TV Review: Skins: Rise - Part 1

Skins Rise Cook Petrol Station

rating: 4

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers Jamie Brittain does it again. After the last time he wrote an episode featuring Cook (Series 4 Episode 7), there was some doubt in my mind about how well he€™d pick up on the character and his story but here he has excelled himself with an episode that€™s well-paced and exciting but also manages to have a lot of depth, along with a shockingly dark climax. But as with basically everything, this episode€™s not completely perfect. The first ten minutes are a little slow and the first of the episode€™s two sex scenes feels a bit gratuitous and played for laughs, which feels somewhat at odds with the darker tone that builds up later on but those issues aren€™t enough to negatively affect the whole episode. The most experimental part of the episode is Cook's voiceover in the first few scenes which is a first for Skins and while it€™s nice to see the programme try a new narrative technique, it only being present in the first few scenes and not bookending the episode makes it feel a bit isolated from the plot, and doesn€™t add a lot to the story or Cook as a character. We also get quite a stylishly shot dream sequence early on that doesn€™t yet have a lot of significance other than its end implying Cook experiencing fear and guilt over John Foster's death but may become more relevant in Part 2. Skins Rise Dream Sequence Like Cassie a fortnight ago, Cook€™s personality has evolved subtly and the change isn€™t obvious at first, with him being genial with flashes of violence (as we've come to know him) but later showing signs of being more reserved and cautious than before. And the really well written part of Cook€™s characterisation is that the reason for his change in personality is a proper connection to Generation 2. Cook reveals that he killed John Foster, which is why he€™s more sedate and less reckless this time around. The story is relatively sound with Cook working as a drug dealer for a criminal named Louie (Liam Boyle) and taking on the job of driving his girlfriend Charlie (Hannah Britland) around, only to find himself drawn to her as she begins to show signs of attraction to him and constantly tries to work out just who he is. She has an interesting personality which is reminiscent of Cook in Series 3 and 4 but the disappointing thing about her is that she currently lacks a clear motivation. This is probably something that will be explored in Part 2 but in this episode at least, we never get to see why she keeps trying to read Cook and know him in such depth, and why she has an affair with Louie€™s employee Jason (Lucien Laviscount) and then Cook. Skins Rise Charlie Swimming Pool Like Skins: Pure, Rise is very well shot with some great shots of Manchester during the episode€™s driving scenes which, sadly, are a bit too frequent which eventually makes the camerawork surrounding Cook driving seem a bit repetitive but still very impressive. Meanwhile the soundtrack isn€™t anything exceptional but it suits the tone and gritty urban storyline as well as featuring some good ominous instrumental pieces at times, helping to up the tension. But the best part of this episode is Louie. For the first time since Series 1's drug dealer Mad Twatter, we have a decent villain. Johnny White (a small-time gangster in Series 3) was a bit too cartoony, John Foster (Effy€™s murderous counsellor from Series 4) was like something out of a straight-to-DVD horror film, and the Doctor (a Russian people smuggler in Series 6) felt like a bad attempt to do Scarface in Bristol. Skins Rise Murder Scene Thankfully, Louie doesn€™t tick any of those boxes. He€™s got some of the classic villain traits like valuing loyalty above all else and being polite and considerate most of the time but isn't too generic, and is ambiguously evil with some hints early on of his darker side. And that comes into play brilliantly at the episode€™s climax when his heavy Rob (John Michie) murders Jason by drowning him in Louie€™s new swimming pool for sleeping with Charlie. As well as the character being very well written, Liam Boyle€™s performance really helps to flesh out the character and make him feel like a potent threat. Especially in the swimming pool scene. Jason€™s murder doesn€™t feel as much of a forced drama bomb like the revelation that Naomi had cancer in Skins: Fire because there€™s been some decent foreshadowing with all of the components being slotted into place throughout the episode without it being too obvious. Unlike last week, we have a well executed climax that€™s been properly built up but at the same time isn€™t too blatant in what€™s going to happen, giving it a real shock factor. And above all else, it€™s a pretty chilling scene. This is definitely Skins' most graphic scene in terms of violence and we see how completely psychotic Louie is by him casually sitting in a deckchair while Rob murders Jason, and then sarcastically apologising to the corpse. Next week sees Rise appear to take on a bit of a Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows vibe as Cook, his on-off girlfriend Emma (Esther Smith), and Charlie go on the run from Louie across the country with the implication of two possible love triangles. Let€™s hope Jamie Brittain manages to pull off another good episode next week and steer the programme to end on a high point.
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JG Moore is a writer and filmmaker from the south of England. He also works as an editor and VFX artist, and has a BA in Media Production from the University Of Winchester.