When it comes to Directors and writers with very specific styles, Russell T. Davies is certainly one of those, with a style oozing effortless exposition. Watching Years and Years is not only a fascinating glimpse at a bleak dystopian future, it’s also a series that benefits from multiple watches. Whether it be subtle bites of foreshadowing in dialogue or snippets of news stories that reinforce the volatile, British future we may adopt, Years and Years is a fascinating series.
After last week’s literal bombshell, we return 6 months in the future with the family tuning in to the TV to hear Edith Lyons talking about the war and the future of Hong Sha Dou. Forced into a corner, she admits she was hit with radiation that’s limited her lifespan to 20 years. Unfortunately the family don’t get long to dwell over this as American sanctions imposed on the financial market lead Steve to be forced out of his house.
As “Town-time” sweeps the nation, a company called Drone Park creates 600 jobs but the MP in charge of this is decapitated in a freak accident, prompting Vivienne Rook to take advantage and stand in as MP. As Rosie begins to warm to Vivienne’s campaign, Bethany goes one step further with her implants, having her phone surgically imposed into her hand. This worrying trend of becoming dependent on our phones is certainly a bleak look at where technology is going in the future.
We then cut forward to 1 year after Hong Sha Dou with Danny giving his ex’s watch back. Tensions between them continue as Danny asks him for a divorce to which he agrees, especially after the fiasco at Gran’s party the year before. As Danny leaves, none the wiser, his ex heads to the petrol station and takes a photo of Viktor while he’s working.
This proves to be catalyst for what follows as we skip ahead to Gran’s party night with Edith returning while the family gather. She tells them about the bleak future humanity face before presenting a couple of bottles of synthetic alcohol to forget their troubles. However, the alcohol isn’t 100% perfect and they all wind up with a blinding hangover while Viktor receives a message about deportation a minute after midnight. Meanwhile, Bethany’s descent into becoming a robot sees her confronting Edith about the truth she’s hiding and tells her there’s another way to preserve her life – become a digitalised version of herself.
After a meeting at the council, Viktor is detained and deported back to the Ukraine at 7am the next day. Despite pleas from Danny, the authorities allow one final call from a Pay-As- You-Go phone before shipping him out. Desperate to find a way to bring him back, Danny vows he’ll do everything he can to bring him back but the appeal he registered isn’t enough. Tears stinging his eyes, Danny ends the call and sets to work to bring Viktor back.
A humiliating lesson in foreign politics follows for Vivienne as she’s educated on foreign export tariffs at the By Election. With the crowd reeling, she tries a different tactic to coerce them onto her side. Instead, she goes for opportunistic fear-mongering and anger. Using an illegal tool called a Blink, she causes an EMP explosion across a 30 meter radius to cut all electronics, keeping the attention squarely on her, before telling everyone their 6 year old kids are watching porn on their phones. The outraged mob begins rallying around her, including Rosie, and chant her name, later leading to her winning the By Election and promising big changes in the political landscape.
Things go from bad to worse for Steve’s family as the bank collapses and with it, £1.2 million of Steve’s money. As they head to the branch to ask for an explanation, a crowd gathers, outraged that the banks have suddenly shut their doors (and money) to their customers. As another bank closes down around the corner, the whole financial market begins crashing leaving us wondering quite how bad things are likely to get in this dystopian vision of Britain’s future.
Once again, Years and Years delivers a great slice of deliciously bleak drama, chock full of well-written exposition and a scarily realized vision for the future. The characters all have a uniqueness to them and the story itself is interesting, playing on the news stories and idea of jumping through time in a really clever and unique manner. With a story driven through gritty realism, echoing soundbites of issues we’re all facing now, Years and Years continues to deliver a fascinating vision of the future, one I certainly hope doesn’t come to fruition. Especially if a lady named Vivienne Rook shows up anytime soon.