Last series, Franky (Dakota Blue Richards) was one of my favorite characters. She was interesting to look at, creative, intelligent and messed-up, but in good ways. But starting from episode one of this current series, she became something very different. Dark, dangerous, borderline unlikeable. That current version of her character reaches a culmination in this episode.
Franky is, like most of her friends, still processing Grace’s (Jessica Sula) death a couple episodes ago. She’s handling it worse than most of them. She’s been using all sorts of chemicals, alienating her family, blowing off school and hallucinating images of Grace. This is not a formula for success.
While in this unhappy state, she seeks out Luke (Joe Cole), the easy-to-look-at drug dealer from their Morocco adventure and the person who is at least partly responsible for Grace’s death, something I’m not sure Franky understands on a conscious level.
She and Luke hook up pretty quickly and the next thing you know, they’re doing what all young couples do; playing pool, having sex, engaging in deep conversations, and getting into extremely violent fights at pubs. The first rule of Fight Pub? You do not—oh, never mind. That joke was old ten years ago.
Her fathers are aware that something is deeply, seriously wrong with Franky and try to engage her. They give her a book on grief and suggest that she talks to a counselor. She ignores this and instead runs off to spend more time with Luke. It may be worth noting at this point that after the two have sex again, we see him naked from the back, which is quite fine, but don’t see any nudity from Franky, continuing Skins’ odd trend of having almost every male cast member naked at least once, but never showing any of the females (Chris’ teacher from series one being a notable exception).
Matty (Sebastian De Souza) tries calling Franky several times, but she ignores him. Eventually she answers and listens while he tries to talk with her, then hangs up and goes back into Luke’s arms.
After blowing off her tests a second time, Franky gets suspended from school. She goes home and one of her dads tries to talk with her. This ends in a shouting match and a scuffle over her adoption certificate. In the scuffle, her dad falls and cracks his head against a counter top. As he lies bleeding, her other father comes to the rescue and Franky runs off into the night, terrified and grief-stricken.
There was a lot to like in this episode, though Franky wasn’t one of those things. It was nice to see her getting some screen time, and I’m pleased with where her character ended up, but, boy, getting to that point was quite an unpleasant trip. It’s like watching a train derailment in slow motion, as she systematically does every self-destructive thing one could think of for a girl her age. I will say that it’s probably quite realistic and that I’m very sure there a lot of people who would behave in this fashion after someone close to them dies. That doesn’t make it any more pleasant to watch, however.
I was also very pleased that her fathers finally got some screen time. It’s good to see the show depicting a set of parents who are loving, caring and not even more messed-up than their kids. That’s something Skins hasn’t always done in the past.
Further, I must single out Richards for her acting in this episode. She really does a good job of selling Franky’s long journey into night, and proves that there’s a reason she was the only principle cast member to be known for something before the series.
One thing did slightly puzzle me, and that’s the fact that Alex, who was introduced in the previous episode, doesn’t put in any appearance here. Now, neither do most of the regular cast, so that’s not a huge deal, but he was introduced with very few episodes left, and now there’s one fewer. If they weren’t planning to have him in all the remaining episodes, I’m not sure why they bothered to introduce the character to begin with.
That minor criticism aside, this was an excellent, character-driven episode that showcased what the program can really do when it tries.