Skins (US) Recap: Break the Cycle, Stanley

Something pretty awesome happened on MTV last night. There were two successive episodes of Skins that were pretty good. Skins is really starting to find its groove, which is awesome for us viewers.

It was Stanley’s episode. He’s the quiet and sensitive yin to Tony’s yang. After a series of events that lead Stanley to face a judge, he begins to see how manipulative and calculating Tony is. There were some hilarious moments (Michelle’s girl fight with Tabitha) and some real character development (Cadie).  Let’s get into it.

What's beneath those golden locks Stanley?

Stanley is in trouble at school. He’s missed 29 classes and is on the verge of repeating his junior year. His dad, who believes in tough love and bicycle shorts, is no help. Note to his dad: bike shorts are never a good idea. His mom is more understanding and asks Stanley to try in school, for her. This is a family with some issues.

Meet the Lucernes

The next morning Stanley fails to catch the bus. Logically he steals his dad’s old school car to make it to school. Tea and Tony see their beleaguered pal ride up in the heap of junk and quickly work to distract the clueless teacher. (Speaking of teachers, where has Tina been?) Tony asks teacher Dave about marijuana cigarettes, something Tea thinks their generation is seriously struggling with. Dave’s advice when someone offers you the funny business? Say “No, thanks. I’m trippin balls on life.” The tactic works; Dave is distracted long enough for Stanley to slip into class. Now that’s what friends are for.

Speaking of friends, the gang loves Stanley’s new ride. “It even looks like you,” compliments Chris. Daisy, the voice of reason, points out that when his dad finds out, Stanley is dead. Tony uses the car as another opportunity to take advantage of Stanley and his crush on Michelle. Stanley jumps at the  chance to escort Michelle to Tony’s choral concert, even if he has to steal the car again. Did I mention that Stanley doesn’t have a license?

Stanley and his new sweet ride

At the concert, Michelle, in her too slutty for private school dress, and Stanley are treated to a atrociously pitchy rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “All in Love is Fair”. The performance ends with a kiss between Tony and Tabitha. Michelle storms backstage, calls Tony out on his philandering ways, and lunges at Tabitha. A girl fight ensues, leaving Stanley to clean up Tony’s mess. Again. Or as Tony sees it: “I’m giving you a gift.” What a stellar boyfriend he is, tossing Michelle’s feelings aside and treating her as nothing more than a pretty object. As much as I hate the idea of Stanley and Michelle together, the way he stands up for his friend is endearing. Between calling her “Chellie” and telling Tabitha off (“Michelle would never, ever blow a horse.”) Stanley gets major points for actually respecting his female friends.

Michelle accuses Stanley of knowing about Tony’s plan and calls him pathetic. She also jumps on him and kisses him  so that Stanley will have something to tell Tony, another trick to feed into his ego. What a mess that relationship is.

Later Tony calls his good buddy and has him pick him up at Tabitha’s. Tony tries to lecture and manipulate Stanley. “You know what your problem is. You don’t appreciate everything I do for you.”  But Stanley is fed up. He’s done taking orders from Tony. And then Tony directs them onto an air force base because it is a shortcut home. (Uh oh.) While driving on the base, Stanley is starting to stand up to Tony. “I really hate you, you know,” he says. But the crappy car hits a speed bump, breaks down, and the boys are pulled over for speeding. Stanley is charged with grand theft auto and driving without a license. Stanley sees this all as Tony’s fault and then his father’s prized car bursts into flames. A metaphor for Tony and Stanley’s relationship? Just a bit.

A friendship on the verge of combusting. Literally.

Stanley’s parents are not pleased with his behavior. His mom wants to forget it and move on. His dad, however, sees this as an opportunity to instill some tough love on his son, so a court date is scheduled for Monday. If his dad can’t straighten Stanley out maybe a judge can.

Tea and Daisy try to pull Stanley out of his funk by taking him to a beach party. “Chris planned it for you. Drug fueled benders are his way of expressing his feelings,” says Tea. (Hah! Did you catch Chris’ “Free Stanley” get up? He really does care!)  At the party, Michelle apologize to apologizes to Stanley for not remembering that Stanley and Tony are different people. Just as Stanley and Michelle get closer Tony swoops in and Michelle goes back to him… again. To be fair, Tea had just blown Tony off… again. This Tea-Tony pairing just gets more annoying every episode.

It must be awkward to love someone with your hairstyle

Stanley is cast aside by Tony and Michelle yet again. He reaches out to the one person who may be able to help: Cadie. Our favorite troubled teen tells Stanley she’s over him (lies) and that he wasn’t the reason for her suicide attempt. (“I don’t think about you like that. Sorry.”) There is also a brief moment between Stanley and Cadie’s mom. The woman, who came off as vain in last week’s episode, was painted in a better light this week. Cadie’s problems been there since the third grade and they have taken a toll on her mom. Cadie’s mom blames herself for her daughter’s over medication and treatment since.

At court the following day, Stanley has to face a judge. The guy sitting next to him hilariously mocks Stan’s wonderful golden locks. (“You can probably sell locks of your hair to girls who miss their girlfriends.”) The judge doesn’t think highly of his dad’s tough love routine. He tells Stanley what someone has needed to tell the kid for a while now.  “What does every bastard who has ever lived have in common? His father is a bastard and he never broke the cycle. Break the cycle, Stanley.” Zing! Stanley takes these words to heart and ignores Tony, who was waiting for him outside of the courthouse.

So this is what Stanley's right eye looks like.

Back at home, Stanley has some serious problems. His mom left. It’s hard for Stanley to accept; he blames his dad. He also reacts in the healthiest way imaginable (well, for a Skins character). He cleans his room. In the last scene of the episode, Stanley and his dad share a beer in the shell of the car. Together they compose Stanley’s note to the school about why he late for class. They present a new, united front for what they have to deal with now and it is not just Stanley getting to school on time. This last scene is why I watch Skins.

What did you think about the episode? Daniel Flaherty delivered an amazing performance as the sensitive Stanley. And I’m excited to see how next week’s camping adventure in Canada works out. Abbud finally gets a chance to appear in something more than a webisode.

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