Review: SKINS S7E04, PURE: PART 2 (Or, Cassie's Story Ends On A Somewhat Happier Note As She Finds Clarity)
Last week's episode of Skins was all about Cassie feeling lost, and it seems for a moment that the second part of "Pure" is about her finding her calling as a fashion model. Things aren't quite that simple, though.
Cassie may see that she makes a good model but it doesn't complete the puzzle; the episode, rather interestingly, doesn't pick up the thread it establishes and just leaves us to wonder what she does next. What does bring her clarity is patience; she sees that her dad needs time to move on from her mother's death and her own experiences here bring her some level of happiness through what she learns from them.
The idea of Cassie simply finding a bit of optimism is a tough message to dramatise, and it's impressive that Bryan Elsley's script manages to put across her growth. I'm sure many will complain that there's no closure in this episode and, on a plot level, they wouldn't be entirely wrong. As character drama, though, this is remarkably strong material.
It's important to recognise that the central story is that of Cassie deciding to look beyond herself and begin to really think about others. She's not a selfish character but she is introspective, and her acknowledgment that her dad needs to take a trip to help him move forward and that she needs to take care of her little brother suggests how far she's come over the course of these two episodes.
It would be potentially misguided to interpret the other subplots as having as great a significance as this. "Pure" is not about Jakob (Olly Alexander) and Yaniv (Daniel Ben Zenou) competing for Cassie's love, it's about how their behaviour towards her shapes her decisions and her understanding of the world. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that Jakob isn't given a sympathetic treatment as the episode quite clearly paints him as a creepy obsessive who probably has good intentions but is obviously somebody who is not good for Cassie to continue to be around.
The episode opens with the two of them taking a trip to see Cassie's family in Wales. It's a visit that has its moments of awkwardness but within all of that it shows us that Cassie's dad (Neil Morrissey) and her brother are in need of some help (despite outwardly appearing to be happy) and that Jakob is nothing more than a spectator with a very limited understanding of who Cassie is. It's not necessarily the attention that Cassie desires (as Jakob said in Part 1), but it's the freedom of being herself again. When considered in that context, it does make sense why modelling would be appealing to her and why she'd be so suited to it.
We see Cassie reclaim her agency and really enjoy herself when she's discovered by a fashion photographer. When Jakob subsequently gets angry at her for making the decision to have her photos used in a magazine, she suddenly becomes all too aware of his worrying attitude towards her -- it's almost as if he views her only as a beautiful thing to be photographed, not a person who needs to make money and find fulfillment -- and then she just leaves and doesn't look back. Sure, Yaniv has a part to play in the ensuing drama, but it's unsurprising to see that this story is about Cassie moving beyond these two and getting back to herself.
"Everything's good" is the final line Cassie utters in "Pure" and it's interesting because it's so satisfying to hear it said and to see her happy while it remains hard not to be aware of how little has really changed. What has changed is within Cassie herself, as she realises that waiting around isn't as futile as her neighbour previously argued.
Cassie finds her way back to herself and begins to feel more comfortable about life simply because she absorbs her experiences and learns from them. It's a difficult idea to convey onscreen, but Skins manages it and the show has built a rewarding and meaningful pair of episodes in the process.