Skins series 5 episode 6 review

The latest series of Skins has proven divisive. And Jake wonders if it's running out of steam with this latest installment...

Long-time viewers of Channel 4 will remember a time when they used to broadcast Beavis And Butthead, the animated antics of two loser metalheads from Mike Judge, who’ve recently been earmarked for a rebirth. But with this series of Skins, we’ve been enjoying the live-action West Country remake with Alo and Rich.

Alo lives a nomadic carefree existence, which doesn’t sit well with his strict farming mother. Seems his life of weed smoking, partying and elaborate wanking over Cathy Barry eating a banana has been getting in the way of his studies at Roundview. So, his parents have decided the only way to instil some discipline into their layabout son is to take him out of college and get him working on the farm. Yeah, I know. Just go with it.

The last straw for Alo is when they take away his beloved dog, Rags. He decides the best way to get back at them is to throw a party, stand around in his underpants and shout “Fuck the man!” Anarchy.

But Alo is faced with the reality of his life choices when his dad suffers a heart spasm in front of him. And he realises that he really does need to buck his ideas up. The party’s over and he needs to grow up.

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Like last week, this episode is a game of two halves. There’s the first half, which manages to cram in an elongated sequence with Alo spanking away in front of his laptop with porn star Cathy Barry, proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the West Country accent will never be thought of as erotic. Then there’s the thoughtful second half, where we have great little moments like Alo wanting to vent it all out to Rich, only to hold back when he sees his friend’s happiness.

It’s a scene that really gets across the friendship between the two, something this series has gotten right, teasing out these small details and using them for great effect, without shoving them in our faces. Notice also, the developing love triangle with Liv, Matty and Franky. Again, kept to just a short scene that gets across what it needs to.

If only the plotting wasn’t so clunky. For a start, it’s a bit odd that, to teach Alo some discipline, they have to take him out of Roundview College. Also, it seems this series is starting to retread its own ground. Alo’s mother is domineering and strict, just like Liv’s mother, and she’s an over the top bully, like Leon Levan.

So, after an impressive run of episodes, this series looks like it’s running out of steam. On its own, this is a perfectly fine episode. But in the wider context of the series, it’s a bit of a letdown. Will Merrick is totally watchable as Alo and it’s great to see him have a whole episode to himself. But if only there were more scenes with him and Rich. They make a great duo, and it’s a shame to see them in such brief chunks.

While this episode is certainly a step above the average of the last two series, it’s also a victim of this series’ success. Not bad, not great, just there.

Read our review of episode 5 here.

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