Monday, 1 March 2010

Skins - S4E5 - Freddie/Effy

To brief those who are not in the know - Skins is a television programme dealing with the madness that surrounds many a teenager's life in Britain today. It shows the story of the kids who are brought up with drugs, sex, alcohol, partying and various mental diseases as the heart of their lives. Often it is funny, often it is outrageous, often it is eye-opening and, like tonight, it is sometimes very harrowing.

I've never had reason to blog about Skins previously (and with all my Lost stuff, I doubt I will find much time to blog about it in the future) - but as this episode says, it is not the past or the future that is important, it is the now, and right now I would like to heap praise upon the writers and young actors for dealing with a topic usually skimmed over in most media - psychotic depression.

In typical Skins fashion, the core story is usually played out in an overly melodramatic, hyper-realistic method, causing the lines to blur between satire, reality and entertainment. To sum up this episode in short terms - Effy and Freddie have been given run of Effy's mother's home while she is away, and are using it to host their own private 24/7 party - drink, drugs and lots of sex. While this is amusing for some time, Freddie begins to come down to reality and face up to his responsibilities at college, while Effy continues her high - waking up every morning with vodka in her cereal.

Freddie tries to get Effy to clean up her act with him, but she essentially pushes him away - if it were the '50s, she'd be calling him a square. Things begin spiralling strangely out of control for Effy - ranting about death, throwing parties and hiding under the bed, having delusions of "them" breaking through into the "real" world. Having experienced his own mother suffering depression and killing herself when he was young, Freddie begins worrying that Effy is suffering psychotic depression and seeks the advice of his grandfather - in essence, Freddie blames his father for his mum dying as he feels his dad should have "done more for her" rather then trusting her to professional care.

With this in mind, Freddie tries his best to contain Effy's delusions by himself, and to keep her grounded in the real world, but things come to a head during a festival in which Effy suffers a nervous breakdown. Freddie takes her to visit his grandad, who convinces Freddie that the time has come to get Effy to some professional care. Unfortunately, Effy had already managed to sneak away and, in the most horrific scene since Chris dying in Season 2, she has slit her wrist in an attempt to commit suicide.

I seriously worried for a moment that the episode was going to end on this terrible note and that, on reflection, the entire series would have been about Effy's spiralling depression. Thankfully, they manage to get Effy to the hospital on time and she is next seen in a hospital bed, recovering. Freddie goes to see her, but again she pushes him away, causing him to rush back to her home and burn her gruesome mural of death. Cook arrives as Freddie is doing so and, in a very confusing and emotional scene, tries to help Freddie by showing that he is taking too much burden on himself and that he, Cook, will try to help him through it.

All in all, it was a very confusing and horrifying episode, which although it doesn't sound complimentary, it is rather commendable. The writers, director, and above all the actors, did a tremendous job portraying a terrible mental affliction in a brutal and realistic manner. (Although the timescales were a bit strange - Effy seemed to spiral too far from party-girl-on-the-edge to full-blown-psychotic-break within a few hours).

I really don't know what to make of this episode - it is as though the series has taken a strange turn into utter bleakness, but will return to rather relative fun-loving mayhem next week. The show has already touched upon mental disease (Season 1 and 2 era Cassie), and has had its share of dark episodes (Season 1 Episode 8 "Effy" was one of the worst (in terms of content) and probably where Effy's spiral of depression begun; as was Season 3 Episode 8, again "Effy", which was where her mental psychosis really began showing in a violent and manic way).

The show usually has a more light-hearted episode following these darker-than-black ones, and next week's "JJ" looks to follow that tradition. Hints were already dropped this week with JJ, Thomas and Pandora making little remarks and gestures about love and relationships, and it would appear that, finally, JJ's 'girlfriend' will be appearing. (I had read at the start of the season that JJ's girlfriend would be a major new character, but with only 3 episodes remaining (JJ, Effy, 'everyone') that doesn't appear to be the case - still, we take what we can get).

Rumour has it that there will be a Season 5, but with an all new cast. While Season 3 was a big departure from Season 2, at least we still had Effy and, to a lesser extent Pandora, to carry on the 'main' storyline, I wonder what Season 5 will be like with an all-new cast. If the past is anything to go by, there will be a light-hearted season with a dot of blackness, followed by a depressive season with spots of brightness (and I am now beginning to sound like a weather report).

Whatever the case may be, it appears from looking over the previous 4 seasons, Freddie's college report was an apt one - is the Future just History repeating?

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