So it turns out the world hasn’t ended which is a good job because the last five episodes of dead air might have been a tough watch for even the most hardened TV obsessive. After such a dramatic finale last week the mood is naturally rather subdued but on screen, this post adrenaline slump comes across too. We have moved a year forward and only a few thousand people died in the nuclear attack (phew) so Edith is positively glowing (with radiation) as she returns to England. Mood-wise she’s grumpy and fed up with activism but a shortened lifespan will do that to you. We knew of her return in a strange move a week ago when she showed up in the ‘next time’ reel, somewhat ruining the dramatic conclusion and that’s how episode two feels. It’s the difficult second episode. That’s not to say anything is particularly bad here, it just doesn’t live up to the hype it has built for itself.
In a world of technology and impending political doom, Russell T. Davies is going for the emotional jugular. He’s finding the human in the inhumane. Not that there’s much humanity in Celeste but it’s difficult not to feel a modicum of sympathy for her as daughter Bethany becomes a walking phone (a literal mobile?). Part machine and part human, Bethany is Robocop for the digital age. But without the weapons. Or armour. Or police status. So not like Robocop at all really so forget that analogy. The point is, bar an imprint on her wrist she looks normal when she is anything but. She walks among us. The insanity of it fits in comfortably into day to day life.
Daniel is now happy with Viktor after the refugee romp (registered trademark) but we know full well that such positivity was never going to last long. His bitter and still boring ex reports Viktor to the authorities for having a glamorous petrol station job and their unity is torn apart. Even this, the poignant epicentre of the sixty minutes falls flat. Daniel doesn’t seem too alarmed and Viktor has the aura of a man who’s been upgraded to a posh suite at the Ritz. Of course it is early stages and it’ll be interesting to see how the issue is handled.
Meanwhile, Viv Rook is continuing her takeover of the media by staring into every single camera. In well-observed hustings, she grasps victory from the jaws of defeat. When her own policies don’t stand up to scrutiny and effective debate beats her she resorts to sloganeering and soundbites. The blink device, used to turn off everyone’s phones is a masterstroke and so too are Rosie’s conflicted attitudes towards the politician. From dismissal to undecided, to getting a selfie. The cult of personality is winning over the tedium of policies.
Immigration, Climate change and right at the very end, banks are the main focuses. In a reference to the financial collapse of 2007, Stephen loses his money but he’s not alone. The streets are flooded with angry customers and perhaps the streets is where some of them may remain. There is plenty going on in Years and Years with copious avenues to explore but it felt like a hangover from that synthetic alcohol the Lyons experimented with. Last week was an induced high but this was the duvet day that follows.
Years & Years Continues Tuesday at 9.00pm on BBC One.