Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 1x08: "Episode 8"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Johnny Campbell

Evan (re Alex): “I never want her to know what her father did.”
Alex: “Maybe she has a right to know.”
Evan: “Maybe when she’s older.”
Alex: “You’ll never tell her.”

It’s the big countdown and like Sam, all Alex believes is that her parents are crucial in sending her home. After all, the only thing she needs to know is to prevent them from dying and given how much she knows about their death, it should be simple, right?

Alex even starts things off an assertive not by feigning a report that Tim and Caroline Price are going to die, which is enough to get everyone else on board. Of course Gene’s more distracted with Lord Scarman’s impending and Ray openly admits that he wouldn’t mind seeing the Prices go boom so there’s still teething problems.

One of the most significant to Alex’s journey in 1981 is Arthur Layton so bringing him back for the finale makes sense. There’s a nice cat and mouse moment in the vein of Silence Of The Lambs, even though Alex is no Clarice. Layton exudes enough creepiness to make it matter though.

It’s obvious that for Layton to know so much about Alex’s parents’ murder, he would also have to be involved somehow in it. He’s certainly got form as a menace and he takes an undeniable amount of pleasure in seeing Alex squirm, even to the point where Gene bemoans her for begging Layton for information.

While Layton himself proves to be gloriously unhelpful, Alex at least continues with her assertive actions to prevent her parents’ deaths. Lord Scarman seemed bewildered that she was trying to solve a murder that hasn’t happened and Gene didn’t like the idea of it interfering with his mad plan to impress Lord Scarman neither.

However as plans went, at least Alex went all out. Now I’m not a fan of Ray (though I like him a lot more in this series than I did in Life On Mars) but he and Alex make for a fun pairing. Plus I don’t know if the writers are trying to tell us something as this is the second time this season, he gets involved in the gay community.

Unlike a few episodes ago when Alex was pimping him out to Neary, all Ray had to do was take her to a Gay Pride March and watch and watch as she destroyed the car that killed her parents. Yes, there’s nothing more ludicrous than seeing Alex ride a pink tank to crush a car but it surprisingly works well.

However there would be other problems as well. Alex actually talked to Tim for the first time and failed to get him to leave town. Tim’s reasons for staying were plausible and given that he and Caroline have generated so many threats in their careers, I don’t blame Tim for not taking this one seriously. Alex isn’t always that convincing and she does come across as being a bit loopy at times.

Of course Alex doesn’t let that deter her so she decides to pull a Gene and plant drugs on her parents to get them arrested. Okay it’s not one of her smartest plans and while it does incur the wrath of Gene; at least she’s able to buy some more time for her parents. That being said, arresting two highly liberal lawyers during inspection from Lord Scarman is also a no-no.

One of the strangest things of this episode is that Alex isn’t given a real opportunity to bond with Tim. Maybe it’s because as a child Alex knew she was loved by her father and felt that her mother didn’t care. As a result we get another truly effective scene between Alex and Caroline.

It’s not remotely ironic that the very episode in which Caroline is set to meet her maker do the writers make her a truly sympathetic character. I know she’s become more likeable in recent episodes but here when she talks about taking a sabbatical so she can spend time with Alex, you really do feel for her. Plus there are some genuinely terrific performances from Amelia Bullmore and Keeley Hawes.

However just because you try to tamper with establish history, doesn’t mean you’re likely to succeed. With both Layton being released from prison and then Tim and Caroline, you just know that Alex is going to fail big time. To be fair, she kind of has to really.

All season Alex has assumed that she knew the ins and outs of this world just by going on Sam’s experiences. Given that she’s landed in a different time period/location, she should’ve also realised that this is entirely a new world when the same rules don’t necessarily apply.

It would’ve been a little too easy for Layton to be the real bomber so having it be Tim who murders his family in a warped suicide pact is a lot more shocking. It seems that not did he know about Caroline’s affair with Evan but he wanted to counter it by keeping his family together in the worst way possible.

Alex’s delayed reaction upon seeing her family go up in flames slightly bugged me but having it be Gene the one who saved her as a youngster instead of Evan is an intriguing twist. It also adds weight to the fact that the world Alex is currently in is very real and will probably even cement her closeness to Gene all the more.

Gene and Alex definitely had a good few moments in this episode. We had their usual bout of arguments, flirty asides and general cheekiness and at the end; Alex did seem more receptive to Gene being the hero of the piece. Her thoughts on whether or not her younger self should be told the truth about her parents’ death, I couldn’t agree more on. I’d want to know if I were her.

As for the Lord Scarman plot, this guy is supposed to be viewed as a threat to Gene but without people like him, the police force would be a more hostile environment. Poor Chris landed in the slammer as part of Gene’s failed attempts to impress the man but overall while I side with Scarman, I did like Gene rallying his workers together. Also Shaz managed to wake up, just in time to share a few words with Alex during the end of the episode.

Also in “Episode 8”

Okay the guy voicing the clown; is that the same bloke for E4?

Alex (to herself): “I’m here again for a reason. This time I’ve got to stop it.”

The Clown was definitely more vocal in the finale but will he keep reappearing in the second season?

Alex: “You’re my destiny, did you know that? Some people get angels, I get you.”
Layton: “I didn’t know you cared.”

Tim: “If we ran away everytime someone said they’d kill us, we’d never get any work done.”
Alex: “Please believe me. Take a leap of faith.”

Tim Price was born in 1942, Caroline in 1945. Right now Alex is close to the same age as her parents as she’s 35.

Gene: “Exposing yourself on a bus.”
Chris: “I did not.”
Gene: “You tell Lord Scarman what a marvellous place this is and you’ll be out in a jiffy.”

Lord Scarman: “What do you say young man?”
Chris: “I shouldn’t done it?”

We briefly met Alex’s Uncle Angus in this episode. Pity we didn’t get to see Marcus again.

Gene: “You’re actually asking for my help, Bolly?”
Alex: “Yeah, I might be.”

Alex: “That’s it. A date. Our last.”
Gene: “Can I be Jesus?”

Maybe it’s a bit late in the game to be asking, but what exactly happened to make Gene and his wife split with each other?

Alex: “You think I’m mad?”
Caroline: “Not made, confused. Obsessed even. You need help.”

Alex: “Yeah and ‘you Bolls, what?’”
Gene: “You’re not bad for a posh bird.”

With Layton still on the loose, I really hope both him and Alex have a showdown next season.

Lord Scarman: “I’ve talked to several young homosexual men and heard their despair. Dreadful tales of police harassment-”
Gene: “Put it all in your report, your Lordship, yeah?”
Lord Scarman: “The police harassment of sexual and racial minorities is an endemic, ineradicable disease threatening the very survival of our society.”
Gene: “Catchy title there. ‘Best-seller’ written all over it.”

Standout music: Obviously “Ashes To Ashes” by David Bowie but I also liked the use of “Sing If You’re Glad To Be Gay” by Tom Robinson Band. Ray’s a fan of them.

Gene (to young Alex): “Bye, little lady. Any problems, you just call the Gene Genie.”
Alex: “How come you were there? Taking that little girl’s hand? That couldn’t have happened, you weren’t there. You’re not real.”
Gene: “I’m everywhere Bolly. I was needed and I was there.”

Chronology: October 9th and 10th 1981. Two of my siblings have birthdays on those days and I’m posting this review on the 9th of October.

While this series has largely divided many viewers, I think it’s found it’s grove rather quickly. The finale was easily the strongest episode of the season and I can’t wait to see how things will pan out in the second season.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

No comments: