It's 1991. Ritchie's sick, and getting sicker. He's holding out hope of a reprise of a role at Birmingham rep, but everyone sort of knows it's not going to happen. He still has his "I was good wasn't I?"
He moves slowly now. In a series of impeccably placed needle-drop moments, watching Jill nurse Ritchie and help him take his pulls as 'Running Up that Hill' by Kate Bush plays is pretty unbeatable. It nearly got taken off the scene, but fortunately Bush herself gave the OK.
"That song is about women and men swapping places, and certainly the idea of taking someone’s place is pertinent," director Peter Hoar told the Guardian of that song pick. "It could have been any of them. Ritchie hasn’t been perfect, but he’s done nothing wrong."
He's soon in hospital. Roscoe launches a bin through a window on his behalf when Charity from downstairs tries to tell him Ritchie's "very lucky" to be edging toward death. Other than death, family is the big theme of this episode. Ritchie can't bear to tell his about his illness and relies on his adopted family for help; other, less fortunate Aids patients are on the ward alone.
"He lies there all day," says the nurse of one, "dying of shame."
A full decade after that awkward first nearly-bang, Ash and Ritchie tell each other they love one another. Elsewhere on the ward, Roscoe sees his dad for the first time since he went off to Nigeria to spread the good word. While there, he saw Aids patients being treated very differently.
"These doors were locked," he says, "and the people behind them were like animals. I said who are they? And they said, they are the devils."
Finally, Roscoe's dad asks his son's forgiveness. Roscoe, you sense, is not instinctively moved to do so. There's the equally thorny question of how we should look at Ritchie now we know he knowingly put other people at risk of Aids by sleeping with them after his test too.
"I thought I'd stop, and I did a lot of times. I stopped. A million times," says Ritchie. "I wonder how many I killed. I knew it was wrong, and I kept on doing it." Then, to us as much as Jill: "Do you hate me now?"
Just in time, though, here come Ma and Pa Tozer. The following 15 minutes or so is the most abrasive and intense of the whole series, playing out in real time. Four episodes of mumsy daffiness gives way to a volcanic, roiling fury in Valerie that incinerates and crushes everything in its path: manners, logic, sense, reason.
"Boys are terrible, Jill," she spits. "They will do anything... so every once in a while he goes..." She searches for the right word. "Rutting. But that doesn't make him a homosexual!"
As Valerie turns on Jill, Clive falls to pieces. Some have suggested homophobic old Clive gets off quite easy in the final reckoning, dodging the hard jobs by sacking off reading Watership Down to go down the pub and generally coming off as just a big soppy sod.
This, fundamentally, isn't his story though. He and Valerie react to the realisation that they've been so blind for so long in opposite ways: he finds himself hollowed out and remorseful; she's unable to allow herself to feel that as she thinks it's weak. She forces Clive out to exclude him and his recognition of their guilt from the new reality she's trying to build, one where Ritchie's getting better and he's still the straight little boy she thought he was when he sang along to 'A Windmill in Old Amsterdam'.
Jill and Roscoe aren't giving up though. With a wedge of money from Ritchie's agent, they stake out the Tozer family home from a B&B. They pass the time with ice creams, sad walks on the beachfront and a knees-up around the old Joanna, waiting for Valerie to lower the drawbridge.
Revealingly, Valerie reminisces about her dad – "He was a terrible man" – before Ritchie ruminates his decade of enthusiastic shagging. "Some of them were bastards, but they were all great," he says. "That's what people forget: that it was so much fun."
Finally, Valerie gets in touch with Jill. They meet on the waterfront. It's too late. Ritchie's gone. We've gone further in depth on that final face-off in our ending explainer, but it's worth repeating quite how much of a gut-punch this moment is. Far too late, Valerie wants to know her son. He's dead, and it's at least partly her fault, and now she wants to know him.
Back at the B&B Roscoe and Ritchie's sister mourn, as does Ash back at the house. The survivors meet there to toast everyone they've lost, and to cry. Roscoe's story closes where it began, back it his mum and dad's. Having seen Ritchie's family situation, he's presumably keen to see what fences can be mended. Jill heads back to the ward, to keep more lonely dying men company. There's still time for a flashback to a Pink Palace day out and a seagull stealing Ritchie's ice cream to make you pang for the lost lads.
What a series eh? What a fucking series.
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