Skins series 4 episode 3 review

ASBO posterboy Cook's luck may soon be up! Can we learn to hug a hoody? Jake finds out in this week’s Skins…

Oh, Cook, poor old wildboy Cook. When he’s not fucking or fighting the nearest human being, he’s pining for living mannequin Effy. But after seeing Effy and Freddie get back together, he decided to vent his frustration on a blameless party-goer. Now he’s sporting a shiny new ankle tag and has to live with his unseen-before-now mummy.

As it turns out, mummy is yummy well off artist and full time Tracey Emin tribute act, Ruth (Pulling‘s Tanya Franks). A woman who’s just as shag happy and boozed up as he is. Coming from such a background, the only sensible thing Cook could ever have done is rebel, really. But it’s all gotten a bit too much and his impending trial sees him becoming the second victim of Chris Addison’s evil headmaster’s zero-tolerance policy.

It seems I was premature in declaring the dead Sophia storyline dead last week, too. It seems in the last seven days, Naomi has somehow managed to grow a conscience and shares her guilt with Cook, adding to the already high sexual tension between them in the process. Although miraculously, there’s no sex scene which follows their awkward smooch. (A first surely for a series which usually has its protagonists tearing one another’s clothes off as soon as they lock eyes.)

Typically for Naomi, however, it’s all about her. “Yeah I may have had an affair with another girl and gave her drugs which may or may not have caused her to leap to her death, but I’m feeling really bad, yeah?” Shine on Naomi, you crazy diamond.

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Naomi’s sudden self realisation starts to awaken something in Cook, though. When he sees his little brother starting to ape his own apelike behaviour, he starts to realise that perhaps his thuggish ways may actually have, like, consequences and stuff, y’know? And he turns to his inept defence lawyer Duncan (in a brilliant turn from Paul Kaye) to show him how to accept responsibility.

It seems that, gasp, Cook may actually be feeling some genuine regret over his actions! If only Naomi could learn the same lessons.

But far more shocking is seeing his best friend’s name in a  list of all the men his mum has played about with. A nightmare scenario all of us can relate to, I’m sure! We can be sure that she didn’t go off with Freddie for his personality at least.

If there was ever going to be a stand out episode of Skins then this is probably it. Jack O’Connell is just excellent throughout, no easy feat given Cook’s mood swings as violently as his fists. You can see the tough exterior cracking piece by piece, showing the vulnerable and lonely child within.

It’s hard not to feel any sympathy for him when he receives a custodial sentence, stood gazing into the middle distance. The fire in his eyes extinguished.

However, again Skins has a big problem with maintaining a consistent tone. The opening trial is an uncomfortable mix of heavy drama with 70s sitcom. The aforementioned ‘best mate and mums bedtime fun’ in particular just feels like awkward padding. (As if there isn’t enough tension between Freddie and Cook at the moment)

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Other shows, such as Skins older sibling Shameless, are far more adept at handling both drama and comedy. Yet, like the teenagers it portrays, perhaps, Skins is desperate to be taken seriously but still wants to be able to pranny about and giggle at boobs, bums and bonking.

If it could lose the juvenile humour and treat its audience like adults, then maybe it wouldn’t seem like… well, like such an angry teenager.

Check out our review of episode 2 here.