Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 1x03: "Episode 3"

Written by Julie Rutterford
Directed by Bille Eltringham

Gene (to Ryan): “You’re nicked for the murder and rape of Delphine Parks, the rape and attempted murder of Nina Akiboa. Anything you say will be taken down, ripped up and shoved down your scrawny little throat until you’re choked to death. Gene Hunt, Chapter 1, Verse 2.”

If Ashes To Ashes didn’t wear it’s more feminist roots before, then this episode certainly sees them worn on their sleeve when the issue of prostitution raises many issues among the main characters this week.

For Alex, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do. If you’ve been raped then, regardless of profession you’re in, your complaint is valid. That should go without saying but when it’s a prostitute who claims to have been raped by a client; needless to say, there’s a divide in the office.

Trixie seems well able to handle herself and immediately she gains Alex’s sympathy as she talks about her ordeal on a boat with a religious nutter. Gene however doesn’t buy a word of it and even threatens to arrest her for wasting police time if she doesn’t drop the story.

When it comes to Gene, even at his most brutish there’s always the likelihood of him being right. Trixie doesn’t exactly sound all that convincing when she’s making the allegations and Alex is too repulsed by the unsympathetic attitudes of her co-workers to look at things objectively.

However for all of Alex’s self-righteous anger at her colleagues, the woman raises a good point about judging a book by its cover. When she warns the other prostitutes on the street about the rapist, she then engages in a little head trip with Gene. Given how much he’s wound her up about his unyielding attitude towards ladies of the night, Alex just knows where to strike back.

Telling him however that she used to be a prostitute to in order to point out that you should judge others so rashly doesn’t go entirely to plan. Sure Gene momentarily believes and is shocked when he realises that she’s actually kidding but in the end, the only it heightens is his own hostility towards Alex. Alex then countered Gene’s below the belt remark with a vicious slap and an uppercut.

Again if this had been Sam who had tried such a stunt, Gene would’ve given him a good kicking but Alex’s gender (and Gene’s less than subtle attraction towards her) is her get out of jail free card. Alex raised an excellent point and one that comes in very handy as well in regards to Ray.

Now Ray really hasn’t evolved much in this series. He’s still the sexist, homophobic, racist brute that we‘re used to but every now and then, the writers will surprise us. Remember how we could feel for him after he nearly got blown up? Well it seems even Ray has some compassion during his scenes with Nina.

Nina was the young woman Alex found at the start of the episode and while it had been obvious that she was a rape victim, it took Ray of all people to piece that bit of information together. Alex scorned over the idea of Nina being left alone with Ray but for once, the guy came up trumps.

Not only did Ray succeed in getting Nina out of her shell a little but to top it off, Nina felt comfortable enough around Ray to reveal that she was a prostitute. It then became clearer that while Trixie was lying about being raped, it was only because she knew that Nina wouldn’t be taken seriously if she came forward.

Giving Ray the chance to crack this one gave Dean Andrews some worthy material but it also helped draw as to who the rapist could be. The religious nut Ryan Burns was the same guy who murdered Delphine Parks a year prior to his attack on Nina and thanks to Shaz; at least Alex and company had a good moment to snare him.

Using Gene to talk about Alex in a derogatory fashion proved that Ryan could be easily entrapped. Unfortunately it didn’t help that for Gene, the likes of Ryan’s boss Roseberry-Sykes had enough clout to get the religious fanatic a good lawyer and even when he tried to kill another prostitute, there was still the threat of him getting off.

Now Alex might loathe Gene’s unorthodox methods but fitting up Ryan for another crime to nail him generated no complaints from the woman either. Alex and Gene’s cheeky dynamic is still a highlight of each episode, part flirty/part frosty but overall both of them can hold their own.

It’s also nice that we’re getting depth into Alex’s past as well. Brief glimpses of Molly aside and the car bomb that killed her parents, the meeting of Evan was something Alex readily welcomed, especially given that he was less frosty with her than Caroline was in the last episode.

Every time Alex is going to meet someone from her past, you do wonder how cool she’s gonna play things. With Evan she kept coming out with weird statements about how her younger self would react. I’m actually surprised that Evan didn’t find her a little on the weird side of things.

As for her sex life, she might have missed out on the opportunity of shagging Danny but Alex certainly made up for it when she got her claws into another Thatcherite and needles to say, office gossip did spread. While Ray thinks she’s a bit of a goer and Gene acting like she should show more discretion, it’s only Shaz who has the least condemning reaction towards Alex’s sexual prowess.

When it comes to this plot, I’m on Alex’s side all the way. Okay so her taste in men is a little iffy at best but if the woman wants to have a good shag every now and then, then that’s up to her. To be fair on Gene, he wasn’t quite as dogmatic about the issue as I expected him to be and Alex later had no trouble in using him to get out of having a repeat session with the city boy.

Also in “Episode 3”

I’m liking the subtle use of the Bowie Clown in the series. It’s easily usurping the Test Card Girl in terms of creepiness.

Gene (to Alex): “Plenty of women have opened up to me without so much as a Shandy down their neck.”

Costumes we had in this episode were Gene as Clint Eastwood, Alex as Catwoman, Ray as James Bond and Chris as Superman.

Ray: “It’s alright lads, Wonder Woman’s here.”
Alex: “FYI, D.I. Carling.”

Alex: “I’m not a hooker. But if I was, do you know something, Gene? You could never, ever afford me.”
Gene: “You know, you might talk with a plum in your gob, love, but I would rather go with one of those whores than waste my money on some bitter, twisted, messed up, clenched-arse toffee-nose bitch like you.”

Another neat little nickname Gene added for Alex was “Sulkyknickers”. Not quite as effective as the usual moniker he has for her.

Ray: “You look a bit tired. You been up all night?”
Alex: “Nearly and you know what, it was worth it.”

Alex (to Gene): “It’s not like I shagged an entire rugby team.”
Ray (to everyone else): “I bet she has though.”

I noticed that we’re getting a lot of scenes with other characters talking to each when Alex isn’t there. Shouldn’t that kill her constructs theory?

Alex: “It might do it for Monica Lewinsky but it doesn’t for me.”
Gene: “Monica who?”
Alex: “Some girl who’s set to go down well in the White House.”

Gene (re Alex): “Fancy shoving her overboard?”
Ryan: “No amount of water could ever get that woman clean.”

Ray’s mini-plot with the burnt lip reminded me of my own embarrassment over the same thing but I was at least 11 or 12 at the time.

Nina (re being a prostitute): “Don’t believe me?”
Ray: “No, I don’t think I do, love. Why would you want to make something like that up?”

Alex: “Right instinct, wrong outcome.”
Evan: “I’m afraid I can’t comment.”

Standout music: “Staring At The Rude Boys” by The Ruts, “It’s Different For Girls” by Joe Jackson and “Making Your Mind Up” by Bucks Fizz.

It’s a bit better than the second episode and while the sexual politics are very interesting, a lot of this episode is freaking predictable. The best part was giving Ray something to do other than making stupid comment and I have to admit to perhaps enjoying Alex punching Gene a little more than I should have.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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