Before I begin this recap, here are two things. First, I am going to avoid comparing this Skins to the British version. It is my attempt to give this show a fair assessment. This will be easiest in this episode because Tea, played by Sofia Black D’Elia, is very much an original character. Second, the Parents Television Council should tread very carefully. The more attention they give Skins will only benefit the show. Not that is necessarily a bad thing. The ups and downs of the premiere episode were (mostly) made up for in this episode.
Now lets get into it.
Based on her music preferences, her effortless demeanor, her tender moments with her grandmother, and her appreciation for e.e. cummings, I found Tea Marvelli to be a completely charming enigma.
The episode begins in school. There is a test or something going on but Tea can’t be bothered. She has set her sights on the pretty girl across the room. Tea passes her a note with a simple message: Northern Soul.
This is followed by a brilliant opening montage that introduces us to Tea. Set to Tony Clarke’s “Landslide” we catch glimpses of her friendship with Abbud, her loud family, her e.e. cumming’s inspired tattoo (more on that later), and her arrival at Northern Soul. Amidst the crowd, Tea busts out some retro moves in the lesbian club. (Is this what the PTC is concerned about? Underage lesbians dancing the twist?) She is soon joined by Betty and their night of fun begins. They end up at Tea’s for a night of making monkey, chewing, and licking. (All Tony, Daisy and Tea’s words. So many euphemisms.)
The morning after, Tea passes Betty off as a study partner and her dad, recognizing Betty from the neighborhood, drags her into the kitchen. (He’s all about the connections.) Her crazy, loud family is all present, talking over one another. There is also Nana, who is obviously suffering from dementia. The doorbell rings and Tea’s brother announces, “Hey, it’s the lesbian!” Enter Daisy.
There is more to Tea’s story. She may be confident in her sexuality but she hasn’t come out to her family yet. The L word is akin to a swear word in the Marvelli household and they treat Daisy like a plague. (“Are you going to tell them I’m not a lesbian any time soon?” Daisy asks.) Betty is more than uncomfortable with the hook up (she has a boyfriend…awkward) and darts away from the Marvelli’s as fast as she can.
Before Tea and Daisy head to school, her dad reminds her upcoming date… with a boy. Gasp. Hey, anything for the family. Abbud and Daisy question the date but Tea sees it as no big deal. I like this trio together. A lot. Meanwhile, Tony still cares more that Stanley is a virgin more than his friend’s drug debt. Cadie agrees to cover for Stanley’s virginity, even though she is only half invested in his plan. This interaction was hilarious:
Cadie: You’re Tony.
Tony: Yes, Tony.
Cadie: Cool, I remember you now.
Tony: Oh that’s great Cadie.
Cadie: I got some new meds. They help with that.
Tony: The meds?
At lunch, Tony announces that Stanley had indeed lost his virginity as Tea humorously wipes chocolate off of Stanley’s face. Therefore, Tony reminds Tea that she needs to make good on her bet. Get ready to bare your breasts for your raunchy male friends. And as Chris, Abbud, and Stanley enjoy yet another Michelle and Tony over-display of affection, Tea and Betty stare at each other from across the lunchroom.
Oh hey, there is a sex-ed lesson! Skins does care. Maybe the PTC didn’t enjoy that it came from a Canadian. The drug dealer, Le Dong, is also present and not so discretely reminding Stanley that he needs to pay up. None of Stanley’s friends are willing to help him come up with the $900 and Tony just thinks that Stanley needs to lie low. Maybe Tony should look behind him because Le Dong overhears this. He makes note of Stanley’s pals, especially Tea.
Tea still dealing with her Betty-drama (maybe Don Draper has a hotline). This girl has had a change of heart but Tea brushes her off. (“We had sex but I’m not really looking for anything else.”) Betty thinks she’s an arrogant bitch who’s just scared. Eh, honey, you still have that boyfriend, right?
Back at the Marvelli’s, Tea seems ready to come out. But no one is listening. Tea finally shouts over everyone, but her sister goes into labor. Tea is left alone with her senile grandmother and Audrey Hepburn. Poor Tea has no one to talk to other than Audrey’s iconic Breakfast at Tiffany‘s image. (“They don’t know. How is that? For you Audrey, I’d come back.”)
Kudos to MTV for keeping this next scene. Tea is masturbating when her grandmother enters her room. It is cringe-worthy for a few seconds but then it turns into something special. Tea confesses to her senile grandmother: “Something’s wrong with me, Nana. I want the sex, but the girls I sleep with bore me. They’re catty, clingy, I don’t know. It never feels … enough. Is it too much to ask for someone to be interesting? I just want to feel equal. Is it too much?” It is really a touching moment. Tea acts so confident, but she is lost and confused just like any other teenager.
Now it is time for Tea’s date! With… Tony! Or as Tea put it, “Oh fuck.” Silent Eura is there too but she darts away pretty quickly. Tea and Tony to ditch bowling and share a bottle of vodka on the merry-go-round. Tea vomits and gargles with vodka; she’s hardcore. This scene is so Skins. The duo is meant for each other. Tea is the only one who can question Tony about his obviously messed up relationship with Michelle.
They wind up at Northern Star and break into a cutesy dance routine to Marlena Shaw’s “Let’s Wade in the Water“. Annnnd an awkward hook up ensues. Tea’s not impressed by Tony. What are you doing Tea? She’s wondering too because she is cracking up.
Tea: That was … terrible. Just terrible.
Tony: Normal girls like it.
Tea: They must be really stupid.
In this scene, Tea completely won me over. Back from her liaison, Tea is cornered by Le Dong. (This girl really has had a few busy days.) Le Dong threatens Tea but her mob-connected dad turns up just in time. (Later, her dad offs Le Dong. Good. Because that plot line was growing tedious. Fast.)
Tea is feeling lost and now it is her time to turn to Nana. When seeking her grandmother’s attention, Tea looked like the lost little girl she really is. Nana reveals a heartbreaking secret about her past lover; it’s another touching moment between grandmother and granddaughter.
Back at school, Tea is trying to figure things out. Michelle is there too, asking about her date last night. No big deal, he was “just some guy,” Tea tells her.
Then Betty appears and kisses Tea in front of the entire cafeteria. “I put my truth on you,” she says. That girl has spunk. Like Michelle, I think that is a good thing. Will it change Tea? Not a chance. Later when Betty calls, Tea hangs up. Tony tries to leave his mark too (“I’ve matched you,” he tells Tea) but if there is anything we’ve learned about Tea, she doesn’t belong to anyone. Like her “i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)” tattoo” the final line from an e.e. cumming’s poem, implies, Tea doesn’t belong to anyone. She cares deeply about those closest to her but she’s happiest dancing away to “Let’s Wade in the Water.”
Clearly Skins is growing on me. What did you think about the episode? Did you think it was an improvement over the premiere?
Last but not least, here is this week’s webisode, “Dress Up,” featuring Tea and Abbud.Vodpod videos no longer available.