Thank you, Skins, for giving us a much-needed happy ending. Skins Pure has left fans in an entirely different emotional state than Fire did – with Cassie relatively happy and settled despite the difficulties of being a character in a world as fraught and ridiculous as Skins. If the first part of Pure was about Cassie finding a sense of self after losing her essence, then this second episode is about how she relates to the people around her. Characters theorise about why she is the way she is but, ultimately, we’re just presented with Cassie as we’ve always known her – though there still isn’t a single “wow” uttered.
There’s no messing about in London when we begin, as we pick up with Jacob and Cassie in Wales where they’ve gone to visit her dad and brother. The last time we saw the Ainsworth family they were so blissfully happy that they forgot to notice their daughter was imploding in front of their eyes, but here it’s Cassie who has to compensate for her father’s fractured state. Poor little Ruben has been coping with an emotionally absent father since his mother passed away, and all Cassie can do is get frustrated with her dad for checking out. It’s another case of adults on the show being useless, but here it feels more legitimate.
After spending a lot of time setting up the photography/stalking storyline last week, it’s a surprise that this episode is much less concerned with that and more interested in the exact nature of Cassie and Jacob’s relationship. Can you be friends with a guy without sleeping with him? Only if you’ve already slept with him previously, her flatmate tells her – and it starts to look as if she’s right. I’m pleasantly surprised that, instead of legitimising stalking as something that might get you a girlfriend, Skins takes the rational road and makes Jacob a creepy, though essentially kind-hearted, obsessive who has no place in a more assured Cassie’s life.
As suggested by the promos, Cassie is approached by a modelling agency for some fashion work, and it’s the first time we’ve seen her truly happy. Contrasting with the impromptu night out with her flatmates in which she won’t even crack a smile, we start to see the old, carefree Cassie when she’s partying with her model friends. It’s a believable path for the character to take, and makes a lot of sense within the episode. We’ll never know whether she makes a huge success of herself, but I’m inclined to believe that her co-worker was right and that something great is just over the horizon.
Out of all the characters over three generations of Skins, Cassie holds a special place in most fans’ hearts. That makes the fact that Skins Pure, as a complete 2-hour adventure, leaves you feeling so good amazing in a number of ways. It’s faithful to the character without being afraid to adapt her to an adult world, for one, and the happy ending here feels earned, rather than tacked on for the fans. Always reliant on others for a sense of belonging, now Cassie has stepped in and created her own family, taking in her little brother while her dad gets away for a while. It’s not the way I expected things to go, but that last “everything’s good” is wonderful.
The overall ‘point’ to these new episodes is starting to become clearer – with Cassie’s episodes so strikingly different from Effy’s – but I guess it’ll look different again once we’ve seen Rise over the next two weeks. If it’s to show three different experiences of being a young adult, then it sort of does, but this one goes one step further and finishes off a story that had been left up in the air at the end of series two. There will be people who hate what has been done to Cassie here but, after the emotional turmoil of Fire, I’m certainly not one of them.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Skins Pure Part One, here.
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