Friday, May 29, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 2x06: "Episode 14"

Written by Jack Lothian
Directed by Philip John

Stanley: “It’s not what it looks like.”
Gene: “Never is. Flash of anger, lifetime of regret, still murder.”

Yeah, there are plenty of things to regret. Things you wished you’d never said or done or perhaps things you wish you had said or done. Regret can certainly eat away at you and in this episode; it really had to have done it with Stanley Mitchell.

You live in a neighbourhood where scumbags like Trevor Riley can do serious damage for the hell of it, that’s bad enough but when your own son is stupid enough to get involved with such a dangerous man, it’s got to be enough to anger you.

I don’t think I could blame Stanley for disowning Colin under the circumstances. There are plenty of people out there stuck in a rut, desperate to get away from the confines that they’re under but only a foolish person would go to a man like Trevor Riley for help.

Riley’s the sort of fellow who’d happily get his minions to bash in your kneecaps if you so much as looked at him funny. It’s easy to see why so many people fear and loathe him in equal measures. It still didn’t stop Colin and his dopey wife Donna from getting sucked into his world.

Gene made a comment about scum being scum, which raises a certain point. No-one can resent the likes of Colin and Donna for wanting to do better for themselves. There’s not a single person who doesn’t feel that way but it’s how you improved yourself that’s the issue.

Colin and Donna chose to go the wrong way about it, to the extent that Donna was even strong armed into having sex with Riley in order to protect her husband. You don’t have to have Alex’s brand of sympathy to be disgusted by that, even if Ray mistook it for something consensual. The look on Donna’s face obviously meant that she wasn’t enjoying the experience.

I had sort of thought around the second half of the episode that she was the one who had killed Colin or had been involved in his death with Trevor. Gene did throw the accusation of her and Trevor being in cahoots with each other.

The interesting part was not only was I wrong about Donna but it also turned out that Colin’s killer was his father. While Stanley was pleased that Colin was trying to escape from Riley’s hold on him, he was pretty disgusted with the method that him and Donna had planned to use to fund their new life away from Riley’s grip.

It was plausible enough to get Stanley to snap and kill his own child and it certainly added a better twist to the story. Even when Gene became privy to Stanley being the killer, he seemed more compassionate with the man than usual. One could almost say too compassionate but maybe the situation called for or maybe bits of Alex are rubbing off him.

Bits of Alex do seem to have that effect as even Ray was somewhat influenced by her this week. His usual disdain for her psychological profiling got put to one side when he embraced the idea of patterns in people’s behaviour. Ray figured out the bloodied blankets in the car that was left unlocked so hats off to him in that respect.

Also this week, there were some pointed comments about Ray’s lack of girlfriends. It’s something that’s always been hinted at, no matter how Ray tends to brag about his prowess, we’ve never actually seen him with a woman. Even Chris was able to point it out this when Ray was teasing him about Shaz turning into Bridezilla.

Chris and Shaz’s pre-wedding jitters did make for a good side plot in this episode. It was obvious that Shaz wasn’t going to demand anything too big but that Chris would inadvertently put his foot into it somehow. It was also obvious that by the end of the episode Chris and Shaz would somehow resolve their differences and carry on full steam ahead. That being said, just because it was obvious, doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable.

Also enjoyable was the closeness that a beating Gene received as well from Riley’s henchmen. Jokes about him and breakdowns aside, I loved that him and Alex connected on a few things. More importantly, I also had utter love for the comeuppance that Riley got as well.

Getting nearly crushed to death in a car by a furious Gene was one thing but having Ray and Chris nail Riley for outstanding parking tickets worked a treat for me, only because while Riley might be dangerous scum, the actor who played him didn’t really pull the role off as well as he could’ve done.

As for Alex, we’re at that time in the series where she’s hearing more stuff about her condition back in 2008 and believed that she was on the way home. Nice that she wrote each of them letters but did she really think that they were going to wait until she had left to read them? I’m not even sure if Gene was being honest when he said he didn’t read his, though it’s likely.

In terms of the Martin Summers/Operation Rose, this is the episode’s only misstep because nothing is advanced on it. However with the last two episodes around the corner, there’s no doubt that we’ll get enough stuff to keep us sated on that. I just hope the pay off is well worth it.

Also in “Episode 14”

The opening was a bit unusual with Alex and Gene catching suspect during a marathon. The suspect then threw himself over a bridge.

Chris (re victim): “Think he drowned then?”
Gene: “No, Christopher, I think he tried to drink the entire river for a bet and failed.”

Chris assumed that Colin’s marks at first had to do with Satanists. I wonder if that’s something this show would look into in the future.

Alex (to the neighbourhood watch meeting): “You should never take the law into your own hands of course.”
Gene: “Not unless you can handle yourself.”

Ray: “I’m like Liberace.”
Chris: “What, poofter?”
Ray: “No, no, the other one, what’s his name? Valentino. That’s it, I like Valentino.”

If you read Mackintosh’s report on the BBC website, he states Ray’s sexuality as unknown.

Donna (re Colin): “There must be some mistake. He’s not dead, he’s missing.”
Ray: “He definitely looked dead.”

Alex: “I am making a difference.”
Martin: “That’s sweet. Do you really believe that?”

Martin left Alex dried roses this time around. Why hasn’t anyone asked more questions about the continued flowers sent to Alex?

Shaz: “Right, so then marrying me is a circus and a hassle. Cheers, Chris, it’s nice to know how you really feel.”

Gene (to Donna): “Right, you took the word of a loan shark. You know you’re as bright as you look.”

If Gene and Alex were targeted by Riley’s henchmen, how come Chris and Ray weren’t either?

Alex (to Gene): “I feel different. I feel better. I think they’ve done it. You haven’t seen the best of me. Before I go, I think you’re really gonna be surprised because I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

Gene (to Alex): “Something locked away usually means there’s something in there that you’re not supposed to see.”

In Alex’s letter, she talked about Shaz’s potential and Ray being repressed. Chris couldn’t understand a word of what she wrote about him and one can only imagine what she wrote about Gene.

Ray (re Gene): “He said he wanted to be alone.”
Alex: “Yeah and what people say they want and what they need are two very different things.”

Alex (re Trevor): “You nearly killed him.”
Gene: “Well, better luck next time, eh?”

Standout music: Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” (also used in Skins this year), Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Donna Summers “I Feel Love”. I love the contrasting music here.

Alex: “You’d miss me really.”
Gene: “Yeah, Bolls, I’d miss you. Cheers.”

Chronology: It looks like a few days have passed since Alex’s last meeting with Martin Summers.

Solid episode, quite enjoyable in a lot of places, especially with the reveal of what really happened with the main victim’s death but some more advancement on Martin Summers/Operation Rose would’ve been nice.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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