Friday, 11 March 2011


Last week's trailer suggested that the sweet and loveable Grace was as screwed up as most of the others. Not for the first time, the trailer was misleading. Grace does have problems but they aren't of her own making. She also has one big secret which I'm sure the revelation had every viewer sitting upright and thinking Holy shit! I didn't see that coming.

The episode opens with Grace trying to sneak Richard out of the house without her parents seeing. Richard, however, sees her father and is totally gobsmacked. Grace's father is The Prince of Darkness, The Destroyer of Dreams, the Demon Headmaster himself, waspish and effete Professor David Blood (whom I suspected was supposed to be gay. Got that wrong).
Richard manages to get into the garden without being seen. Unfortunately, the Bloods have an aggressive dog (we'll pretend we don't see the wagging tail when it attacks). Being very much the opposite of stupid, the parents know immediately what's been going on but don't bring it out into the open. Instead, later that day, Dad tells Grace he's going to send her back to the academy she previously attended, though he relents if she continues to get straight A's. Richard is invited to a highly uncomfortable dinner, leaving as Grace's three mates arrive for a girly evening (which includes doing coke).

At school, Grace is directing Twelfth Night with all her friends in it. Liv, Matty, and Frankie (playing a girl playing a boy -yes this is the age of metafiction all right: see later) have the leading roles, Rich is Sir Andrew Aguecheek and is apparently pretty good. An external examiner is invigilating the performance and Grace needs to get that A. Professor Blood, however, is not only devious, ruthless, and unscrupulous when it comes to his dealings at Roundview, he's the same with his daughter and tries to blackmail Rich into acting badly. He doesn't know it but this isn't neccessary as Liv is pretty damn sure that Frankie fancies her boyfriend Matty (told you that last week!) and suspects the feeling is mutual. Liv and Matty quit the show and Min takes Liv's role. When Grace tells Min to kiss Frankie (who's supposed to be a boy), she does -and does Min take a microsecond too long over that kiss? I suspect we'll have to wait for the next series to find out. Grace manages to get Liv and Matty back in but there are too many tensions and when they play in front of an audience with the examiner, the play ends in a different manner to that which Shakespeare intended but nevertheless impresses everyone who give cast and director a standing ovation. Grace gets the A and her father tells her, backed by her mother, that she's going back to the academy anyway.

I mentioned metafiction in the last paragraph because this is a thread throughout the episode. Her mother has brought Grace up on stories and Grace considers herself more an actor than a director anyway -in Richard's episode she becomes a heavy metal fan, inhabiting the new persona completely. She plays the best friend, partly because she is a nice person, but also because she likes the happy ending of stories. She convinces herself that, with her help, she can give Liv and Matty their happy ending, but she fails. She tells Richard about the importance of stories. The irony here, that which makes this a metafiction, is that Grace herself is a character in a story (in a tv series called Skins). The use of metafiction like this is a perfectly valid technique but it takes great skill on the part of the writer to pull it off. Neil Gaiman does it brilliantly in The Sandman series, but the writers of Skins are all young and they just don't have the chops to pull this off. Here Grace is pulling us out the story because, by talking about stories, she stops being a character in whom we have an emotional investment and becomes the mouthpiece for the writers.

The end of this episode sets the scene for next week's finale. Late at night, Richard tosses stones at Grace's window. When she steps out on to the balcony he starts quoting Shakespeare at her which segues into a funny clumsy parody of Romeo and Juliet's balcony scene. In her bedroom, he asks her to marry him.

I think it'll end in tears -Skins often does- but I hope I'll be proved wrong. Grace and Richard are this series' Naomi and Emily. Aren't they just adorable?

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