Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 1x07: "Episode 7"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Jonny Campbell

Gil: “Don’t worry about me, Alex. I’m nothing. You just worry about yourself.”
Alex (to the police officers): “Get rid of him.”

They do like to say that charity begins at home and with so much public emphasis on a plethora of charities, notably Children In Need, there’s a lot that this episode has to work with and it does it admirably.

Even the police themselves get into the spirit of things as Gene uses his own tactics in order to get everyone into donating their cash for a good cause and with the moods that Gene can be capable of, who would refuse him? Well I didn’t see Alex dipping into her pockets but as per usual she’s got other things on her mind.

Some of those things could be linked to this week’s case – the robbery of charity worker Gil Hollis. To get the pink elephant out of the room first, I’m perfectly aware that Matthew Macfadyen who plays Gil is the real life husband (and former Spooks co-star) of Keeley Hawes and for the most part he’s excellent here.

Gil’s erratic behaviour regarding his ordeal could easily be down to stress and given that Alex quickly figures that he’s a sufferer of OCD, there’s always the sneaking suspicion that there is more than meets the eye. You want to feel for the tireless charity worker who’s been robbed by heartless scumbags but you still think that something isn’t quite right.

For instance Gene, while surprisingly willing to go along with Alex’s use of psychology when retracing Gil’s steps begins to think that something’s afoot. Sure, he does look rather sympathetic when a bunch of Ska boys are cruelly teasing Gil but as the latter’s story continues not to really add up to anything, Gene soon reverts to form.

Rational Gene could only last so long and in this episode, the irrational (but annoyingly right) Gene re-emerged following a humiliating appearance on TV to publicly try and catch Gil’s attackers. Gene vented his anger out on Gil, fully convinced that the man had been lying about his attackers.

To be fair to Gene, he was right to go for Gil. Aside from the fact that he acted more shifty and evasive rather than someone who was attacked, Gil also ended shooting himself in the foot when he unknowingly identified Shaz as the female attacker. Even if that hadn’t occurred, Gene also had the forced confession from a Ska boy to go on to boot.

Every once in a while, Gene will behave so monstrously towards a suspect on Life On Mars that Sam would be forced into ‘betraying’ him. Alex found herself in a similarly unenviable position and when she did rat out Gene to Evan and Caroline, she quickly found herself unpopular with everyone else.

I can understand everyone’s loyalty and preference of Gene over to Alex (that even includes the audience) but whether they want to admit it or not, Alex made the right and she clearly took no pleasure in doing it but then again, neither did Sam. Evan and Caroline on the other hand seemed a little too happy for my liking when taking Gene down a size or two.

Alex’s betrayal, though not severe did earn her a threat from Ray and an air of hostility from Shaz. Chris surprisingly enough seemed pretty non vocal about things and while Gene was understandably furious with her, even he laid into Ray for calling her a bitch and told the rest of them to co-operate with her.

As for Gil, by the first twenty minutes of this episode, I had known that he was the one responsible for his own ‘robbery’ so it was Gene finally getting forensics to back him that sealed it. Plus there was something rather funny in having Chris subjected in sticking his hand down a Portaloo in order to retrieve Gil’s gun.

However the big stuff of the episode was seeing a gun toting Gil determined to shoot Gene. Given that Luigi often has to put up with Gene’s Gordon Ramsey-esque critique of his food and Chris and Ray behaving like eejits, having a crazed charity collector shooting up his restaurant would put anyone in a sour mood.

Of course there was no real danger of Gene meeting his maker via Gil but Alex’s concern for him was touching. Gil however seemed more focused on whining about his life was going down the crapper with his wife leaving him, which meant that Gene’s less concerned remark about men with guns ranting about their problems was a welcomed delight.

To be honest, although it’s around this point in this episode where I found Gil to be greatly annoying, there’s a lot of things he says in this episode that made me think about certain things. Without turning this into a personal extract, Gil’s comment about losing control is pointed – why is it that when you try to take control and improve your life, do you still run the risk of messing it up?

Gil dedicated his life to charity but it cost him his family and without them, he felt that his life wasn’t naturally worth it. Throwing all the cash in the air in fury would’ve been cathartic if he hadn’t conned so many people, faked a robbery and inadvertently stabbed Shaz in the process.

I don’t often credit how good as actors that Marshall Lancaster and Montserrat Lombard are as Chris and Shaz but the scene where it looked like Shaz was about to meet her maker was the best performance of the entire episode and quite possibly, the first season. Chris and Shaz have become a very endearing, if somewhat unexplored couple through the season so I’m glad that Shaz lives another day.

There’s clearly a lot of potential with her character and there’s a mentor dynamic between Alex and Shaz that’s worth exploring further. Alex was repeatedly told from the creepy clown that she was going to lose someone. I think it’s fair to assume the people will be her parents. Alex’s constant interaction with Caroline and Evan make me believe that she’ll fail in her mission to save them.

Also in “Episode 7”

All the clips from the “Previously On” came from episode six, which makes sense seeing as control is Alex’s big thing now.

Alex: “I prefer Dover Soul.”
Gene: “You want soul, I’ve got soul. Okay right, wear something slutty.”

Brilliant opening scene with three actors who looked nothing like Philip Glenister, Marshall Lancaster and Dean Andrews. Of course that was the point.

Alex: “Well, the mind’s an amazing organ.”
Gene: “I’ve got an amazing organ.”
Alex: “It’s capable of far more than you’d imagine.”
Gene: “Right again.”

Alex (to everyone): “I’m in control, none of you will die. Unless I choose to kill you.”

Some shameless boy band references with New Kids On The Block, East 17, Backstreet Boys and Busted all getting mentioned.

Alex: “We’ve just given your memory a bath.”
Gil: “I’m done with baths.”

Gene (re Ska gang): “Nick ‘em.”
Ray: “Which ones?”
Gene: “All of them.”
Ray: “Music to my ears.”

The clown appeared on the TV, at the station and for once, even Shaz could see him when she was fighting to survive.

Alex (to Gene): “You ruined this for me, you pig headed bastard.”

Caroline (to Alex, re Gene): “The Manc Lion. I knew one day you’d ask to have him tamed, DI Drake.”
Ray: “You bitch.”
Gene: “Watch your mouth; you’re talking to a DI.”

Alex got compared to Uri Gellar by Gene, Juliet Bravo by the Chief Superior and Quincy by Ray.

Alex: “Why are you in my head?”
Evan: “I don’t know.”
Alex: “Not you, Gene Hunt.”

Evan looked offended when Alex mentioned Gene (he fancies her) and I enjoyed the final scene between Gene and Viv when the former apologised for allowing Chris to beat up Gil.

Alex (re Gil’s gun): “He couldn’t have gotten it down the bowl, it’s too big.”
Ray: I have that problem sometimes myself.”

Luigi (to everyone): “You pesky kids solve the crime?”
Gene: “Yes, unlike your pizza, which is inedible.”

Standout music: Kate Bush’s “The Man With The Child Is His Eyes” and “Fame” by David Bowie.

Gil (to Alex): “Why is it the more we try to take control of our lives, the more it goes wrong?”

Chronology: October 7th, 1981 with three days until the death of Caroline and Tim Price.

Surprisingly enough I wasn’t too keen on this episode when I first watched it but when I sat to watch it again for reviewing purposes, I enjoyed it more. Matthew Macfadyen while not as good as Gil in the second half did a fine job and I felt sorry for Gene at different points too.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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