“Skins” mini-cap (4.02): Emily Fitch and the Cadet Locker of Secrets

Maybe you’re young enough to be distracted by a completely starkers Kathryn Prescott, in which case I forgive you for not remembering that every Temper Trap song is basically about losing the love of your life, then re-finding her in a way that is infinitely deeper and more satisfying than you ever imagined. Let’s go ahead and assume that "Love Lost" will play over Naomily’s inevitable reunion, because I refuse to contemplate a future in which that is not a reality. In any case, "Sweet Disposition" is only the beginning of this episode’s deliciously perfect soundtrack.

Emily is munching a Garibaldi biscuit and walking naked around Naomi’s living room, caressing her childhood photos in that way people do when they are smitten beyond all sense. The postman spots her and she drops to the floor before sheepishly throwing on a coat and going outside to sign for a package. It’s a gift — the raddest pair of safety goggles you’ve ever seen, and Naomi starts crying when she gives them to Emily.

Naomi: I saw these a while ago and — I love you.
: Yeah, I know.
[Crying harder on account of her Secrets] Don’t forget it, though.

Emily shakes her head like nothing in the world could make her forget how desperately Naomi is in love with her. She asks how she looks. Answer: So cute I am ordering some of those goggles just to wear around my house.

They take off on Emily’s scooter, Naomi wrapped tightly around her. At Emily’s house, her dad is handing out snuggles ("Hug your dad, you idiot.") and her mum is handing out career advice. Emily and Naomi plan to ride that scooter to Mexico next year because love can build a bridge, but Emily’s mum thinks it’s always good to have a backup plan — like university.

At Roundview, Naomi and Emily’s canoodling is interrupted by a school official, who tells them the police want to talk to them about Sophia’s death. See, because the rumor is that the three of them were "quite chummy," but Naomi grabs Emily’s hand under the interrogation table and insists they didn’t know her. Emily’s all, "Yeah, I didn’t even notice when she squeezed by us to plummet to her death on account of the fierce making out I was engaged in."

Naomi lies to the police some more, which Emily immediately accosts her about out in the hallway, and Naomi confesses that she sold Sophia the MDMA. "Since when are you dealing?" Emily wants to know, and Naomi says she needed the money to buy the rad goggles because she wanted to keep Emily safe. Which: Awww. And also: What? You sold drugs to buy your girlfriend some protective eyewear? There are so many other ways to show your love on the cheap. And on the free, for that matter. Like earlier with the nakedness and love biscuits.

Emily’s eyes flicker for a second and she says sweetly, "Where’d you get the MDMA?"

(Three guesses, and I’ll bet you don’t need the first two.)

Butch up, Emily Fitch!

Cook assures her that the cops haven’t got anything on them — unless, of course, Emily keeps dragging him around the hallway by his neck. He bounces and Naomi tells Emily to "mind her own f–king business, for once." Emily’s mouth says, "Yeah, sorry." But her eyes say "Secret sleuthing in three … two …"

Emily takes flowers to Sophia’s house and introduces herself as Nancy (like Drew). Sophia’s mum says her daughter never mentioned a Nancy, but she sure did love to talk about those two crazy kids, Naomi and Emily. In Sophia’s bedroom (where there are an awful lot of hand-drawn naked ladies) Emily pilfers a university guide with an envelope and key stuffed conveniently inside before Sophia’s brother bursts into the room and asks if Emily was Sophia’s girlfriend. He says he knows she didn’t commit suicide because she didn’t say goodbye to him.

In the university guide, Emily finds a photo of Naomi and Sophia at an open day, and her mood doesn’t get any better when she stops by her mum’s salon. She stomps into a private room where her mum is giving a bikini wax.

Emily: You told Graham I was straight?!
: Well, he’s known you since you were a little girl.
He’s gay as a window!
: He’s an adult; he’s earned the right to be gay. You’re too young to know what you are.
I know, Mum!
: [Ripping the bikini wax strip off her client as she shouts, "You bastard!"] You only think you know. What’s the reason you’ve been crying? Maybe Naomi?
No, we’re fine.
: You should go traveling. Wouldn’t she just get in the way?
She’s my f–king girlfriend! You’ve got nothing to do with this!

Jenna offers her a thousand pounds to go traveling without Naomi, and Emily tells her she can "shove it up her tits" and storms out. (British colloquialisms are so much better than American colloquialisms. There is literally no equivalent for "shove it up your tits.")

At college, Freds is eating some chips when Effy just sliiiiiiides up to him in that way she has and pops a chip in her mouth in that other way she has, and he’s eleven kinds of in love all over again. She says she thought about him the whole time she was gone (rendering him helpless and hopeless), then sliiiiiides away again to the tune of "Just like the winter / smothers the flowers in their beds / It never ceases to amaze me / how quickly love forgets." Guys, this music tonight!

Emily plops down beside Freds in that way she has and starts asking a series of complicated, seemingly rhetorical questions about isn’t Freds scared that Effy will cheat on him again with Cook if they get back together, when what she really means is, "I have this sinking feeling that I can’t trust my girlfriend." Even Naomi’s laughter seems like a secret as Emily stares at her across the room. Freds doesn’t want to think about it because of what the song said, about how love is stupid forgiving. (Also, apparently, so is chlamydia.)

Naomi is in class, but Emily slams the open day photo of her and Sophia against the window and Naomi freaks out and skips out. They meet in a field behind the school, and this is some of my favorite-ever directing on Skins, with that standard cross-processed sky filter and the camera circling the two of them, all metaphorical about how they’re circling each other.

Emily: Why didn’t you tell me you knew her?
: I met her once, at an open day.
: What open day?
: It was an open day; what does it matter?
: We’re going traveling next year; we decided!
: You decided. Look, I went to an open day. I met a girl. We talked. That’s it.
: You should’ve told me!
: Well, how could I without telling you where I met her? I didn’t want a referendum on our relationship over a stupid open day!

Emily: Did you know she was gay?
: I met her once.
: Did you f–k her?
: No! You think I’d shag some random girl behind your back?
: I’m not saying you did it.
: Well, what are you saying?
: I’m just asking!
: Why are you acting like this?

It’s not just the directing that makes this scene so great; it’s the character development. Emily started this whole sleuthing business to try to help Naomi, but bit-by-bit, Naomi’s story has started to unravel. Last year, Emily would have been too afraid to keep pulling the thread, too afraid of what she might find when the thing came undone. But she’s reached a place of personal authenticity now, and she’s not willing to compromise on it.

Naomi, on the other hand, couldn’t have given two f–ks last year about what anyone thought of her. Her mask was the lie she told herself: that no one really knew who she was anyway, so nothing mattered. (She has that in common with Cook, by the way, which we really get to see next week.) Now, she has let Emily in, past the dragons, to her softest spot, and she’s afraid it will actually kill her if it gets pierced.

Equilibrium is funny like that.

Anyway, Emily assures Naomi that she’s going to find out if she’s lying.
They go to cadet school and use the key to open up Sophia’s locker and — surprise! — there’s a full-on Naomi shrine
inside, with a battery-operated candle and hand-drawn photos and
transcribed lines of poetry and Naomi’s toothbrush and a Garibaldi
wrapper (nice continuity, writers). Sophia went through Naomi’s rubbish
and decorated her locker with it. Pandora has also left a wooden box
inside the locker (Pandora, the original woman; not Panda Pop.)

Some cadets come stomping through and Emily and Naomi hide in a supply closet. Shocked, Naomi is like, "She stalked me." And Emily says the cutest thing ever: "You’re very stalkable." Then things get really sweaty really fast, because never underestimate the libidinous effect of either: a) Realizing that that the person you love most in the world didn’t cheat on you, and so you’re not going to lose her, or b) Realizing that the person you love most in the world isn’t going to find out you cheated on her, and so you’re not going to lose her.

And while we’re on the subject of how inferior American television is, this scene would never make it past Standards and Practices on network primetime in the US, especially not on a show geared toward a younger audience. Kudos to the Skins writing team (specifically) and the UK (in general) for treating lesbian relationships as exactly what they are: normal — and awesome.

The next day, Katie (Hi, Katie! Where ya been?) has invited her new boyfriend to dinner, which, according to Jenna, doesn’t leave room at the six-seater table for Naomi. Emily’s little brother is wearing one of her dresses, and inquires after Naomi. He wanted to "show her his new number," which freaks his mom out because: two gays in one family? How is that even possible? But it turns out he just wants to "f–k Naomi" and since she’s a lesbian, he’s decided to start wearing skirts.

It’s bad timing on his part to drop that little bomb — F-bomb and otherwise — because Mr. Fitch has just announced that the bank foreclosed on his gym. Emily’s mum is like, "But we need money to bribe Emily to stay away from Naomi!" And Emily is all, "Yeah, I’m moving out."

Apparently, things are still acrimonious between Katie and Emily after last year’s brawl at the ball, but when Katie realizes that Emily is really going to leave, she gets soft in that special sister way. She begs her to stay, promises to back her up. "Emsy, please don’t go!" But Sophia’s brother is at the door and Emily is tangled up for a million reasons she can’t even deconstuct.

Sophia’s brother shows Emily the card Sophia left for him. In the bottom corner, there is a pen drawing of a lonely, maudlin girl. On the other side, a typed message: "Once I had a love and it was a gas. Soon it turned out she had a heart of glass." Then, handwritten: "So Sorry. I love you."

Emily assures him Sophia didn’t kill herself over her, and she pleads on Naomi’s behalf as well. She says it’s not her problem, and he asks the deepest, darkest question: "Emily, what are you scared of?" And then he leaves.

Emily does, too: she shows up at Naomi’s with her bags.

Naomi: What’s all this?
: I’m moving in.
: Where?
: Here.
: Um, isn’t that the sort of thing that people usually discuss?
: I need to, OK?
: OK.
: OK?
: OK. Although, in many ways, it’s sort of a violation — but f–k it. It’s OK.
: Really?
: Really! It’ll be great. You can be my pajamas.

God, you two — be cuter.

Or, you know, don some inexplicable Latin garb and get drunk and set yourselves on fire. (I really hope they’re not planning on wearing that stuff to Mexico.)

They’re still pretty blitzed when they show up at a party. Naomi says if it’s rubbish they can "go back to ours." Emily clarifies, "Where?" Naomi grins: "Ours."

At the party, Panda is giving Thomas a dose of his own cheater pants medicine with some random dude on the dance floor, and Effy is all over Freddie. Emily can’t stop thinking that Naomi is hiding something from her, and Cook offers to dance with her to take her mind off of it. Actually, they have a pretty hilarious conversation in the loo, but I can’t transcribe it because sometimes Cook’s accent is too thick for me. I’m pretty sure I caught an affectionate "muff monkey" in there somewhere, though.

Sadly, their dance is short-lived because Cook sees Effy and Freddie, and then beats the bleeding crap of some guy and JJ. "Who f–king wants one now?" he asks, before getting just clocked.

Back at their place, Emily can’t sleep, so she calls up Sophia’s brother and they meet at the club. Emily brings the box. Naomi shows up too and begs Emily, one last time, to drop it — but she can’t. They go to the roof where Emily and Sophia’s brother sit on the ledge and open the box. Inside is Sophia’s graphic journal, and Naomi’s face is so broken and so desperate that we already know what’s inside, even before the narration.

This is the place I started holding my breath. And I held it until the end.

So, I’m at this stupid open day and everyone’s snotty and rude. Then I see someone. I’ve never even spoken to her at Roundview. It didn’t seem to matter, because then everything got really fun. And by the time we were on our way home, we were telling secrets. I wanted to move my hand. I wanted to move it so much. And then she moved hers. I wish I told Naomi how easy it is for me to love someone. We’re all lonely, and all we want is for someone to, you know, pay attention. And tell us we’re beautiful. And cute. And say that they want to —

Sophia’s brother drops the box off the building and blows past Naomi. Emily stands up and walks to the ledge.

Naomi: I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!
: You ruined it! You don’t want anyone to care! I could be dead in a second. Everything’s so fragile. Didn’t you realize that? We were special!
: I was scared.
: You’re always scared.
: Emily. Emily! Emily!

Lily Loveless, you are transcendent.

At home, Emily’s dad holds her while her heart shatters. He tells her about how he cheated once, on her mom, and she forgave him. Emily wonders if it can ever be the same again. She’s not her mom.

"Said the People" by Dinosaur Jr. is haunting on any day, but especially this one, as Emily walks to Naomi’s house: "I’ve been staring, I’ve been staring into space / All this time, not a smile, such a waste / I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna know / I can’t tell you, I just have to go."

There’s a note for Emily on the door. "I’ll do anything," it says, and if you’re heart wasn’t broken before, it will be now: "Be brave."

Emily looks up and Naomi looks down, and they’ve never been so close
together, so far apart. Emily tries to leave, but then, seemingly of
its own volition, her body turns around and walks inside Naomi’s house.