Years and Years Recap: Formulaic Yet Still Fascinating memento mori

3.5

Summary

Impact of the world’s disasters is being felt closer to home, though the Lyons family is still fighting fit… ish.

This Years and Years Episode 2 recap contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


I have to wonder whether there will be any silver linings or joyful moments in Years and Years. This week’s speech – a blend of nihilism and stoicism – focuses on how it’s too late to improve anything.

The people and the speculation are interesting; though the people are starting to feel like either standard “types” or over glamorous (like many a successful soap opera), and some of the speculation could have been cut and pasted from various New Scientist issues… but still, it’s all pretty engaging.

Anyway, last week’s big finale – the nuclear bomb USA dropped in a Chinese island – didn’t escalate into all-out war, though it’s not clear what China did do in response. Personally, I feel a bit conned by that cliffhanger (like the Line of Duty ending where Dot’s picture was identified): I was expecting bunkers, or at least fallout this week. A year has gone by, 45,000 people died and everyone in the UK is carrying on as normal. Though of course, activist Edith doesn’t want the world to forget.

There were consequences to that day’s events in Years and Years Episode 2, of course, two of which are felt close to home. Firstly, Edith herself had picked up radiation from the blast, from her group’s boat near Vietnam. So she comes back to spend time with family and take stock. The other issue is that sanctions against the USA for their attack against China are having a steadily worsening impact; not just in America, of course, but elsewhere, where American companies have subsidiaries, supply chain, and other influences. Celeste’s job is at risk, the Lyon family is obliged to downsize… And that’s where we find this week’s bleak ending: they successfully sell their house, but the same night they receive the money for it, their (American owned) bank folds, losing the money for them… And Celeste has little choice but to bring her family to live with mother-in-law Muriel.

Overall, it seems different family members are there to be mouthpieces for their issues. Take Rosie, for example, as an assertive and cheerful single mum who spends much of her time in a wheelchair because of spina bifida. She had a nice little subplot last week (about a weird date) that was nothing to do with her condition, but in Years and Years episode 2 the main she talks about is a spina bifida case being resolved within the womb. I liked hearing her say she thought she herself was fine as she was, but she had to wonder that if her condition became fixable she might be looked on as broken. Pamphlet in conversation form, not unheard of from Davies.

Viktor, unfortunately, is deported back to the Ukraine. He’s had a year-long affair with Daniel and they’re still glowing; even the wider family accepts him, and Muriel gives a sermon on his behalf! But I have to wonder if Daniel’s ex (former Mr. Gay UK, if you needed another example of glamour in this everyday family) was the one to report Viktor had a paid job.

Oh, there was a silver lining: we got to see Bethany smile this week. She’s no longer wearing her face filter, but can now receive phone calls directly via her hand, so she’s starting to feel more truly digital as a person. I can’t see youth doing away with physical phones, myself: calls are only a fraction of what they’re used for. My disbelief was absolutely fine with the rest of the show, even the mention of Trump pulling President Pence’s strings.

Yes, politics. Vivienne Rook has won her first seat by the end of Years and Years episode 2. And here’s the most interesting element of the writing so far: we get to see Rook’s clever manipulation of her media, sure; but more importantly (I’m writing this on election day), we also get to see how rational minds can be steered in directions they never thought possible.

Which reminds me… There’s been no mention of Brexit so far.

Alix Turner

Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.

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