Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 2x02: "Episode 10"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Catherine Morshead

Gene (to Alex): “You and me, Bolls, we’re a team. Fighting the rot together.”

I’m sure that’s a line that will satisfy many viewers but essentially, here is an episode that has Alex questioning her partnership with Gene all the way through as the nagging possibility that he’s not a figment of her imagination.

This week’s case involved a Romany man, Jed Wicklow being pursued by the team, which led to him being killed in an accident. Alex might have been all for the trouble but there was no surprise that Gene would be more complicit with having Mackintosh fob the press off with something different.

For all Mackintosh’s talk of wanting to run a less corrupt force, it was already established in the previous episode that he’s not to be trusted. His hostility toward Alex is certainly something that she needs to be vigilant of.

There was an interesting scene where he told Gene that she was trouble and he wasn’t particularly all that helpful when she asked him about Kevin Hales’s location. Alex may want to take Gene’s approach if she really thinks that Mackintosh is a rotten apple in the police force.

As for Jed Wicklow, apart from the fact that another human being died, he was pretty much just a run of the mill scumbag. That creepy old lady had no problem telling Alex and Gene that he gave Romany tribes a bad name and his use of drugs was hardly shocker of the century.

It also pretty clear that the young girl Alva was being abused by him but the suspicions into his death did quickly veer to Dr Battleford. Joseph Millson from The Sarah Jane Adventures was a nice piece of guy candy but there was no doubting from the off that he was responsible for Wicklow’s death.

He seemed stereotypically too friendly and his desire to help out the Romany tribes did have a certain element of falseness to it as well. Plus he slipped up when casually talking to Alex.

With all this, the question then became how long would it be until they were allowed to nail Battleford? Mackintosh certainly did his bit to try and derail Alex from getting a conviction and even Gene seemed to change his mind about Battleford amidst a secret handshake.

I have to admit that my knowledge on Masons is pretty hooky at best but Gene joining one certainly could lead to an interesting path. His claim to Alex is that he wants to keep Mackintosh closer and I certainly believe that but there’s also the fear that Gene will either be quickly caught out by his new superior or become corrupted himself.

Most of the scenes between him and Alex this week did feel more cat and mouse than usual. As a viewer, you want Gene to be the good guy but you also see why Alex might have her faith in Gene challenged so to speak. Gene’s belligerence often doesn’t help matter.

It made no surprise that Alex would employ Chris into her attempts of getting Battleford arrested at first and that she’d be reprimanded but I did like that Gene filled her in on what he was attempting to do and that he also knew that Mackintosh wasn’t trustworthy. There was certainly something in those scenes to make shippers happy I think.

As for the main story, well it didn’t work all that well really. It was nice that Gene was able to find a loophole in the Mason loyalty in order to arrest Battleford that even Mackintosh couldn’t challenge but the character of Battleford did come across as a bit too pathetic to care about.

Plus this episode did help to reinforce Ray’s inherent racism as well. He was more than happy to participate in personally moving the Romany tribe and he also enjoyed his role in the Mason gang far more than Gene pretended to. I hope the writers don’t devolve Ray even if he is the most susceptible character to corruption on the series.

The birth scene with Alva was strictly played for laughs. When Gene decides to retire from the force, he’d make an excellent mid-wife. Because of his words of encouragement, the baby got to be called Eileen. It was a really funny moment in a mostly serious.

Another fun moment was Chris’s many attempts to propose to Shaz, only for him to keep getting dismissed by the girl. Fortunately he did succeed in the end but it certainly took him a while to successfully get there. I wonder if that means that Chris and Shaz have gotten further on this series than Sam and Annie in Life On Mars?

Shaz hasn’t really had a lot to do so far this season but seeing as there are six episodes left, I’m sure that’ll change in due course. I liked that Alex showed some remorse for yelling at Shaz for no reason though, during the whole computer debacle. That of course led to the strongest points of the episode.

Alex talked about the possibility of Gene being real and after the whole thing with the first season finale; I’m glad that’s being addressed. The writers have been promising us that everything that Alex assumes about her world is wrong and hints about that are certainly being dropped around the place.

Her mystery little stalker/abductor asked her to trust him (I’m really assuming that it’s a him and possibly Sam) and she admitted that she couldn’t. He didn’t take it well and buggered off and I doubt that will be the last that Alex sees of him. He’s a persistent so and so, I’ll give him that.

Also Alex seemed to be making more of a conscious effort to try and remember things. The fact that she was struggling to remember what Molly looked like and her daughter’s own name cannot be good at all, though it certainly adds another layer into this whole saga.

Also in “Episode 10”

Was it me or did anyone else slightly think of The Ring during Alex’s dream of Molly?

Alex (re Jed): “I’m 90% certain he was on something.”
Gene: “90%? How very modest of you.”

It was pretty obvious that the Tyler comment from the fortune teller would mislead Gene (it was a pseudonym of Ray’s) but I’m still hopeful that Sam will appear.

Gene: “A quick reminder, Drakey. I’m one of the good guys and you are on my side.”
Alex: “This’ll never be my side.”

Gene (to Alex, re Romany tribe): “They’ll tie you up as a sex slave and make a rabbit trap out of your knickers.”

Alex threw in a fairly funny reference to Desperate Housewives during one of her scenes at the station and also about choosing when she comes.

Battleford: “Cop psychology.”
Gene: “Cop psychiatry.”
Alex: “It’s psychology.”

Gene (to Mackintosh): “I have to warn you, I’m not very good in clubs. I’m serving a lifetime ban from the scouts.”

Shaz mentioned her mother and also that she had Romany blood in her family. Chris mentioned it again prior to actually proposing to her.

Alex: “You drugged me.”
Mystery Man: “I needed to know who you were. You were forgetting.”

Gene (to Alex): “You have a very pretty face but you go on longer than the Eurovision Song Contest.”

Gene made the conscious effort to call his predecessor and was told by him not to call again.

Alex: “Metaphors all over the shop.”
Gene: “Clever, isn’t it?”

Gene (to Alva): “Come on, Eileen.”
Alex: “Who’s Eileen?”
Gene: “I don’t know.”

Standout music: I’m a sucker for Phil Collins’s “In The Air Tonight” and I think it was greatly used in this episode.

Alex: “What if you’re real?”
Gene: “What if you’re quiet?”

Chronology: Obviously still 1982 but I’m not sure how long has passed since the last episode.

Another solidly engaging episode, this season is certainly upping the mystery to a delightful new pace. I can’t wait to find out the identity of Alex’s mystery stalker or how things will eventually escalate between her and Mackintosh.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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