Jal is the smart-talking, classical music whiz kid with on a lot on her plate. She’s a finalist in the Young Musician of the Year Competition and she’s the most responsible member of the originals Skins gang. Jal is always looking out of friends. Thankfully this week that doesn’t require her to keep Chris from gawking at Angie. This is our first real look at the only character not present during that first night of classic Skins debauchery. She’s the daughter of an emotionally distant rap mogul who doesn’t take her music aspirations seriously and the sister to two delightfully goofy goons who are also trying to please their father. Basically Jal’s just trying to keep it together before her competition but things have a way of not working out.
Initially I wanted to call this recap “Jal and her Clarinet” but that would have been painfully obvious. Even though we’ll quickly see that Jal’s clarinet keeps her grounded. There are two other relationships central in Jal’s life: her friendship with Michelle and her strained relationship with her dad.
With Jal set to perform Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on a nationally televised competition, she needs a dress. To find the perfect dress, she needs resident fashionista Michelle’s help. (Though I would never take the advice of a girl in polka dot leggings. Just saying.) But Michelle is too busy shagging Tony. After Effy (!) confirms that they’ll be awhile, Jal sets out with Sid to the store. It’s not like Sid had anything better do… unless waiting around for Tony is in fact as wonderful as I imagine it isn’t. Jal and Sid have several scenes together this episode; they’re both touching and hilarious.
Purchasing a dress proves to be disastrous. Not only does Sid manage to zipper himself, but Jal buys a fugly brown dress that she claims is green. (Jal, you’re so color blind.) Sid and Jal have a heart to heart. She tells him that his thing for Michelle is obvious and weird. And Sid does what all her male friends do to Jal; he makes a comment about her apparent lack of sex life. But Jal has her clarinet! It’s just the two of them.
Jal struggles to practice because her brothers (and their wigger friend Donald) are making too much noise with their own music. Her dad is no help; he’s too busy with some blonde singer who’s single he’s remixing. Among other things. The two exchange passive aggressive words and her dad insults Jal’s rooty tooty music for white people.
The next morning, the Fazer kids experience a cheery family breakfast with their dad’s new lady friend. Her brother flips out when because blondie is sitting in “his mother’s seat”. The absence of Jal’s mother is never explained but it is felt every time Jal interacts with her dad or someone comments that she looks like her mother. At school things are also less than ideal. Roundview’s principal asks Jal to go on a series of interviews, promoting how the school has helped her achieve her musical goals despite her “disadvantaged background”. Jal recognizes how racist this is and is hilariously non-compliant. She answers all of the BBC reporter’s questions with a terse, “No.” It is classic Jal.
Later Michelle is finally not to busy shagging Tony and takes time to actually help Jal. Before this scene I wondered if there was any real substance behind Jal and Michelle’s friendship. Why does Jal put up with Michelle? It seems that they have been friends forever and just get each other. I also think that maybe subconsciously Jal knows Tony will hurt Michelle.
Finally we get to our required group interaction of the episode. It is at Jal’s father’s club. Chris hilariously tries to talk their way in but his fake id somehow doesn’t do the trick.
Jal eventually rescues the guys and they all suddenly realize that Jal is an attractive woman. With huge boobs. They all can’t stop staring, Maxxie included. There really are no words for this scene, except the obvious “Tony is an ass.”
What else happens in the club? A random guy flirts with Jal. Michelle gives Sid a kiss “for luck”. (And I roll my eyes.) Who knows where Anwar, Maxxie, and Chris got off to. Tony hooks up with the posh bitch Abigail, who must be super stealthy because she somehow got into the club with no problems. And Cassie arrives only to be ignored by Sid.
And the night ends disastrously for Jal. Remember Mad Twatter the drug dealer? He’s baaaaack. Twatter lures Sid and Jal to an alleyway (Jal just couldn’t pass up being flirted with by a random dude.) Twatter does the one thing to Jal that will hurt her the most: he breaks her clarinet. Jal’s brothers are alerted and chase after Twatter.
After all of this and with her chance at the music competition over, Jal finally has it out with her dad. Jal always knows what to say to everyone else in her life and now she knows what to say to her dad. “Why don’t you ask me how I am dad? I got beat on. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault I look like her. She’s gone. Deal with it. We have.” Jal’s little monologue partially comes off as a motivational speech. She admires her dad’s talent and doesn’t want him to waste it away.
At first it seems like Jal doesn’t get through to her father. He sends her to her room… where a brand new clarinet is waiting for her. And Mad Twatter? Dear old dad takes care of him, sparing the gang from further taunting and sparing us from a lagging story line.
Odds and Ends from “Jal”
Best Line: While Jal had a number of great zingers, this prize goes to Michelle when she tells Jal: “You play the clarinet and I look shaggable.”
Best Song: George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”
Best Adults: The episode features the first appearance by Doug. What’s not to love? The cussing orchestra director also gets a special shout out.
The Thing That Has Always Bothered Me About This Episode: WHY DID YOU BRING YOUR CLARINET TO A CLUB JAL?
Best Anwar Moment: Dev Patel is never in enough scenes.