Skins S06E03 “Alex” Recap-view

“It’s numbers mate. Only numbers.”
– Alex

After last week’s very depressing end we’re introduced to a brand new character; Alex Henley.

Warning: Spoilers follow.

We wake up with Alex in his nautical themed room. He gets ready and makes breakfast for his memory challenged gran. She’s not afraid of saying anything offensive either but Alex takes it in his stride. The first hint of trouble arises when Alex’s dad calls in to prepare gran for a home. Something neither of which Alex or gran are keen for.

At the bus stop Alex fiddles with a die and reads a note with corresponding actions for each number. We can’t read the whole thing but there’s choices to streak, punch, kiss, wank, and run. But before he can roll the die the bus arrives.

It’s Alex’s first day at Roundview and after meeting Doug, now headmaster, and at his dad’s meddling he’s thrust into ICT along with the rest of the skins we’ve grown so attached to.

In the cafeteria Alex is sitting alone, tapping the die against the table. We see Grace’s portrait among some flowers. Alex then looks over at Liv and sees her pouring some hard alcohol into her coffee cup. Liv spots Alex staring at her and the two share smiles. Alex pulls out his card and we see for the first time all six actions:

1. Streak in a public place

2. Punch the next person to walk in

3. Kiss the person next to you

4. Do everything backwards

5. Have a wank. NOW!

6. Run away

I used to use an eraser myself as a mock magic eight ball, each side corresponding to a yes, no, or maybe. So not quite the same as Alex’s number system. Because here he means business. He rolls a 2. We see Nick and Alo walk in the door. But Alo is lucky first. Alex walks right up to him and punches him in the face. He quickly apologises and helps him to his feet. Alo is bewildered and Alex quickly walks out with everyone’s eyes on him, including Liv who smiles in astonishment.

Liv is having a falling out with Mini. The two are taking Grace’s death quite hard. Liv walks up to Alex and asks what his problem is. He looks at his die. “If you live by this, everything’s random”

He rolls a three and gives Liv a good smooch, until she slaps him in the face. Any normal girl would walk away at this point but she’s intrigued by Alex and the two walk together to Alex’s place. He introduces her to his gran. We learn more about gran’s husband who as it turns out was a sailor. Alex reads his grandfather’s travel diary as gran lies in bed.

Alex meets the gang in a bar, all sitting quietly and keeping to themselves.

Mini sums up my thoughts exactly. “We don’t need any new friends.”

But by this point I know I’ve started to like the character. I don’t see him as a replacement for Grace. He tries to learn more about her but everyone finds it offensive for him to be talking about her.

Liv goes off with Alex to a dingy warehouse with poker tables hidden out back. Alex wins the round against his final opponent, with a full house in fact. Alex is accused of cheating and the two settle it with another of Alex’s chance devices; the coin toss. Except as we soon find out, the coin is heads on both sides of the coin. The two manage to escape with the handfuls of cash. Liv looks like she madly wants to kiss Alex, but he’s blissfully unaware. He sends her off in a taxi and kisses her on the cheek, which again confuses Liv.

Alex pulls out his smart phone and loads an app called CruisR. The screen is littered with display pictures of guys. He selects the profile of a dude only 15 metres away. Next we see Alex in the throws of passion with… another guy. Suddenly it makes sense, that’s the reason he’s been coy about Liv’s advances. And I made that prediction about Liv potentially hooking up with Rich (too soon?), so that’s still up in the air now. Alex leaves the guy (a lot older than his pic showed to be) with a few criticisms, and tears up the cash on offer.

Liv and Alex break into a home, another one of the dice dares. They find a mess of a house and they tidy the place to freak out the owner. Liv advances on Alex but before Alex has time to explain the owner walks in the door, and the duo make their escape.

The two head to Alex’s home where they find his dad packing up gran’s things. Alex and his dad argue and Alex is left to pack up the rest. He doesn’t.

Everyone is hanging at the bar. Alex is growing closer to the group as Nick makes fun of his lists. A pretentious twat comes in and starts talking up a memorial service for Grace. There couldn’t be a worse faker out there and the gang is beyond peeved.

Mini has a fight with Liv and Liv takes off. Alex chases Liv to the bathroom and finally reveals to Liv that he’s gay. Liv takes this quite harshly, even Mini takes her side, and Alex runs away in shame.

Alex comes home to find his gran has overdosed on pills. Rather than be taken to a home, she decided to go her own way.

The service starts, and the gang heads along. While the twat and his accomplice begin a cringe worthy musical item, Liv gets so upset she trashes the keyboard and exposes herself to the crowd. The second part I don’t get myself. But it seemed to make sense to her at the time.

Alex tries to reconcile with Liv over the phone while waiting nearby.

Alex invites the group out for a cruise, where we discover he wants to send his gran out to sea for her burial. There the gang help him push the coffin into the sea. Alex says she can be their stand-in for Grace, as they weren’t allowed to attend the funeral (déjà vu anyone?). Alex recites his granddad’s diary one last time, and there are tears all around. I found myself rather swept up in the moment too. Mini and Liv are back on good terms. We hear in on a phone call from Franky to Matty. She tells him to never come back. Huh, and I thought she was nice again?

Alex rolls the die one more time: Run away. They jump into the sea. The last shot is of them diving for the die.

A little surprisingly Rich is nowhere to be seen in this episode. There is a moment where he is mentioned when Nick and Alo walk into the cafeteria. Blink and you’ll miss it. I guess it makes sense. His pain must be unbearable, and we witnessed most of it in the last episode. However I do hope we get to see him soon and how he’s coping.

I thought it would be a little strange to introduce a brand new character to a cast we’re already well acquainted with, but it turned out just fine. Great in fact. Alex is a fascinating new character, and as long as they don’t over-do the dice stuff, he should fit right in with the gang and hopefully ease their suffering as they grieve for Grace.

Skins S06E02 “Rich” Recap-view


“Zurich? Like in space?” – Alo

Now that the “everyone” episode is dealt with we can finally get knee-deep into these characters. Any sexual metaphor there is completely coincidental. Ahem. This one focuses on Rich and if he’s not in every frame, he’s at least in the very next room.

Warning: Spoilers follow.

So last time we were left with Rich, he was barred from visiting Grace in hospital after “the” accident.

We open with the band; Alo on electric guitar and vocals, Rich on bass, and some girl we’ve never seen on the drums. It had a whole Scott Pilgrim vibe going on. Rich is barely into it, he is consumed by Grace.

He sits outside the hospital during visiting time as he’s not allowed in. His phone rings. It’s Grace. Rich almost lights two cigarettes in his excitement. But Grace is a little peeved he’s not trying hard enough to see her.

Rich enters the hospital, ripping down a poster with his mug shot denying his entry to the ward. This made me giggle, and tingly on the inside knowing he was trying his hardest to see Grace.

On his hands and knees he sneaks past the desk with at least a dozen more posters, only to be caught in the act by the nurse from last week. Not to mention Professor Blood who is not at all happy to see him. He tells Rich he’s taking Grace to Switzerland for better medical care.

With his tail between his legs Rich leaves, but in the corridor he scrambles up a ladder into the air ducts. This may seem extreme, almost spy-movie-like, but you saw Blood right? He’s bloody frightening (please forgive the pun). It was really his only remaining choice. Rich crashes through the ceiling into Grace’s room and the two begin to kindle their love. That is until Rich is caught and thrown out with his pants down.

Here we are at Rich’s home. One thing Skins isn’t too good at is characterising the parents. While the teens may be dramatized at times, the parents are on a whole other level of cartoon. Rich’s mum is over-protective and over-emotional, while the dad is spineless and unwilling to get involved. There’s a whole debacle about Rich’s mum wanting the three of them to go on holiday. Rich firmly refuses, and she is next seen in the back of an airport van, waving a tearful goodbye.

Rich bikes off to Grace’s house hoping to talk to Mr. Blood. But they’ve already left. Rich gets angry at his phone and hurls it into the garden. He throws things a lot in this episode. He climbs in through the open window. He hears an alarm clock radio playing “Walking on Sunshine”. In his anger he smashes it through the window, which had me in hysterics.  He finds a projector and plays a grainy coloured film reel of current-age Grace performing ballet. Hey, isn’t this 2012? What are they doing still using 8mm film?? There are a few clips of toddler-Grace, maybe the Blood family just have a thing for retro.

Alo finds Rich and the two take over the house, wearing the parents clothes, eating their food, and plain old trashing the place. I would’ve thought it a bad idea to make your girlfriend’s dad hate you even more than he already did, but Rich obviously wasn’t in the same mindset. They call the hospital in Switzerland, but Rich just gets an angry Blood on the other line. Rich tells Alo to leave him be, but instead of leaving Alo or “farm boy” invites Mini over for… well, a shag. Rich catches them in the act. He didn’t exactly have to be Sherlock Homes either, due to the sheer pitch of their love-making.

Rich receives a call from Grace that doesn’t last for long. He begs her to run away, to meet him in France. But she’s gone before he can get a response. Later he finds Alo has set up the band equipment downstairs. Rich is beyond reason, and after trashing Alo’s equipment the two give each other a lovely new complexion; red.

Rich leaves for lunch with Liv who is upset at not being told about Grace. After Rich shouts for emergency biscuits, outside they share a connection I had never thought about before. Possible romance down the line hmm? Franky turns up, less bitchy than in Morocco and even shows off her French.

The group arrive back at the house to find Alo packing his gear away, but also letting on that he had invited most of Facebook to a house party; David Blood’s house. Liv suggests they charge everyone on entry so they could fly off and get Grace back. There’s also a nice juicy exchange about Mini’s reason for being at the house. While it looked pretty obvious to us what was going on, everyone else hadn’t a clue. I guess the relationship between Alo and Mini really does defy expectations.

The house party commences. The band takes centre stage in Blood’s living room, and they’re good. The crowd is loving it. Then Rich spots Grace in the crowd. He leaves mid-song and chases after her. But she’s disappeared. Alo tells him he’s seeing things. The two embrace. Rich keeps looking for Grace and eventually finds her in her bedroom under the covers. She invites him in.

The next morning Rich wakes up in an empty bed. Everyone is gone, and the place is wrecked beyond imagination. He gets a call from Grace on his busted phone. She says that she has to leave. Rich is dumbfounded. He sees Professor Blood’s car and heads inside to see him sitting at the bottom of the staircase. He knows Rich is responsible for the state of his house but he’s not angry. He’s crying.

Now for the big twist. Blood tells Rich that Grace died yesterday in Switzerland. She had never woken up from the coma, her mind was gone, and he made the decision to pull her life support. Rich has been imagining the whole thing. Or was it something more? Grace communicating beyond the grave? We’ll never know. But it’s delightfully haunting and romantic.

I don’t know if you figured it out before the reveal, but there were a few hints that something was off. Firstly, how far away is Switzerland?! It seems taking flights in and out is as easy as hopping on through to the next town. Grace couldn’t have got back that quickly. I also noticed that when Grace was in bed her bruises were gone. Now those weren’t the sort of bruises to disappear overnight. But did I think something was off? Nope. I thought how nice it was for Grace to come back and see Rich. Just like Rich I had gone delusional, believing what I wanted to see. Blinded by my love for the character. Oh and that broken phone? It looked pretty trashed, perhaps it was only good for ghost calls?

Rich sits down next to Mr. Blood. Eventually, hesitantly, Rich puts his arm around him, and we cut to black. If there’s one thing Skins is good at it’s dealing with death.

And that my friends is Skins well and truly back. We have a new character next time so that should be fun. I will try my hardest not to think of him as Grace’s replacement, but it will be a little difficult. As much as we want to hate the writers for killing off our fictional buddies and tormenting the characters like Rich who still remain, it’s really for the best.

Rich and Grace’s relationship was really at its peak in Morocco on top the villa bathing in the sun. Where could you take them from there? Really? A spanner had to be thrown into the works. And would we have reached that emotional high without our characters first experiencing the same?

 

Season 6: Episode One Review / Recap

Last year I did a review of the first episode of Skins Season 5. Trouble is I didn’t get any further than that. It’s been the most popular search term on my blog so with the new season upon us I thought I’d take another crack at it. Just for you Skins fans!

As always be wary of spoilers, make sure you watch the first episode (and season 5 at that too) before reading this review.

So what has happened to our lovely bunch of characters over the course of last season? Well Rich got his hair cut. Oh and I guess he got married to Grace. Franky has come out of her tom boy phase and is now openly feminine and heterosexual, and has a thing going on with Matty. Nick is no longer with Mini or Liv. And of course we have our roaming bachelor; Alo.

This is a ‘Everyone’ episode, meaning the focus is on the group, as per usual for the first and last episodes of a season. We open in Morocco. To start with I felt a bit nervous, reminding me of the time the first generation of Skins took a trip to Russia. Fortunately this episode wasn’t as camp and unbelievable.

Everyone is having a grand old time on their dirt bikes. There’s a few complaints but it’s all in good fun. Maybe too much fun. Before you turn off your viewing device in disgust at their happiness, just you hang in there, real drama is about to unfurl!

The gang turn up at Alo’s promised land to find an abandoned villa with an empty swimming pool. Rich is relegated to a mattress on the roof due to a shortage of bedrooms.

Franky and Matty eventually arrive, but Franky’s not in a good mood. I remember feeling sorry for Franky last season, but here she’s being a downright bitch. Matty doesn’t know what’s going on. Poor, poor Matty.

That night Alo follows the sound of music to find a raving party at a nearby villa. Luke, another Britonian, stares at Franky dancing alone amongst the crowd. Franky tells Matty how she’s bored of him. Then she comes upon Luke on the balcony and the two share an intimate dance.

The next morning a little unexpectedly (but not if you saw a few hints in the Alo episode last season) Mini tells Alo to put away his porn and try the real thing. The happy go lucky Alo, doesn’t turn down her request, and the two sleep together.

The gang rejoice as Mini has discovered the secret to fill up the swimming pool. Their fun is disrupted when Luke and his pal show up. Again Luke stares at Franky. He says that he’s been using this villa to stash his weed but they work out an arrangement. He invites the gang to his beach party (Two parties in a row? A bit party animal this Luke is huh?).

While the gang are at the beach party a few of Luke’s crew is back at their villa recovering his weed. They’re just taking back their weed right? Nothing to be concerned about right?

Luke doesn’t give up his obsession with Franky. He takes her aside and eloquently persuades her to run away with him. Luke’s mate tells Matty that in order to get Franky back he needs to drive the weed to Marrakech — be their drug mule.

Matty sits in the drug-loaded car and watches Franky take off in Luke’s car. After learning that Luke is no good Liv hops in the car with Grace and Matty, and convinces Matty to drive. An epic car chase begins… until a truck (it’s always a truck), makes Matty swerve, and off the road they go. As the car hurtles over the side of the road, I feel sick in the pit of my stomach. A tear rolls down my cheek. I can feel that someone is going to die. And so can Rich.

It turns out Grace is the unlucky victim. As we might’ve guessed from Rich’s gut feeling back at the beach party. We’re left only guessing until we find Grace is not dead, but in hospital with a coma (season finale of Skins anyone?) and the rest of the gang is in their first day of school at Roundview College — all rather miserable. Even Doug, deputy headmaster, doesn’t lighten the mood. Grace’s dad, Headmaster David Blood, is of course taking a leave of absence. Matty is nowhere to be found since the accident. And for good reason too, despite injuring one of his friends he is under suspicion for the drugs found in the destroyed vehicle.

How Grace got to the hospital in Bristol is anyone’s guess. It seems a bit strange to cart her overseas on a plane with the rest of the group.  I would’ve thought that she’d be better off in a hospital in Morocco. But maybe that’s just me.

Nick is a bit upset that Matty hasn’t tried to call him. He soon receives a call from Matty but doesn’t pick up. I’m not quite sure of the logic behind that one, but we can all be pig-headed at times can’t we?

Rich attempts to see Grace but the nurse will not let him. He hands her a CD, mentioning that he and Alo had put it together. We hear the enchanting chorus from Grace as she lies motionless in her hospital bed. End scene.

I had my doubts during the start of the episode. I almost thought I had grown out ofSkins. That it was no longer for me. But in the end it all paid off. Skins is back. It’s amazing. And I cannot wait for the show to start focusing on individual characters again. It’s what makes the show so unique.

I hear that there’s a new addition to the cast this season so that should be interesting. I hope that doesn’t mean something bad for Grace. Don’t freak out or anything, that’s just speculation on my behalf. I love Grace too *Sniff, sniff*.

The preview for next episode shows it’s all about Rich. Join me next time for another review / recap (that is if I manage to keep this up!).