Skins: Rise features the long awaited return of Jack O’Connell staring as the incredible James Cook, who is one of the most defiant characters from the 2nd generation (series 3 and 4).
Cook is an outgoing, impulsive, womanizing, and in many ways, self-destructive young man, who appears to have come from a troubled family background. He is the life of the party, always up for drinking and taking drugs to ensure he has a good time. Although he can be a violent and out of control teenager, there is a softer side to him which we can tell from the earlier series when he falls in love with Effy Stonem.
Series 4 ended with a cliffhanger, of whether or not Cook would let his anger get the best of him and murder his best friend’s killer. But when Skins Rise shows Cook living the party life he always had, selling drugs and getting with girls, it is quite clear that Cook hasn’t changed much at all. He stills lives his crazy life and does what he wants. It’s a big question of whether or not he did kill John Foster, until later on when he eventually reveals that he is on the run after committing murder (which I’m glad they answered).
Part 1 introduces petrol station worker Emma quite early on, who turns out to be Cook’s new girlfriend. She seems like quite a sweet girl, but that doesn’t mean that she will take crap from anyone, especially from Cook. She doesn’t like to be walked all over and is strong enough to stick up for herself and fight. She appears to be quite like Cook in that she likes to party and does what she wants. She doesn’t have to have lots of money or the prettiest things to be happy and have a good time. I instantly liked Emma, she seemed like the kind of girl that Cook needed in his life. Not like Charlie.
Charlie is a high maintenance kind of girl who likes to be spoilt and seems to be quite the gold digger. Things start to go wrong when Charlie flirts and comes on to Cook. It gives the impression that she is sly and likes to get what she wants. She likes attention and doesn’t let people tell her no. Cook eventually gives in and sleeps with Charlie but it turns out that she is already cheating on Louie, with his other friend Jason. Jason also thinks he is a big shot, ladies man that can’t be touched. He tries to lie his way out of what he has done but when it doesn’t work, Louie has him drowned in the pool. Until now Louie seemed like quite the pushover. But now the audience quickly realise that he too won’t take any crap and nothing can get passed him making he quickly become the episode villain.
After witnessing Jason’s murder Cook, Charlie and Emma running away to Emma’s parents house in the middle of no where situated by some woods. When Louie takes Emma’s parents the episode’s tension increases even more. The hunt is on to find them. The three then run through the woods and find shelter until morning. This is a very long scene that disappointed me quite a bit. I like the photography of the scene and it is put together nicely, however it seemed to go on for too long. Not much happens and it just seems like it was the best way for the makers of the episode to fill in time.
“I really didn’t see it coming.”
After Cook sees Jason’s ghost in the wood, he then discovers that Emma is gone and starts shouting for her in a panic trying to find her. Still terrified that Louie will find them Charlie tries to stop him and manages to calm him down. They then go walking through the woods again to find Emma, which put me on edge, to eventually find that Louie had already got to her. This was the most moving and unexpected part of all of the new episodes for me, as I really didn’t see it coming.
Charlie stops at the edge of the woods, starts crying and falls to her knees. Cook emotionally blank just keeps on walking across a snowy field which consists of a single tree in the middle of it. Hanging from the tree is Emma’s body, with Louie stood near by holding the shot gun. Cook walks up to Louie, avoiding looking at the body, and they quickly get into a fight. After a big struggle consisting of a lot of blood and punches, Cook manages to beat Louie taking the gun and pushing it down on to his throat. He then stops and stands up pointing the gun at him. Charlie encourages him to shoot Louie after Cook had taken so long to do it. You can see the struggle in Cook as he fights his urges and turns the gun away shooting into the air and throwing it away. He claims that it is over and a change in Cook is revealed. He is not the same man that he once was and although Louie murdered his girlfriend, he can control his urges and take the high road. He has learned from his past mistakes and although he says killing someone “feels like nothing”, that doesn’t mean he will allow himself to go through with it.
The episode ends with Cook sending Charlie away in Louie’s car, telling her to keep driving as far as she can and not to talk to the police. Cook tells Louie (still lying on the ground waking up from passing out) that the police will be there soon and he can tell them what he wants. He then walks over to Emma’s body which is now lying on the ground beneath the tree, covered by a coat, and ends the episode with a lengthy quote:
“You think you know death, but you don’t.
Not until you’ve seen it, really seen it. It gets under your skin and lives inside you.
You also think you know life, stand on the edge of things and watch it go by,
but you’re not living it, not really, just a tourist, a ghost. Then you see it, really see it, and it gets under your skin and lives inside you and there’s no escape.
There’s nothing to be done and you know what? It’s good.
It’s a good thing and that’s all I’ve got to say about it.”
It sounds strange to say but they end Skins on quite an uplifting, promising note. It is weird as this idea strongly contrasts with the darkness of the scene just shown, but the scene leaves the ability for the audience to interpret what the future will hold for Cook for themselves. For me my interpretation was that: Still an independent, lone wolf, but now a much stronger person, Cook continues on the run which is where he has truly always belonged. He’ll probably still continue with his same old ways, or he might have learnt a very strong lesson and changed completely. It is not clear and I don’t feel that it actually needs to be. What he’ll do and where he’ll go is unknown, but this time the future looks a lot more promising.
Rise was by far my favourite of the 3 and didn’t leave me feeling disappointed at all. It got back to the old skins, containing more dramatic story lines, thrilling and moving moments and ended in true skins style. Like always it had incredibly beautiful shots through out which I always adore in Skins, the last scene being my favourite. It felt good to have the old skins back and to see Jack O’Connell staring as Cook for one last time. Although some of the story seemed to move slowly like the rest of the new episodes, this one was definitely the most interesting to watch.
So, now with Effy in prison, Cassie looking after a child and Cook continuing on the run this time with a lot more tragic struggles behind him, Skins comes to an end. I enjoyed seeing the characters one last time and although it came with some disappointments, it was good to see what the characters are doing now. It was nice to see that the lovable traits of each character haven’t really changed and that deep down they’re still the impulsive, fascinating characters that they always were.
I read someone’s opinion on tumblr saying that they think that Cook should have committed suicide instead of ending it the way that they did. I found it really interesting so I thought that I would include it.
“Cook’s thing was always bravery, however, Cook’s thing was also always running away from things. from Effy, from Freddie, from his family, from jail, from the trouble he constantly stirred. There is nothing more brave and noble then to stop running from the consequences of life, even just life itself. The bravest thing Cook could have done was to come to terms with the life he had lived, the things he had done, the people he had met and lost. the bravest thing Cook could have done would be to stop running from life, stop running from death. Effy said it herself: Brave, thats what i always loved about you. So why not be brave Cook? Running forever is cowardly. living on the run is not tough; facing life is tough. We saw that in Fire. Effy finally faced everything, even if she was only going to prison for one crime, she was really setting herself free from the prison of her entire life, facing it head on with a smirk nonetheless. Cook’s episode could have been the same.”
Although I think it’s an interesting look, for me I disagree. I see it as him fighting to keep his freedom and live the way he wants the only way he knows how, by running. It’s clear that he is an independent person and can make it on his own no matter what happens. I don’t think many people would interpret him committing suicide as brave but more as giving up. I think it would also be more discouraging for skins to end on such a negative note. By ending it the way they did they sort of left an element of something more promising and uplifting for Cook’s future. You don’t know whether he’ll change or just keeping selling drugs and getting into trouble in a different town, but at least there is still an element of hope that things could change.
Let me know what you thought of Skins: Rise and the other episodes in the comments? Also let me know of what you think the ending should have been. I think that both could have been incredibly moving and powerful for the episode. Thanks for reading, April.