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Falling Apart and Falling Together on "Skins"

OMG! Maxxie's dad is Bill Bailey?

How frakking cool was it that we learned on last night's episode of Skins ("Tony and Maxxie")--which kicked off Season Two of the British import on BBC America--that Maxxie's dad was none other than famed British comedian Bill Bailey (Black Books, Hot Fuzz)?

While those reveals weren't the focus of the episode (though pretty bloody awesome nonetheless), Bailey's Walter and Maxxie had a fantastic storyline in which he put his foot down about Maxxie dropping out of college to focus on his dancing. While most series would have made the arc about Walter reacting to his son's homosexuality, Skins deftly reinvigorated a father/son storyline with shades of regret, not about his son's sexual orientation, but about the fact that Walter wanted Maxxie to become a builder so he wouldn't lose him as he loves him so much. All that, seeing Bill Bailey do a country line dance with a dog, and Keeping Up Appearances' Geoffrey Hughes (yes, Onslow himself)? Priceless.

The episode's main focus, of course, was on poor Tony, who survived getting run over by a bus in last week's episode but has emerged a shell of his former self, his motor and cognitive skills damaged by a subdural hematoma. Seeing the evil genius Tony reduced to someone unable to scrawl his own name much less plot the takedown of teen civilization was humbling and Nicholas Hoult's portrayal of a scared, shaken, and disconnected Tony was a thing of beauty to watch.

Hoult deserves every possible accolade for his brave and bold performance as Tony finds himself alternately confused, terrified, and numb after his accident. Whether screaming for Sid to help him urinate (when he isn't even at Sid's house), laughing maniacally about a joke told an hour earlier, or having a fit when he can't manage to write his own name, Hoult manages to make Tony's frustration and fear utterly palpable and it's amazing to watch him transform this character into someone virtually unrecognizable from the savage and savvy Tony of Season One.

All of the characters, meanwhile, react in their own way to the "loss" of Tony. Sid has distanced himself from his former best friend after sitting vigil at the hospital after Tony's accident; Tony's ex-girlfriend Michelle has retreated into a world of guilty sex and hedonism, unable to deal with the fact that Tony told her that he loved her seconds before he was flattened by that bus. Chris and Jal reluctantly deal with picking up and dropping off Tony at his home but their feelings for their former friend don't seem to go further than resentful responsibility.

In fact, it's only Maxxie (whom Tony bitterly used during Season One) that seems to care for Tony at all, coaxing him into successfully signing his name, holding his hand on the bus (when Tone has a flashback of the accident), and generally providing an encouraging, nurturing environment. If that's not the very picture of forgiveness, I don't know what is.

I am still slightly confused about who was taking photographs of Maxxie dancing on the roof. Is this meant to be an ongoing subplot or were we meant to think that the closeted thug (who "baked a cake of remorse" for Maxxie) was the one taking the shots? (I think it's the former rather than the latter.)

I did, however, absolutely love the video that Cassie sent Sid from Scotland that that her demonstrating her newfound Scottish Highland dancing skills... and that fantastic life-size shot of Cassie in bed above Sid's bed. Sigh. I miss that girl already...

Next week on Skins ("Sketch"): Maxxie still can't shake the feeling that he's being watched and discovers that he's being stalked by weird loner Sketch, who makes it her mission to win over Maxxie for herself. And if she can't have him, then no one can. Creepy!


Anonymous said…
I loved the storyline with Maxxie and his dad (yay Bill Bailey!) but was truly amazed by the "new" Tony. Not only was Hoult's performance incredible but I commend the writers for tackling such a difficult and original storyline instead of just rehashing the same teen drama we see again and again in every other teen show.

Bloody brilliant.
Melissa said…
This show is incredibly different and courageous. To witness the downfall of Tony is heartbreaking, the kid was a total shit - yet we have so much sympathy for him, brilliant.
Anonymous said…
Absolutely heartbreaking. I hated Tony when I first saw Skins Series 1 and by you get to this point he might as well be an entirely new character. I could understand why Michelle got to the point that she did and thought the scene with her in the shower trying to wash off her guilt was amazing. Can't wait for Series 3!

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