This review contains spoilers.
Series openers on Skins have always been a mixed bag. The show’s pilot episode was probably one of its weaker outings in series one, Tony & Maxxie had trouble balancing two characters, series three was careful not to alienate too many viewers early on, and series four made the strange choice to focus on subordinate character, Thomas.
All of that considered, this sixth series premiere, the second for the current generation of Roundview students, does a fairly decent job of reintroducing the characters while throwing in a game-changing ending that’s sure to alter the dynamic and structure of the rest of the series. I’ve always felt that individual episodes show Skins at its very best, but I also understand that ensemble episodes are sometimes a necessary evil.
So, after a long break away from the gang, we find them holidaying in Morocco. One of the strongest aspects of this generation is the group solidarity they emanate, something that was missing from the previous two casts. There’s a sense that these people might actually be friends, and that’s largely down to good-natured characters scattered amongst the ‘edgy’ people and antagonists. While they might not be the most glamorous players, people like Grace and Alo keep the dynamic smelling sweet.
And it seems that quality might be needed more than ever this year. For older viewers, the drug-fuelled parties and heightened sexual appetites of the characters might be one of its harder pills to swallow (excuse the pun), and that looseness and decadence has only gotten more prominent over the years. Allowing for the fact that this is a holiday episode that’s bound to include some illicit substances and encounters, it does overwhelm the episode somewhat, allowing less time for character moments and humour.
And when spending time away from dreary Bristol, the wish-fulfilment quota of Skins goes into overdrive. My least favourite episode of the whole show would probably be the Russian history trip of series one, and things haven’t improved for me here. It’s personal taste, as a lot of people watch the show as a form of escapism, but when we encounter lady boys, good-natured locals expecting nothing in return and ‘gap-yah’ drug dealers all in the same 15-minutes (and all next door to the group’s scummy villa), my suspension of disbelief is blown to smithereens.
Unexpectedly, some new characters are thrown into the mix, and many look like they’ll be around for the long haul. Again, they’re a mixed bag on first encounter, but not enough has been seen of them to pass judgement. With some of the cast out of action for a little while, the college is going to need new blood to create the drama.
And that brings me to the car accident. Although I wasn’t a fan of the set-up, the ramifications in coming episodes look very tasty indeed. Remember, someone always dies in the second run of episodes; we had Chris in series two and Freddie in four – but having a near fatal accident this early in the year must mean that the casualty probably won’t be good, sweet-natured Grace. It also means that Matty is MIA, and the fact that he doesn’t have his own episode this year doesn’t bode well for his fate.
Overall, this ensemble opener isn’t my favourite instalment of generation three, but the action here at least sets up plenty for the characters to be getting on with in future weeks. Next time it’s Rich’s turn, as he struggles with Grace’s hospitalisation.