BY HARRISON CARTWRIGHT
‘Skins Pure – Part One’ is a curious beast. Hannah Murray returns in the role of Cassie, nearly half a decade since audiences last saw her, lost and alone in New York City. She’s still lost and alone, although now she’s in London, working a crappy job and living in a dilapidated share house. There’s no fight in her. She’s adrift, wandering and wondering.
Effy’s story established the difficulties in growing up; that people change as they move through life and gain experience, and that adulthood can be just as lonely and confusing as adolescence. These are all themes that continue to be reflected here. Does it work as well as its predecessors? Spoilers ahead.
Cassie has always been one of Skins more compelling characters, and Murray once again puts in an excellent performance. The years have stolen a lot from her. She’s much more grounded, and mature – although there are brief flashes of the childlike wonder a generation of teenagers fell in love with her, as she gazes pensively out windows and wanders along pastures. Aesthetically speaking, much like the former pair, the episode is a pleasure to watch. The cinematography is stunning, and while not as polished as the last pair of episodes, it is still stylishly shot, and it works well with the plot presented.
So that’s the positive, and now I have to move on to the negative.
My main problem with ‘Skins Pure – Part One’ is that Cassie, like Effy, is such a rich part of the Skins mythology. She was an incredibly distinct character, and none of that was evident here. That’s not to detract from Hannah Murray’s portrayal, it’s more a problem in the writing. Writer Bryan Elsley could have picked almost any of the female characters from Skins past three generations for this story and it wouldn’t really have felt all that different. For such a unique character, the storyline lacked life.
I also felt that the episode lacked a clear supporting character. I understand the idea behind the isolated stories that Series 7 is consisting of, but there would have been absolutely nothing wrong with bring back another familiar face for Cassie to bounce off, much like Effy did with Naomi and Emily in ‘Fire’. Here, Cassie interacts with a number of minor characters – none of who have much of an impact at all.
This first part of ‘Pure’ reminded me all too much of Cassie’s iconic series 2 episode, where she runs away to New York in the wake of Chris’ death. There’s only so much of a girl wandering along streets looking lost that can be done before it begins to feel entirely banal. Thankfully, the narrative starts to pick up as we move towards the end, although it lacks only real climax – which could be because of the two-act structure that these specials are being constructed around.
I don’t want to drag this episode over the coals. It wasn’t necessarily bad. In fact, I enjoyed watching it – and I enjoyed the chance to get another glance into Cassie’s life. It just felt a little quiet, perhaps an effect of following the dramatics that have preceded it. The episode ends with Cassie taking control of herself, and participating in a photo-shoot being conducted by who was previously stalking her which, in a normal context would seem completely ridiculous but somehow manages to make sense within the context of the Skins universe.
Unfortunately, next weeks plot developments seem all too easy to predict, even without catching the trailer attached to the closing credits. Here’s hoping they can pull together for a more engaging instalment, and for a better end to Cassie’s story.
And for gods sake, stop beating around the bush with the cryptic hints. Did Sid end up finding her?
Article by Harrison, a final year communications, media and creative arts student, who still isn’t over Chris’ death. Find him on Twitter here.
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