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April 24, 2014

'Skins' Season 1, Episode 7 Recap

by Sandie Angulo Chen, posted Mar 1st 2011 10:00AM
Rachel Thevenard as Michelle in Skins['Skins' - 'Michelle']

Funny thing about tonight's episode -- the on-screen cable guide described the U.K. edition's 'Michelle' plot (even using the names Maxxie and Sid), but since the show ended up being so similar it's hard to blame the powers that be for the mistake.

Everyone obviously has different opinions on the subject, but Michelle, played by Rachel Thevenard, has been one of the cast's weaker links until the past couple of episodes. It's not the underwhelming acting (most of the kids are still figuring out the whole "craft of acting" thing), but that she seemed so superficial and a bit of a stereotypical, one-note hottie. Now, however, it's clear that the "real" Michelle is, at least for one episode, tougher and cleverer than she looks.

Thevenard was actually believable and took advantage of her spotlight episode. Her scenes freaking out in the cafeteria and crying in the bathroom stall were surprisingly well played, and her vulnerable dialog with her openly promiscuous mother elucidated the way Michelle's dependence on Tony is yet another form of rebellion (mama would prefer it if she played the field and never let a guy get close enough to break her heart).

Without a doubt, one of the best scenes of this episode was the early conversation between Michelle and the principal, who took one look at her and knew exactly what she was doing -- pretending to be dumb. Of course, Michelle's been a little too good at pretending to be dumb til now -- vacillating between rageful jealous girlfriend, sullen "why isn't he as into me anymore?" girlfriend, and crazy-in-love girlfriend. So it was refreshing to find out she's smarter than she lets on -- smart enough to dump Tony's cheating arse the moment she finds out he infected her with chlamydia, even if their separation probably won't last long.

Many viewers will be relieved that Tony finally experienced some well-deserved comeuppance, but it's obvious that his confidence that Michelle will eventually go back to him isn't just cockiness. Even Michelle's running to Stan is still all about Tony. What better way to hurt Tony and make herself feel better than to hook up with his best friend? Still, if she couldn't last more than a day before succumbing to a farewell shag, it's pretty much a given the writers won't keep them apart for long. It's not like Stan and Michelle have any chemistry, and there aren't any other characters either of them make sense with at this point.

That brings us to one of the least believable developments of the series. All of a sudden we're supposed to buy that Michelle and Stan were originally best friends until Tony moved to the neighborhood and stole Stan's friendship and Michelle's heart? If that were the case, Michelle would have acted differently toward "Stanny" in the previous episodes. That bit of back-story didn't work, but the little exchange on the bed when Stan says, "I count, right?" was sweet.

There are only three more episodes of this season, and possibly the entire North American experiment with the series, but it doesn't seem enough to tie up all the open story-lines. The way this show works, it really demands that second season to fully develop each character's arc. We still have to meet Daisy's family and then there's one from Tina the teacher's POV and the season finale. It took several weeks (with the exception of that standout "Tea" episode) to make any sense of these characters beyond the sex, drugs and partying so I'm keeping fingers crossed MTV will renew, just to see if the producers can regroup, refocus and make a killer second season that's not an episode-for-episode copycat of the British original.

Finally, here's a brief PSA for of-age teens and anybody else who noticed Tony's mistake when he told Michelle "Sorry I gave you the Clap": Chlamydia is not the Clap, Gonorrhea is the Clap. Not sure if our friends across the pond refer to their sexually transmitted infections by different names, or if Tony was too busy planning his next score to pay attention in health class, but since the STD was such a major plot point, the issue just demanded a clarification.


Memorable lines of the episode:
"1992... That was the year I stopped pretending to be dumb because I was pretty." -- Principal to Michelle

"You're a smart popular red-head, why would you understand anything?" -- Principal to Michelle

"Betty, don't worry -- a girl can't give it to a girl." -- Michelle

"I've been dreaming of this moment for years." -- Stan to Michelle

"Do you think I'm smart? ... Then you'll understand why I want you to leave now and never come near me again." -- Michelle to Tony

'Skins' airs Mondays at 10PM ET on MTV.


Want to know which songs were featured in episode 7? Watch the music recap here:

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