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Years and Years - Episode 5 - Review

Just when you think things can't get any worse for Britain, Vivienne Rook shows what she's truly capable of in her position as PM as disasters continue to come thick and fast. I love that this show has echoes of both Davies' previous work, tapping into the horrors and despair caused by the darkness created in both Turn Left, one of the greatest Doctor Who "What if?" episodes, and the utterly devastating Children of Earth which has very clear influences on Years and Years. It's like what if both of those had a baby and turned it into an original, Who-less mini-series that's a hundred per cent darker, with Davies even so far using restraint in his techno-babble and his love of deus-ex-machina.

Climate change is getting more terrible by the minute and 60 days and 60 nights worth of floods and rain are hitting Britain, which is stretched to breaking point thanks to an increasing mass of refugees. Political upheaval in Europe and Russian occupation and resulting Civil War in Ukraine has lead to the induction of "Gated" areas, and on top of all of this, the homeless are going missing. It's something that Davies employed in Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel as a gateway to turn the homeless into the first test subjects for John Lumic's Cybermen on Pete's World, but now they're seemingly being shipped off to essentially modern day concentration camps, started the British inventions in the Boer War. Rook's popularity is allowing her to get away with whatever she wants and she knows how to tell the British people what they want to hear. The codenames for the camps is "erstwhiles", and Rook is one of the chief influencers behind this campaign to get them launched.

Stephen Lyons witnesses all of this, still devastated by the loss of his brother and now openly wanting revenge against Viktor for his role in Daniel's death. Whilst letters come to Viktor from the rest of the family wishing him well, Stephen wants Viktor to know that that is not him and he doesn't hold him in a good light. Viktor, rather than lashing back, does what Stephen doesn't want him to do - he understands, and is willing to sit there and take it. But that isn't the end of Stephen's revenge, and in order to complete it, going too far and crossing the line, Stephen oversees a transfer of Viktor to one of the "erstwhile" facilities, believing that he's in the right to do so.

One of the revelations this episode was that Rook is seemingly in danger from someone who might kill her. Is she merely a puppet? Is someone pulling the strings? It's interesting to know that someone as fearless and as driven as Rook is afraid of something, and presumably we'll find out next week in the finale what that fear comes from. There seems almost like too much to do to wrap up in just one episode, but this show moving forward at speed has worked in its favour so far. It's not hard to imagine the voters of Years and Years being happy with the concentration camps, especially the xenophobic ones, and a nightmare ending wouldn't be complete without Rook being re-elected. Rook's populist approach is backed up with little policy, and saying everything but nothing at the same time seems to be winning over support for the Four Star Party, despite or even because of events affecting the population of Britain with massive population shifts prompting people with two or more spare bedrooms to host families from Bristol and Leeds, who have been dehomed after dirty bombs and more dangers to their cities rendering them inhospitable. It's not quite the Titanic crashing from space into London and destroying it from the skies, but it's close.

If there was any doubt about the show entering a dystopian future beforehand, there isn't now. With the amount of disasters affecting Britain it almost feels like biblical vengeance. Jonjo and Fiona’s relationship has seen them imprisoned in a Criminal Zone after running into problems with their mobile snack bar. Perhaps what's most worrying about this show is that Stephen sat in the room with Vivienne Rook whilst she put her plans for concentration camps into action and did nothing, too focused on revenge against Viktor, but also not taking the news that his daughter Bethany is now a tool of the state, which is ironic when you consider his role as a position working for Woody, essentially grovelling at his feet. It's an entirely different tact to Edith's approach which has seen her on the front lines of investigations that could put herself in jeopardy, trying to uncover the truth. But what if she does, and the public just don't care? It's a frighteningly real possibility that would end the series on a downer, and given what's happened in the series so far, there isn't a sign that we're headed for a Utopian future just yet.

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