Skins: Volume 4

Skins: Volume 4
In the opening scene of the fourth season of acclaimed BBC series Skins, a virtual stranger to the core gang of teen friends featured in season three does a bunch of MDMA in the back room of a club, wanders up to a balcony and nose dives into the middle of the dance floor, dying instantly. Using the single tracking shot technique that was de rigueur back in 2006, we see Cook (Jack O'Connell), Freddie (Luke Pasqualino), Emily (Kathryn Prescott), Effy (Kaya Scodelario) and the rest of the group dancing and observing in the background, setting up the structure for a season of shocked reactions and revelations. Effy (no longer the leader of the pack) remains on the periphery for most of the season, screwing Freddie and popping various pills to quell repressed pain. She does manage to make amends with enemy Katie (Megan Prescott), whose parental financial woes leave the entire Fitch family showing up at ousted twin Emily's abode, tail between legs. This gives them front row tickets to her and Naomi's (Lily Loveless) lesbian domestic squabbles, witnessing various infidelities and learning of an unseemly connection to the dead girl. Meanwhile, JJ (Ollie Barbieri) continues to cope with Asperger's, fearing rejection from a new love interest, which provides comic relief similar to the Cook storyline, wherein he winds up on house arrest living with his promiscuous artist mother after beating up a stranger. While, indeed, this fourth series strains credulity more than those preceding, it maintains the gritty, believable, less "aspiration-al" aesthetic and structure that made it so groundbreaking in the first place. It manages to portray flawed kids with relatable struggles without falling into that overwrought, affected "Harmony Korine" trap, remembering that these are essentially insecure human beings looking for their place in the world. The handful of commentary tracks and interviews included with the DVD set discuss the more controversial aspects of the series, such as sex scenes and drug usage, while expanding on creative efforts to avoid repetition. No doubt, their efforts were successful, fleshing out an entire universe for these characters to inhabit in ways that don't always flatter. It also helps to remind us of the distinct differences between England — an older country built upon tradition and dry realism — and America — a country built upon supremacy and wish fulfilment ideation — in comparing this to something like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars. (Warner)