We begin episode 5 of It’s A Sin in November 1988 as Ritchie’s parents and friends give him a standing ovation while he’s on stage performing. This is only a brief segment though; a foreshadowed glimpse of the final scene that sandwiches this poignant episode together. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The next scene sees us settle down in 1991. Ritchie’s parents, Clive and Valerie, want to see their son but he’s not sure it’s a good idea. Ritchie continues to fight this disease, taking pills but struggling. In fact, he falls out of bed and is rushed into hospital. Jill promises to be back the next day while Ash stays with Ritchie overnight.
In the morning, Ritchie decides to go ahead with chemo, believing it could help him get better. Of course, there’s also the possibility it could make him worse too. While Ritchie is in high spirits, fellow party-goer Paul is not. Roscoe heads in to see him but finds his own Father there praying. It’s been a long time since they were together and there’s obviously bad blood between them.
In hospital, Ritchie’s parents suddenly show up and surprise their son. Of course, given he hasn’t told them the truth things are incredibly awkward. In fact, it becomes a bombshell announcement as Ritchie admits that he’s homosexual and has AIDS. Clive is adamant they’ll try and clean him up while Valerie refuses to believe what’s happened.
Valerie struggles to keep it together as she talks to Jill privately. She claims Ritchie is just going through a phase but Jill kindly tells her that her son is beautifully gay. Unfortunately things take a turn for the worst when Valerie processes what she’s learned and turns on Jill. After cursing the girl and denying everything, Valerie eventually calms enough to see Ritchie and promises to make him better.
Unfortunately, Ritchie is taken back to the Isle Of Wight where Valerie shields her son from his friends. With nowhere else to turn, Jill calls on Lizbeth who suggests they go to the Isle Of Wight. Not for a rescue but to say goodbye.
When Jill and Roscoe arrive, they make themselves at home but continue to try and see Ritchie, phoning every day until Valerie caves. She agrees to see Jill but unfortunately does so a day after Ritchie has passed away.
Jill is shocked and disgusted, which soon blend together to produce an angry outburst. Jill blames Valerie and tells her it’s her fault this has happened. She questions the loveless household Ritchie grew up in and how Ritchie was ashamed of himself.
Jill eventually turns and walks away, struggling to contain her grief as she heads back to the hotel and breaks the news to Roscoe. When Ash finds out, he struggles to contain himself too as the family gather to mourn and cherish the lives they’ve lost to this horrible disease.
On the back of this, Roscoe heads back home to his family. Finally ready to forgive his father, he heads inside the house. Jill meanwhile, arrives on the ward to see different patients, this time sitting with a man named Marcus who doesn’t seem to have anyone else.
As the episode closes out, we cut back to see all our characters together, listening to Ritchie recite his lines while the sun shines in a park. As rapturous applause sounds out, Ritchie takes a bow.
The Episode Review
Wow, what a rollercoaster ride of emotion. It’s A Sin has been an incredible mini-series and from start to finish it has perfectly captured the horrors that ravaged this community, right from the opening looming threat to the devastating effect on the family at the end.
Seeing this family ripped apart by the virus is poignant enough but the homophobia, attitudes and societal mistrust that goes along with that is enough to catapult this into becoming one of the best shows this year. This show is going to be a tough act to follow as Russell T. Davies delivers one of his best.
The one shot takes of Valerie walking up and down the hospital corridors was a nice touch while the family reactions, slowly melting from surprise and shock to anger and denial felt incredibly raw and real.
The editing in general during this episode was amazing too, with silences contrasting against the crashing waves by the shore. Ritchie’s ending is the cruelest way his character could have gone but unfortunately all too real for parents refusing to believe their son is gay.
Despite living for his friends and trying to shake the shackles of shame, Ritchie ends up alone, cooped up in his room with no one there to see him.
If there’s one gripe though it comes from the length of the series. 5 episodes just doesn’t feel like enough time to really get to know a lot of these other characters and in a way, may have actually benefited from a longer, 8 episode journey. This is probably the only gripe in what’s otherwise an incredibly poignant, emotional and well written show. This is essential viewing.