Skins has played around with reality plenty by now, but here's our first journey into pure abstraction. The bulk of this one consists of Tony seeming to visit a college, but in the end almost everyone he interacts with almost certainly isn't real. Chief among them is actress and noted Ashley Greene doppelganger Janet Montogomery, who appears from nowhere, leads Tony on manic pixie adventures, antagonizes him into fucking the shit out of her, and then turns out to be a figment of his imagination (probably). It is, notably, the first even remotely graphic sex scene on a show that has always had a reputation for being nothing but graphic sex scenes. Ironic then, that the only real one is, in fact, not real. Still, good show, Janet Montgomery.
Fun fact: Janet Montgomery, back when she had a Twitter, once RT'd me telling someone else she'd get really famous because she looked like Ashley Greene "without the meth nose" and took her clothes off more frequently. Sorry about the stuff I say, everyone!
Ashley Greene Or Janet Montgomery? I'm honestly not even sure!
Generally people like Aaron Sorkin and Charlie Kaufman's fake brother Donald have ruined the "psyche made manifest" character for me, but I enjoyed this episode. There are lots of strange pretentious fragments and flourishes throughout, like Effy reading Tony a story, and the encounter with the burned man on the train. When an angry professor tells Tony that he's nothing but "A little fucked-up jumble of misdirected immature polysexuality and pure, arrogant, impotent rage," the show seems to have cued up a simple rejoinder in our minds: "Yeah, so? What's wrong with being just that, for a while?"
When DC Comics killed off Superman, they introduced a half-dozen or so new Supermen to take this place. There was a tacit admission, therefore, that one guy wasn't going to fill the gap, and the new Supermen individually only reflected portions of what made Superman who he was. The same thing is happening with Tony (who isn't dead but nonetheless sapped of his powers), and you can see how, in different, individual ways, Effy and Cassie have stepped into his vacuum. Cassie in the way she deals, stone-faced, with Sid, and Effy in the way she has an almost omnipotent presence in the lives of her friends and the exigent members of the Skins gang appearing in this episode. She is the all-seeing, all-destroying whore of Babylon, and she's been my favorite part of this entire second season. (Somewhat uncomfortably, Kaya Scodelario was only sixteen when this episode was filmed. The more you know.) Especially since it looks like Sid is back with Cassie now and Tony with Michelle. The old kids are so boring, with their coupling and their drama, right? I just want to run around setting fire to shit with Effy for a while.
One assumes that the idea of replacing the Skins cast every two years was a planned notion. And yet, this episode feels a lot like the writers were suddenly told they had to wrap up all plot points in the space of three episodes. Thus Jal's hidden pregnancy rushes to the forefront, and Chris is stricken with a mystery illness that was only foreshadowed the tiniest little bit. One can justifiably be a little offended at this turn of events. Still, there are small delights to be had: Jal's brothers, Cassie, the Spanish-speaking motif. But I'm worried about Chris, you guys.
You'd expect the spiritual sequel to the first season's "Cassie" episode to be a great one, and this doesn't disappoint. For the first time really ever, we stay with Cassie's fixed perspective for the full hour, which gives us a kind of tourist status in the lives of everybody else. Standing a few feet out of the circle ends up rendering everything all the more devastating: Chris's death (RIP!!!!!) is harder to take without the catharsis of seeing everyone react (at least not yet). And Cassie's abrupt appearance in the US is strange and wonderful, if implausible (post 9/11, nobody's letting Cassie in an international flight). Also notable for the more enthusiastic Sid/Cassie shippers is a fairly explicit sex scene between the two. Tony fucking his superego was apparently the beginning of a trend. RIP Chris, again. If I'd watched this show straight through instead of taking a six month break in the middle of S2, this would have ripped me to my core. But at least we still have Gendry in Game of Thrones, and Joe Dempsie's amazing Twitter account.
The frustrating thing about this episode is how much time it spends on people we don't care about. Chris's dad and his friend. Sketch. And giving the biggest speech to Jal even feels a little weird. Sorry Jal! But at the end it gets good. Maybe not end of Season 1 good, but still. The most emotionally cathartic moment maybe EVER comes when Tony says goodbye to Sid at the airport. Which is weird because like, they'll probably see each other again! And Chris fucking DIED! And yet I'm more moved by the totality of their friendship really dawning on Tony, and his heartbroken expression when Sid finally goes. Nicholas Hoult is really a wonderful actor. And ending with Effy's malevolent smile kind of hooked me for the next series. But as far as BLOGGING SKINS goes, the airport door is swinging around finally empty. We were good when we were good. But now it's over. Thanks for reading.