Years and Years – BBC One – Season 1 Episode 3 Review


 

From Bad To Worse

We return to Years and Years this week with episode 3 and another slice of Russell T. Davies’ deliciously bleak vision of near-future Britain. Vivienne continues to cause ripples in the political spectrum, proposing all voters must have an IQ of over 70 to vote, spurring the family into a heated debate over the issue. With a General Election looming on the horizon, we skip forward in time as a radical recession sweeps the country. Data sweepers are hired to thwart Russian interference, with a brief scene to show Bethany meeting another girl with an implant, Lizzie.

Meanwhile, Danny tries to phone Viktor and after several failed attempts, he finally gets through where we see the authorities on-screen. Trying to tread carefully, Danny eventually ends the call and falls into a blind panic. However, Vik phones 9 hours later and confirms he’s safe, on the run from the police after being given several minutes warning of their arrival.

Meanwhile, Edith goes on a trip to Wytell, downloading information from the computer, thanks in part to Lincoln posing as a girl called Susie to help get her in through the door. While artificial food is delivered for schools, layoffs are felt as all managers and catering staff are let go, along with Rosie who now finds herself out of a job. Those aren’t the only layoffs either, as Edith’s data download uncovers a big scandal involving Syria and the whole company letting numerous staff go redundant.

Danny’s birthday arrives and they all head off to Gran’s for a big party. As Danny does the rounds and the family enjoy the festivities, he eventually tells them all that Viktor managed to escape down to Socialist Spain, prompting him to go and visit after the party and make sure his lover is okay. While there, he receives a call from Stephen who tells them all their Dad has passed away. Knocked down by a bicyclist caught up in the cut-throat world of package deliveries, a simple cut turned into blood poisoning and sepsis shock. As the family reel over the ramifications of this, election day arrives and the family head to the polls.

After voting for the different parties, Stephen, Edith, Danny and Rosie head up North to the funeral where they honour their Father and discuss their next steps. Back home, Celeste receives a call from a crying Bethany who refuses to tell her what’s happened. Fearing the worst, Celeste grabs her coat and heads up north to Liverpool. Preying on her daughter’s obsession with trans-humanism, it’s revealed that Russians are targeting this vulnerable group. With Lizzie’s eye gone haywire, thanks to a built-in camera and her real eye lost to the world, Bethany begins to see the real horror of this world up close and in person.

As the four members of the family silently drive home, they find out the election results. It’s a hung parliament. With 15 seats for The 4 Star Party, it’s all up to Viv who tells the MPs they need to go to her to form a government rather than her joining a coalition. The episode then ends with Stephen spotting a cyclist with deliveries. As he steps off to head into a house, Stephen runs the bike over and drives off, as a dark mood descends over the car.

While there isn’t much in the way of movement through time, Years and Years continues to deliver a pretty worrying and tumultuous vision for the future. The ominous score is something I’ve mentioned a few times here and it’s really quite unsettling whenever it crops up. Every time we’re flung forward in time, things appear to be getting worse and with extreme parties cropping up all across the world, this vision for the future is one I certainly doesn’t come to fruition.

I’ve always been a big fan of Russell T. Davies masterful use of exposition and that continues here too – with tiny pop culture references helping to give weight to this world. From Toy Story: Resurrection to subtle, fleeting nods to past events in other episodes, Years and Years has a way with its dialogue that really helps elevate this series. It’s not perfect, and some of the editing is a little questionable (how did Celeste get to Liverpool so fast?), but to be honest it’s easy to look past these issues, such is the quality of writing here and realistic portrayal of near-future Britain.

It’s messy, it’s dark and it’s the perfect toxic playground for Vivienne Rook to sink her teeth into. What will next week’s episode bring? I dread to think; Years and Years is bleak, dystopian stuff of nightmares, and if you haven’t already – you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

 

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