Either by sheer coincidence or clever plotting, BBC schedulers made it a dystopian Tuesday evening by putting Our Next Prime Minister and Years And Years next to each other. Imperfect bedfellows to say the least. The awkward political wranglings of the quest for our next leader had many of the hallmarks Russell T Davies has covered in this spectacular series but at least this finale had one thing the previous hour couldn’t offer.. hope.
It’s 2029 and our future Prime Minister Viv Rook has killed the BBC, closed food banks and banned reporters from asking questions. The seeds sown in our present day real life is reaping magnificent, thought provoking drama. Over the top? Maybe. Overly sentimental? To some certainly, but the message that we must choose love over hate is the epicentre of Years And Years. It’s the loving heart ticking away in a cynical, twisted body.
Anne Reid, who charms and intimidates in equal measure is the shining light as Muriel who has gradually become the main character. Her “It’s your fault” speech is more stirring than any national anthem and the wake-up call her family needed. This is what great dialogue and impeccable acting does – it turns the mundanity of people sat around a table into essential viewing.
Edith gets the gang together and goes out with a bang as part of a revolution. Saving Viktor was simply an added bonus to overthrowing the government. While she is blocked by men with guns, Rosie is trapped behind gates once more. It’s an obvious metaphor but their escape is symbolic of everyone breaking free of their chains. In a show that’s mostly portrayed technology as an evil, the erstwhile refugees use their phones to connect to the world and tell it their truth. They are scenes that felt close to Doctor Who in tone but Years And Years has earned itself a dose of overindulgence.
Redemption is another through-line and the Lyons family stick by Stephen despite everything, even if it means going behind his back to support him. His guilty conscience needed them but he ultimately ends up in prison for possession of a firearm but that seems very harsh considering it was only Woody who took the bullet.
Everyone gets an end to their story but Vivienne is not afforded a full stop. It seems a waste that her, until now, malevolent presence fades into thin air at the crucial moment. Sure, it’s not her story but we got no reaction from her as the revolution was kicking off and there’s no scene once her actions are exposed. We see her twice briefly and one of those was a body double. Perhaps Emma Thompson was filming an Oscar-nominated film that week.
An increasingly ill Edith does get her full stop and in a twist no one saw coming (don’t pretend you did) she’s having her memories uploaded to the cloud. Again, this was essentially sci-fi but there’s that heart again, now digitally clicking away in the dying embers of a soul. It’s a long, calm scene that ends a chaotic series. The release could be construed as a bid for freedom. It’s an ending that will jar with many but it’s all down to how you interpret it. When Edith says “You’re wrong. Everything you’ve stored, all those downloads, bits of me that you’ve copied onto water. You’ve got no idea what we really are. I’m not a piece of code. I’m not information, all these memories. They’re not just facts. They’re so much more than that” is it her fighting the cloud or accepting it? Was she there? Are we there? What the heck are we anyway?
It’s probably best to leave the last words to Muriel. Believe her when she says “Beware those men, the jokers and the tricksters and the clowns. They will laugh us into Hell.” Next month we’ll have a new Prime Minister and then what will we have in 2029? Maybe, just maybe it’ll be some love, hope and redemption.