“I don’t care if they’re one-legged dead hermaphrodites – I need sex, soon!” From the off, we always saw Alo as the subtle one: calm, respectable and mature… Yeah, right. If any one quote in Skins neatly and perfectly sums up a character then it is the one above, uttered by Alo earlier in the series. Alo’s antics may be slightly revolting, but Will Merrick’s charm lets him get away with it.
As we begin Episode 6, although it’s nice to finally meet one of the loveable oddballs again after three consecutive episodes of the popular kids’ love triangle messiness, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not Alo has enough wit and depth to his character to keep us entertained for the following 60 minutes.
After a watch-through-the-fingers yet hilarious opening “ultrawank” montage that has to be seen to be believed (how a 17 year old boy could so happily eat a fruit that was a phallic object 5 minutes prior is beyond comprehension), we immediately get an insight into Alo’s home life. Alo lives on his parents’ farm and, despite being initially pleasant and parently, his parents’ insistence that he quit college and work on the farm is surprisingly frustrating to watch, even more so than Dorian Lough’s ignorant life coach who raised last week’s protagonist Nick.
An early scene shows Alo struggling to move a rock on the farm’s field, despite his father assuring him that “that one don’t move, it’s fine where it is”. It’s a poignant metaphor for Alo’s situation, so it’s no wonder that he nearly breaks his back trying to shift it. At first seeming like your average ne’er-do-well teenager, Alo is revealed to be a boy who has been pushed around by his oppressive parents for too long, and after an explosive accident on the farm, his parents finally flip.
Back at college, in the first scene of the series where the group seem comfortably all sat together, Liv gives the advice that Alo “stick it to the man”, with the resulting house-wrecking party suggesting that he believes they deserve quite a bit of “sticking it”. The party scenes allow a welcome closer look into the unusual but tight group that has formed. A particularly touching scene with Liv and Frankie reminds us just how good an actress the criminally underused Dakota Blue Richards is, demonstrating another incredibly believable display of vulnerability. When Liv brings up a certain ‘elephant in the room’ regarding Frankie, her reaction is very ambiguous, but potentially very telling.
Despite the episode keeping us on Alo’s side for most of the way, the final scenes show a boy who perhaps could do with a little maturing after all. Alo’s rebellion is ultimately aimed at the wrong person – his defeated and emasculated father (Peter Gunn) – when really it’s his iron-fisted mother (Ingrid Lacy) who his anger is directed at. When Also realises that he may have been in the wrong as much as his parents and cannot turn to a loved-up Rich, he finds himself in an emotional and physical no man’s land, in Merrick’s finest moment.
A humourous yet fitting ending heralds an optimistic new start for the character and the curtain draws on the second truly brilliant episode of Series 5. Hopefully it’ll be made a hat trick when we finally see ballerina Grace deliver her starring performance next week.
Airs at 10pm on Thursday 3rd March 2011 on E4.