Skins Rise – Part 1 Review

One thing I’ve learned is that you should never look back, the past is dead and buried. You get nothing from living there. It’s all about today. But I’ve been having these dreams. In them nothing’s real, nothing’s solid everything’s fantasy- fucked, an illusion. In these dreams I’m a life that’s already gone by. Today means nothing. Today is just a ghost that’s haunting me. I’m at the end of the world on the edge of things, and I think about letting go. I think about falling. My name is James Cook.

Well then, what do we have to say about the Cookie monster’s return? It was a sombre episode, littered with elements of series three/four with none of the humour, ultimately leading to a dark first part- not unlike Fire and Pure. Cook, having obviously survived the final encounter with John Foster at the end of series four, is now a footman for a Manchester drug dealer. Only, gone is the boisterous Jack-the-Lad Cook we’d all come to know and love (to hate, mostly) and in his place is the shadow of a man who’s on the run from his past. It’s refreshing, actually. One of the stronger actors from the second generation Jack O’Connell, for me, was at his best during scenes of quiet revelation for Cook. Jamie Brittain did well with Cook’s development as a person, although we have minor flashes of Cook beating someone in the beginning of the episode we find that he’s definitely matured if seemingly emotionally stunted and guarded.

From the very beginning, with the novel use of voice over narration by Cook, something Skins has never attempted, (Effy getting into Sid’s head and simulating a voice over that one time in series two doesn’t count) we know that Skins Rise will prove to be a very different tone to Fire and Pure. And so far, so good.

Cook, as you can imagine is the same yet not. While he may be pedaling drugs for someone it appears he’s toned down the substance abuse himself. He appears to have discovered restraint, evident in the way he refuses Louie’ (Boyle) girlfriend Charlie’s (Britland) advances and the way he doesn’t appear to take what he sells. When Louie offers him a line of coke he declines it and also cautions Emma (Smith) his sort of friend-with-benefits to ‘go easy on that shit’ when she’s snorting coke. Her response, ‘if you do enough [everything] stops’ seems kind of like a throwback to Cook’s past. The guy who wanted to do everything, who lived for it all. As Naomi pointed out to him. ‘Life. You just live a bit harder then everybody else does. You splash about, you wallow in it, like you can’t lose a moment.’ Cook’s not that person anymore, that person now haunts him. And it’s interesting that Emma is the one who suggests to him that they should just take off and they would have if Charlie didn’t call him. Her shouting that she doesn’t even know who he is as the camera focuses in on Cook’s expression tells us that he doesn’t know himself.

Charlie’s been screwing Louie’ other lackey, Jason (Laviscount), and Cook happens across them. It’s after this that he gives in when she comes onto him again. Louie calls them to the house he’s recently purchased for Charlie, with an indoor pool where Charlie had tried to seduce Cook earlier and failed. It seems Louie had known about Jason and Charlie and he proceeds to have Jason drowned in the pool before Cook and Charlie’s very eyes.

Cook rushes to Emma’s place afterwards and convinces her to leave with him. They’re almost home free when Charlie calls crying and he’s sucked back into her orbit, he veers off the course without an explanation to Emma, supposedly to pick up Charlie. The implications of all three of them in one car together should prove an interesting dynamic.

Special Mentions:

– If Cook hadn’t killed Foster, he would have been killed himself- I have no doubt about that. I don’t know if Cook is running and is afraid because of the cops or because he’s running from his own psychological trauma of facing down the murderer of his best friend and killing him.

– If Charlie knew Louie was cheating on her why not just leave him? Easier said than done I suppose. I feel bad for Emma, she just happened to be with Cook when this all goes down.

– Next week we shall see if Cook continues to practice restraint, I hope he doesn’t get killed. Trailer HERE. The last ever episode of Skins, ever.

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