This review contains spoilers.
If previous season structures were anything to go by, this penultimate episode would have been the moment a cast member was killed off. But this generation the writers decided to do something different, and placed Grace’s final moments at the very beginning of the series. It pays off here, as instead of a downbeat (season two’s Cassie) or violent (season four’s Effy) ending to the series, it looks as if the show’s final curtain call will arrive next week with hope, romance and friendship.
This week’s episode, centred on my least favourite character, Liv, lays down all of the groundwork for the ending, now revealed to be the ending for the series as a whole. An imagined illness and downward spiralling from Liv compensates for the lack of fatality, adding drama to the whole affair and giving renewed reasoning for her generally unpleasant behaviour. Since the third episode, Alex, we haven’t seen much of the character at all, and I was worried that we would just be repeating ourselves.
Unrevealed secrets and remembering Grace has characterised this year, but we do get some much needed resolution at last. Liv, self-obsessed as usual, feels that she is grieving their shared friend more than anyone else, and begins lashing out at everyone around her. With Alex away on a dirty weekend, Matty returning, and a phantom pain in her side, she’s pretty wound up, and this episode sees everything explode in spectacular fashion. We don’t get to see Alo, who dominated last week, but I assume his redemption is being saved for next week.
The character should actually be more interesting than she is. Told by her younger sister that she’s never seen her cry, and as cold and unfeeling as we’ve known her to be in the past, there still isn’t enough interest to make us believe this is a character quirk and not a consistently unappealing performance. Skins has always been about overflowing emotion and intense catharsis, and a character like Liv just doesn’t serve those ends. When she breaks down at the end of the episode, it’s too little too late, and you might feel that the episode might have been better served watching the fallout at Franky’s house.
At that fallout doesn’t disappoint. Matty’s return, though he’s as blank-faced as ever, acts as a brilliant catalyst for all of the tensions elsewhere. The show’s first generation had split off into smaller groups by the end, and the second were so vile to each other that there was a violent outburst every week, but this bunch of people are all about their secrets and passive-aggressive grudges. We started off with an episode that mirrored Mean Girls and other US high school dramas, and this episode shows how little we’ve strayed from that. Liv and Mini were at the centre of that tension, and their final clash was always going to be volatile.
Fittingly, in the first episode since the cancellation announcement, we say a final farewell to the one constant of the show’s six years. Principle Doug says goodbye to Roundview (I assume we won’t be returning to college next week), embarking on a life without misbehaving teenagers and unstable teachers. His final conversation with Liv is very touching for long time fans of the series, and taking Rich and Liv to the graveyard is a fitting last moment for the character.
Season finales for Skins are always a little strange and surreal, so fingers crossed that next week is as barmy as ever. We’re following Franky and Mini, the two strongest characters of the current generation, and the two most likely to give the show a proper sending off.