Episodes 3 and 4 of This Is England ’90, suitably titled Autumn and Winter, do exactly what many viewers expected. Where Spring and Summer displayed the boisterous bond the group feels, even when apart, the final two episodes do what Meadows does best – test those bonds to the very limits.
Autumn’s fall begins at a dinner party thrown by Woody and Lol. With everyone expecting a wedding announcement, the two instead have gathered close friends and family (including Shaun and Helen) to announce Combo’s release and the exact circumstances of his incarceration. Whereas Milky is understandably fearful of his daughter being around his attacker, it is Kelly, Lol and her Mum that really struggle. Hearing the truth about her father at this time pushes Kelly over the edge and the lengthy, upsetting ordeal is as tense as it is amazingly constructed. As each argument dies down, another member of the group takes issue; it’s as destructive and difficult as Shane Meadows and Jack Thorne could manage.
Winter, for the majority of the runtime, concludes the stories of our beloved band of misfits. Woody and Lol’s union bring the majority of the cast together for a classic TIE party. Winter’s conversational finale between Kelly and Lol is touching, as is Lol’s dubious chat with Milky, but both are horrifically overshadowed by the previous scene. Meeting Combo from his job, Milky invites him for a coffee to settle things. The scene begins unimaginably tense and ends downright sickeningly. (Although it plays well – and will horrify most viewers – it does, however, appear somewhat abruptly. Milky’s silence over the plan seems to skew his character a little, his actions having little explanation.)
The few moments the audience are given to come to terms with what happens are filled with Smell’s awkward grab for Shaun’s attention. It’s good to see them conversing again, but the obvious tension is almost impossible to ignore. Even when the grim reality of Shane Meadows’ creation is taken into account, the ending of the show seems far more like the ending of the season and not the world altogether.
A roller coaster experience nonetheless, we must bid goodbye to characters that we’ve watched grow and come to love like family after nearly 10 years of drama, loves and losses. Viewers everywhere will be heartbroken.
This Is England ’90 is available to watch online for free on All 4, as well as on DVD and on pay-per-view VOD services, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, TalkTalk TV Store and Google Play.
Photo: Dean Rogers