“Skins” Retro Recap (3.06): “Naomi”


The thing about being a kid, the thing you always forget when you grow up and get a job and a mortgage, is that when you’re a kid, you’re the one who’s actually responsible for the whole world. Your dad doesn’t want to be a part of your life? It’s your fault. Your mum is up and your mum is down? It’s your fault. If you just tried harder, acted kinder, got better grades, brushed your hair, demanded less, they would love you. And he would stay and he would love you. And she would be up and she would love you. If you could just be good enough.

But Emily breaks the rules of love. She holds out her arms and opens her hands and promises you don’t have to earn it, promises you don’t have to strive for it. It’s there: the biggest love in the world. A love you can never exhaust. A love you can never repay. Naomi is a moonbeam and Emily is lightning. Naomi is frost and Emily is fire. Naomi knows she’s not enough. She’s never been enough. But for now, just for now — in this moment, in this firelight, at Emily’s lake, under these stars — she wants believe she could be. Naomi looks up, looks at Emily with more openness and adoration than she’s ever felt or expressed in her entire life, and she asks Emily to make her believe.

There’s a moment before Naomi leans over to kiss her when Emily’s face almost imperceptibly changes from amusement to awe, and I think it’s the first time we’ve ever seen anything like fear in her eyes, because there’s a sudden acute feeling that every lie ever she told is about to come true.

They are awkward and unsteady because every touch is deeper and truer than the one before it. It’s not MDMA, Emily didn’t just want to kiss someone, it’s not a party, there’s no one around to stop them from pretending it’s just the drugs. Emily leans in to kiss Naomi’s neck and Naomi gasps and grabs her arm like she’s falling off the edge of the earth. She asks Emily to say something and Emily chokes out her very last lie: "I’m all about experiments, me."

She tugs Naomi’s jumper over her head — always unraveling her just one layer at a time — and Naomi’s eyes are seventeen kinds of hungry. Naomi pulls off Emily’s jumper and when Emily reaches up to fix her hair, my heart clenches. And when Naomi invades the frame like the only thing that matters in the whole world is devouring Emily Fitch, I die. Every single time.

The whole point of acting is that you’re not supposed to notice the acting, but the open recklessness, the consuming honesty Lily Loveless and Kat Prescott infuse into Naomi and Emily: It’s one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen. It’s breathtaking and it’s glorious and I will always always love them for being so, so brave and so, so real.

Naomi lowers Emily to the ground in the gentlest most frantic way possible. It’s Naomi in this scene and it has to be. She has to be the one who reaches. She has to be the one who moves them away from the purgatory she placed them in. And when Naomi surrenders, when Naomi gives in to the ache and the longing, when Naomi finally asks to be annihilated, Emily flips them so fast it’s dizzy-making.

And then she goes ahead and disappoints her.

I don’t think you need me to break down the symbolism of this transition shot.

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