Skins retro recap (3.08): “Effy”

Next thing you know, Katie’s shouting at Effy about how she’s pathetic, and then everyone gets real pathetic — huddled on the ground and “put out the fire!” — because they’re either under attack by werewolves or Road Wankers or — oh, wait: it’s only Cook.

Cook’s like, “Surprise! The gun shots weren’t me; that was some psychos, but also: Hahaha! What a bunch of pussies you all are!”

You can count the number of people who are excited to see him on no hands. Hang on. I forgot to say: Cook showed up at Effy’s earlier with black forest gateau. Anthea took his pudding and left him with: Yeah, Effy broke up with you. And that’s why Cook showed up the way he did. Well, no. Cook showed up the way he did because he’s a dick. But he showed up at all because Anthea said, “Gobbler’s End, a party to which you are not invited.” (The last time he attended a party he wasn’t invited to, he bonked Panda and Effy and found a secret sex room. So, I guess, you know, I can’t hate too hard. Classical conditioning and all that.)

Everyone, including JJ, tells him to GTFO and GDIF and LOL, WHY DO YOU BUTTON YOUR SHIRTS LIKE THAT? And since Cook’s not so much a boy who can take his toys and go home (but more like a boy who will set your toys and his toys on fire in an unforgettable explosion) he drops the following bombs: a) Effy is in love with Freddie. And b) Panda has been making monkey with him.

(Naomi looks at Emily, like, “Me? You? Our lake? Like now?”)

Thomas already knows about the cheating, of course, but he runs (like a dog) back to Bristol anyway. To the Effy news, Katie says, “So? Why should we care? Freddie’s with me now. Right, Freddie? Freddie? FREDDIE!”

Once again, Freddie’s inability to respond to things in a timely manner is crucial. Katie shoves a map in his face and the story she wrote where she’s a princess and he’s a prince and babies and kittens and hostess and happily ever after, and he’s just staring off into the night all, “Why so sad, moon? The sun will be back to play in the morning!”

Katie and Effy both wander off into the woods to get some fresh air and perspective and fisticuffs. It’s an insane scene. Kattie cries and begs Effy not to take Freddie away. And then Katie is on top of her — and not in an awesome kind of way — shouting about how Effy is a slut and also there are bugs all over her. It’s either some serious terrorist-level psychological warfare or Effy is for real tripping. It’s both. It’s purposefully confusing. I will side with Katie because that’s what I do — but let’s not rule out the possibility of torture.

It’s not that Katie’s unhinged; it’s self-preservation. I mean, what is Katie’s whole deal? She has created an entire self-propaganda campaign about how she is the center of a world that includes: happy parents, an identical twin, the envy of her peers, a doting boyfriend, and the promise of a castle where she’ll raise her children to be princes and princesses too. (It’s what the map says!) The biggest threat to that imaginary story is lying on the ground in front of her: the Goddess of the Grove, and she knows Freddie is going to wreck himself on her.

People go nuts when they feel like they’re about to lose everything.

Have you guys ever read Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men? It’s a book about German Reserve Police Battalion 101 during World War II, and how it wasn’t comprised of trained soldiers but of middle-aged dentists and lawyers and chefs. It explores how even though they could have opted out of grisly war crimes, only 15 (out of 500) chose to do it. The book made big waves in the academic community about 20 years ago because it was about the way these regular ol’ guys were driven to extreme measures, not because of bloodlust or hatred, but because we are all capable of some morally reprehensible shit given the right circumstances.

I’m not comparing Katie’s little fit here to the Holocaust, don’t misunderstand me. I’m just saying: The nightmare of human capacity is fascinating.

(And here’s one thing I’ve never understood about the way people come at me about Skins — Verbatim on multiple occasions: “How dare you act like this show is high art?” I mean, it’s never about “Overwrought, much?” or “Psychoanalytic narrative critique really leaves me cold.” Which are both valid criticisms. It’s always, “It makes me sick the way Skins draws you in and begs you to go wider and grow deeper and call to memory literature and history and music and whatever liberal arts thing.” And my feeling is that it’s not really about Skins for those people. It’s about their thing? And how if I say something awesome about Skins it means I’m not saying something awesome about their thing? Like there’s some sort of quantum abnormality surrounding TV that will only allow a person to love one show? Which: Whatever. Stand over there and squeal about quantifying art and I’ll be over here enjoying the hell out of something I adore. And maybe I’ll talk about history books while I’m doing it.)

Anyway, Effy just wants it to stop, wants is all to stop, so she picks up a rock and gives Katie a nine-stitches wallop to the noggin.

Guess what then? Freddie wanders into the woods and crashes his ship. (You could watch “Effy” on mute while listening to the entirety of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago and you’d feel the same feelings.)

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