A grey, forelorn opening shot of an early-twenties Effy (Kaya Scodelario) standing looking out over London Bridge sets the mood for the ‘grown-up Skins‘ theme perfectly.
Possibly the best thing about this introduction to Series 7 is its dramatic contrast to the original series. The banality and everyday-nature of the opening scenes of this first episode are a stark and poignant contrast to the usual dramatic drug-fuelled opening scenes in previous series, as we see the once hedonistic, fearless Effy go through the motions at her dead end receptionist job.
Despite the episode’s painfully accurate portrayal of office politics, Effy never seems deflated. Although the facade of being submissive seems to have taken over, there is always the hint of “fire” behind Effy’s eyes that we’re all accustomed to, as if she’s patiently biding her time, waiting for something to happen.
When it inevitably does, and Effy finds a way to escape her dead end job, sure enough her eyes are no longer embers of her previous intensity. In fact they blaze brighter than they ever did when she was a troubled teenager. It’s exciting proof of how Ms Scodelario is morphing into a fine, fine actress. However, much like her character in the series, Effy begins in control, but her lust for risk-taking threatens to see her crash and burn.
It’s also refreshing to see, in true Skins fashion, such a brilliant supporting cast. As a gawky wannabe-love-interest, Craig Roberts (Submarine) is utterly adorable, comparable to a male Pandora; the exact kind of ditsy, endearing character that Effy always seemed to shine to. As Effy’s boss, Facejacker star Kayvan Novak oozes sex, and the chemistry between himself and Kaya is undeniable. Conversely, as Effy’s work rival, Sherlock’s Lara Pulver is deliciously dislikable.
It is also great to see Lily Loveless return as Naomi, although it is such a shame that the once feisty, passionate character has been reduced to a lay-about stoner. Neverthless, the new scattered Naomi is quite funny in her own way, despite a bizarre choice of career. Later scenes reveal more to suggest that Naomi has simply lost her way, and a shocking twist indicates a much bigger role for Loveless in the second part.
Episode 1 delivers the same intensity, mystery and ethereal atmosphere of the best of previous series, whilst injecting an air of melancholia and brutal reality where the teen show would often toy with delusion and fantasy. Yet despite all the episode’s triumphs, it still feels like the tip of the iceberg. If it keeps up this quality, Series 7 promises to be a rip-roaring send-off for this iconic show.
Airs at 10pm on Monday 1 July on E4.
Watch the Series 7 trailer…
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