Friday, April 23, 2010

My Review of Ashes To Ashes 3x04: "Episode 20"

Written by Jack Lothian
Directed by Alrick Riley

Shorty: “You belong here. You look like you’re visiting but you’re staying.”
Alex: “What did you say?”

As much as I love that little moment in this episode, it’s another case of some cryptic moments that don’t really advance Alex’s story. She might be getting messages on walls, having druggies making the above comment and dreaming of scarred coppers but it’s not actually leading anywhere fast enough. And we’ve got four episodes left as well.

Even when Alex tried to gauge Shaz into spilling more about the stars that she’s been drawing, we still didn’t get anything new. What is the significance of these stars? Should Alex be looking for a police box with a young man dressed in tweed? I’d pay to see that crossover.

This isn’t a bad episode in case the two paragraphs above sound like I didn’t enjoy this one but I guess I’m at a point where I want more attention on these lingering mysteries and almost less on the cases, especially given that they all seem to be mostly straightforward enough this season and don’t really need to take up that much screen time.

Still, this one had some stuff to aspire to. Alex clearly revels in being a mentor to any female officer she can stumble across. You just have to look at the way she interacts with Shaz to have that point drilled home and then there was Louise Gardner.

An undercover copper from a rival station trying to undo a drugs bust on the Guv’s patch. I can see how that would’ve rubbed Gene up the wrong way and with a superior as phenomenally useless as Wilson, a lot of sympathy was heading in Louise’s general direction.

Gene certainly had to go and make things bad for Louise when he and Alex talked to her during her undercover stint at the Stafford’s mannequin place. I don’t like siding with Keats but damn it, Gene, just once you should’ve done it by the book. Even Alex warned you enough times that talking to Louise so directly would’ve had consequences.

There was no surprise when she showed up at HQ battered by the rather vicious looking Daniel in the same way that it would also turn out unsurprising that Daniel would realise that Louise had grassed him up for the heroin in his car. Daniel might not be the most interesting thug of the week but he’s certainly nasty enough.

Louise played on that when she told Chris that Daniel had raped her and while Alex was right to castigate Chris, there are not many people who would actually blame Chris for beating the living daylights out of Daniel in his cells when the coast was clear. It’s only a pity that Daniel would end up escaping afterwards.

Another thing that became clear as the episode progressed was that Alex’s faith in Louise was going to be misplaced as well. Alex was right to sympathise with Louise because wrong turns or not, Louise was failed by her superiors. Wilson had struck a deal with Daniel and had basically left Louise to hang.

Weirdly enough, it was Daniel’s kingpin father who actually cared about Louise, even though he knew that she was undercover. Louise’s death was one of those occasions where I did care about the guest star dying, mainly because she had to have Keats of all people do the comforting as she died.

Then again, Keats did manage to make himself look pretty good by offering to take a bullet for Chris and he certainly must have generated some satisfaction when Alex forced Gene into thanking him. Of course the smile soon got wiped off his face when Gene gave the least sincere (and hilarious) apology to the smug git.

I like Daniel Mays as an actor and I know that Keats has a purpose to this season but like a lot of other things right now, I just wish he would get on with it. He talks about wanting to unearth Gene. Four episodes in, he hasn’t done enough to turn Gene’s team against. Even with Alex he seemed to be taking his precious time in turning her against Gene.

Also I was hoping that this episode might give us something a little further with the Sam stuff but that was another dead end as well. Thankfully though the trailer from next week does seem to indicate that some progress might be made there. Hurry up, writers, there’s not much episodes left to go through at this point.

Also in “Episode 20”

Alex tried to give Gene a lecture on driving while he was under the influence. Naturally, he told her where to go. And guess who wrecked the Blue Peter garden?

Gene: “Take note, she’ll be giving you advice soon.”
Shaz: “Not soon enough, guv.”

There was a nice reminder with a lot of Shaz’s scenes in this episode about Gene’s promise of promoting her. I hope he does actually follow through with that one.

Gene (to Wilson, re Louise): “So you put a woman in there to do your dirty work while you sit on your fat arse twiddling your thumbs?”

Wilson: “Nice tits.”
Alex: “Did he just say?”
Gene: “He’s a cripple, Bolly, have a heart.”

Bryan Dick who played the odious Daniel has also appeared in episodes of Torchwood and Being Human, TV fans.

Gene: “Just routine enquiries, Terrence.”
Terry: “Nothing is routine with you, Hunt.”

Gene: “Looks like Danny Boy’s going down faster than a five pound prossie.”

Alex took down a few notes this week, notably about Sam, Gene, Shaz, stars and the 6-6-20 that we’ve seen in the last two episodes.

Alex: “I think I’m being haunted.”
Jim: “Metaphorically?”
Alex: “No, literally.”
Jim: “Odd is underselling it.”

Gene: “Do I look like a slice of toast?”
Alex: “No!”
Gene: “Then stop buttering me up like a demented housewife.”

Alex dreamed of being buried here while Gene was trying to wake her up. Jim also talked about not believing in ghosts.

Daniel (to Alex): “I tried prison. I didn’t like it very much. I don’t plan to go back, so yeah, love, I wanna make a deal.”

Gene (to Louise): “I’ve seen slappers in my time but this is a new low.”

Standout music: Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”.

Gene: “You know you really have to stop with all this psychological bollocks, Bolly.”
Alex: “Good shot.”
Gene: “I was aiming for her leg.”

Chronology: Still 1983 but specific date as to when, though I would say maybe mid to late summer.

Not a bad episode but a bit too routine for my liking. I just think given that we don’t have much time left, there needs to be more advancement on the bigger stories instead of the focus being primarily on the cases which they have been a lot more this season.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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