“Skins” Retro Recap (3.06): “Naomi”


Emily wakes up to the familiar sound of Naomi running for her life. She sighs and her face looks like, "Goddamit, Naomi Campbell!" And her morning hair looks like it was licked into place by kittens. And she gets up and marches straight up the hill, shouting at Naomi to stop right now. And Naomi — just listen to this bollocky wankshite right here — Naomi literally goes, "What?"

What? What?! What in the homegrown banana fuck do you think?

Naomi says, "I’ve got to go!" And Emily proves, once again, that she is superior to you and me in every possible way:

Emily: Twice? You’re going to do this to me twice? Naomi, no. You … f-cking stop right now! Don’t you dare leave me in your bed again. I know you, Naomi. I know you’re lonely. I think you need someone to want you. Well, I do want you. So be brave — and want me back.

Naomi’s face when Emily says "want me back" is maybe the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen because up until now, Naomi has really only been running away from a kind of half-lie — the monster your mind creates when the moon plays tricks on your eyes — but when she starts pushing her bike away from Emily’s pleas after the night they just spent together, she’s running, for the very first time, from white-hot truth. She took the first step (not the sex, but the thing behind the sex) and now she knows what Emily does (and will do) to her, inside and all-over. And she wants it, she wants it, she wants it. Her face says how badly she wants it. And she runs.

And Emily. Sweet heavenly storytelling. I’m not sure I have ever loved a character’s development more than I love Emily’s. Make no mistake: she’s done her part corroborating the lies Naomi has told herself up until now, but always, always, always as a means to make (and keep) them safe. I’m going to talk more about Emily’s audacious relationship with honesty in the next episode, but for now I just think it’s thrilling to watch her speak this truth instead of bandaging Naomi’s wounds. Because that’s what Naomi gave Emily permission to do when she reached for her last night — not once, but again and again and again. Permission to tell the truth no matter which way it burns.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but it’s the truest thing and so here it is: Remember when you first watched this series, how much you wanted Naomi and Emily to just be together? And remember in series four when they were ripping each other apart? And remember how you just needed it to stop before they bled to death? Well, no matter how much you wanted those things — no matter how much you begged and wished and prayed and Tweeted — it was nothing on how deeply Naomi and Emily wanted those things. They have always wanted a happy ending in each other with more desperation than you could ever wish for or project onto them.

Peter Selgin writes this amazing thing in By Cunning and Craft

At some devoutly wished-for point in our writing, our characters turn into real people, and when we fail to respond authentically even to their most trivial wishes and urges, we kill them off as living, willful beings and turn them into puppets, and the fictional worlds they inhabit collapse.

If TV is more to you than noise, if you select it as carefully as you would a bed time story, if you embrace it as (and demand for it to be) art, then you are forced to put your trust in the writers. And that’s no small thing, especially if believe earnestly in the soul-sustaining power of fiction. But when your belief as a story-lover/viewer collides with a writing team that is committed to carefully and truthfully weaving the fabric of the fictional dream, what you get is Naomi and Emily.

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