WRITER: Sean Buckley[SPOILERS] You might have thought that a random guest appearance by Pop Idol Will Young as a school staff member would be bizarre and jarring, but the fifth episode of Skins is so drenched with surreal moments and melancholic music that his appearance felt like one of the more sane aspects of the episode...
DIRECTOR:Esther May Campbell
GUEST CAST: Will Young, Simon Day, Dudley Sutton, Rick Shaw & Morwenna Banks
The episode starts with Freddie (Luke Pasqualino) and Effie (Kaya Scodelario), largely neglected so far throughout this season, in a night of drug-fueled romance. What seems like carefree, yet darkly-tinged young love comes crashing back to reality in the inevitable morning after, where Freddie's forced to head to collage for a disciplinary meeting as a result of skipping classes. Here, he is confronted by "Tough Love" (a teacher played by Will Young, doing a decent enough job of fulfilling the "quirky adult" role in the show), who ultimately warns Freddie to get coursework done or get kicked out.
Coming back from his meeting, Freddie finds Effie in a deranged state, cutting out photographs in her mother's room. We then see Freddie kick into action mode, and get a good minute of watching Freddie use Google to try and work out the cause of her spontaneous insanity. He then seeks the council of "T Love" once again, in a pointless and slightly embarrassing scene, which ends fruitlessly.
Following this, and some general moping around, Freddie visits the old people's home to see his grandfather, who typically offers wise words. A motivated Freddie quickly powers back home, crashing his bike and having to get a lift in a bike-drawn carriage for no apparent reason along the way. He arrives back to Effy’s to find she has put on a party, with an ominous "Goodbye" scrawled in huge letters on the wall. We then have some brief appearances form the other characters -- Thomas (Mervielle Lukebar) getting a kiss off Pandora (Lisa Backwell) -- but then it's back to the main pair. Freddie finds Effy in her room, lying underneath her bed underneath a creepy collage of photographs.
After ending the party, Freddie decides to set things right again, and in a melancholic sequence, the carriage from earlier in the episode makes a reappearance, a stranger taking the pair to a park. Effy starts babbling nonsense and in a bizarre scene Freddie fights off people that appear within Effy's imagination. Freddie takes her back home, only to lose her in the midst of a carnival that suddenly appears in the street. If the last paragraph sounds bizarre and somewhat random then that's probably because it was.
Also undercutting the episode we have the token family-issues storyline, as Freddie blames his father for his mother's death. A paper swan forms an interesting motif between Freddie and his sister, and evidently the relationship between Freddie and Effy was meant to mirror that between Freddie’s parents.
The episode ends with Effie passing out in a bathroom back in the old people's home, landing herself in hospital, much to the despair of Freddie and Effy's mother (Morwenna Banks). Ultimately, episode five wasn't bad as such -- it was at least interesting and tried to be original, only to fall down on an overdose of surreality and two major problems. The first was how the acting from Freddie and, more importantly Effie, wasn't strong enough to carry the episode. Pulling off a nervous breakdown is never an easy feat on screen and sadly Kaya Scodelario completely failed to convince. Yet more importantly was the fact that, largely as a result of their lack of appearance over the last five episodes, it's difficult to particularly care about Effy's (extraordinarily sudden) lapse into madness, or the problems in their relationship. An interesting enough episode, though one that was sadly hard to feel emotionally invested in.
25 FEBRUARY 2010: E4 (HD), 10PM