Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 2x01: "Episode 9"

Written by Ashley Pharaoh
Directed by Catherine Morshead

Gene (to Alex): “No-one knows anyone, Bolly. The greatest lie in life is we pretend that we do.”

After being forced to wait longer than usual for its return, it’s nice that Ashes To Ashes is more or less the same show that we last saw. Whether or not this is a second of a third season or the last has yet to be decided by the BBC but either way, things are off to a very interesting start for everyone.

First off all, a good chunk of time has passed since Alex was unable to prevent her parents’ death and she’s thinking that her time in the 1980’s is drawing to a close. She even asks an elderly woman on the street at one point if she knows her, which certainly made the lady in question look at Alex as if she was possessed or something.

There’s a good element of surreal moments in the opening episode to the new season. It was around the second year on Life On Mars that Sam was showing familiarity with being stuck in this time line while retaining his desire to go home. With Molly popping up in this episode, Alex’s motives for returning to her own time are always going to be stronger.

Of course the opening episode also needed a fairly strong case and the death of fellow officer Sean Irvine in Soho strip during a sex game that went wrong is sufficient in rounding everyone up on different opinions. Alex once again had to be the one to explain the delicacies of auto-erotic asphyxiation to her bemused colleagues.

The fact that Sean was an actual copper rather than a mere punter wasn’t revealed until the introduction of ‘Supermac’ Mackintosh, the station’s new superior and someone for Alex to admire as well. Reasons for Alex to hold such respect for her superiors are undoubtedly similar to ones that Sam would have.

She admires the fact that he seems fair on fellow workers and that he wants to smite out any form of corruption or backhanders (the look on Ray’s face was priceless during that scene, though it was Chris who shoved a betting slip into his coat) but also because he seemed to be the only male character in the station to use the word, ‘love’.

Mackintosh’s declaration of love was revealed when he was forced to confess that he had been sleeping with Irvine’s wife, Ruth. Ruth’s reaction to her husband’s death seemed all over the place though Gene’s unsympathetic nature towards her (even before learning that she was cheating on he husband) probably didn’t help matters.

Irvine seemed to be liked by all of his colleagues but it was Kevin Hales, whose comments on Irvine getting in over his head with the girls at the Soho club that raised alarm bells. It was sort of obvious that Kevin was going to factor in Irvine’s death from the moment he lost it with Shaz in front of everyone. No-one speaks to Shaz like that in my opinion.

More interesting was his questioning with Gene and Alex. For all of Gene’s brutish tactics, there’s usually some validity when he’s extra venomous towards someone and while his nastiness towards Ruth didn’t later reveal her being involved in her husband’s death, it was becoming clearer as the episode progressed that Kevin killed Irvine.

The motive for doing it seemed to be that it was an accident. It didn’t excuse him from killing Sally in the episode and it certainly didn’t excuse him from aiding in Alex’s kidnapping as well. What the hell did he mean when he said to Alex that she was ‘everywhere’?

When we weren’t dealing with Kevin and his feigning of drunkenness, there was all the cryptic stuff with Alex and it certainly added to the episode in my opinion. For all the appearances of Molly, Alex now seems to have a stalker on her hands and it’s hard to determine their motives.

On one hand, they did truss up Alex (in a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an episode of Dexter) and frightened her into getting Gene and company to come to her rescue but on the other hand, there was the leaving of roses (one at her office, another in her flat), the pictures of Pont d’Alma and constantly telling her that she doesn’t belong in this time period.

What does it all mean and how or why is the mentions of Lady Diana so significant to things? We know that Alex’s mystery is supposed to be bigger than Sam’s ever was and we certainly know that along with Alex that nothing everything about this setting is merely a construct as well. We also know by now that Alex is supposed to be meeting a character from the Life On Mars.

If this is possibly the last season, it’d be excellent if it was Sam. Having John Simm on this show as well as having him back as The Master for David Tennant’s last two episodes of Doctor Who would certainly fulfil a few fan boy/girl’s dreams this year. Other than that, it’s going to be interesting to uncover who Alex’s mystery stalker is.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d almost go with Supermac. He certainly soured towards Alex by the end of the episode (but I suppose when Alex snooped around in his office and uncovered that he was the last person to talk to Sean alive, that would do it) and we also know that Kevin was following instructions (snatching Alex, pretending to be drunk, etc).

Still it wasn’t all drama in this episode. There was some mild flirting with Gene and Alex, jokes made at the modern girl’s expense and also Chris going to talk to her about wooing Shaz after admitting that he couldn’t control how he felt about strippers. We even had some moments with Alex asking Gene about his wife, getting a family meal from Luigi and Ray making his disdain for Chris being in love pretty well known.

Chris can be a bit of a gobshite from time to time but I do think that him and Shaz make an interesting pairing (especially given how it highlights Ray’s jealousy) and his Full Monty routine to get back into her good books was something of a treat. Needless to say that both Gene and Ray were less impressed with Chris getting his kit off than Alex or Shaz.

Also in “Episode 9”

The credits have changed a little and Alex talked about fighting, searching and staying alive during them as well. They sound less cheesy than the first season.

Chris (looking at tunnel): “Not 69.”
Gene: “I’m sure DI Drake knows what a 69 is.”

I’ve never watched Grange Hill as a child (don’t shoot me) but I was aware of Mrs McCluskey during that scene with Molly.

Ray: “What’s it worth?”
Madam: “I’ll toss you both off.”
Chris: “No thanks.”

Mackintosh: “Irvine was supposed to clean up Soho. Instead he got corrupted by it.”
Alex: “We’ll sort this out, sir.”

There were some nice references to Harrison Ford/Blade Runner in this episode, mostly by Chris of course.

Ray (re Sally): “That’s our girl.”
Alex: “Someone gonna arrest her?”
Gene: “Why are you always in such a hurry?”

Sally: “I’m not a bad person.”
Gene: “No, you’re not a bad person.”
Sally: “Only wanted to be an actress.”
Gene: “You’ll be an actress so stop your croaking.”

In the hair department, both Alex and Ray don’t seem to as heavy with the perms as they were in the first season, Shaz’s hair is a little longer and Chris has got highlights in his.

Kevin: “Look, I’m not saying I’m a perfect copper but I didn’t kill my mate and I didn’t kill that girl.”
Gene: “Get out of my sight.”

Ruth (to Alex/Gene): “Sometimes love is very dark and dangerous and leaves you not liking yourself.”

I loved the little ads that the BBC were doing with the gang for the last week and viewers should really check out the Mackintosh reports on the characters (especially his one on Ray) on the site.

Alex: “Am I dead?”
Gene: “Not unless I’m Saint Peter and I find that highly unlikely, don’t you?”

Alex: “You’re not drunk.”
Kevin: “I’m just a pebble on the beach, babe. I’m nothing but you’re everywhere. Everywhere.”

Standout music: Some of the usual suspects but I did really enjoy Hot Chocolates “You Sexy Thing”. Also a soundtrack for the second season has been released this week.

Gene: “If Mac had something to do with Sean’s death, then everything in my world is wrong.”
Alex: “Welcome to my world.”

Chronology: It’s 1982 as mentioned by Alex in the credits and a few times in the episode.

For a season premiere, this was a very satisfying episode. Some of the stuff from last season has been toned down, but the mystery keeps on being interesting and well, after the atrocious Demons, it’s just nice to have Philip Glenister back in a worthwhile programme.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


I.J. Parnham said...

I don't know if anyone's told you, but if you can check out how your reviews look in IE. They come out unreadable, sadly, as there's all this formatting everywhere. It's down, I think, to you copying from Word. It's a pity as you made some good points, but all the weird html code makes it a bit tricky to read.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I've tried fixing that but it keeps happening from time to time. Is it quite annoying.