This review contains spoilers
Well, that was a bit strange wasn’t it? What we all expected, and what was presented to us by all of the televised previews and last week’s sneak peak, was nowhere to be seen, with the show opting instead to give us a tale of casual paedophilia over the love story between Mini and, this week’s focus character, Alo. The result is the antithesis of last year’s family-based adventure, with all the innocence and charm of his character wiped away in favour of teen melodrama at its tackiest.
The episode has various allusions to the Peter Pan story in imagery and plot, pitching the idea that Alo should opt to grow up and stay with Mini, rather than run away from his problems. The hour starts with a standard outlandish party where everyone has dressed up as their favourite character from the fairytale, but Alo (Peter) opts to leave with Poppy (Tinkerbelle) rather than Mini (Wendy). It’s not subtle, but it offers a dreamlike quality that Skins often thrives on.
But the central idea is the show at its worst; trying to shock and amuse in equal measure but never hitting the mark on either front. As Alo begins dating Poppy and things progress quickly, the pair end up at her house after their first date. While they do the deed, however, Alo slowly realises that he may have made a fairly huge mistake, with Poppy turning out to be only 13-years-old. It’s a little risqué without being overly shocking, and probably would have worked had this been any other week.
But it’s a weird way to go when we have more pressing issues to deal with elsewhere. As pointed out by Franky in a moment of desperation, Alo and Mini are the “only good thing to happen this entire crappy year,” with the sweetly developing romance providing much needed light relief from the death and despair happening around them. Last series, it was Grace and Rich (who makes a welcome return to the fold), and now we’re asked to invest in a different couple.
But Mini barely features, and her pregnancy storyline is sidelined throughout. Everyone loves a good cliffhanger, but the way the show has handled the all-important reveal has started to feel cheap and drawn-out. Nothing is resolved this week, and Alo learns nothing, so what was the point? Had the final scene ended differently, I may have felt more warmly towards the episode, but the sole focus seemed to be his sticky situation with the new girl, and his apparently undying love for Mini seemed forced for the very first time.
And where are Alo’s family, who made last year’s focus episode so charming and fun? Skins has always been prone to picking and choosing their guest stars at will, but it seems especially strange that, as their son is being charged with sexual misconduct, they are nowhere to be seen. In addition, his friends are awfully quick to abandon the guy, given how close we’re meant to believe they are. Alo is an episode that threatens to unravel should you pick at too many holes, but it might be the most disappointing week so far.
That might change next week, however, at least for this reviewer. As we focus on Liv, whose somehow managed to alienate herself from most of the group, my patience will undoubtedly be tested even further.