Despite giving the initial impression of being a few mood swings away from the original gang’s Cassie, with her chirpy optimism and abrupt alternations between being sweet as pie and foul-mouthed, Grace Violet has firmly secured her position as one of the fans’ favourites from this year’s new Skins generation.
Her seemingly stable relationship with Rich has seen her take a back seat to the drama of late, but that’s all about to change with the penultimate episode of Series 5, which sees the normally perfectly-composed Grace pushed to her absolute limit… and a few rather shocking secrets are revealed in the process.
The revelation that a familiar Skins face is in fact Grace’s father is a startling opening to the episode and, from that moment on, we see every aspect of Grace’s supposedly pristine world falling apart around her. As the only character to befriend all the conflicting characters at once from the very beginning, the eventual peace and formation of the group means everything to her. So when conflicts begin to form once again, conflicts that could potentially break up the group as quickly as it formed, no one feels the pressure more than mediator Grace.
Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning of Grace’s problems this week, as her father becomes adamant that she is to return to her previous, expensive private girls’ school – a move which Grace could not be more against. In what seems to an act of sadistic deception, he tells her that the only way she can stay at Roundview is to get an A in her drama performance of Shakespeare, which coincidentally involves all her classmates. Mini trying her hand at 16th century theatre and the priceless reactions of her classmates provide some of the episode’s funniest moments.
Although Grace gives us a smashed mirror and a couple of tearful moments, Jessica Sula in character as Grace sometimes doesn’t quite let herself go in a way that her co-stars have managed to in previous episodes, but perhaps that’s just who Grace is. (Indeed, the show would quickly become formulaic if every character were to experience a full-on breakdown each week.) As a result, we are more taken with watching the increasingly bully-like Liv tease and taunt a confused and vulnerable Frankie over her feelings for the somewhat cowardly Matty, whose nonchalant and slightly chauvinistic turn in this episode makes him bafflingly undesirable.
Even as boyfriend Rich (Alexander Arnold on excellently sarcastic form) begins to doubt the relationship between himself and Grace, drunkenly pushing her away, she still manages to be the one keeping all the friends together, not just for her own sake, but for theirs as well.
Although ending on yet another absurdly implausible twist, once again the sheer charm and genuineness of the cast somehow brings us around. The episode’s final big scene is undeniably cheesy, but the characters’ innocence is incredibly touching.
Airs at 10pm on Thursday 10th March 2011 on E4.