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Whe picks up again with the 30-something ex-convict Miri Matteson (played by Daisy Haggard, co-creator of this comedy-drama with Laura Solon) for the second series of Back to Life (BBC Three / iPlayer) just a few weeks after we had the ‘left. She now has six weeks of life as a free woman – with the exception of her mandatory meetings with her probation officer, Janice (Jo Martin, still deadly brilliant in a part that has been stepped up this tour, surely in recognition of everything what she did the first time) – and things are … OK. Miri keeps her Tamagotchi alive, takes driving lessons, is about to start a trial run as a supermarket worker, and is still friends with neighbor Billy (Adeel Akhtar). The benefits are basically diet-based (or, as Janice puts it, “you haven’t even seen her arrogance yet”). After the ice cream cones from the last series, they move on in the first episode of the short story to a sandwich lunch on Hythe’s icy shore. But the gradual evolution of this relationship, the dumbest and most tender on television, is what makes it such a pure and painful delight. He manages to crush and swell the heart at the same time.

On the flip side, Miri is still trying to come to terms with the revelations about her best friend Mandy’s (Christine Bottomley) involvement in the crime for which Miri served 18 years in prison, and her mother’s adulterous affair with her. ‘Miri’s ex-boyfriend, Dom (Jamie Michie); while learning to use the internet and smartphones, and restoring a bank account she hasn’t used for two decades.

“And things could get worse,” Janice said. “Or they could be better,” says Miri. “No,” Janice said.

As always, Janice is right. The backbone of the second series is formed by the return to Hythe’s parents of Lara (Lara being the childhood friend Miri was jailed for murder). Lara’s mother, Norah (Lizzy McInnerny, giving an extraordinary and soul-destroying performance, though she only has a few lines in all six episodes) approaches Miri at the supermarket to find out the truth about the murder of his daughter. It becomes clear that she ran away from her husband, John (“He put me on Valium. I was crazy, apparently”), and, after he found her, that she is. as intimidated by him as she is by his perseverance. loss. Adrian Edmondson as John delivers a perfect portrayal of a truly terrifying tyrant, always feeding off the suffering he causes. The prevalence and uniqueness of male violence against women is a topic that runs through the series, from coercive control and implicit threats by John to Janice’s mention of the entire Shadow Realm. “Ninety percent of the women I deal with have been fucked by a man,” she tells Miri. “And the men get away with it. Honestly to God, if I didn’t like arrogance so much, I would never have sex with men again. Just to punish them. He’s a quality pum-pum, Miri. Back to Life’s ability to make you go from tears to laughter within a line, not to mention a scene, remains intact.

The main theme, however, is forgiveness. Should we ever expect the parents of a murdered child to muster such grace? Can Miri forgive Mandy? Can she and her father Oscar (Richard Durden) forgive her mother Caroline (Geraldine James) for her betrayal? Oscar thinks so, but his descent into passive aggression suggests otherwise. Should Caroline be working for the forgiveness of her social group, the vicious Christian ladies of Hythe reveling in her downfall – or are there those whose own sins disqualify them from consideration?

Back to Life is back to its original, almost perfect form. After watching the entire season, there might be times when the humor gets slightly broader than what we saw in the first season. But that’s for quibbling – especially when it contains moments like Caroline watches Oscar take out the recycling and whispers, “I wonder if he’ll notice that I haven’t rinsed the can of tomatoes?” just as he turns to shout imperiously: “Caroline!” Haggard and Solon have enlarged their world without losing sight of the terrible event around which it revolves. They added more wonderful and sharply drawn characters (Billy’s mother – played by Meera Syal – is exactly the mother Billy must have), but also created a space to absorb the grief of others and explore its ramifications over the years. years. The show hasn’t lost any of its delicacy or nuance, and its creators haven’t disturbed its heart and soul either – in fact, they just added to it. All that, and Janice on top of that too. Quality pom-pum at all levels.

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