This is it; the finale to the not-so-unrealistic Years and Years, first brought to us by BBC One and the Red Production Company and now from HBO. I like this new exchange program! But Years and Years is scary, it's too possible to see how we're all involved in the state of the world. Let's find out how they punch us in the finale after the break.
We open at the end of 2029, Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson) is the Prime Minister of England and honestly: a bit of a nightmare. She shouts slogans she doesn't understand to great applause and has just now suceeded in shutting down the BBC.
In case you're not familiar, that's the government-run TV and radio system. It's supposed to be neutral, so perhaps the tabloids were treating her better, although I'm sure it was sold as a cost saving.
After that we get an extremely on the nose reenactment of Donald Trump vs: Journalism, the offending journo is declared the enemy of the people and banned from the press galley after asking Viv tough questions about Russian involvement (Fake News), income tax statements and the like.
There's a raging monkey flu, in case you're keeping track of the things that can kill you in 2029.
Surprisingly still alive Edith Lyons (Jessica Hynes) is frantically trying to locate her dead brother's exiled lover Viktor Goraya (Maxim Baldry); he got sent to a concentration camp by Edith's other brother Stephen (Rory Kinnear), who hasn't forgiven Viktor for the loss of his brother.
It's surprising that Edith is still alive because she was exposed to a boatload of radiation when she was bearing witness to the US bombing a Chinese island full of nuclear weapons. She's with her girlfriend Fran Baxter (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), they're both shocked to see that the Lyons family homestead is for sale. Is their Gran Muriel Deacon (Anne Reid!) giving it up?
Stephen and his mistress-turned-reluctant-girlfriend Elaine Parris (Rachel Logan) haven't heard nowt. They brace Gran then Edith heads upstairs to ask her niece Bethany Bisme-Lyons (Lydia West) for some more help finding Viktor. Bethany's not helping any more, now that she knows it was her dad who sent Viktor away, how shitty. I thought she was going to help but nope, she's just going to retreat into her feelings as Viktor dies.
Okay, she makes a valid point in that the technology she used to spy is owned by the government and literally implanted into her body, so there's that. And her aunt Edith didn't seem to care much about her before she had it, so.
To be fair, Edith wasn't around at all before then, she was off gallivanting across the globe saving the world.
Rosie Lyons (Ruth Madeley) and her new boyfriend Jonjo Aleef (George Bukhari) have made it to the party with their gang, Gran's worried about diseases brought from the compound but isn't about to turn down a hug from her grandson Lincoln Lyons (Aiden Li).
Gran sets up her old voice-activated device Signor, she doesn't need it any more as the signal is in the air but she likes to have something to look at. When we first met Muriel, she hated using Signor and had to be prompted to remember it's name. Now it's an old friend. I've had boyfriends like that, you forget they're actually the enemy.
Time has marched all the Lyons and Bisme-Lyons children forward, Ruby (Jade Alleyne) is a confident young woman in her mid-twenties and her cousin Lee (Adam Little) looks like a proper thug. Celeste Bisme-Lyons (T'Nia Miller) remains elegant and under Muriel's command.
Gran explains why she's selling the house over dinner (of chestnut-free chestnut?), it's to pay for Viktor's defense fund. Stephen isn't aware that his daughter knows he's the reason Viktor needs such a thing and protests he's doing the best he can.
*There was a glorious exchange where Stephen protested that Viktor's not family because he and Daniel weren't married and Bethany pointed out that her dad wasn't married to Elaine either, so. Why does a legal contract make someone more worth caring about?
Gran makes fun of Stephen's boss (he even named himself after an erection) then Rosie's foodtruck (being zoned out of existence) and on to contemplating their existence itself. It only took 10,000 days for this world to ruin itself.
She gets up to do a toast for the four of the children, but no, not including Daniel who has died, but rather Celeste.
That maybe brought tears.
Gran's just warming up, she's got more to say. That 10 thousand days? Was that about the economy or the climate or any of the thousands of myriad reasons we give for the decline of society?
I will sum it up thusly: Gran thinks the end of the world came about because we wanted to buy one pound t-shirts, damn the shopkeeper who makes five pence and the peasant who created it for .00001 pence. And we pretend we don't like self-checkouts but we actually do so we can get our groceries without having to talk to checkout ladies who didn't make enough money.
Did we, though? Did we create a capitalist society, running pell-mell towards ruthless efficiency? Sure. That is true. Did we also create a tiered society where we don't ask, don't tell when it comes to the human rights of workers who create our fast and cheap fashion? Sure. Did that lead to the end of the world as we know it and nuclear meltdowns? Hmmm.
Bethany finally cracks and tells Edith what her dad did to Viktor, who is not only in a concentration camp, he's in the one with people infected by the monkey flu.
Last time PM Viv Rook laid out her plan (well, actually an old historic plan) to let the concentration camps sort things out on their own, using pestilence and a blind eye. This would be that plan in action.
Viktor sees an old friend in the yard, Debbo Peple (Edward Nkom) doesn't seem sick but it's still a risk. Debbo smuggled in a phone with a ten-year battery (ha), but everyone else does that too. It still doesn't help. Remember the Blinkie thingy from the second episode that Viv was showing off? It cuts off all communication in the immediate area. I bet that would be a super useful tool for not having people stuck in a camp to be found.
Then they just bring in infected people and let nature take its course.
Montage of Stephen and Elaine fighting, then him buying a non-metal gun. What's he going to do with that at work? Is he going to kill his wanker of a boss?
He meets his ex-wife Celeste for lunch, she needs a job. Is there a reconciliation brewing between these two?
Ahhhhhh Celeste was put up to this by Edith. She's got Bethany, Fran and two people I don't know working on the case.
Stephen can't get past the image of his brother Daniel (Russel Tovey) dying by drowning in the ocean to save his boyfriend that Stephen now wants to kill.
Celeste thinks Stephen isn't alone: he's every white man in a suit pretending that everything is fine when it bloody well isn't. I think the unknown woman is Viktor's immigration lawyer, she wants to know why Bethany can't do anything with her tech? The network is now encrypted, though, it will be completely traceable and Celeste will not allow her daughter to be at risk.
The good news is that if they can manage to get the hack, they'll be able to show that it leads directly up to PM Viv Rook. IF. That's Ahmed (Rishabh Shah)'s job.
The lawyer's name is Yvonne Bukhari (Zita Sattar), she passes a letter to Viktor through another refugee.
Did I mention that these camps were built by the company Stephen works for? Well, not all of them, but the one Viktor's in anyway. Stephen's boss Woody (Kieran O'Brien) is a reprehensible piece of shite, but I guess his proposal was solid!
I just...have a hard time believing that Woody has gotten anywhere in this world, rich dad or not, he's too cartoonish. Like when he asks Stephen if he can have anal sex with Stephen's ex-wife and licks Stephen's bald head. I mean.
It's tonight to get Viktor out, go team!
Over in the red zone, Rosie's trying to sell her awesome but lame duck food truck to Big Jim's lads. She has to leave in the middle when she gets a call, what's going on? Is she involved in the Viktor great escape?
Viktor sees Edith and Fran's truck approaching and head out with bags of garbage as Celeste gets into position in the office, hacking in as Stephen.
The call Rosie got was that her son is locked inside the red zone where they live, and she's locked on the outside. There was a shooting and suddenly I'm reminded that this is the series finale. Literally anyone could die.
The crowd of parents are stuck outside while their kids are inside alone until 6 am, the guard taunts Rosie, what's she gonna do?
You know what that useless food truck would make? An excellent battering ram. It's massive, take down those gates in seconds.
She calls Gran, remember that speech about everything being their fault?
Viktor is picked up in the middle of the parking lot while guards chase, will they make it out the gates??? Fran isn't stopping for nowt, then she is and they're stuck. Not only that, even though they're stopped, they're going to be shot on standing orders. Edith has a film with all the guards' faces.
Oh but they're not here just to save Viktor, they're here to start a war.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??
Fran signals with her headlights and Ahmed makes his move, a bazooka blows up the signal tower just as Rosie and Lincoln burst through the gates of the red zone!!
All the phones work! Everything is online and everyone's phones are now weapons of liberation. One of the guards charges Edith, who cares about this lot? Who can see it, anyway?
The whole world watches as Edith exposes the death camps run by the British government, Vivienne Rook and the Four Star Party.
Woody has more information than most, he recognises Edith as Stephen's sister and furiously demands to know if Stephen was setting him up. Stephen rushes to the office to find Celeste desperately trying to scrub his name from the evidence.
He doesn't want that, though, he compiled a list of everything they've done. Is he going to out the company and kill himself right after? Is that what the gun's for?
That was EXACTLY what the gun was for, but he ended up using it to shoot Woody in the thigh instead, good call. Then he sent the file to the police.
Edith collapses after her triumph in the death camp.
It's 2030 and Vivienne Rook has been arrested, Rosie and Jonjo marry and have a baby then we skip to 2034 with Edith still alive and recounting her tale of the past.
An extremely grownup and foxy Bethany is there to help fill in the blanks too, her dad Stephen was one of 500 whistleblowers but he still did time because HE SHOT SOMEONE. 3 years in jail, during which time he taught himself Spanish and is now happily teaching ESL in Barcelona.
I can't tell if Edith is alive or not, but she's being downloaded into water bubbles, so.
Edith still wants to go after Viv Rook, she's wondering what I was: who was behind her? Who was going to kill her if she walked away? WHO?
Edith gets so excited thinking about hunting down Viv Rook like a dog that everyone has to take a breath until she stabilizes. Bethany's not there in corporal form, she's at home helping out with the narrative.
This is Edith's last day and the whole family has come to Gran's house to say goodbye. Let's see how everyone has fared; Celeste has grow her now-grey hair out, Lincoln is now a beautiful young woman and everyone else looks pretty much the same. Even Gran.
The family gathers around Signor as Edith explains that she is not code, or information or memories, but rather her family.
And love. She is love. And maybe Signor.
And we're done. This was such an extremely topical show that it's hard to believe it was written and executed prior to the events unfolding in the United States. I like how it ended, of course whatever technology is invented we'll still always live on in our families, in the people we loved and were loved by. Those are the parts that remain, whether they're downloaded into confusing water bubbles or passed on in a memory from one friend to another. Cheers you lot, thanks for reading along.