This Is England ’86 – Episode 2, review

This Is England 86 cast

As I explained last week, This Is England is new to me. I haven’t seen the film that provides a lot of the background to this series, so I’m still finding my feet. However, tonight’s second episode deepened the drama in a number of different ways.

Most significantly, Lol went home to discover her father had returned. Though the details were never fully revealed, it was enough for the viewer to deduce that some form of abuse had gone on. Her mother and father were sufficiently mortified that her younger sister was in the room, but turned the blame on Lol, calling her toxic and damaged.

She goes to Woody hoping for comfort and someone to talk to, but Woody’s clearly not quite ready for serious conversations – and evades the serious chat Lol wants to have. What happens next is totally unexpected. She finds herself on Milky’s doorstep and eventually in his bed.

It seems that Lol, out of all the group, is outgrowing her friends. She’s hanging back from the revellry and wanting to be serious while Woody is intent on just clowning around. I’m interested to see whether she’ll stick with Woody and the squalid flat he’s found for them to share, or if she’ll seek out a more fulfilling relationship.

Two hilarious clandestine sex scenes this week – firstly Shaun, who locks up shop at his new job and goes home to find his boss giving his frumpy mother some oral hijinx underneath the covers. A beautiful piece of role reversal when he yells at her “You’re doing it behind my back like some worthless little slag from the estate.”

Even better, Gadget turns Graduate as he gets seduced by ‘Crystal’, a much older woman. While they’re having energetic, sweaty, chubby sex, she tells him to roleplay the characters from Dynasty. So he’s Blake and she’s Crystal. And while they’re at the height of their lovemaking…her young son walks in. Gadget twigs almost immediately that he’s a dead ringer for Megs and it turns out that he’s right – but he’s warned to button his mouth about the connection, and “Eat your toast, there’s a good Blakey.”

I loved how he sheepishly came down to breakfast the next morning and told the boy “I’m not your new dad.” Brilliantly insensitive.

A far more satisfying episode – for me – than the first one. But only because I was getting my bearings. It’s possible now to see the themes This Is England is exploring – abuse, sex in the estates, and growing up. I’d be surprised if we don’t see Lol evolving beyond the current lifestyle her group of friends enjoys. What’s nice is that the series doesn’t blame Woody for being immature, or Lol for being dissatisfied.

And again, I was in awe of the fantastic 1980’s council estates. Both inside and out, they gel exactly with my memories of houses and decor at the time. It’s like time travelling back to your childhood.

Tagged under:

1 Comment

  1. tatonkascot

    …Hey Gerard, at last something to salivate about after Ashes to Ashes.  Shame it is only 4 episodes.

    I was the same age as Shaun’s character in 1986 and brought up in the Midlands ( the loose location for all of Shane Meadows work).  I actually found myself getting quite upset watching Episode 2 because it captured quite brilliantly the turmoil of my teenage surroundings.

    Here are people crippled by their circumstances.  They laugh, joke and party to hide their respective inner pain.  Even the ones who want to break free take two steps forward and three back.  Lol and Shaun are both fundamentally good people who want to have some hope and stability.  Yet it is their inate sensitivity that leads them to be the worst off of the whole ensemble.  They live in a world where the scum-bags seem to prosper, preying on the weak ( like Lols father who exploits both his wife’s weakness and his daughters vulnerability).  The monsters in the real world do not come dressed like terrorists in Die Hard and that is what makes them all the more dangerous.

    The piano theme music is quite heart breaking in itself and I am glad that after a quite random and un-fulfilling episode 1, things seem to be back on track to a standard I anticipated beforehand.

    You should try and watch ‘This is England’.  Meadows best film to date and it will make the ’86’ experience more rounded. I suspect that the chief villain from that film will return and it will be lost on you if you havent seen exactly what the gang went through at his hands in the film.

    I do find that Meadows films draw you in and you get lost in the era they are set which is a great skill of his.  My only gripe is that by having this work in episodes on a commercial channel, it is too ‘stop start’ with the constant commercial interruptions ( even with sky+ fast forward to rely on).

    In an ideal world it would have been a single film on BBC and hopefully a one off DVD will follow, because every time I watch it, I am back in 1986 and I cannot pay Meadows a bigger compliment than that.

Log In or Sign Up

Skip to toolbar