Friday, March 23, 2007

My Review of Life On Mars 2x07: "Episode 15"

Written by Mark Greig
Directed by S.J. Clarkson

Gene: “The last thing I remember is taking a swing for you in the pub. Look, I know it looks bad.”
Sam: “Well, that’s the understatement of the century. You may remember threatening the victim’s life … in front of a dozen or so witnesses … at the courthouse.”

Instead of a case of “who done it”, this episode is more a case of “how do we prove he didn’t do it” when it comes to Gene. For a man who loves enforcing the law, it’s gotta be tough for someone like Gene to be on the other side of it for once. Still, it always did seem inevitable.

Gene’s policing methods have always been questionable at best and this week during court, he decided to do the right thing by giving evidence against boxing manager Terry Haslam. Come on, it had to have been obvious at the start that him and Gene had some sort of an arrangement that Gene decided to back out of.

Even worse is that Terry gets away with beating the living daylights out of his prized boxer Davie Mackay and Gene doesn’t react to this well. Nope, he hurls abuse at Terry in court and then decides to hurl a brick through his window while completely. Then Sam makes the error of leaving Gene to go find his gun alone.

I know Gene can be extremely annoying at times but Sam really should’ve gone with him during that point. A dream then pointed out that Sam would be called and Gene is then found next to a dead Terry. That automatically makes him a murder suspect and even worse for him is the fact that he doesn’t remember anything.

I won’t pretend that I thought Gene killed Terry. It’s less of a belief in the character and more of a realisation of a plot but it just felt like Gene didn’t kill the man. Sam believed that as well due to the trust he has in Gene but bringing in Hyde man Frank Morgan meant that some doubt could be instilled.

While Ray, Chris and Annie all seemed to believe that Gene was innocent, Frank didn’t think he was. I quite like Frank as a character but as soon as Hyde was mentioned, I immediately assumed that we’d finally get some progress on that dangling little mystery. Sam must’ve too given that he tried his hand at file snooping.

Frank did make a good impression on Sam. He wanted a thorough investigation, actually took an interest in Sam’s belief in Gene’s innocence (despite thinking the contrary) and as far as I’m concerned if Ray takes an active dislike in someone, it’s usually a good sign of that person being reasonably alright in my book.

Of course Ray’s problem was the progressive thing and the fact that Frank had no problem for reprimanding him and Chris for being reckless. Ray also came across as a major dick with the aggressive manner he took with Sam in Railway Arms. Ray can hate Sam all he wants but acting like it was his fault for Gene’s predicament was pathetic.

Annie also had some issues with Frank but thankfully she was less petty and at least her issue was valid. Given how brilliant she’s been in solving cases, you can’t blame her for being slightly annoyed that she would then have to teach Road Safety to kids. Still there’s an amusing little scene between her and Sam.

As the episode progressed it did seem like evidence was stacking up against Gene. It wasn’t too shocking that he was taking more backhanders and the fact that he had a confrontation with Pete Wilkes also made him look bad. Then again trying to evade police custody also played its part but with Ray and Chris being exceptionally dense, more power to Gene for his escape methods.

There are some really defining moments in the episode. Ray and Chris were Gene’s biggest defenders and as much as Ray irritates the crap out of me, I have to respect his loyalty. I could also easily see how that even he and Chris would then begin to doubt Gene’s innocence, although Annie conveyed the doubt a lot more effectively.

The best part of this episode however was Gene’s need for Sam to bail him out. He wanted Sam to lead the investigation and acted hurt when it was his brief that got him bail. He also then turned to Sam to help prove his innocence and the two of them went to hilarious methods to snare crime scene photos.

Sam and Gene alone retracing the latter’s steps also made for some good moments. I knew when Gene started going on about TVs while in Haslam’s house; there’d be a point to. Sam also came up trumps by realising that Terry had been killed hours before the time Morgan believed him to be dead.

Another interesting note is how quietly this got resolved. Gene figured out that Davie had the motive to kill Terry and opportunity to frame him. Better still was Gene’s sympathetic reaction when Davie admitted the truth. A man frames Gene and not a mark, whereas Sam has been repeatedly punched, insulted and locked in the boot of a car for answering Gene back.

The best bit is that with Gene officially free from jail time, he gets his own back by giving all of his colleague one hell of a lecture. Of course while they might feel guilty with themselves, Gene then goes and throws a big party. As office parties, this one looked like a lot of fun, minus Chris making a bit of a tit out of himself.

As for Sam and Annie, I really thought they might have actually kissed in this episode. It looked so painfully near and then Frank interrupts them at exactly the wrong moment. I suppose with the next episode being the last, the writers will also resolve that dangling plot as well.

The Hyde stuff meanwhile comes back to Sam when Morgan reveals himself to be a spy for them. What exactly do Hyde want Sam in the position and why did Frank want to see Gene in prison? He sounded disappointed when Gene managed to prove his innocence and even more determined to nail him.

Also in “Episode 15”

The court had a “Without Justice, Courage Is Weak” sign outside. Gene got to find his own justice but once again alluded to backhanders being weak.

Terry (re Davie): “I made him, I broke him. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last.”
Gene: “I’m gonna bloody kill you.”

At one point in this episode, Gene had to dress up as the Road Safety squirrel. Sam didn’t waste a moment comparing him to a rat.

Sam: “You need my help?”
Gene: “Just be the picky pain in the arse you normally are and I shall be fine.”

Colin: “It’s a pleasure doing business with you. You know where to find me.”
Sam: “Yeah, the nearest sewer.”
Gene: “He got me out.”

I think stinky Colin might have had a little crush on Gene. His singing however was a monstrous moment in the episode.

Ray (re Gene):“That’s his wife.”
Chris: “She’s put weight on.”
Ray: “She carries it well though.”

Annie (to Sam, re Gene): “Then he did it. He crossed a line and he killed a man. You always said that Gene didn’t know when to stop.”

I noticed that both Sam and Frank were wearing purple, a regal colour and also something that identifies them as different from the other police in this episode.

Sam: “What made you change your mind?”
Gene: “A rare attack of doing the right thing.”

Gene: “You seriously think I’m capable of murder?”
Sam: “It doesn’t matter what I think.”

Standout music: “Virginia Plain” by Roxy Music and “Done Me Wrong Alright” by The Sweet.

Sam: “Could you?”
Annie: “Well if you haven’t got trust, what do you have?”

Chronology: July 17th 1973, specified by Frank in the episode.

An absolutely brilliant penultimate episode for the series, made more interesting with the appearance of Frank Morgan from Hyde. Gene’s story was predictable but it’s build up and resolution never slacked and it was nice to see the moments between him and Sam of friendship.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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