It's time for Years and Years, which is sort of terrifying because it looks so possible, even already in progress, you know? This series from BBC One is part of a new (or just to me?) exchange program with HBO wherein shows air on one side of the pond then cross over near or post completion. I wonder how that's working out? ANYWAY, Let's roll S1:E05, the penultimate episode from Russel T. Davies, after the break.
I took a wee break after the last episode where Daniel Lyons (Russell Tovey) died while trying to rescue his refugee boyfriend from persecution in Spain. I had to take a long, hard look at my own biases. Why was I so shocked that DANIEL died instead of his boyfriend Viktor Goraya (Maxim Baldry)? Did I think Daniel's privilege as an educated, upper-middle-class white man was going to protect him on the high seas in a very small dinghy overfilled with desperate people? Did I think it was more fitting if the already-persecuted Viktor was killed, thus fulfilling his tragic story arc? Was it because Vitkor is a person of colour? (I'm not entirely sure what colour, but definitely not as pale as Daniel) Was it that I mistrusted Viktor as a refugee? I questioned his status early on in the series.
In the end, I decided it was that I knew Daniel better, he was part of the central Lyons family in a way that Viktor had only just joined. Those other things most likely played some kind of role, as did recapping a lot of mysteries where I question everything (refugee status) so I can't absolve myself completely but I will try to keep my eyes open about such things as I carry on. To the show.
Populist rookie politician Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson, who is knocking it out of the park) is doing extremely well running on generalities. She's a businesswoman dabbling in politics to the tune of being elected Prime Minister of England based on a stand-alone platform.
Questions of "What is she actually doing?" are met with deaf ears by the public, who love this maverick shaking things up and spouting shite like this:
Viv speechifies to the masses while a questioner is dragged off a radio program screaming about The Disappeared.
What are The Disappeared? I've only just started Lost, you bastages better not spoil it for me 10 years after the fact!!
*I seriously love Emma Thompson in this role, she encapsulates all the absurdity of appearing approachable while completed isolated from the realities of her policies.
It's a very quiet Christmas at the Lyons household, Gran Muriel Deacon (our Anne Reid) looking as glum as the rest after the death of Daniel. I see Stephen Lyons (Rory Kinnear) has brought his former mistress and now-girlfriend Elaine Parris (Rachel Logan) to supper with his mum, his estranged wife Celeste Bisme-Lyons (T'Nia Miller), their children Ruby (Jade Alleyne), Bethany (Lydia West) and his other siblings. How cozy and evolved.
Rosie Lyons (Ruth Madeley)'s brought her new boyfriend Jonjo (George Bukhari from Ordinary Lies!), who seems to have recovered from being threatened by Rosie's sister Edith (Jessica Hynes). I think someone holding a knife to your throat and warning you against being a pedophile would give cause for a breakup, but he's hanging in there!
Elaine thanks Gran for being invited, "considering" while I try to figure out why CELESTE is still there. This is Stephen's family, not hers, except for the children, and she hates her mother-in-law. Why stay?
Gran tries to do a toast to Daniel but we have to stop and have a cry first. For real. Stephen manages to complete a toast but where is Viktor???
Why are they drinking to Viktor too???
Okay whew, he's alive, but in jail because he's probably going to be deported again. The family hasn't been to see him much, but Stephen's here after Christmas.
*They have to partially blame him for Daniel's death, although he was a grown man who made his own choices. If Viktor wasn't around, Daniel would be alive, so that has to be a bitter pill to swallow. It's just that: we never know when we're going to die. We could die crossing the street. At least Daniel died with the person he loved most, helping him.
Oh goodness. Stephen brings us back to that day when they found out; I thought they went racing to see Viktor to help him, to prevent him from harming himself. But they descended on this poor man who'd just lost his partner and attacked him for the death of their brother and grandson.
Stephen couldn't let the year pass without saying it; "Viktor, you awful man. No, don't agree." He found Viktor boring long before Daniel died, he's saved up all the nasty, hurtful things he can think of to say and he's saying them all to Viktor now in the cold light of day away from the day full of sorrow and crushing loss. That makes it worse, but the heat of his choking anger makes him almost explode.
Jonjo and Ruth drink beer and kiss on New Year's Eve, he proposes under the fireworks and she cries. She wants to tell her brother Danny. It's 2028, what differences will come in the next ten years?
Britain's gonna have a lot of blackouts, for one thing. So much information is being lost to hackings/outages (I assume this include internet) that they've gone to printing things on paper! PAPER!
There's also record sequential days of rain, up to 80 at a shot, followed by dirty bombs exploding in city centres. People are running out of the cities to get away from flooding and radiation poisoning, where do they go? To the country where everyone with more than one bedroom is obligated to take in homeless people, this is the emergency housing.
Of course Edith is in the forefront of helping, along with Fran Baxter (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) who rolls her eyes at Edith for supporting Viv to "smash the system." Edith asks an evacuee about The Disappeared, it's rumoured that some homeless people get rehoused, some are denied and some just disappear but she hasn't heard nuffink.
*Sounds very Argentina around-the-time-of-Peron or Russia anytime-recently-you-can-think-of
Fran and Edith argue about whether The Disappeared is a myth or not, the fact that nothing is online is rather a lot. Fran asks Edith over (they have a bit of a thing) but Fran lives opposite Daniel's flat, so. She also was helping him when he died, she is stronger in her faith in herself than Viktor was and denies any responsibility in his death.
Aww some lovely kissing after. We weren't sure they were a couple previously, but now we have it!
Mr. Briscoe (Dan Starkey) has shown up at the house to discuss the bedroom law with Gran, who's not having it. At first it seems as though she's protesting on privacy grounds, but it's that her eyesight is going. And quickly.
*I can't be the only one wondering if Viv's houses are also full of evacuees?
Great-grandaughter Bethany helps Gran diagnose herself via the computer, she's got macular degeneration. That's very common, the lovely NHS doctor explains that it can be fixed with just a stem cell implant thingy. Fixed as in cured, completely. There's a three year waitlist, but Gran can be "NHS FastTracked" for only 10,000 pounds.
*This is exactly what they do in Alberta, Canada, so this isn't the least bit farfetched, only that they have extra stem cells laying about to stick in people's eyes.
Muriel will be spending every single bit of her leftover money and inheritance on getting her eyes fixed. It's a rotten old world but she wants to see every bit of it.
Recuperation is fun, it involves a gong and Gran ordering Celeste around like a servant.
Rosie's having issues with her food truck all of a sudden, they've rezoned her living area as a Criminal Zone and therefore she can't get a license. There's a hilarious bit where a woman onscreen starts explaining, then actually pops out in person when the blackout takes away the power. They stay in the back in case people get "cross."
Rosie lives in an apartment complex that is now being fenced off due to its criminal zone status, they're locking them in. She's having more trouble with her son Lee (Adam Little) and drinking more as well. Her other son Lincoln (Aiden Li) is still rocking adorable pigtails.
Edith's moving out with Fran, her staying with Rosie was the longest she's stayed anywhere. It's surprising that she's still alive, with all that radiation poisoning she was exposed to. It looks like an armed camp now!
Edith visits Viktor in detention, he is safe for now. Russia is too busy to work on deporting him even if Legal Aid has taken a bath. OH. They're going to be scattering Danny's ashes on his birthday, Viktor says it's okay if they do it without him. Guess who's coming instead? Ralph (Dino Fetscher), Daniel's ex-husband who was responsible for having Viktor deported in the first place.
Viktor's been doing work for Edith too, looking into the Disappeared. It's connected to something/someones called The Erstwhiles and really? That's the catchy name you went with? It means former but it's being used a verb.
Edith researches online, there's a company associated with it called Slight and Weight Holdings. I bet you $10 in Canadian Tire Money that Vivienne Rook is on that company's board.
Bethany gets some great news at work, her company is going to fund her (probably weird) operation! Both her parents wait outside the operating room, awkwardly, she's had a bunch more implants added but not on a cruise ship anchored offshore at least?
Stephen asks carefully about the powercuts to be laughed at then we're on to explaining the Black Mirror-like wafer implant in her brain that can read her mind. That's not creepy! And surely not going to be hackable!
She can track every single member of their family to their exact location, including where her little sister Ruby is spending 56 quid on a bottle of house white. Stephen asks what happens if he doesn't want to be tracked? Being in her contacts is considered lawful consent, however.
Bethany is now able to connect to absolutely everything online at all times, it's joy. Absolute joy for her.
Her parents and I do not understand. Stephen in particular is concerned that the government now owns their daughter but Celeste thinks they contributed in that Bethany was surrounded by screens from the moment she was born. It's that the government paid for it that feels like the worst intrusion to Stephen, if he had the money...
He calls his pal Woody (Kieran O'Brien whom I remember from Chernobyl) for a meet and a job, Woody's more interested in mocking him for losing a million quid. "Did you cry?"
Woody and his dad are making a fortune off of Viv Rook's government, it's chaos so they just charge whatever they want for property management. They veer into a discussion about the bombing of Hong Sha Dao, which is now being challenged as fake. Stephen and I are confused: we saw it. Everyone saw it, Daniel ran out and left his husband because everyone thought they were all going to die when China retaliated against the US nuclear strike. Edith was even there, bearing witness.
Woody doesn't want an argument or discussion, he wants someone to say yes. An excruciating peek into Stephen's inner chaos and he's hired as Woody's new monkey.
Gran's eyes have been completely cured, but don't tell the council! She leaves a long message for the family inviting them to the party while Celeste and Ruby roll their eyes.
The night of the celebration, Celeste and Ruby make to head out for drinks but Rosie and Jonjo can't get past the gates and Edith's in London. I've a fiver on Gran making Celeste stay. Stephen can't come either, he can't say no in his fancy new job. This apparently means partying with arsehole Woody, so nobody is coming and Celeste and Ruby are staying.
Ah that's lovely that they've found a way through.
The thing Edith is doing in London is breaking into the Slight and Weights building with Bethany's help. Isn't Bethany sort of...plugged into the government? Isn't everything she's doing being tracked? This is definitely illegal.
The power cuts have led to all this funny paper printing, which leads to vintage filing cabinets full of information that Edith can break into. Vivienne Rook is indeed on the board of an associated company called YesChain. S&W run personnel, including loads of security guards, which would be super useful if you were, say, living in a police state.
Security is en route to Edith's location, but she won't abandon what she's doing and when Bethany checks, she sees that Edith is not doing well physically. Bethany shuts down the power to the building as Edith regroups in the dark surrounded by fallen paper.
Edith hasn't been honest about her radiation poisoning, and part of the problem is what I brought up at the time of the bombing. The US bombed Hong Sha Dao because they thought China was harbouring nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction. Did you really want to BOMB nuclear bombs? Really? That's what Edith breathed in and why she's doing so poorly right now.
She's desperate to make up for Danny's death, for which she takes all the responsibility. Bethany talks her through it, Daniel would definitely want all the credit for anything that happened in his life, including his death.
Woody's brought Stephen to an auction, the bid he's been working on for emergency housing will be presented by Woody at a swank party with the political elite, including Viv Rook.
*Is it un-feminist to point out the absolutely BANGING red dress she has on? Just give me a clear shot, Viv!
Just LOOK AT IT.
Viv is not "there" there, shes not meant to be. A strange conversation follows, Stephen first bringing up his sister Rosie meeting Viv (selfie) then talking about his brother Daniel who died asea. There are two things about Viv that are to her credit: one is that she listens carefully to him and the other is that she calls him stupid when he blames the recent chaos on the Russians.
She wishes she could sail away like Daniel tried to (erm, he DIED), but they'd never let her. They'd kill her.
Who is THEY?? What does that mean? That was chilling.
The auction is about to begin when Viv interrupts to ask the facilitator to not use the word "camps" but rather facilities. There's a negative connotation attached to "camps."
*****What. When the FUCK was this written??? Filmed?? What are they arguing about in the US right at this very moment?? Whether there are "detention centers" for refugees at the border or "concentration camps." I could link to a dozen tweets by various partisan people insisting that "camps" not be used because of the negative associations because oh yeah, THAT'S the problem, the WORD. That completely freaked me out, how prescient of Russell T. Davies.
The Erstwhile sites are not "concentration camps", she explains, just like concentration camps are just harmless words to explain a concentration of something. Not a place where 6 million people died in horrible conditions after being subjected to the most harrowing experiments recorded in modern times. Stephen and I aren't sure how much longer he'll be able to stay quiet.
She's just getting started, though, she goes on to explain more about the South African Boer Camps
The people in charge decided to allow the camps to balance themselves via natural selection. The people put inside were not given assistance or access to medical supplies. Some might call it genocide, what about efficient, she suggests?
The worst part, okay not the worst part, the people dying trapped in cages is the worst part, but the fact that she's able to be so charming and engaging while discussing the proposed murder of members of British society is unsettling.
Stephen! Kill that person! But Woody is excited because they got two Erstwhile sites to maintain. They got chosen!
Back at the office, he looks at the list of current inmates, choosing to send Viktor Goraya to Erstwhile Site 4. He's sending the man his brother loved to a concentration camp in revenge for his brother's death.
I hope you feel better, you absolute piece of shite.
It's time for the memorial service for Daniel's birthday, so many tears and so much sorrow. Bethany stares at her dad crying, she knows what he's done. Can she fix it? Can she put Viktor back to safety? She stares at him during the ceremony and we see Bethany watching his every keystroke, smiling after he's effectively sentenced Viktor to death.
SMILING. That's not even a "finally" smile, that's a "yay! I'm having a great time!" smile.
I wonder if this is Russell T. Davies' version of The Handmaid's Tale, wherein he shows us things that we think are absolutely cuckoo and out there but turn out to have already happened. Who knew about the Boer Camps? Not I. I didn't even know about the Canadian Residential Schools until a couple of years ago, also considered genocide.
You know one thing I think is the most shocking part of the border detention camps is that the approval rating of the American president have actually increased. Which means that people, quite lot of people, are not only okay with the separation of families and inhabitable facilities for refugees, they think it's a good thing. These are more complicated issues than Twitter would have us believe, but that increased approval rating truly did shock me because it's not a forgotten part of our past. It's happening. Until next time, which is the last time, cheers.