Review: SKINS S7E03, PURE: PART 1 (Or, Cassie Remains Adrift But In A Distinctly Different Way)
Like Effy, Cassie (Hannah Murray) has now moved to London. She's been here for less time, though, and she has realistically not landed herself a perfect job. She works as a waitress at a cafe and is clearly searching for something but is struggling to pin down exactly what it is she wants. When she realises that somebody is following her and taking photos of her (that are posted online), she is understandably frightened, but she's also intrigued.
At first glance, there are very few similarities between the Cassie we see here and the girl we got to know in the first two series of Skins. Of the three characters that we're getting to catch up with in the seventh series, Cassie is the one who we've not seen for the greatest length of time. It has been at least five years since we last saw Cassie move to New York, and she reveals that she has been there all this time. She only moved back to London recently after things didn't work out in the US, and she's now looking for some sort of clarity to her life.
Because this series strives for realism, it's perhaps unsurprising that "Pure" doesn't have any straightforward answers for Cassie. It seems thematically unfocused, but this is absolutely a reflection of the lack of fulfillment that Cassie is finding in her life. We see that she's cut herself off from others, largely spending time looking at herself and becoming far more introverted than she ever was in Series 1 or 2.
As a result, this is an episode that doesn't have much dialogue. Instead, it heavily relies on atmospheric imagery and music to give us an idea of Cassie's experience of the world. "Pure" looks beautiful visually, with magnificent shots sweeping over all of London at night and a wonderful depiction of loneliness in a big city.
Murray's performance remains excellent. Her wide-eyed fascination with the world hasn't faded (although she's notably less vocal about it), but it's made clear that Cassie doesn't talk to people frequently at all and she's much less whimsical than she used to be. She's shy and unconfident in conversation, something brilliantly conveyed by the actor. As with "Fire", this is a more mature version of Skins, and you'll find little to enjoy if you come here looking for wild parties and recreational drug use. This is about growing up and feeling lost, Cassie doesn't know what she's doing with herself and she doesn't know what to do about it.
I haven't mentioned Sid because he unfortunately doesn't feature in any way. I'm not saying he should appear -- I'd honestly have been disappointed if he'd turned out to be Cassie's stalker, for instance -- but his connection with Cassie was so deep, so complex, and so important that it's difficult not to think about him when watching "Pure". This isn't exactly the same situation as Effy, where I'm happy to leave behind the past and solely focus on the present, because it's hard to believe that Sid never found Cassie in New York or that he wouldn't at least be mentioned in some way.
Cassie develops some pretty complicated relationships with the two central male characters here, too, though neither are as compelling as would be hoped for. I'll reserve judgement on the stalker subplot for the moment, but it has a strangely creepy vibe because the show may well be suggesting that Cassie appreciates (and, perhaps, wants) the attention. This is tricky material for Skins to pull off, and I hope it's headed to a conclusion next week in which Cassie realises how she doesn't require this type of unsettling affection. I doubt Skins will end this on an optimistic note, but we can always hope that things will turn out better for Cassie than they look like they will.