Time Season 2: How The Short Series Tells A Big Story

With three new stories, BBC’s prison drama Time returned for a second season on October 29th.

The succeeding season of Time follows Orla, Abi, and Kelsey through their very different, and widely compelling, journeys in prison. With commanding performances from all three leads, this drama is a must watch. 

The story begins when all three women arrive at Carlingford Prison on the same day and have to share a prison cell. The viewer is carried quickly, but delicately, through these women’s three separate stories eventually allowing them to overlap. Throughout the three episodes they find trust within each other in less than ideal circumstances, while still expressing conflicting personalities.

Meet Our Characters

Orla, portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, is a single mother with three kids. Orla is imprisoned for messing with her electricity meter, which we quickly learn was out of love for her family. As we get to know Orla, it’s really easy to sympathize with her. Throughout the visits with her kids, always with their best intention at heart, there’s a clear image of worry for her children over herself. We also learn with these visits that Orla and her mother are not on the best terms as Orla fears that her mother’s alcohol problem will land her kids in foster care. The picture of a mother who just wants the best for her children, while at odds with her own mother, is a picture many women in today’s society know. Orla’s character is very representative of the broken family dynamics that lots of shows steer away from. While watching Orla’s story I couldn’t help but shout at the screen that Orla deserved better. It’s hard not to think that her crimes don’t come close to the price she pays being in prison.

We meet Abi, portrayed by Tamera Lawerence, with a big secret. Early on, we find that she is imprisoned and has a life sentence. However, right off the bat there’s a tension brought in with her character. Given a clearly false reason for imprisonment, viewers are pushed to be hesitant about Abi’s character. Later on, after learning she’s in for killing her child, the rest of the inmates immediately take a dislike to her, making her time in prison even more terrifying. This ends up putting the audience in a tough spot. Rooting for a main character is almost a reflex, so I commend the writers for seeing through a character that is so flawed. It allows us to take the time to dig deeper and discover more about Abi. Once she finally shares the story of what really happened with her baby, the viewer gets that deep look into Abi’s pain– and it is hard to watch.

Lastly, Kelsey, portrayed by Bella Ramsey, steps in. Imprisoned for drugs (again), we meet this 19 year old girl in less than circumstances. It’s hard not to automatically feel a sense of sympathy for Kelsey, seeing a young girl in so much trouble; but there’s an even stronger sense of sympathy after learning she’s pregnant. Though Kelsey is pretty quickly at odds with Abi for stealing from her, there’s a turn around when Abi encourages Kelsey to keep her baby– starting Kelsey’s character development. From here on out it’s impossible not to root for Kelsey as we see her get off drugs and try to become a suitable mother. When watching this connection form between Kelsey and her unborn child the story of redemption is highlighted once again. There’s an undeniable maturity in Kelsey’s story that is unexpected but powerful.

A bigger story

While this portrayal of the inside of a women’s prison brings to light the violence within, there’s also a strong light on female friendships that is taken away from a piece of media like this. There’s dialogue in the first episode exemplifying that by having a character say that some of the nicest people you could meet are in prison, therefore allowing us no shame in rooting for these characters. This is, overall, a story about second chances and redemption on the other side of hardships. It takes the preconceived notions of women in prison and gives them a very real dose of compassion. There’s themes of healing and forgiveness but also questions of morality within these characters. In interviews, the cast has talked about how these characters fit the saying of “not everything is black and white”. Orla, Abi, and Kelsey are the definition of gray area characters which are some of my favorite kinds of characters in media as they challenge our perceptions of the human race and how individualized feelings can get.

Explaining its name, Time tells a hard story of individual lives all getting the same twenty-four hours everyday. All three of these characters are fighting their own battle and feeling like they’re running out of time to some extent. It’s a story about making the most of time in a place where it can feel like time isn’t moving. Upon learning these stories that are unimaginable, the British short series is, if nothing else, a reminder that time waits for no one.

All images used belong to BBC.

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