Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Review of Life On Mars 2x05: "Episode 13"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Andrew Gunn

Annie: “I’ll get cracking.”
Sam: “Remember God is in the details.”

For a guy as methodical as Sam, coming out with a statement such as “God is in the details” may be a bit too on the nose. He’s done nothing but try to introduce modern policing in 1973 since his arrival and this is the week where someone really takes it seriously.

The episode opens up on a rather insane note with Simon Lamb barging into the station and threatening to hang himself. The day in which Sam’s compassionate side might have been an asset is the same day he’s more into abusing Gene to notice Simon’s suicide attempt.

So what would inspire some random bloke to go into the cop shop and do himself in? For Simon, it’s the simple fact that his wife Bea and his daughter Stella have been kidnapped by a man who wants Graham Bathurst to be released. Sam of course is unfamiliar about who Graham is so it’s up to everyone else to fill in the blanks for a change.

With the previous episode we had the death of a woman and this one sees the resurrection of Charley Witham’s death. From the start Gene explains to Sam that she was only fourteen and was killed by her boyfriend Graham who was three years older than her. Gene seemed determined that Graham was his man.

In fact Gene even went as far as to promise Charley’s parents at the time to nail her killer. He chose a 48 hour period in order to achieve this aim and through various flashbacks and different points of view we see how Gene came to believing that Graham was Charley’s killer.

This episode showed an emotional side to Gene. He was clearly distressed when Charley’s parents showed them a home video of the girl and at one point he even snapped at Ray. Given that Ray is a general idiot that Gene seldom reins in; it’s brilliant to see Gene lose his temper with him.

The interviewing process with Graham was also intense. From Gene’s perspective, Graham was already guilty and the lad did very little to convince Gene that he might be innocent. In fact a few brutal moments got Gene his result but given that someone out there believed that Graham wasn’t guilty, perhaps Gene was wrong.

The only real suspects in a kidnapping had to be Graham’s family. Given that Graham’s mother came across as a mouthy pain in the arse, Gene’s little comedown about Graham did illicit many laughs from me. I suppose in another way you had to feel sorry for her too but damn, she was annoying to watch.

Equally annoying was Graham’s Cousin Mitch who Sam and Gene later arrested. It was obvious that he would be a false lead and given that he was more concerned with the navy catching him than his cousin in prison, Mitch didn’t have to suffer too much from Sam and Gene’s interrogation.

Gene’s point of view isn’t the only thing that ignited some interest. On the least focused side you did have Chris interviewing a bunch of school girls. Chris is always a bit of a div but even the younger sets are able to make an eejit of him. However on the plus we did find out that it was Stella who told Chris about Charley being involved with Graham. That little nugget certainly helped with things.

Annie however had the most pivotal of point of views. She remembered the stress of nailing a killer for Charley and the recklessness that it might have caused with filing and statements. For once Sam’s influence came across in a positive light when she was able to start jogging back.

Even better was that one point she even stood up to Gene. We know that Annie isn’t that much of a wallflower but there is some joy in seeing her challenge Gene and not lose her recent status within the station. Gene must’ve known that she had a point because her investigating lead to the real kidnapper.

I guess I should’ve seen that it was Don who took both Stella and Bea hostage. He clearly blamed the police for not taking too long to get Charley’s killer and even blamed Simon for her death. Annie was lucky that Gene and company arrived or else she would’ve been killed by Don.

With Annie being the one that saved the day, some further progress seemed to be made with her and Sam. In flashbacks we got to see her wanting to ask Sam out on a date and when he ended up trying to do it, she halted him. It’s quite nice to see less tension between them in this episode compared to others we’ve had.

As for Sam, this episode was certainly a strange one. He starts acting like he’s on the way out earlier on this episode and comes close to fainting. Midway through when he does, it’s Phyllis who discovers that he’s been drugged up. This also played into his current medical condition back in 2006 as well.

However while it was interesting to see Sam become a spectator and hope that Gene, Chris and Annie solved the case, it’s him who realises that Simon was responsible for Charley’s death. Simon did make it obvious with his outbursts at the station over the radio and it’s great that despite the lack of emphasis, he still was unable to evade justice thanks to Sam’s quick thinking.

Also in “Episode 13”

I loved the start of the episode with the puppet Sam and Gene beating a nonce. Thankfully it was only brief as it could’ve been naff if it was too long.

Sam: “Chris, what the bloody hell are you doing there?”
Chris: “I’m working boss.”

Annie is a fan of Roxy Music and luckily for her, Sam seems to be one too. I thought it was neat that she wasn’t suspicious when he later suggested the concert.

Gene (to Chris): “Right add this. Your son, Mrs Bathurst is a cold hearted killer and if there’s a hell he’s going there to be poked up the arse with fiery sticks, forever and forever amen.”

Sam: “Tell me about Charley Witham.”
Gene: “She’s what every copper dreads – a dead child. Parents looking to you for answers.”

Annie remembered that Graham was less aggressive with his grandmother and was confused by Gene’s sense of humour during interrogation.

Gene (re Annie): “You’ve got a babysitter son. Do let her know if you need burping.”
Graham: “I might even need breastfeeding.”

Mitch: “Up my arse, copper.”
Gene: “Do you want me to take a look?”

Sam and Gene were pretty much on the same page with the way they treated Mitch. Sam was quite hostile with the bloke as well.

Simon: “Why can’t I do this? If I confess they can let them go. Wouldn’t you happily go to prison to save the ones you love?”
Sam: “It doesn’t work that way.”

Ray (re Gene): “Blimey Cartwright, the next time why don’t you go the whole hog and pull a gun on him.”
Chris: “That was out of order, Annie.”

Standout music: “Just Like You” by Roxy Music and “10538” by E.L.O.

Annie: “No more visions?”
Sam: “No, they’re all gone now. I feel good.”
Annie: “Good.”

Chronology: Not much has been really specified in the longest time, except that we know it’s 1973.

Easily one of the more inventive episodes of the season, it’s great to see the series jazz up the format a little with taking Sam out of the fray and the nice use of flashbacks. Plus it’s good that the Hyde stuff resurfaced once again.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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