Thursday 1 March 2012

Skins - A problem shared is a problem…

Skins: 6x06 Nick. 

/rage blackout

I don’t even know what to do with this episode. A reveal at the end of the season that everyone fell down the rabbit hole (like, everyone’s dead EXCEPT Grace or something), and this is their twisted and highly subjective purgatory would make more sense than any other conclusion, basically. I’ll keep this short because my notes mostly consist of caps-locked exclamatory sentences. 

Nick has two problems. His brother is running from the Moroccan police, desperate not to be disappeared in a prison after being set up by Luke, and now needs Nick to get what feels like a fairly moderate amount of money for a fake identity to a shady guy called the Doctor. The episode leaves it open what exactly bothers Nick about helping his brother – the fact that all their friends think he is responsible for Grace’s death, or the inconvenience of actually getting the money together while also paying for all his friends’ drinks, or the creep-factor of dealing with Bristol’s underworld (I guess that’s only okay if you’re looking to score drugs?), or maybe it’s the fact that Franky, the girl that Nick has fallen in love with, is Matty’s ex-girlfriend. That’s his second problem: Franky isn’t into him. Or at least she says so, and since we see events unfolding from his perspective, not hers, there is also an extremely unfortunate lack of insight into what Franky is actually going through to get from “Don’t spoil it […] I can’t” to “Maybe we just enjoy it.” 
The Matty-part of the episode is just odd, because despite the fact that Matty’s “I don’t accept that Franky broke up with me and please bully her into taking me back” is creepy and weird, his fear and anxiety and attempts to escape are actually easy to understand, and it’s hard to figure out why Nick would view all of this just through the “I am always the one who takes the responsibility” lens (like, “dude, your attempts to flee certain life-long imprisonment in Morocco INCONVENIENCE ME!!”).
The bit that absolutely destroyed the episode for me is the development between Nick and Franky. Friendships are based on respect, so when your friend tells you repeatedly that she isn’t interested in a different relationship, you back off. This was particularly insufferable because it is framed like Franky isn’t interested BECAUSE Nick is The Nice Guy and she only has to have this one revelatory moment to realize how wrong she was (the “spark” alluded to in chem class) because there is no possible way that her initial reaction to his advances were valid (and that in a season that does the same to Mini: argue that her response to Alo isn’t valid because I guess once a guy proclaims his love, you ought to disregard your actual feelings and just go along with it – and worse, your actual feelings weren’t your actual feelings and you better realize that the guy knows you better than you know yourself before it’s too late!). 
The moment Franky realizes is actually when she comes by to emotionally support Nick and sees a random girl he picked up at a party (also awesomely, Nick later blames Alex for this, à la “you made me sleep with a girl who wasn’t Franky and now things are even worse!”). Random girl (Carlotta is such a cool name though!) provides Nick with the insight that Franky is in love with him, though, because us girls KNOW these things, just from observing from a distance, that’s what they call female intuition. 
Franky: I care about you, Nick.
Nick: No, you don’t. You don’t give a fuck about anyone. You’re a headfuck.
Franky: He’s a selfish, messed-up pussy. And you let him fuck you again.
Nick: I have to.
Franky: And you always will.
Nick: Yeah, I will.
Franky: Then what the fuck are you doing here then, Nick? That’s right, just run away.
Nick: I wish I fucking could. But I can’t.
I really, really liked how Nick’s episode last season handled his relationship with Matty. The idea of Matty being an overbearing brother isn’t entirely new, and Nick struggling to earn his father’s respect by always doing what is expected of him and never actually getting what he wants was the point of his episode – but it ended with Nick realizing that his dad isn’t worth courting, in a way, because he doesn’t deserve to be admired. By the end of that episode, Nick overcame the awful influence his father had on all of his decisions. Matty was never really the burden that weighed him down, and running away from your responsibilities – and it’s hard to even see saving your own brother as a responsibility, in a way, because you’d expect Nick to just CARE about Matty enough to try and make this work, especially since the obstacles didn’t exactly seem insurmountable – isn’t winning. His grand declaration of love doesn’t work, but it has to because it is meant to be the reason for all his questionable decisions in the episode. His love for Franky has to be stronger than his feelings about Matty for the episode to work, but the only thing the audience has to believe his feelings are a couple of looks and that one speech (“You’re in here, and in here, and part of me would do anything for you to just disappear, just be fucking gone. But that’s a tiny part. The rest of me, the rest of me would take even this shit feeling over any other feeling over any other girl because compared to this I haven’t felt a single fucking thing in my life.”) Nick doesn’t know Franky. He hasn’t spent a lot of time with her. He sort of admired her room but that moment only underlined how little he really knows about her and her interests and passions. Love requires a certain amount of knowledge and intimacy, otherwise it’s just an infatuation, attraction maybe, but not really that massive life-changing thing that makes you want to leave your brother to rot in a Moroccan prison. 
Franky walks out of this conversation by saying “no”, and Nick insists that she’s lying (because he knows her better than she knows herself), but everything about this season is wrong so she ends up at his doorstep anyway and gives in because I guess he wore her down (and he tells her that she is “the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen”) and Nick has finally given up on Matty, they all have. And I think I’m pretty close to breaking up with Skins

Random notes: 

Favourite moment of the episode (not really but still) – Josie’s voice in the “Previously”. Enjoyable things I did before actually watching the episode and writing the review: Josie Long on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, years ago (with Stephen Fry!), and her podcast here. Sorry, allons-y!

Not that this is something that usually bothers me because whatever, not my field of expertise and Skins fucks up details all the time (it would be less grating if the characters were consistent if the world they inhabit doesn’t make much sense…) but I assume that mixing painkillers with hormone treatment pills and alcohol wouldn’t exactly get you in a party mood. 

I think I would have enjoyed the fuck out of a solid Nick-Franky friendship, something like Cassie-Chris in the second season, which I feel Skins hasn’t done since then, except maybe with Cook and Naomi. 

Also, really unfortunate use of Nouvelle Vague in the scene with Nick and Franky in her room because that band just reminds me of Sugar Rush which is additionally frustrating in the face of what the second season has done to Mini and Franky. 

“I’m not accepting that, understand. I need her, Nick, alright.”

The thing is, this line is probably the creepiest, weirdest line of the entire episode as it completely disregards Franky’s emotions and it makes Matty come across as a stalker (none of this fits in with his previous characterization but I guess we aren’t meant to care about this since Matty’s isn’t a main character anymore?), but it’s the very same attitude Nick has towards Franky’s feelings, and it’s pretty much exactly what Alo does with Mini’s, too – insisting that because their respective love interests don’t love them back, they must be broken and unable to love anyone (like the way they randomly use the word “headfuck”, as if Mini or Franky didn’t make it clear from the beginning what they wanted out of the relationship). This could be potentially interesting if this was meant to be about how broken and deluded Alo and Nick are – it would be a really dark place to go to for Skins, and I would have even trusted the show to handle it well up until about six weeks ago – but it’s NOT. This isn’t the side the writers are on. This isn’t where the show is actually going with this. 

Rich is being strangely elusive which really has me worried that there’ll be a shocking Grace-related reveal at the end of the season. 

Next week, Alo gets as literally manic pixie dream girled as possible. I think she even lives in the forest. 


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right that the Mini/Alo and Franky/Nick relationships are almost sickening if they go the way they appear to be going (i.e. the girls recognizing that the oh-so-good-guys are their twue woves after all). I´m still hoping though that they´ll go in a different direction and, I dunno, have Mini and Franky dump their respective stalkers and raise the mini-Mini together or me an optimist, I guess.

After the pretty horrid series4 I didn´t think I could be disappointed in Skins this much anymore, but they did such a good job in series 5 only to have it all come crushing down least s4 had some decent one-of episodes (Katie, JJ, Cook to a degree)...well, I guess Alex´s episode was ok, at least they couldn´t do that much damage to a character we hadn´t met before.

I´d also be really interested in what happened to the seemingly zen-like Rich, but no; we absolutely had to have 5 scenes of Mini and Alo shagging so far instead...and since Rich already had his episode (and is apparently not going to feature prominently in Alo´s) I´m afraid that we´re not going to see much of him anymore.
We´re left with what? Liv´s POV, maybe Matty´s and an Everyone to close out the series? I just hope that they manage to end this somewhat decently and then switch out some of the writers for the next generation (I mean, seriously? Nick/Franky and Mini/Alo out of all the possible couples that s5 left us with? Did they just go with the ones that no one would anticipate because they make no sense and aren´t based on anything that happened on the show?)

grifter said...

Sorry, the previous comment was by me; didn´t mean to write it anonymously. ;)

cathy leaves said...

I probably wouldn't have reacted so negatively to the episode if I hadn't seen the preview for Alo's episode, which felt like a definite confirmation that they were going in that particular direction with the storylines. This has now gotten to a point that feels way worse than season four, because I still cared about the characters then - the things happening to them were awful, but at least they still resembled the people that were introduced the season before. This is more like a reboot of season five (Nick's entire episode felt like a first season / gen episode to me, maybe like Cook's first one). Nothing that happened before is still relevant. What I don't understand most of all is how this season could implode so spectacularly when most of the staff and some of the writers are still the same. The worst thing is that all the way through Alo's episode and most of the season so far, I've really enjoyed the acting. It's awful seeing talented people like Freya Mavor trying their best to make these scripts work.

Also, NO MEANS YES from Franky basically transformed this season from really, really bad to irresponsible writing. I just want it to end, doesn't feel like there's much to be salvaged any more.

But at least knowing I am not alone in my despair is helping a bit, so thanks for your comments :)