Cassandra "Cassie" Ainsworth is a fictional character from the television series Skins. She is portrayed by Hannah Murray.
- She's thin, she's blonde, she says "wow!" a lot...—Tony Stonem
Cassie is depicted as being eccentric and suffering from several mental disorders — most notably, anorexia nervosa — and multiple problems, including low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, and drug addiction. She is not always taken seriously by other members of the group, but she often uses this to her advantage. Indeed, her skills at manipulating people are comparable to Tony's, although she uses them only for revenge rather than for her own amusement. Murray described her character :
- Cassie is a very interesting character because she has a lot of problems, and she's very troubled, and she's anorexic and completely lacking in self-esteem and self-belief, but along with that she's sort of quite smart. I think that she has quite a good reading on a lot of the other characters about what they're like and how they work and stuff, and I think she's a very clever girl, and she's also kind of silly and dreamy and quite fun at the same time as being a very tragic character. — Hannah
The titular second episode of the first series and the penultimate episode of the second series focus on Cassie; the former focuses on her mental state and the latter focuses on her relationship with roommate and best friend, Chris Miles.
The show's producers and writers discussed her character and described her centric episode in an interview with The Independent as about "how she gets through her day without eating ... how she feels and what her tactics are", and campaigned to prevent any announcement of any Telephone counseling.
During the episode's credits, there wasn't a overall happy ending, because they "didn't want a little preachy drama where everyone hugs at the end"; instead, the producers hoped that people would recognize their own faults in Cassie. One reviewer described Cassie as being "as pale as Hamlet's Ophelia and arguably twice as mad".
The viewer is reintroduced to Cassie four years after series two in Pure, in which she is shown to have changed in many ways. Where before she was bubbly, cheerful and unashamedly quirky, she is now a shadow of her former self, appearing tired and withdrawn, living in a shared flat in London and working as a waitress in a café to make ends meet. She avoids social contact with her co-workers and flatmates, and refuses to take drugs when offered them (as opposed to her affinity towards them in the past), and secludes herself in her room.
- It seems as though every single shred of joy and wonder from her youth has been tarnished; consumed and rejected by the cold realities of adulthood and responsibility. Because of this, Cassie has become a stronger person; no more is she the awkward, free-spirited girl who would happily drag on a joint and dance the night away with Sid and Chris, she’s developed into a more bitter being – one who responds with “no” more than anything else.—Chris Haydon
In episode "Tony", Cassie has recently been discharged from a hospital after an off-screen suicide attempt. Due to the fact that she is not allowed to handle knives, she most likely attempted suicide with a knife. Her best friend, Michelle, asks her to take Sid's virginity at Abigail's party, to which she agrees. Cassie, who recently left the clinic, instead simply spends the night chatting with Sid on the trampoline - as she recognizes that he is too uncomfortable to 'pop his cherry'. Abruptly, she falls unconscious from a sleeping pill overdose. The rest of the gang arrive only to get involved in a fight, so Tony hijacks a car and they drive Cassie to hospital, resulting in her waking up. The group then manage to drive the car into the harbour.
In "Cassie", Cassie awakes at Michelle's house after a wild party. Travelling through the house and passing her sleeping friends, she comes across an unconscious Sid and (after deliberately applying lipstick) kisses him on the forehead before leaving. She then goes to the clinic where she is receiving treatment for her anorexia nervosa. She is able to cheat during her final weigh-in which marks the end of her treatment. Before she leaves, we learn that Sid's drug dealer (a fellow patient at the clinic) has Sid's student card and is looking for revenge. Back at school, Cassie bonds further with Sid during lunch and warns him about the drug dealer; when Tony begins to humiliate Sid in front of her, she retaliates by knocking a soda into his lap. Later on, Sid is terrified when the drug dealer turns up posing as his supply teacher.
We learn that Cassie has developed romantic feelings for Sid and believes that he is responsible for text messages saying "EAT!" that she has been receiving. She later confronts Sid only to find out that she has imagined the messages entirely. After talking with her friend and taxi driver Alan, Cassie realized that she was giving herself permission to eat. She recognizes that she needs more help and returns to the clinic.
During "Jal", Cassie dresses up for Sid and buys him a pint, however after his conversation with Michelle, he ignores Cassie's attention.
In "Chris", Cassie asks Sid out on a date, which Sid hesitantly accepts, as he still has a lot of feelings towards Michelle.
In "Sid", she reminds Sid of their date, but he tells her that he is grounded (it's also implied that he had forgotten). Cassie says okay, and tells him that she'll just go over to his house instead. However, unbeknownst to her, Sid proceeds to sneak out and go to Tony's choir concert, as he sees it as a chance to spend more time with Michelle. Later, Michelle and Sid get beat up by some chav girls, and, after tending to Michelle's wounds, he goes back home and finds Cassie sitting on his bed, waiting for him as they were supposed to hang out at his house.
When she asks where he was, he tells her about Michelle, which makes Cassie hurt and furious, because Michelle doesn't even have to work for Sid's love. She kisses him, telling him to wake up and that "the ball's in his court". The next day, he calls Michelle pleading to meet up, which Cassie tearfully overhears, thinking that Sid had made his choice, and it was not her. After Sid thought he had a chance with Michelle, Tony takes her back, but during this, he stands up Cassie again. Through Sid meeting with Michelle, he unintentionally manages to break Cassie's heart. Cassie is distraught and attempts to commit suicide; after dancing on a bench overlooking Bristol, she takes an excess of pills washed down with vodka. Her drug overdose forces Sid to realize how deep her affections for him are.
In "Michelle", Sid finally realizes his feeling for Cassie, and Michelle takes Sid to meet her back at the clinic. Sid attempts to tell her his feelings, but Cassie reveals she is in a relationship of sorts; her partner is unable to get with Cassie because she is ignorant of him. This is comparable with what Sid did to Cassie; the first of the ways in which Cassie takes revenge in a way identical to how she was hurt.
In "Effy", Cassie and Sid finally kiss, but Sid hurts her again, as he goes to the aid of Tony after Michelle calls him, instead of staying with Cassie. She decides to write Sid a letter, telling him she can't handle the strain of trying to get him to love her, so she is moving to Elgin, Scotland.
In "Series Finale" Cassie is due to leave so she runs away from the clinic with her friend whose name is not given but fans refer to her as Water bottle girl, who suffers a eating disorder. She is seen again outside Anwar's party. She tells Tony to give Sid a letter for her, but he refuses; she also refuses his suggestion to tell Sid goodbye herself. However, Sid eventually gets the letter, putting him on a desperate mission to find Cassie before she leaves to tell her he loves her, something he had failed to do earlier. At the end of the episode, he finds her and after telling her that he loves her, they sit together on a park bench overlooking Bristol, near to the one where she attempted suicide.
In "Tony and Maxxie", Cassie is having a long distance relationship with Sid, which becomes strained as he thinks she is being unfaithful. She sends him a video of her dancing while the two Scottish men (her roommates, who unknown to Sid are gay). They unintentionally make remarks on their instruments, which to Sid, sound like both men are sleeping with her.
During "Sid", Sid angrily breaks up with Cassie, thinking she is cheating on him with her roommates. He breaks his computer that he used to communicate with her before she can explain. However, when Cassie hears Sid's father died, she travels down to Bristol to meet the traumatized Sid who she doesn't know is traveling to Elgin at the same time to be with her, as his father's last advice was to get back with her because she's 'special'.
During "Michelle", Sid, thinking that Cassie abandoned him, begins a relationship with Michelle, as she was the only one offering him comfort. When they both head to Sid's room to have sex, they find Cassie sitting on his bed. In shock, she yells at both of them, and leaves before they could explain. At the beginning of "Chris" she is welcomed back by most of the group, but the reunion is soured when she blatantly announces Michelle and Sid's new sexual relationship to the others. Sid tries to deny it, but Cassie slaps him, telling he can't do whatever he wants just because his father's dead.
In "Chris", Chris lets Cassie stay with himself and Jal. While Chris is at work, Jal is disturbed by Cassie's behavior, Jal catches Cassie making alcoholic punch to which she says the famous spell from Shakespeare's Macbeth. Although she denies that she is jealous of Chris and Jal's new relationship, her subsequent house- party and the cryptic misinformation she feeds to both Chris and Jal are clearly intended to sabotage their bond. She then tells Jal that love feels like when she was taken into hospital after her suicide attempt. Her actions cause Chris and herself to be kicked out, after which she shows remorse for the damage she caused. However, Chris- with whom she is particularly good friends- forgives her quickly, while Jal never discovers what she did. While talking with Chris she tells him that when you find that feeling of love, hold on to it. Chris asks what if he don't, to which Cassie replies that you lay waste to the world.
In "Tony", Cassie is at the club along side with the others. She and Tony spot Michelle and Sid, much to their annoyance, which leads Cassie to try and persuade Tony, that they should be together to get back at them. During this conversation, Cassie makes several hints about her promiscuity by at the ending of each of Tony's suggestions, she replies, that she would give him a 'angry fuck' which leads to embarrassment for Tony as he is forced to admit about his erectile dysfunction. At the end of this episode, he goes to Cassie and tells her everything is all right before he leaves the club.
In "Effy", Sid and Michelle break up. Sid wants to get back with Cassie but she has resorted to promiscuity with both men and women, once again trying to get revenge by parallel. Sid does Effy’s art coursework in exchange for Effy getting them back together. Later, Effy finds the 15-year- old Jake who is tasked with seducing Cassie. He goes round hers and they kiss, Effy photographs this and posts the pictures around Sid. He confronts Cassie and the two argue. Sid states she was not there for him when his dad died (which was why he got together with Michelle, since he needed emotional release), but he confesses, he always loved her. As soon as she admits that she threw Jake out before they could have sex, they get back together- much to the amusement of the observing Chris.
In "Jal", Cassie shows to be a lot more stable, and her relationship with Sid is quite strong. However she reveals to Jal she knows she is pregnant before actually acting like Jal. Although initially sympathizing with Jal's dilemma (both over what to do about her pregnancy and who to tell about it) Cassie begins to become irritated with Jal, in fear that she's going to hurt Chris, her best friend. She tells Jal that she must tell Chris, because people in a relationship shouldn't have secrets and that secrets hurt people. When Jal returns to Chris's flat she finds an upset Cassie on the table as Cassie shouts and demands to know where Jal was. Jal finds out Chris is in hospital and goes up with Cassie. Throughout the episode, she hints about Chris taking pills, but while in the hospital, she tries to avoid the subject but finally comes clean as she tells Jal that the pills are for his condition and that she has been keeping secrets for him as well. When a nurse calls Cassie in, she lets Jal go in her place instead.
In "Cassie", it focuses on her friendship with roommate Chris. She changes Chris's dressing before going to Roundview College for an A Level Philosophy test. When Sid at first fails to realise what she wants him to say, she tells him she loves him forever, but that's the problem. Cassie then gets past the strict Harriet and they dance together in the middle of the exam. When she returns home, Sid has cooked a meal to celebrate their renewed relationship, the end of exams and Chris's recovery to which Michele and Tony arrive to join. Cassie still has some tension with Michelle, evident as far back as "Jal". Michelle and Tony reveal they are 'just friends' as they are going to different universities, which makes Cassie more adament that she and Sid will have to split because she applied for university and he never did. After the dinner Cassie and Sid argue about the future, primarily because Cassie believes none of the generations' relationships will last. Sid tells her he loves her and that he is there with her right now, and that that is the best he has. They then have wild sex. The next day, Cassie goes to the shop for milk. As she returns, she finds Chris's mum who tells her to pass on a message.
Cassie and invites her in, but she walks off. Cassie goes in the house and hears Chris crying in his bedroom. She at first hastily tries to tell Chris, but in the end realizes how hurt he would be- if he does not already know. She says that some secrets now you must keep otherwise you'll hurt others. After an afternoon of relaxing to take the experience off their minds, Cassie gives Chris a 'Monkey Man' T-shirt she bought him, which he is delighted with. However he is suddenly unable to remember Jal's name, and panics. Chris becomes ill; as Cassie calls for an ambuilance he suddenly has a seizure, dying in Cassie’s arms. The trauma of seeing Chris dying causes her to flee to New York, although she would be homeless and penniless. She meets a selfless waiter who invites her back to his to stay. He states, he does not want to have sex as he has an ex girlfriend he still loves. He eventually leaves Cassie in his apartment, stating in a note she can stay there for as long as she likes. However, this second desertion by a friend once again crushes cassie, and she runs wildly through the city, her mental stability once again damaged. However, she eventually gets a job at the cafe where Adam was working and sends Sid a postcard, constantly hoping he will come and not being able to get back herself.
In "Final Goodbyes", Sid has become depressed about Cassie but he receives a postcard from New York with just his address written on. Tony gives Sid a ticket to New York to find Cassie. Once in New York, Sid begins walking through Times Square, showing Cassie's picture around asking if anyone had seen her (to no avail). At the end of the episode, Sid stops outside a cafe Cassie is working in; they appear to barely miss seeing each other. It is left ambiguous whether Sid turned around a second time and saw her.
When Liv is struggling to finish her A-Levels, Doug tells her: "Once, I danced to help a girl get through an exam. Disco style – it was what she needed. What do you need, Liv?", referencing what he did in order to help Cassie finish her exams.
In "Pure", it is revealed that in the four years since her last appearance, she has moved back to England after travelling around America with an ex-boyfriend. Now 22, she lives in a shared flat in London and works as a waitress in a café. Throughout the series, Cassie is discovered to be a good fashion model, making this her future career.