices (“I wouldn’t be qualified to be a dad. I don’t know what to do. She’s gonna be famous, Cass, she’s gonna me mega. And I’m not exactly A+.”), and then Cassie goes off to get some milk for tea and finds Chris’ mum standing in front of the building. She doesn’t want to go in, and she tells Cassie that Chris ISN’T better, and that she can’t face seeing the same thing happen to him that already happened to Peter, his brother.
She gives him a present, and then she says “I’ve been thinking about secrets. Sometimes you have to keep them, in case someone got hurt.” – because she can’t bring herself to tell him about his mum, leaving, not being able to face him, deserting him again – and then he gets stuck on one sentence and can’t remember Jal’s name and starts to bleed, and finally remembers her name, “I got it. Jal. I got it” and dies.

I didn’t catch this season of Skins during its original run, but I still watched it completely unspoilt, so I had no idea at all that this was going to happen, and seeing someone die like that – it doesn’t happen, often, usually it’s violence and blood (even Freddie’s death, compared to this, fits the conventions of how characters usually die). We are supposed to understand how this feels to Cassie, the sheer brutality of seeing a friend die after believing that he had already gotten better.
She packs her bags and runs as far as she can. She ends up in New York where the thing that has gotten her through in Bristol also helps: A taxi driver doesn’t only drive her for free, he also gives her money for food. The kindness of strangers. A waiter in the restaurant tells her to eat, and she tells him “I think I’m hungry, but then I’m not.” – and as he offers her a place to stay, we kind of expect something bad to happen to her but then we realize that everything bad that could happen already has happened.
Adam: “You can stay as long as you want until whatever’s going down is over.”
Cassie: “It won’t ever be over.”
Adam: “Yes it will.”
And again, at a club, when he touches her with no bad intentions at all, her first instinct is to run away but he doesn’t let her. He follows her.
Cassie: “I’m fucked up.”
Adam: “Yeah.”
Cassie: “I ran away.”
Adam: “No.”
Cassie: “I thought American didn’t do irony.”
Adam: “It’s Manhattan. It’s different.”
Cassie: “Don’t you want to know what I did?”
Adam: “Wouldn’t change anything.”
Cassie: “No.”
Adam: “So. Let’s go.”
Cassie: “Do they have boats on this river?”
Adam: “No.”
Cassie: “There, you did it again.”
In the end, he leaves too, but she can stay. She finds an apple on his bed – an apple, like in her first episode when she wouldn’t eat the apple she brought, like when she peeled the apple while talking to Jal about love. But this time around, she eats the apple. The episode ends with Cassie running again – through the streets of New York.

Random notes:

This episode starts out with some of the densest dialogue in any episode ever.

Chris: “Hey, what happened to my grapes.”
Cassie: “Anwar ate them.”
Chris: “Yeah, well, he’s a bloody grapist.”
[grapes are for chipmunks.]

Cassie: “He went to do his milk round. I think he likes having all that milk.”
Chris. “He’s a milkionaire.”

I am always amused by how Cassie manipulates Sid into changing Chris’ unfortunately placed dressing which gets him a black eye.

Cassie is going through one of her grade school books and finds a page with this: “I went to the flotting harbour. I saw a boat. The boat was big. My daddy sed it was a yat.. We cud sail away. ” (“I like boats, they go places”)

Cassie: “You could make her change her mind, if you wanted to.”
Chris: “Listen, Cass, when a woman of that calibre is willing to get her tits out for her, you don’t mess it up on purpose.”
Cassie: “Romantic.”

“I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges has been used in at least twenty movies I know, but the scene in which Cassie is running away is still the one I see in my head whenever the song is playing. 

The Born Ruffians are playing live in a club in New York.

Also, “Hometown Glory” by Adele is a beautiful, beautiful song for Cassie. “I ain't lost, just wandering."

I want to write a passage about how wonderful Hannah Murray is but essentially the only thing I could come up with would probably be a creepy combination of her name and an endless number of html-hearts around it. This episode reminded me of why I was so ecstatic about her being considered as the new Companion for Eleven, and even now I’d love to see that, even though I really enjoy Amy Pond.


junkster199 said...

I think probably the first or second time that I saw this episode, I was in such a state that I really agreed with Cassie. Everything does only get worse, all the beginnings that will happen between now and death are heading for an ending that will hurt emotionally. But then later I watched it again and I felt differently. To me, much of what Cassie is feeling is based largely in her perspective of it. But things in life will always complicated, it will get harder, but Idk it doesn't have to feel worse, It's just different, things have changed.

When she said to Sid wouldnt he like to go back to when nothing was taken away looks like she's talking about childhood. But that question seems like it's a state of mind. Because things have always been taken away, youre just more aware of it. Or the problems weren't stacking up on top of each other like Cassie's eating disorder, her love for Sid, the resentment of Michelle and intuitive knowledge of other people's lives.

I don't remember her scenes with Maxxie or Anwar, like with dialogue. That last part sparked that.

That scene with Cassie and Harriet, I've always remembered and always loved. But from it one idea that I got about love was that it was another sort of coping like cutting, a way to forget about your problems for a time or even to think that theyre cured.
But I didnt really understand the connection with "People will do anything to work out why they feel bad" with the "did you cut yourself, too?" I think i did before but must not have been solid enough so I forgot it.

Dialogue scenes like that make me can't wait for the new Skins.

I hadnt realized the apple in any scenes before. With her finally eating the apple it seems like she maybe finally succumbs and accepts the way life runs but not sure about the running away part how that would fit into it then.

You speaking about fairytales in the last recap and apples definitely made me think of Snow White but with her case it does put her into a sleep, then awakened by true love. I got confused as to how her and Cassie story would match up but then thought it could just be them using the apple in a different way with Cassie.

I'd really like your take on the apple some more.

flame gun for the cute ones said...

I also only realized during the re-watch that Cassie wouldn't have fit in at all into the mood of the finale. Most of the characters really seem to have a sense of closure after the funeral, and I imagine Cassie wouldn't have - so I completely agree that it is her perspective on things (I just personally understand this urge to run away when horrible things happen, but there are other ways of dealing with it - Sid's after his dad dies is a stark contrast). I think what is so destructive about her character is that she never feels sure of anything. When good things happen, she immediately thinks of all the ways it could go wrong (and she just happens to be right most of the time).

The dialogue between Harriet and Cassie really gave me the feeling that I was in way over my head - sometimes, I just completely lack the ability to understand a character's motivation, or to follow their reasoning, and this is a really good example. Cassie and Harriet see cutting yourself (which seems to be used to include all possible ways in which someone can harm him/herself) as an act of gaining control/power (and therefore, a way of figuring out why they feel bad?), but I don't really see how love fits into this (I see why Cassie would see being in love as one way of harming herself, but being in love hasn't given her power or control over anything?). What I took from this scene is that Cassie has found someone who understands how she feels (which no other character has done before) and has probably gone through something similarily scarring and still has the capacity to find things that are joyful.

I don't think the apple stands for just one thing. It was probably used consciously, considering all the fairy tales that feature an apple, and the whole Eve-snake thing (on some level, it was just Adam being ironic, giving her the apple, and he doesn't realize that it is an object imbued with meaning for Cassie), and the magic rituals (love spells - that thing with the apple peel Cassie does in 2x05). Then there's the eating disorder. More than anything, it provides a perfect frame for Cassie's storyline: from Sid's "You gonna eat that?" in the second episode, to her, actually eating one, in her last episode (not counting the finale).

-- One theory, and this is probably really just speculation: Harriet tells her that you can't stop bad things from happening, so you have to eat again - and maybe Cassie taking a bite is she giving up the notion that she will ever have this power. It's Cassie giving up and giving in, which is terrible and sad, but maybe the only way she can live on. I DON'T KNOW.

I find it so difficult to judge whether objects on Skins are meant to have significant symbolic value (beyond the obvious running jokes like the banana in season three) - what about Chris' fish? Chris is deeply afraid to lose the things he loves AND he has an emotional connection to a pet he can keep safely behind glass (or maybe it's just a simple Chris likes fish, and that's it)?

The running away after she takes a bite is an almost exact reproduction of her running-away scene in episode two (after she figures out that Sid hasn't actually been sending her all those messages). I wasn't sure whether this end was meant to say that she has finally come to terms with things, but... honestly, I don't think she has? I think if she had, we'd seen her making a phone call to Bristol or something along those lines, but instead she stays in New York, she settles, and only sends out that ominous post card. As hard as it to see lovely characters not get happy endings - I don't think this is one, and part of me is insanely grateful that the finale didn't end with Sid finding Cassie, because that would have completely negated the impact of this episode.

I can't wait to find out what they'll do with Cadie in Skins US. Just a bit sad that I won't be able to watch it live, bloody time zones.

junkster199 said...

sigh, yeah I've been trying to work it all out in my head/talking out loud on the scene with Harriet because I wasn't thinking about love and control or Cassie feeling like love harms her. So I tried to see what happens if I considered that and it's been frustrating. I think a lot of me looks for one set answer to believe in that could mesh everything together but I'd like to not want that. While trying to uncover how they come together I start to question if that's the intention at all, maybe some of that dialogue was standalone. Cause christ knows I keep going in a circle or trying to find how new views can fit.

Your speculation was what I had already written but I don't see it as necessarily a sad thing. But idk if I can rely heavily on it being her giving in because she does run away again and like you say doesnt contact Bristol. But why I don't think it's sad is because idk maybe it'd just be her accepting life as it'll happen, maybe staying in NY to find her identity. She might even be running toward it.Maybe I don't know what I'm saying.

I find myself feeling that way about a lot of stuff tv/film wise this being in relation to you not sure what's symbolic or not.

Anyway, definitely definitely you'll be able to watch it probably day of but def next day using

Did you see the trailer at e4. I like the new kid idea not sure I believe people just inviting you into their group but ehh skins will most likely make it work.

They should really just name Skins US Skins Canada! I freakin go crazy thinking about how they shoot the damn thing there and still claim America. They end up doing this for a lot of shows here. Sigh.

I still find I'm not very enthusiastic about watching Skins US, I wish I was but I think a lot of it is because I don't see the point with American remakes. You know theyre going to be remaking inbetweeners? and Being Human is already out.

I used to only pay more attention to series 3 and 4 music, but rewatching the beginning Skins, I find nice surprises.

How big is the time zone between America and Austria?

(As you might be able to tell new spurts of thoughts keep coming through, so this is def all over the place)

Happy Weekend Cellar Door.

flame gun for the cute ones said...

You know, maybe she does accept life as it happens. And now it also seems to me as if sending out the postcard was a really optimistic act, and that one tiny scene in the final episode where she's in the restaurant, playing with Jal's gold coin, is her waiting for all the things to fall into place. I'm just always changing my mind about her ending.

The trailer! Guns! Explosions! Fit and mysterious characters! This is the first time that I am actually watching the beginning of a new generation since the first episode I ever saw was Naomi's, and I am getting more excited about the new episodes every day.
This is one thing that makes me sad about the American version too: I've kind of enjoyed the fact that I could, theoretically, go to Bristol and it would all be there. I'd be genuinely interested in actually seeing Baltimore (haven't watched "The Wire" either, so it would have been all new to me).
BUT THERE'S CHEERLEADERS AND HOCKEY PLAYS NO SIGNIFICANT ROLE, so clearly it must be from the US (but yeah, I see your point). What frustrates me is the lack of good new tv shows this season (I watched "The Cape" this week and it's horrible). I am not opposed to the idea of remaking things in a different context, but not that many shows at once and not instead of developing interesting original ideas. Maybe I'll give "Being Human" a shot, but I only watch the British version for the cast and the character development, not so much for the mythology or the overarching story arcs. American "Inbetweeners" looks a lot like serialized "American Pie" in my head. Never got into "Shameless", it's not really my kind of show, regardless of where it takes place.

I really started looking forward to Skins US when the first interviews with the cast came out. They all seem to be very lovely people and articulate about their characters. Hopefully, they'll introduce new storylines early into the season. I expect the very first episode to be a scene-by-scene remake of the
UK version, but the second episode is going to be Tea's, and should be all new.

I'm sure that the episodes will be available online right away, but what I also enjoy about watching Skins UK is that it's the one show I can watch as a livestream, comfortably (it's 11PM here when the episodes start). Oh, and it's an eight hour difference between here and CST. As much as I love the show, I am not staying up until 5AM.

And a Happy Weekend to you too! THERE IS NEW (well, kinda) SKINS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS WEEKEND; SO YAY.

ohwowlovely said...

Firstly, I totally want to write Hannah's names in hearts too (I still use Cassie words all these years later, I never used to say totally before her!)

Ok, my take on the Harriet/Cassie scene. Again, I hate saying this, but I used to cut and have some eating issues, I have at times stopped those behaviours when dating because I felt I had love instead, therefore didn't need those ways to cope anymore. Needless to say, that doesn't work, or only as long as the "love" is ok. So maybe Cassie was trying to convince herself she's in love now so doesn't need those things, but then she's clever enough to know that won't work in the long run. And Harriet is saying that the bad things will happen whether you starve or cut, or whether you don't, and doing those things won't actually make any difference, so find healthier ways to cope (like disco lol) I mean this is just what I got from this. Now I forget the question asked, but I guess again with mental illness, like this was all too obvious in my mind but completely confused you. I wish I didn't have to understand so well.