Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Review of Life On Mars 2x04: "Episode 12"

Written by Ashley Pharaoh
Directed by Richard Clark

Heather: “Maybe he can’t even hear me. You don’t need to hear my voice to know I’m always there. You’re my favourite nephew Sam and it breaks my heart to see you like this.”

Halfway through the second season, the writers have decided to take another look into Sam’s family. Last season we got see his parents at different occasions and now it’s time for Sam to start thinking about his Aunt Heather.

Aunts are usually brilliant and as a kid you can definitely get away with more with them than your parents. Heather’s clearly a significant person for Sam but oddly enough she’s peripheral to what’s really going on here.

With Sam being in a brooding mood, it’s not a great time for a killer to be on the loose. The death of a young woman had Gene remembering the deviant Terrence Finn who notably left a signature piece with his victims. When the same piece turns up on this body, Gene wonders if he caught the wrong fellow all those years ago.

For some reason (perhaps Sam’s influence?), Gene seems a little less brutal in his efforts to try and sort this case out. When Sam keeps sniffing the corpse, Gene even indulges Sam’s notions of trying to find a lead on the victim’s killer.

It also helps for Sam that a young girl named Denise happens to come flying out of a car in his direction. That’s enough to illicit any level of suspicion but when she darts off and is also wearing some distinct perfume, Sam realises that there’s a decent connection.

Just like his Aunt Heather, Denise is a Beavoir girl. These ladies just seem to be a 70’s version of Avon and given that the earlier body worked for the same company, Sam gets Denise in to get some answers. Denise naturally doesn’t want to help out until she realises that the dead woman was her best friend.

If the world of cosmetics doesn’t generate much appeal then the world of swinger parties just might. Denise’s friend Sandra was one of the toga waitresses of the place and the man who chucked Denise out of his car seemed to be rather possessive of Sandra. This also give Sam a chance to use policing methods he’s more accustomed to.

Of course Gene isn’t best pleased that Sam wants to bug Roger’s place of business but at least it gets results when they overhear Roger and his wife Carol discussing a troublesome woman. Still this is one of those episodes where Gene’s complaining about modern policing is both minimal and rather funny.

It’s also funny that it takes Gene quite a while to deduce the severity of Roger’s actions but Sam at least manages to get a plan into action as soon as him and Gene deal with a tense interview with Edith. With Denise now a missing person, it’s good to see a more sensitive side to Gene as well. In fact it might be one of the rare episodes where Sam and Gene seem to agree more than usual.

Sam’s plan however is just more surveillance but it works no less. Both him and Annie pose as a new couple and immediately manage to gain the trust of Roger and Carol within seconds. Then again, Annie is just a little too good at the old undercover routine that it’s Sam you end up worrying more for.

She’s flirtatious and friendly and is able to handle sleazy Roger with ease while maintaining a cordial stance with Carol. Sam on the other hand comes across as more frosty that it’s amazing that Roger didn’t smell a rat. Still his attempts to protect Annie are sweet even though she blatantly can take care of herself.

Also it’s because of her that some progress in the case is made. She decides to get herself and Sam invited to a swingers party. Sam even attempts to back out at one point and Annie has to put him in his place. Liz White is a good actress but this episode really saw her shine the most.

It was her we had to thank when things were looking bad for herself and Sam. Gene’s method of gate crashing the party with Sookie nearly blew their cover. However I did love Gene’s interruption – he was actually worried for Sam and Annie and was also on his witty best as well. That being said Annie was the quick thinker in this episode.

Sam made a good effort to pry on Carol’s insecurities about swinger parties to get some information but Carol seemed too determined not to help. Annie however whipped Roger into a literal frenzy and began to get some answers. I bet she had a lot of fun with that more than Roger.

Of course the ending was a bit mellow by comparison. It turned out that Carol was planning to do in Denise but once again, we can thank Annie for the day being saved. To think this episode had started with her getting bested by a petty thug and ended with her preventing another death.

Maybe it’s not that amazing but it shows just good of a copper Annie is and also highlights that she’s more than a love interest/unwilling confidant for Sam too. Even Sam was impressed with her quick thinking this week but with four episodes left, how much longer are they going to tease out this love arc?

Speaking of love, you got to feel for Chris. Okay so he is quite thick and while he should grow a backbone and tell Ray where to get off, I did like that in the end he was able to tell Sam what he really felt about his date. As for Ray, given his approach to women, I’m surprised the guy has ever actually gotten laid.

The Heather plot of the episode then caps things off intriguingly. Real life Heather in 1973 might not be a fan of her nephew but at least the fantasy one hates seeing Sam in pain. Katherine Kelly might be better known as Corrie’s loud mouth Becky but she did a good job here despite not having very much to do.

Also in “Episode 12”

I just realised we had three fairly big Corrie actresses in this episode with Katherine Kelly as Heather, Georgia Taylor as Denise and Eva Pope as Carol.

Chris: “Woman in her twenties found dead.”
Gene: “I didn’t think she was sunbathing.”

The only Hyde mention in this episode was from Annie. Sam did lay it on a bit too thick about how much he was appreciated in his old station.

Sam: “You’ve got lovely hands.”
Denise: “Are you sure you’re a copper?”

Ray (re surveillance):“You’re right boss. It works like a treat.”
Sam: “People are sick.”

Another thing that was laid thick in this episode was Sam’s luck with women. Gwen and Carol seemed attracted to him, Phyllis was civil with him and even Chris asked him for advice about women.

Gene (to Sam, re surveillance): “I don’t like it. Gene Hunt smashes doors down. He does not pick girly locks.”

Annie: “Can I be really forward?”
Roger: “Oh I love forward women.”
Carol: “Roger, behave.”

Sam and Annie pretended to be Tony and Cherie Blair, with Sam also being a virgin and looking for a soul mate and Annie nearly losing her dog.

Sam (re Sookie): “She’s a prostitute?”
Sookie: “I am here you know.”
Gene: “You didn’t think I was going to fetch my wife, did you?”

Carol: “Nothing more stupid than a man who thinks he knows everything.”
Gene (to Sam): “I think she means you.”

Standout music: “Coz I Luv You” by Slade and “Aladdin Sane” by David Bowie.

Wow, this is definitely one of the best episodes of the show. This was pretty dark if not exactly mystery advancing but it boasted some of the most entertaining moments in the series as well as some brilliant moments for Annie.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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