Welcome back to Bristol, Skins fans. Effy and company have gone their way so we are starting fresh with a new cast of characters. With its American counterpart underway and most likely slowly getting into a groove, we should be grateful that this fifth season has also begun. (Two Skins for the price of one internet stream? Huzzah!)
Skins kicked things off by introducing the new girl in town, Franky Fitzgerald, played by Dakota Blue Richards. Franky doesn’t really want anyone to know her. But doesn’t her first appearance remind you of two certain Stonems?
Unlike her predecessors, Franky is more nervous and cautious about her first day at Roundview. She lives with her two dads, Jeff and Geoff. She’s a quiet but talented animator, and has a unique style. Her androgynous appearance got some flack when Franky lived in Oxford. As we learn throughout the episode, she was bullied, causing her family to move from Oxford. (Kudos to Skinsfor being up on something actually very much in public discourse.) Skins always reminds us that when you are a teenager, your clothes define you. How many instances have we been treated to montages of the characters dressing and undressing? Franky is no different and her androgynous style is bound to get some flack.
Each Skins generation gets a sweeping introduction. Tony Stonem’s phone chain set the tone, Freddie McClair glided his way into Roundview, and last night, Franky Fitzgerald motor-scooted her way to Skins perfection. On her way to college, she gets harassed by a group of boys. Naturally, Franky steals a motor scooter and escapes but not before nearly crashing into Alo and Rich, almost running over Mini and her posse, and crashing into a bike rack. After recovering from her near death experience, Mini, the queen bee, catches a glimpse at Franky and says what everyone else is thinking: “Has the circus come to town or what?”
To make matters worse, Franky’s first class is sports and she isn’t prepared for. But Doug (!!) quickly remedies that. Franky is forced to confront her new enemy, the cliché mean girl Mini and her two sidekicks, Grace and Liv (aka Jal 2.0). It’s a field hockey throw down; both Mini and Franky end up in the mud. Afterwards Rich and Alo attempt to befriend Franky but for some reason (probably torture) Mini seeks out Franky and lets her into her inner circle for the afternoon.
The girls spend the afternoon at the mall and in typical Skins fashion, they take some drugs, try on make up and shoplift (or as Mini says, “Welcome to our world.”) It becomes clear that Grace and Liv are accepting Franky over Mini. They end up at Franky’s, where her dads are skeptical of her new “friends”. Rightfully so. Mini, in full bitch mode, scopes out their computer and finds a social network site filled with pictures of Franky after a twisted tar and feathering. Franky is furious, makes them promise not to tell anyone. I wouldn’t trust Mini if I were you, Franks. Grace, however, is another story. She has the best lines (“Oh, like Annie! I totally love her.”) and sends the most adorable texts. She’s a keeper.
The next morning Franky tries to fit in by modifying her look and adding some make up. Everyone is impressed. Except Mini, who says, “It looks like she’s been gang raped by clowns.” No one laughs and Franky stands up to her, again (“Do I look like a bulimic fucking Barbie?”) Mini retaliates and has her jock boyfriend Nick spread the damaging photos of Franky around college. Mini has reclaimed her top spot, but has her dirty work made Grace and Liv see her bad side?
Franky takes her frustrations out with a gun. It is an eerie moment, made eerier when Matty emerges from the bushes. (Seriously, where did he come from?) He tells her that she is a beautiful, headfuck sort of thing (ah, teenagers) and gives Franky some motivation to face up to the bitches. Grace, being the only one with moral, ties to apologize for herself, Liv, and Mini. To no avail; Franky wants to settle things on her own terms.
Franky changes her outfit back to her original clothes, grabs the gun (uh oh) and burns the sequined dress Mini was insisting she wear to her party. At the party, Franky arrives and faces off with Mini yet again. “I really feel like we could be mates,” Franky pleads with Mini. But Mini calls her a freak, Cinderfella and Frankenstein, and other names. She really hurts Franky when she says they only let her tag along for laughs. Franky doesn’t believe it but Grace and Liv remain silent. Franky is heartbroken. She hasn’t found her place after all. (Fortunately she ditches the gun.)
But Alo, Rich, and Grace have other plans. The episode ends with Franky and her new friends, potentially her real friends, breaking into a local swimming pool. She strips away those clothes that instantly defined her and jumps headfirst into the pool.