This review contains spoilers.
Since the beginning of Skins‘ fifth series, Nick has always been a background character – always there but never affecting much of anything. He started off as Mini’s boyfriend, the jock to her prom queen, and hasn’t progressed much since the very first time we saw him. This episode, his first solo outing, goes a long way in explaining why the character hasn’t played a more prominent role in the series so far.
Nick is, by his very nature, quite boring. In many ways it’s refreshing to have a character that is fairly normal, and doesn’t have so much angst and dysfunction in his life. This allows him to follow his heart more than some of the other characters, so even his mission during the episode is the same from start to finish. Nick is hopelessly in love with his brother’s girlfriend, Franky, and doesn’t care who knows it.
The narrative conflict comes from Matty, as the older brother tells Nick he needs his help to come home. Armed only with a cryptic address and instructions to ‘ask for the doctor,’ Nick quickly finds out that he needs £2000 in cash in order to bring his brother home. No one is campaigning to be Matty’s biggest fan right now, given his involvement in Grace’s death, so it’s down to Nick to sort things out by himself.
The entertainment value and emotional power of the episode falls almost solely on whether you can buy into the Nick and Franky romance. The pairing was teased a couple of weeks ago in Franky’s episode, and here the tension comes to fruition. Personally, I feel like the sudden undying love Nick feels for her is a little sudden, and quite unlikely, but when Skins has pulled this trick before it’s produced some of the show’s best loved romances.
It certainly helps that Franky comes across as confused and guarded, rather than the tease she could have appeared. We’ve seen the turmoil she’s been through over the last two series, and even the nice guy of the group can’t cut through that defensive shield so quickly. I can’t help but think a girl like Franky wouldn’t be interested in Nick in the real world, but this is TV land, so I’ll attempt to believe it’s love. The reason she liked Matty was because he was as damaged as her, so after that ended badly, it’s possible she wants the complete opposite.
The weaker parts of the episode are repeat offenders, as it wouldn’t be a series of Skins without some stereotypical gangsters to over-egg the danger. It’s something the show insists on including every year, but are there really that many dodgy characters on the streets of Bristol? They especially jar this week, what with Nick being so straight-laced and regular.
After such a strong episode last week, Mini was conspicuous by her absence. It’ll be nice to catch up with her next week, as Alo’s episode looks certain to resolve the year’s big love story.