TV Review: Skins: Series 5, Episode 8 – ‘Everyone’



(This recap/review contains spoilers)

“We shall take no further part in this ridiculous melodrama.” David Blood might be an utterly unbearable cartoon who showcases some of the worst that this year of Skins has to offer, but with that line he sure does hit the nail on the head, intentionally or not. After a promising start that introduced some potentially great and immensely likeable characters and a few excellent episodes which began to shape the uneven beginnings of this year into something more assured, the final two episodes do a stellar job at fumbling it as the compounded problems of the year crash into terrible writing head-on. The result is a massively disappointing finale filled with ridiculous, tiresome melodrama which completely squanders this generation’s initial promise.

The day of Rich and Grace’s wedding arrives as we pick up with the group following an apparently eventful stag night: Rich wakes up to the sounds of traffic and a bird crapping on his face before he realises he’s strapped to the roof of Alo’s van in the middle of Bristol; Alo is asleep in the van, spooning a black inflatable sex doll with ‘Grace’ written on its forehead; Grace is home forging her dad’s signature for the wedding forms; Liv wakes up alone in Matty’s bed to find a joint and a note that he has business to handle; Nick is passed out in a chair downstairs, hugging a stolen traffic cone, while Franky creeps in after Liv leaves to leave a note on Matty’s bed seconds before he returns. The note reads: “My head’s so fucked. What is this?!” Shortly after reading it, Matty hears a knock at the door and answers it to find Mini.



The resounding issue that’s plagued the past few episodes – that of the lazy and insubstantial character development throughout the series – comes back with a vengeance. Mini stops by the Levan house to warn Matty to stay away from Franky. In a burst of exposition, she explains that she’s Franky’s best friend and has been looking after her, since she’s been struck ill by Matty’s headfuckery. When Franky and Mini became inseparable pals or how Franky’s apparent love for Matty could render her so messed up considering they’ve shared exactly two conversations is an Agatha Christie mystery.

This episode continues the trend of neglecting to include scenes which develop character or introduce any kind of natural progression, continuity or flow to the relationships and friendships in the group. Instead it’s all handled with lazy exposition and jarring, seemingly random changes in the group’s dynamic, leaving it feeling like entire episodes of character content are missing and E4 only decided to air every other episode.
.
.

.
.
Back at the Violet/Blood house, Grace is on her way out the door when her dad stops her to grill her about where she’s going. She says she’s off to say goodbye to Mini and Co. before her dad ships her off to her new boarding school later in the day. David Blood has been kind enough to suspiciously buy her a gift: A garish bug broach that contains a GPS tracker, so he can keep tabs on her every move. To hammer this point home, when he attaches it to her lapel, it makes a big audible beep and a not-exactly-subtle red LED light flashes from within. Evidently Grace has been struck deaf and retarded, as she notices neither.

Elsewhere, Rich and Alo are at the hairdresser’s, where the groom-to-be is reluctantly getting a trim for the wedding. With a little encouragement from Alo, the barber trims off a hell of a lot, leaving formerly long-haired metalhead Rich with a tamed mane, leading to the following exchange:

“I look like…”
“Justin Bieber.”
“You take that back!”

Seconds later, Nick and Matty careen around the corner on a shopping trolley loaded with stolen booze for the wedding reception, chased by two security guards. The moment Nick spot’s Rich’s new ‘do, he screams, “Oh my gay, it’s Justin Bieber!” Cue Bieber’s ‘Somebody To Love’. Over at Liv’s the girls are doing Grace’s make-up when Franky arrives, bringing with her a wedding cake that one of her dads has made, and her hand-made wedding dress for the teen bride. While Liv drags Grace off for a nerve-calming joint, Mini and Franky stay behind to get changed into their dresses. Mini reminds her new BFF that she deserves better than Matty and offers to help Franky get zipped up as the two share oodles of sexual chemistry, continuing the overt hints at a “Minky” pairing.



The guys show up in their borrowed suits – relics from Alo’s dad’s days in a Beatles tribute band – and the gang hit the road in search of the church with a map scribbled on a Rice Krispies box. A misguided short-cut down a forest lane later and Alo’s van is crashed, leaking oil and dead to the world, leaving the group to hoof it through the forest. Matty, ever the romantic, takes the opportunity to offer Franky some coke (Mini, who seems to have become more likeable over the past two weeks while the majority of the cast have grown unbearable through shoddy writing, says, “That’s called grooming”).

Franky snorts the coke, leading Grace to randomly lash out at her, yelling, “This isn’t the motherfucking reception, Franky!”. Clearly it’s already been forgotten that Grace, in an inconsistent bit of character work, was leaping to do coke herself last week. And why not yell at Nick, who’s mashed out of his gourd, or Matty the shifty coke supplier? Anyway, shortly thereafter, the guys spot a Mini Cooper driving up the lane and Rich and Grace grab a ride with a new age hippy couple (Spaced star Jessica Hynes and comedian Phil Cornwell, actors who would’ve been great choices for Skins parents, but who’re entirely wasted here) leaving the rest to make it to the church on foot.
.
.

.
.
David Blood spots Grace’s way-out-of-Bristol location on the GPS and jumps in the car to track her down, while Nick instigates a water fight with shook-up beer cans. As Mini spots Matty and Franky soaking each other and acting flirty, she hurls a can at him and mentions their agreement for him to stay away from her. Franky gets annoyed that Mini has been interfering and Liv asks Franky to split off from the group with her and Matty. Strange considering just last week Liv despised Franky and wanted her as far away from her relationship as possible – their friendship is randomly up and down like a freaking yo-yo. Mini warns Franky that Matty just wants to fuck her then fuck her up, but she just replies, “Good.” The love triangle wander off alone, soon ending up in a nearby town that’s one straw hat away from being an Amish village.

The trio break into a nearby building that’s due to hold a cheese and wine festival, in order to score some booze. While Matty does some patented scary glaring at Franky, Liv tries to seduce her love rival – an act that comes off as ridiculously random at best and incredibly creepy at worst. They’re interrupted when one of the locals spots the break-in and chases them away by blasting a shotgun in their direction(!). As they flee into the woods, Liv stops Matty and explains that she tried to sleep with Franky because she thought that’s what he wanted. Matty explains that he wants Liv and loves her, but can’t help wanting Franky too. Liv, with a straight face, sobbingly utters the hilarious line, “I’d swallow razor blades to make you smile, but even that wouldn’t do it.” Matty wisely decides to ditch Liv and chase after Franky to make sure she’s okay.
.
.

.
.
The unbearable melodrama between Franky, Matty and Liv comes to a head this week, and it’s just as wretched as I’d feared. The first few episodes of this series showed so much promise because it seemed to be a year free of painfully dramatic love triangles, quadrangles or any other form of geometrical drama. The quite literally endless Freddy/Effy/Cook situation bogged down Generation Three of Skins to torturous levels, and to pointless effect considering the writers seemingly lost interest and never bothered to resolve it after all that wasted effort. In comparison, the more sweet, simple John Hughes-esque drama of this year’s early episodes was exactly what the show needed – a mature step away from the painfully strained melodrama, dull protagonists and over-reliance on ‘Aren’t we edgy?’ sex and drugs scenes that had weighed the show down in the preceding years. With each progressive episode, though, this series has actively embraced all the worst mistakes of Series 3 – hell, we even get another daft finale centred around an uninteresting, overdramatic love triangle, a trip to a middle-of-nowhere, trapped-in-the-past town and a big third-act confrontation with a worthless father.

Now, a love triangle wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it developed naturally, but here the character development is non-existent; due to a lack of group scenes throughout the series, this year we’ve barely seen characters interact and have seen no natural progression in relationships. The writing over the past couple of weeks have proven awful as a result, offering up character conflicts that seem entirely rushed, random and inconsistent (Liv hates Franky only every other week, and Mini is suddenly best friends with Franky now?) and relationships between characters are suddenly offered up as life-changing, earth-shattering romances despite them barely knowing each other. Franky and Matty are madly, deeply in love? But…they’ve exchanged about twelve words! Matty loves Liv and she’d gargle razorblades for him? Why? They have zero chemistry, he spends every moment with her creepily glaring at another girl, she’s a nightmare of a person and they’ve known each other for about a week. Sure, he keeps saying he loves her, but we’re never shown any remote reason why Matty would want to stay with Liv, other than because it provides a love triangle for the show, and those always make for good TV, right? The entire plot never feels like more than a tedious, lifeless, engineered grab for drama, and every character involved proves idiotic and unbearable as they spout cringeworthy “romantic” hyperbole to each other at random.
.
.

.
.
Proving much more entertaining, a drunk Nick and his new mismatched buddy movie pal Alo are making their own way to the church. Nick is badgering Alo for more drugs when he steps in a rabbit snare, slicing his ankle and leaving him uttering hilarious and overly dramatic words of woe:

“Go on without me, I’ll die here alone, it’s all I deserve.”
“Just keep your leg still, alright? You’re in a rabbit snare.”
“Oww! Save yourself and leave me to the bears!”
“We’re in Somerset, Nick!”
“To the fucking squirrels, then!”

Alo uses his farming expertise to remove the trap and reminds a self-pitying Nick that he’s not a loser; “You’re a bit of a prick. But peel away that prick and there’s a good man in there.” Meanwhile, Mini is searching the forest for Franky when she stumbles across Liv and rushes to give her a huge hug. When Mini became friends with Liv again after spending all series plotting her doom is another mystery left unexplained. Mini asks where Franky is, leading Liv to point out that her “girl crush is so blatant”, before the two set off looking for the missing Miss Fitzgerald. Rich and Grace arrive at the church, only to find that the vicar is booked up and fishing for a bribe to fit them in, and even then they’re short two witnesses for the ceremony and have to wrangle up an old couple to fill in with an hour to wait. Matty tracks down Franky in the woods. He professes his love again, leading Franky to ask why he’s headfucking her and staying with Liv. Matty announces that he’s just as fucked in the head as she is. She’s about to prove him wrong, through, as she comes out with the most laughable line of the night: “When I was six, teacher asked me to think of something beautiful. I said “9/11″.” She pours her heart out and says that the reason her parents probably dumped her in a care home was because they knew even before then that she was “wrong”.
.
.

.
.
In the hands of talented writers, Franky’s a potentially amazing, unique and complex character, and her ambiguous sexuality and fragile personality certainly lends itself to her insecurely feeling damaged, weird and unwanted. Great writing isn’t what we get here, and though it’s a good moment in theory, when it’s displayed through terrible writing like the line above, a potentially revealing character moment becomes cringe-inducingly awful, and leaves Franky suddenly slipping from the show’s most interesting character to a complete moron for reasons beyond pining lovelorn over a guy she doesn’t know. The two of them kiss, and are on the road towards sex when a drugged-up Franky starts to hallucinate and freak out, pushing him away and running off into the forest. Mini and Liv see a distraught Franky dash past and notice Matty wandering behind while zipping up his trousers and jump to the obvious conclusions. Franky runs through the forest, trips on a stray branch and tumbles over the edge of a cliff, catching the edge just in time. Because the love triangle and the shotgun-toting grannies weren’t enough ridiculous, strained drama. Mini and Liv help her up and quiz her about what happened with Matty and she sobs, saying she just wanted to feel normal.

Elsewhere, Nick and Alo are attempting to thumb a ride on the main road when a familiar face drives by: “David Fucking Blood!” They attempt to warn Grace and Rich, but without a phone signal, they’re forced to wait for another ride, which then somehow reaches the church before Blood anyway. Alo, Nick, Rich and Grace are attempting to rush the vicar through the ceremony when Grace’s parents arrive, followed by the rest of the gang. Blood attempts to threaten his daughter, but after his wife finally stands up for Grace, the villainous professor resorts to trying to expel the entire group instead. Rich, in the smartest thing anyone’s done all episode, gears up to punch Blood in the face, but Nick sadly holds him back and tries using reason. Blood looks the former prize athlete up and down, scoffs and says, “How the mighty have fallen…” In return, Nick launches into a cheesy, but heartfelt speech that at least feels true-to-character for him, considering he’s been drunk and high all day and has proven to be out of touch with the reality of his friendships before:

“Yeah, I fell. Down a freaking k-hole actually, but these guys caught me. It’s what mates do. Because it’s screwed up out there – I don’t know if you’ve been outside lately, but it is. But we have a go. Whatever comes, we have a good go at it. Because it’s all we can do.”
.
.

.
.
His pals smile warmly, neglecting to point out that only Franky and Alo have bothered to speak to him in the past month. Blood decides he’s had enough, and leaves Grace to her own devices. Now that that’s all settled, Rich and Grace suddenly realise that getting married isn’t a great idea, and chose to keep their relationship working as is. Alo leads them off in search of a party while Liv breaks things off with Matty, saying they had a great day together when they first met and she doesn’t wish to fuck with that memory any more. At the local festival shindig, Liv, Mini and Franky mend fences and share a friendly drink before Matty and Franky have a texting session. He claims he doesn’t know what he is; she tells him he’s “a glorious headfuck thing. Own it.” The gang dance the night away, singing along as Dog is Dead perform their track ‘Glockenspiel Song’.

Some fun Alo and Nick comedy aside, the Series 5 finale is an episode in which all the problems laid throughout the series converge. With a lack of anything resembling natural character progression or an overarching plot, the last episode struggles to find anything remotely natural or believable to provide the requisite “big finale drama!”. Instead, like last week, it’s an hour that just crams in jarringly inconsistent writing for its cast, a rushed, flimsy and tediously melodramatic romance, and ridiculously daft engineered drama. This generation of Skins boasts an incredibly talented cast and a massive amount of character potential. It’s just a shame that the finale fails to deliver on any of that.

Rating:




Skins airs in the UK on E4 and E4 HD, Thursdays at 10pm.
Click here to pre-order Series Five on DVD, which is released in the UK on March 21st 2011.

  • Sam

    I stopped watching after Liv’s episode. This season had so much promise. Dakota Blue Richards is a really fantastic actress, so I’m sorry to hear what they did with Franky.

    Also, the whole “9/11″ thing made me think back to a greater Skins generation when a crazy teacher wrote a musical about “the day Osama blew us away.”

  • taciturn

    it is absolutely uncanny how spot-on this review is for me. i agree with every line. i was warily hopeful that this generation would bring back a little of the skins magic but the last two episodes left me frustrated, confused, and incredibly disappointed. i’ll probably watch some of the next season out of curiosity, but if it doesnt improve quickly i will not hesitate to jump ship.

  • Shanoir

    Agreed. and why would Frankie make a dress?
    SO disappointed with this series.

  • Rags

    Love your reviews :) although I gotta disagree with some things in it and most of the comments here.

    Dunno if you guys ever watch any american tv shows, but seriously, Skins still achieved to make all the stereotypes enjoyable, which would’ve been practically impossible in american teen shows, can’t deny it.

    • Al Russell

      It’s a given that American shows are swill. They take anything remotely edgy or intellectual and strip it of any value. But we expect more from the Skins writers at this point. There was a charm and believability to the season one crew, even in the face of some pretty over the top melodrama. The characters felt like people we all knew at some point in our lives. The second generation slipped a little, in my opinion, but they had Cook, so I still hung around. This 5th season though, …SNORE. Sorry, but I just couldn’t get connected to these people. The entire season felt rushed and unfinished somehow. Great review. Said what I couldn’t quite put into words.

  • Rags

    Also (sorry to burst in again) I think that if you, and many others feel less that they are a group, its because we (obviously) need to be presented to each of the characters, so each centric episode as to really be centric so we can be introduced to them, their lives and their families. It was exactly the same with the 2nd Generation, I totally felt it with them too. And they of course can’t stop the story from developing (love stories and whatnot), they still have to make it happen. Hence why there is little to no place to show them to do group stuff.

    I sure hope they’ll be more of that in the sixth series :) a formula closer to the first generation, with characters having their centric episode but other characters’ arcs being developed anyway in them.

  • Morgan

    I’m going to have to disagree, personally I really enjoyed this series of skins. It gives a realistic view on peoples lives and how fucked up things can get. But I don’t think Matty and Franky should get together and hopefully they won’t… It would be nice to see another, (naomily) I thought it was really sweet, especially Naomi’s speech at the end of series 4.So let’s hope they bring in a ‘Minky’ :)