Friday, April 02, 2010

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 3x01: "Episode 17"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by David Drury

Alex (to Gene): “Sometimes in life, you can’t help which way you fall.”

And other times, you can never expect which way you’re gonna way up from a coma. I don’t think there was ever going to be a satisfying way in which Alex would wake from her coma in 1983 but I did think that it might take more than Gene Hunt’s slapping her to do the trick, I really did.

I guess I should be glad that Alex did wake up both reasonably quickly within the episode and also unlike Sam; she didn’t get a sudden urge to throw herself off a building in order to get to a world that she now accepts as real. This is the biggest breakthrough with Alex – her acceptable that Gene’s world is rooted in reality.

It’s a point she discussed with her therapist in 2008/2009 (what year is it that she woke up in her own time?) when she went into detail about how she couldn’t escape the sounds of Gene, Ray, Chris and Shaz all trying to communicate with her. It also made sense that the therapist in question scoffed the claims made by Alex.

But enough of modern times, Alex and Gene both had their own problems to deal with in 1983. First off all, the awkwardness of Gene landing Alex into her previous state had some obvious consequences that weren’t helped by Gene previous skipping the country and trying to reclaim authority when going back to HQ.

I really could see Ray’s point in all this. Yes he was miffed that Gene was practically clipping his wings again but for once, Gene might have done himself a favour by playing ball. As soon as Jim entered the scene, I knew there was going to be trouble between him and Gene. You didn’t preview trailers and internet spoilers to detect that.

Jim was amiable enough around the first half of the episode and even held back on his hostility when Gene was making hospital visits but the end scenes in the office were great stuff. Jim didn’t hold back on his abhorrence of Gene there and there was some insight into his animosity of the Gene Genie.

The episode went to lengths to talk about Gene being at the heart of everything, which at this point in the series was something that most viewers would’ve naturally assumed anyways. There have been too many coincidences with Gene and Jim certainly hit a nerve by talking about his past.

Whatever it is that Gene has done that will make everyone turn on him has to be connected with Sam. Come on, they didn’t even try to be subtle about it as Alex found that file on Sam around the same time Jim was going into detail about destroying Gene’s little kingdom all around him.

In some ways, Jim has a point about Gene’s abilities as the guv but at the same time, we’ve seen Gene’s impulsiveness and maverick behaviour generate results that even Alex might have difficulty disagreeing with. Did Gene have something to do with Sam’s disappearance or death? With seven episodes left, it looks like we might finally get some proper answers on that one.

As for Jim – he visited Alex in the hospital, warned her about history repeating itself and seemed to generally know what she was going through exactly. Now this could also tie into the whole Sam debacle as well and while he may share a disdain for everyone else in HQ, he’s certainly interested in her. Alex, I’d watch myself if I were you.

As for the case of the week story, I wasn’t as drawn to it as I was with previous ones. It was made obvious halfway through it that David’s new wife Marjorie was responsible for Dotty’s kidnapping as well and there was never a real threat that the baddies were actually going to kill the girl, even when Ray fluffed up the sting itself.

Still, I did like some of the cryptic comments that Marjorie made to Alex about Gene as well as a certain line uttered earlier in the episode by Alex was also said by Marjorie when she was explaining her love for dodgy criminal Gary Sopher but other than that, the main case wasn’t the most compelling of ones that the show has done.

That being said, apart from Gene’s refusal to back off, there were some other highlights with the case – Ray’s grudging respect of Alex’s authority/instincts, Chris getting a clue about the codes and computer chips and even Shaz getting to do a bit of surveillance. It’s also however a little sad that Chris and Shaz broke up between seasons but hats off to Chris for trying to keep things as cordial as possible.

Also in “Episode 17”

Apart from adding Daniel Mays name to the opening credits, I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed with them this year.

Alex: “My name is Alex Drake and quite frankly, your guess is as good as mine.”

I see that the BBC are still gonna use the ident for introducing each episode but why did they have to move this to bloody Friday?

Chris: “We didn’t think you were coming back.”
Gene: “Nor did I after the report you gave me.”

Ray: “Guv, you’re a wanted man.”
Gene: “Don’t you know it’s nice to be wanted?”

No Bowie clowns or cryptic talk of Operation Rose for Alex. This season she gets to see a scarred copper. Like that henchmen of Gary’s.

Ray (to Chris/Shaz): “You two aren’t even together and she’s got you reading lesbian poetry.”

Gene (to Alex): “You know I missed you but now that you’re back, I’m getting all annoyed again?”

Keeley Hawes has got a different hairstyle for Alex this season and Marshall Lancaster is still wearing blond streaks in his hair as well.

Jim: “You asked about handcuffs, I could use them on you now.”
Gene: “Try it, Jim.”

Alex (to Gene): “I’m glad I came back. This place needs me, it’s crying out for me.”

Alex sent Molly away to her father after she woke up. I wonder what Evan had to say about it.

Gene: “What is it?”
Alex: “A please wouldn’t kill you.”

Standout music: Kings Of Leon’s “Sex On Fire”, Queen And David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” and Eurythemics “Sweet Dreams” to name the obvious ones.

Jim (to Gene): “I know what you did three years ago. I know.”

Chronology: Three months since the second season finale.

As opening episodes go, it’s not the strongest one that the show has done but in it’s final year, it’s still an intriguing start to the chain of events that will ultimately bring this whole five year saga to an end, though hopefully a satisfying one.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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