Welcome back to our terrifyingly topical political thriller Years and Years; it IS a thriller! Even if people aren't running around with guns in fast cars (yet), we've got a nuclear missile and strife and effigies and the lot. Rolling into Y&Y S1:E02 after the break!
We open with Muriel Deacon, aka Gran (Anne Reid! From Last Tango in Halifax!) being interrupted in her gardening by an alarm via Signor, her Alexa/Siri/Virtual Assistant. This made me laugh because I can see myself putting that in a certain parent's cupboard one day.
Signor is exceedingly polite, inquiring mid-rant if Gran would like to know the reason for the alarm? Ah yes, Muriel's daughter Edith Lyons (Jessica Hynes) is on TV! Call the whole family! Celeste Bisme-Lyons (T'Nai Miller) is working during (and maybe hates her mother-in-law), but her husband Stephen (Rory Kinnear from a visceral episode of Black Mirror: The National Anthem) and kids Bethany (Lydia West) *she's trans-human* and Ruby (Jade Alleyne) *she's being taught pron in school* are mostly listening.
Listening to their uncle Daniel (Russel Tovey) play grabarse with his new boyfriend Viktor Goraya (Maxim Baldry), that is. Also on the line is Rosie Lyons (Ruth Madeley) who's been trying to explain to her kiddos about Saturday morning cartoons without luck.
*I've got that beat! When I was a kiddo, we didn't have TV at all (hippie mom), so we had to go to friend's houses in the morning to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Uphill both ways!
They're watching Edith be interviewed about being on site when the US dropped a nuclear bomb on China's Hong Sha Dao island. Everyone thought the world was over, was instead China backed down. They lost 45 thousand people, but didn't deploy any of their rumoured WMD, supposedly stashed on said former island.
Edith is stumping for sanctions against the US; she accuses them of turning a trade war into an actual war. Stephen and I think that's mad; who is going to be able to erect sanctions against AMERICA? It's like boycotting Santa Claus.
The interviewer (Natasha Jayetileke) brings up a more pressing point; weren't Edith and her boat within 5 miles of the blast? Isn't she likely poisoned right now? She's got maybe 20 years left.
Everyone leaves angry messages for Edith as she shouts about our unchecked global pace. It's all consumerism driven by fear and inability to stop; where are we going? How are we going to stop?
Fast forward again to Mike Pence as President after Donald Trump served two full terms; does anyone really see that happening? I try not to talk to much about US politics because I get too shouty and I can't vote there anyway, but the idea that they would stay that far right for that many years in succession seems unlikely.
Across the world, Putin is elected as President for Life, so is Xi Jinping in China and so on and so forth. It's the same leaders all the time, but there are wobbles.
In Britain we watch entrepreneur Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson) compete on a game show for charity; they're not putting too fine a point on her character, are they? Might as well call her Viv Trump.
Wildlife are in crisis for an unexpected reason: there are 80% less insects. Bethany has a birthday! Celeste gets fired, but somehow they did go ahead with sanctions against the US, huh. Archie Goolding (Shaun McGowan), the MP who won his election over Viv, is gunned down by a drone as he's explaining how safe and wonderful they are; Viv can't help but think it's symbolic. She'll be running for his seat in the by-election.
Rosie can't believe Viv Rook is going to be her MP! Daniel is not a fan.
But also not very well informed. Viv is technically his boss, since the government privatized housing. They're owned by Stonerock, which has Viv on the board. Interesting. Isn't that a conflict of interest?
Vitkor's visiting Gran, she gets a little too direct too quickly. Or I don't know, maybe they're at the point where you can call each other's parents disgusting and it's no harm, no foul. Viktor's parents reported him to the police, they felt it was their duty as Christians. Gran thinks her opinion is clear. He's beautiful and she has her own prejudices.
And also people who wear sunglasses inside.
Celeste and Bethany have lunch; Celeste monologues about being made redundant by Bethany's lot, but her daughter isn't listening. She's bursting, asking Celeste to call her on the phone *as she sits in front of her*. Bethany answers on her hand. Yes, her hand is now the phone, she's integrated.
Since Bethany wanted to give up her corporeal being to become data, Celeste and I are horrified. Is this the first step? It looks super creepy and also: you know you don't just talk on the phone with your hands, right?
One last thing: can she tell dad? Pleeeeaassseeee? See? Teenagers aren't *that* different in the future!
Daniel and Viktor enjoy some at-work roleplay before sexy times at home, jeebus wept, look at the length of Viktor's tongue! They get a little rambunctious and knock over a table, which reveals a left-behind watch of Daniel's ex-husband Ralph Cousins (Dino Fetscher).
Daniel and Ralph meet up to exchange the watch; last we saw they parted on very bad terms, what with Daniel running off to be with Viktor when he thought the world was ending.
*I'd be mostly mad that I was left with my in-laws, to be honest.
Ralph hasn't signed the divorce papers yet, he swears he wants to but I'm noting some lingering looks while they discuss the state of the world. I'm concerned that Daniel is sharing so many details of his new boyfriend with his almost-ex-husband, Viktor is an asylum seeker and therefor vulnerable to prosecution/deportation.
Orrr being harassed by your boyfriend's ex-husband. Hi Ralph, what a coincidence to see you here at the petrol shop where Viktor works! Ralph snaps a pic of illegally employed Viktor on his way out. Also, the price of gas is MAD. 120 pounds for filling up a CAR?
It's Gran's birthday and the anniversary of the Hong Sha Dao bombing, campaigning has been suspended (I want to gif every single thing Emma Thompson says!!), Viv's thoughts and prayers are with Beijing.
All hands are on deck at Gran's house except Rosie, everyone watching in astonishment as Celeste and her mother-in-law Muriel make up. They had a pretty nasty fight back a year ago when the world was ending. The detente is over immediately, with Gran getting in a shot about lack of visits before the hug is even over.
Daniel asks Stephen for some financial advice; should he move his money out of the banks? The government has guaranteed up to 85k, Daniel doesn't have that kind of scratch but Viktor thinks that would be nice.
I was thinking how odd it is that they know so little about Viktor, except that he's smoking hot. His claims of asylum haven't been confirmed, and everything they know about him is at his account.
Rosie shows up with a surprise; it's Edith! There's a missing mother we haven't met, don't forget her! Gran is over the moon excited; there's a fun moment with Stephen and Daniel giving her the gears over her special treatment of Edith. The cast has good chemistry.
Edith will be staying with Rosie, she's feeling a bit broody over her looming death from radiation poisoning. Maybe it's time to do something with her life instead of just shouting?
Supper is relatively smooth, Gran wants to know everything! Apparently by this time, the North Pole has melted but Edith can't be drawn into outrage. Everyone knows we're out of time, what are they going to do now? "Flood and burn and...starve!" But not die, there will still be people to carry on. Edith laughs as she describes the future, sod it! Might as well party, she's got synthetic alcohol from Japan! There's quick metabolizing and no hangover!
Everyone tries some as awww "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba plays, this song is part of my misspent youth! What a great choice as Tubthumping is about protest. Bonfire dancing!
NAKED bonfire dancing from Stephen, his kids are predictably horrified.
Bethany confronts Edith; she did some research about that nuclear bomb blast, and her aunt was exposed to quite a lot more radiation than she's letting on. She might only have 10 years left.
"Did you know you could live forever?" proselytizes Bethany.
Vitkor gets a text at midnight in the middle of vomiting, Gran sees that it's a You Can't Stay in England, Thanks, Home Office but thinks it's a scam.
Daniel and Vitkor know it's real, there have been rumour since the privatization of parts of government that there would be a midnight text just like that.
Edith settles in with Rosie, who's very excited about baby Poppy, who had the same condition that left Rosie a paraplegic but was treated for the nerve gap before she was even born. Rosie thinks it's awesome that they can treat spina bifida now, but where's the line? What becomes something to be fixed and when is it just that person? What if they want to fix her? She thinks she's brilliant! Poppy was able to get the operation because she's on The Program, the NHS can't do such an expensive operation. So it's only billionaires that get to live?
*When Rosie said she thought she was brilliant regardless of whether she had a spine in one piece or not, it made me think about how we view medical treatments and disability these days. Of course Rosie is brilliant, because Rosie is more than the sum of her parts and she's a wicket sense of humour etc etc. None of those things have anything to do with fixing her spine. Why wouldn't she want her spine to be in one piece? It would be easier, wouldn't it? On the whole? It's not as though people go around chopping holes in their spinal cords to be different. I think where we run into problems is when we start treating people with different or impaired abilities as lesser, as long as we treat these things as the medical issues they are, we stand one small chance. This ties into my Patreon essay on the current state of body positivity, which will be out in half a second. Honest!
*Of course, in the UK as in Canada, they have universal healthcare. I shall break this down a little bit for anyone not in one of those countries, because I've dated Americans and they don't always understand. Universal healthcare is not free. No, you don't have to pay when you walk into an Emergency Room, but that's because you've already paid a significant amount in taxes to support the system. Privatization is a constant threat to universal health care as it removes critical resources from the system (doctors!).
Same with Maternity/Paternity Leave, in Canada a parent can have up to a year off after having or adopting a child. This is not free money scattered from the skies or yanked from the pockets of hardworking middle-class teachers, it's Employment Insurance paid out over a year. Every person working (legally) in Canada has to pay a percentage of every single dollar they earn to EI to ensure against unemployment. It is extremely difficult to be able to use any of that money (even when unexpectedly unEmployed) except in cases like Maternity/Paternity, when it is grudgingly doled out at half rate. There is a huge surplus every year that the government converts into gold coins and allows their EI agents to dive through like Scrooge McDuck, at least that's how I imagine it works.
Viktor and Daniel are at his deportation hearing, Viktor's lawyer needs Viktor to be as gay as possible, please and fanks.
Is Viktor really a dissident?
Daniel waits, falling asleep to be woken rudely by Viktor's lawyer rushing in to say he's been detained for breaking his conditions. Ralph reported Viktor working, just as we knew he would. Viktor's been sent to removal centre Three Bridges.
Viktor manages to make a call to Daniel, he's being shipped out at 7 am. That's the law now, you get deported, THEN you appeal from your home country. Since Viktor was (most likely) tortured in the Ukraine, that's very grim news indeed. Daniel will go get him back.
Edith creeps into bed with Rosie in the middle of the night, she's like one of my wee lads! The next morning, we get our first look at the VivBus! Yes, she really has "I DON'T GIVE A ****" painted on the front of her bus.
Rosie swears she won't vote for Viv, saying "she acts all normal but I heard she's a millionaire" and that's just so.on.the.nose. So is: "would be nice to have a woman, though."
*Is this entire show compiled of Google Trends and Facebook profile posting?
Viktor videocalls Daniel as he chats with Fran Baxter (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and a friend, Viktor looks great! He's not been arrested, luckily Britain deported 200 people on the same day so the chaos is helping him blend in. He will keep his head down and live discreetly, Daniel flying out there would be the opposite of that.
I thought Daniel would be in Kiev waiting for him. Viktor is faaaar too calm, I can't get a handle on why I mistrust his adorable bum.
Rosie and Edith attend the debate for the MP byelection, Viv gets booed but Rosie is cheering loudly. She *just* said Viv was a monster! Her last scene!
Viv doesn't do very well in the debate initially, not having a full grasp of how things work in government. She's using buzzwords that she doesn't herself understand. Five bucks says she leverages that ignorance as "Fresh Eyes" or "Awesome Outsider" status! She does play the Woman Card almost immediately in her closing speech, making Edith and I pfft.
She veers off onto a tangent, holding up a cyberterrorist weapon called a Blink.
It turns off everyone's cell phones! Everyone flips out; she can't just do that! But she has the floor, fanks, and she's going to use it. She'd also use this Blink, whenever possible.
Because she found pron on her young goddaughter's phone. *6 and she has a phone!* And there is non-stop pron streaming at any time. She will go to America to bring these male CEOs back to England and hold them to account!
"Tweet that" and she turns off the Blink. See how carefully managed that was? She's a great example of a scarily charismatic but ultimately ignorant leader.
Even Edith is swayed by this appearance, she hated Viv but she appreciates the anarchy of her attack. Rosie gets a selfie!
*So you can see how people are eased into more and more restriction and erosion of their personal rights and liberties. Usually with an invocation of But The Children as we see here. A legal weapon that could turn off communication devices at will, no way could/would the government use that for nefarious purposes. Ah but that's not the point, my friends and if you got that, I love you forever and we shall always be besties.
**Don't get me started on extradition policies.
***PronHub is based in Montreal, not California, just as an FYI. You can find that out from listening to The Butterfly Effect podcast from Jon Ronson!
Stephen and Celeste have sold their home as they can't afford it after Celeste lost her job, they spend one more night in it to be woken up by multiple text alerts. A large investment bank in the US, Foster Foster Drake, has lost a vote of confidence and will be filing for bankruptcy. The thing is: they just sold their home and received the 1.2 million pounds in their Foster Foster Drake bank account, that they are now unable to access.
Now they wait.
Stephen, Bethany and Ruby call and call in the morning, but Celeste favours a more direct approach. She heads to the bank, Stephen joins her as they stare at the huge queue outside. Stephen tries to talk his way past the police officer but just before he's arrested the bank shuts its doors and everything goes nuclear.
The only fun part is when the cop formerly about to arrest Stephen joins him banging at the window. Give them their money!
The bank has failed, all the money is gone. Stephen and I want to throw up. The house is sold, the 1.2 million is gone, only 85k was covered by insurance. They're moving in with Gran.
Viv unseats Labour to win the seat while most of the Lyons (save Rosie) watch in horrified disbelief. Gran snaps off the TV as Viv begins her victory speech, Celeste and Stephen start to understand how things are going to be. We're out.
There's so much to dig into, politically, isn't there?? I love the voter profiles we're getting, because it's easy to assume that nobody you know would vote for something so clearly dangerous. Rosie: voting and on Viv's bandwagon because it's fun and exciting and hey, she's a woman! Lookit all the attention Rosie is seeking from Viv and her crowd, that definitely plays a role. (I'm convinced that part of the reason Trump was elected in America was that he had the biggest name recognition and it was associated with wealth/success). Then there's Edith, reluctantly clapping because she's literally dying and knows the world is too. Might as well burn it down! Of course we know Ralph is onboard the Four Star train, that flat-earthing bastard is clearly a big fan of her immigration policies.
On a show note, it must be noted how good the actors are together! The chemistry is so lovely to see, it's as though we're dipping into a family's life. It's not the least bit stagey (except maybe the shouty parts in E1), I'm really impressed with everyone.
Some of the plot lines, however...do we really think there would be a steady slide that far to the right for that long? Has nobody been on LeftyTwitter recently? With immigration being such a hot button, I can't imagine everyone would sort of forget that they government has re-enacted draconian laws that allow them to get rid of a whole 200 people in one day, less than a day after they're detained. I do wonder if we're going into Mr. Robot territory with the money, I really liked that show in the beginning. It's a good primer for this one.
Until next time! Cheers!