The fifth season of Jamie Brittain and Bryan Elsley’s popular television show, Skins, brings a whole new cast to the table:
Mini (Freya Mavor), Nick (Sean Teale), Grace (Jessica Sula), Franky (Dakota Blue Richards), Matty (Sebastian De Souza), Rich (Alexander Arnold), Alo (Will Merrick) and Liv (Laya Lewis).
While Skins over in America rehashes what has already been done before, the original, the fresh, the rule-breaking Skins in the UK, brings us everything we wanted and more. Sure the US version is supposed to deviate after the first episode, but I’m just not feeling it.
If you’re new to the whole Skins thing, Skins follows a group of kids for two seasons in their last years at high school. When they leave, the show moves on and finds a new cast. The kids aren’t perpetually enrolled forever and ever. Life moves on and so does Skins.
This episode focuses on Franky. Each episode of Skins focuses on one particular character. The plot can still advance for the other characters, but focusing mainly on one character lets us really get into their heads. Before they were just a bunch of rowdy good-for-nothing teens. Now they’re people.
Franky is played by Dakota Blue Richards, the only “known” in the cast. She starred in the Golden Compass film based on the Phillip Pullman novel, The Northern Lights.
Warning: Spoilers from here on out!
Unlike the first episode of Skins season 3 (the second generation of kids) there weren’t any references to the generation before, which was a bit of a shame. Continuity just gives the brain that cheeky little kick, teasing and rewarding you for following the show so far. The first generation wrapped up nicely and we were able to find out what the students wanted to do after college. The next generation gave a few nods to Sid and Tony, and a few carry over characters. But with the last generation we were left hanging with what happened to Effy, Cook (especially), and the rest of the gang. It’s like a completely blank slate.
Franky has moved to a new town. Yes the old “new kid in school” story. We’ve seen it all before. But have you seen it where the kid has two gay Dads? Franky is a bit of a tom-boy. Sporting some rather masculine clothes and a very short comb over. Her relationship with these doting dads is obviously strained.
On her way to school Franky runs into trouble at the bus stop, and is chased by a group of school boys. She hijacks a mobility scooter and well… drives dangerously the rest of her way to school, making a spectacular entrance. Quite cheesy, and out of place. It felt like it was just an attempt to throw in some action, and recreate Freddie’s skateboard scene from the opening of season 3.
Franky’s first day at Roundview College isn’t the best. We meet Principal Doug once again (one character who has appeared in all four seasons so far).
She catches Mini’s attention — a bitchy blonde whom a lot of the girls look up to. At first there’s a lot of tension between the two. But during a hockey game, they have a squirmish. Nearly, but not quite mud wrestling! Afterwards Mini approaches Franky in the cafeteria (shooing away Alo and Rich in the process). Franky is hesitant but joins Mini and friends on a shopping expedition. They introduce Franky to clothes, makeup, and all that girly stuff, as if Franky was some sort of pet project.
After a few subtle or not-so-subtle exchanges, we can see Mini not liking the fact that Franky’s becoming good friends with “her” best friends.
On her way back home Franky reluctantly lets the gang inside, where they meet her two dads, and find some rather unflattering photos of Franky online. Put up by bullies at her last school.
The next day these photos are plastered on the school walls after class. Mini up to no good. Franky runs away to a secluded area, and fires off a gun for stress relief. Where she got it is beyond me! Or judging by the sound of it firing, it could be an air pistol — I’m no gun expert. Matty, a mysterious (or is that creepy?) student turns up, unafraid of the traumatised girl pointing a handgun in his face, compliments Franky and returns from whence he came.
Mini invited Franky to her party, but they did have that falling out over the photos ordeal. Franky goes anyway, dressed in a suit instead of the dress Mini bought for her which is now a melted piece of fabric. Franky takes the gun she was using earlier, but doesn’t end up using it. After confronting Mini she leaves the party.
After dumping the gun in a mail box, Franky is abducted by two guys in a blue van (Alo and Rich), and Mini’s friend Grace, who also left the party. She’s taken to an outdoor swimming pool, where she’s welcomed by the three.
The episode closes with the four of them having a great time in the pool (and an underwater shot of somebody’s bottom).
An all-round great first episode. The music fits each scene brilliantly as always, and gives it a distinctive tone that would change the scene completely if it wasn’t there. Which is why I’m afraid we’ll run into the same situation as for every other season of Skins, where they couldn’t afford to licence it for the DVDs. I’m interested in seeing how the character of Franky develops, even though she’s already been through a number of changes in this one episode alone. A couple hiccups but a good start for the fifth season of Skins.