Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 2x08: "Episode 16"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Catherine Morshead

Gene: “You talk to me, Alex. If I mean anything at all.”
Alex: “I’m from the future. I was shot and I woke up here like with you, just like Sam Tyler, only this is my reality. And I'm fighting not to die because if I die, I will never get home and it's insane but there it is. And I'm trusting you, which is why I'm telling you the truth.”

Eight weeks of mostly quality drama and the second season of the popular spin-off ends on one hell of a high note. For those who thought Ashes To Ashes was below par on Life On Mars, I think this season has proved otherwise. If not, the finale certainly has.

Operation Rose has been lingering around like a dangerous threat all season long and now was the time to finally uncover it. With Martin Summers constantly goading Alex about her losing her life, now was certainly the time for her to act on things.

One thing that Summers picked up on was that Alex was beginning to see Gene as a constant in her 1982 world. I thought because of this for a brief second that Martin might actually pull the trigger on Gene in order to get his own way but putting up a divide between Alex and Gene was a better way of achieving his goals.

The problem with Alex recording her thoughts and feelings about 1982 and previously in 1981, was that anyone could’ve uncovered the tapes and listened to them. Gene had to listen to them when Summers left them on his desk and it shattered his faith in Alex.

Given that only the previous episode had Gene uncover Chris as a mole, now wasn’t the best time for Alex’s real feelings to be made known. The confrontation that took place as a result had some powerful moments for the both of them. Alex finally told Gene that she was from the future and he didn’t believe her.

It was believable that he wouldn’t believer her. To anyone else, Alex does seem mad in the same way that Sam did. Even Annie, who was seemingly more open minded than Gene didn’t believe that Sam was from the future. I think it would’ve taken a lot for us to believe that Gene would believe Alex.

The only problems with confrontations as heated as Alex and Gene’s is that some lines are crossed. Gene crossed a massive line by doubting Molly’s existence and Alex gave him some slap for it. It also didn’t help that a pretty woman named Jenette had latched herself onto Gene as well.

The sister of thug Tiny Tim, Jenette played up to the vulnerable damsel in distress role and Gene bought into it and this was after she told him that she was told him that she could do it. In some ways it’s nice to see Gene have some flirtatious moments with another woman. Too bad that Jenette so obviously spelt out trouble.

Alex could sort of see it as well and she was even more hostile with Jenette than she was with Jackie, though obviously she had good reason to. At the time though, Gene was too mad at Alex to listen to her about anything at all.

It was Alex who managed to use her brand of psychology to get Tiny Tim to reveal that Operation Rose was going to be a group of bent cops stealing gold, something which Chris was also coerced into getting involved with, due to his ties with the bent cops as well.

Alex also knew that the hit was going to take place on the King Douglas Road and it was nearly too late before Gene actually realised that she was right. The extent of their tiff also had him suspend her but such a thing was never going to stop Alex from pursuing Martin Summers and stopping Operation Rose from happening.

As a revelation about Operation Rose, it’s not the most compelling of things but it’s decent enough. Martin told Chris that his involvement with helping bent coppers pull off a gold heist will eat away at his conscience because it’s exactly the same thing he did in 1982 and bizarre enough, he set the whole thing up with the intention of getting caught.

Martin’s death was fairly dramatic but namely for the moment where Gene talked to him about remembering that he was a good copper. Adrian Dunbar is good in this episode but Martin’s storyline does feel like it’s been quickly skimmed over to deal with the rest of the episode’s fallout.

Jenette revealed her true colours very quickly when she pulled a gun on Alex and demanded her gold. As female baddies go, this one has a lot to learn but in the line of trying to save Alex, Gene actually ended up shooting her as well. Needless to say that wasn’t the best thing he could’ve done.

On one hand, Gene’s little trigger happy moment actually sent Alex back to 2008. I didn’t know whether I wanted to cry or not because of a part of me thought this would be a very unsatisfying way for Alex to return but then I realised that all wasn’t going to be as it seemed.

Alex might be back in 2008, Molly might be delighted to have her mother back but the reveal of Alex being in a coma in 1982 with Gene trying to communicate with her blew my mind. Isn’t Lost supposed to be the only show every season that ends on a huge what the frak type of cliff hanger? This is an absolutely audacious way to end the second season. It also makes you more than glad for a third season as well.

When we weren’t getting the mind blowing moment to defy all of them, there were other parts of this episode that genuinely sparkled for me. Chris had to deal with the mistrust of others, following his own betrayal but by the end of the episode, he managed to win everyone around, including Shaz. Some people might complain that that might have come across as a bit too easy but I can live with it.

It was interesting that due Gene’s feud with Alex, it was Ray all of people that actually defended the latter. I have noticed in recent episodes that Ray has been a lot more civil with Alex and though he’s still a Neanderthal at the best of times, he has still improved as a character. As for the thing with the battered sausage, I was just grateful that I wasn’t eating at the time.

Also in “Episode 16”

I absolutely loved the opening scene with Gene in storyteller mode and Alex moaning that he was ruining her childhood memories.

Gene: “Shut your gobs or I’ll come round to your houses and stamp on all your toys.”

This week we also a got a piece of Jackanory as well, which is yet another TV series I never watched as a child.

Martin: “You think I’m the rot, that’s ironic.”
Alex: “And then I’m going home.”
Martin: "If you're strong enough."

Gene: “You are pulling my todger.”
Carly (re Doyle): “Well, he’s not pulling his.”

As far as we know, Ray actually did eat a battered sausage and not a certain part of Doyle’s anatomy.

Alex (re the shoes to Tiny Tim): “These are very clean. They just been scrubbed?”
Gene: “That’s very good. I thought she was gonna bake a cake.”

Tiny Tim: “I should tell you Mr Hunt, I’m into bondage and you’re giving me a stiffy.”
Alex: “Just give us some bloody names.”

Tiny Tim was the latest in a line of petty criminals to mysteriously die in the cells. In his case, he was poisoned.

Jenette: “You kissed me. Said it was the only way to shut me up.”
Gene: “Did it work?”
Jenette: "No. Maybe you didn't kiss me for long enough."

Shaz: “It was a horrible shock but I’m not ashamed of you. I’m proud of you.”
Chris: “How could you possibly be proud of me?”
Shaz: "Because you care when you get it wrong. It matters to you and that takes something special. I love you for that. Do you hear me, I love you?"

For me, Shaz in a wedding dress all gun happy and the like was a beautifully iconic moment of sorts.

Ray: “Sulk over then?”
Chris: “As long as this shit stops now.”
Ray: "Fair enough."

Gene (to Alex): “First Sam Tyler, now you. Why do I always attract the liars and the weirdoes?”

Throughout the episode, Alex kept reading that her ml was going beyond 15 on different things. It went as far as 50 before she was shot by Gene.

Martin: “Ah, yes this brings me back.”
Police Officer: “Who are you?”
Martin: “Police.”

Shaz: “How are you doing, baby?”
Chris: “Not too bad lover.”

Standout music: OMD’s “Joan Of Arc (Maid Of Orleans)” during Alex’s moment of heading back into her own time.

Alex: “I’m in a coma in 82. No, no, no, I'm not.”
Gene: "Bolly, Bolly."

Chronology: November 1982, so sixteen months from when Alex first arrived in Gene’s world.

What madness for a finale! Utterly brilliant, engrossing and shocking, I’m not sure how the third and last season is going to be able to bring this show to a conclusion but I certainly cannot wait to see how after this.

Rating: 10 out of 10.


Mark Greig said...

Gene Hunt’s Jackanory may be the single most brilliant idea in the history of broadcast television. My childhood has been forever ruined and I love it.

This was a brilliant finale with an almighty blinder of a cliff-hanger ending. Don’t think they’ve ever done that before, even on Life on Mars. I’m buzzing for the next series.

FRANK said...

I echo Mark's comments about Gene's Jackanory. One of the best things they've ever done on either LoM or A2A.

A splendid review for fabulous finale. Roll on Series 3.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Thanks guys, it was a brilliant finale. Who knows what they're going to do with Season 3 but it's gonna be very interesting to see how it all ends.