Skins retro recap (3.08): “Effy”


This is going to be a short recap, relatively speaking, because Santa’s coming — I know him! I know him! — and there’s not much Naomily and I’m trying to knock out 3.09 by tomorrow (so much Naomily) before we close up shop for the holidays.

I wish I had a million years to dig into this thing, though, because it’s kind of the crux of the entire second generation. I mean that retrospectively, of course. There’s no way we could have known that in real-time. It’s good, though. Real good. And when people lambaste me about loving Skins I just want to shove this episode up their nose and into their brainspace until they are set free from their ignorance and pomp.


The first time I watched “Effy,” — lo, those many months ago — I was entirely underwhelmed. This episode has about half the amount of dialogue as a normal Skins episode, and coming off “Naomi” and “JJ,” which both had such layered, delicious dialogue it makes my mouth water just thinking about it, “Effy” left me feeling a little empty. The second time I watched was post-S4 and it was sunshine breaking over Mordor, just an entirely different beast.

How can I say this? “Effy” is like if you sat all the characters — except Naomi and Emily and JJ — in front of the Mirror of Erised and then opened the door to a wardrobe and let a Boggart out to play. Everyone’s deepest desires and most desperate fears: reflected, magnified, mangled, slithering around and pouncing all over each other.

The most important thing, I think, is that Katie F–king Fitch came alive in series four, and I understand her now as both the antithesis to and anchor for Effy. Their stories barely make sense without each other. Katie is the key to “Effy” — and, I think it could be argued, the key to Effy — because both of their stories are about fighting the narratives they’ve constructed for themselves, and to what lengths they’ll go to preserve those narratives. But it’s flip sides of the same magnet, not just because their imaginary narratives and actual narratives are always rubbing up against each other, but because they want the exact opposite thing. And because of how reality destroys them both.

It starts here, with each of them taking it in turns to strip the other of everything that matters to her — ribbon-by-ribbon, thread-by-thread — and what they’re left with when the dance is over. (Nothing.) (Both of them: Nothing.)

Or, as my friend Jacob says: No matter how many times you squint your eyes and stomp your feet, the actual world you live in is a lot more important than the perfect world you wish you lived in.


Effy is having an early morning perfunctory shag with Cook while her mom nibbles on some Coco Puffs downstairs. Cook squeals and grunts and Effy sort of yawns and rolls her eyes. Cook bounces immediately afterward and Effy pops to the loo for a shower — that she does not take. (Did you know the UK has something called “Loo of the Year” awards? I am dead serious. I saw some certificates hanging on the wall of a service station the first time I was in England.) Anyway, Effy’s not so much for water conservation; she just lets the shower run and run and decides to give ol’ Freds a call. It goes straight to voicemail.

Downstairs — still unshowered, mind — Effy finds Anthea roll-calling every bloke in the newspaper and declaring him a bastard. Bono and Stephen Fry are both objects of her adulterous wrath. Effy’s like, “Cook and I broke up. I’m pregnant. I’m Catherine Earnshaw. I’m not even kidding. There will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!” And then she drops a vase and crunches over her the glass on the way out of the house, like, “XOXO, Beautiful Bomb.”

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