It's Christmas 1983, and the Tozers are talking about Barry Manilow. Ritchie and Jill have just done a very sweet rendition of 'One Voice', but Ritchie's dad is unhappy. He's unhappy about everything, but right now he's unhappy about Manilow apparently being gay. "Which," Ritchie's mum says, "is ridiculous – the ladies love him!"
Gloria and Ritchie are the main focuses in this second episode, after the first set up the broader Pink Palace gang. Roscoe's off to his sister's wedding in burgundy tails, defiantly adding his blue eyeshadow in Gregory/Gloria's car before going into the church.
"Have you ever had sex?" asks Roscoe of Colin later.
"Yeah," he says slightly defensively, clutching his hot water bottle to his chest. Aw, Colin. South Wales' sweetest sunbeam is off to New York to do a fitting with his awful lech of a boss, Mr Hart. Gulp. Meanwhile at the pub, one of a group of older regulars is trying to warn the youngsters about this new virus – Aids, or GRID, or GCD, or something like that – with some flyers, but they're having none of it.
"Listen," says Roscoe, escorting him out of the pub, "my father preaches armageddon every Sunday afternoon, and every Monday morning I wake up still alive. Go!"
Then there's probably the standout moment of the series so far: Ritchie's bravura dismissal of this Big Pharma racket, this mythical illness that, somehow, hates homosexuals, and Haitians, and haemophiliacs. It's a grandstanding, delirious, audacious bit of TV. Ritchie spins through every conspiracy theory and half-believable misunderstanding that's been floating about which might explain it – poppers, comets, divine retribution, the Russians – and, in the middle of it, lumped in with the nonsense, is something he should be listening to: "They say it's in the spunk."
Soon enough, the reality of the illness is at the group's door. Gloria's ill, and enlists Jill to do some odd jobs to keep him going.
"Then what is it?" asks Jill. Gregory puts his head in his hands.
"What do you think it is?" It's a properly gutting moment. Jill helps out with food and cleaning, but Gregory keeps getting worse. Over in New York, Colin explores the city and gets hold of more literature on Aids, before Mr Hart returns to his awful overtures to Colin. Colin manages to convince him to stop, but at the cost of his job: on his return to London, he's silently frozen out at the end of his apprenticeship. Even worse, Gregory's unlovely family swoop down from Glasgow to take him home without a goodbye to the Pink Palace gang.
Roscoe, at least, gets to hang out with his sister and baby niece Stellar, even if she brings news that their dad's heading back to Nigeria to spread the, ahem, good word. "Yeah, well," Roscoe surmises, "good riddance". Nonetheless, he drops some money round at his mum's.
We close with Ritchie and Jill's rendition of 'Only You', though it's cut suddenly short. (If there's one thing It's a Sin does exceptionally well, it's hard jump cuts which juxtapose big tunes with absolutely gut-wrenching sadness.)
A Christmas card from the gang arrives too late for Gregory. It goes straight onto a bonfire. Everything burns: cards of condolence, tartan jeans, and VHS tapes, and teddy bears, and baby photos. Everything.
Some more thoughts:
Still no sign of 'It's a Sin', though we're only up to some point in 1984-ish by the episode's close. Surely, it's coming soon. Surely.
Has there ever been a man happier to spend his days making photocopies than Colin? No, there has not.
Protect Colin at all costs.
Roscoe gets the finest basso profundo "Laaaaaa" of the series here. Majestic.
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