Ashes To Ashes – Series 3, Episode 4.


“I am not drunk!” states DCI Gene Hunt.

“But you have been drinking,” DI Alex Drake retorts.

“It’s nearly dinner time, of course I’ve had a bloody drink!” Hunt explains.

Now this was a particularly good start, from the Quattro roaring in to the excellent script, and I feel this is a place where the writers never fall down – there is always a good beginning to an episode of Ashes to Ashes.

However, when it gets to Alex’s little speech after the intro to explain the situation, it is basically only that that reminds you she IS in a foreign place and really she shouldn’t be there. Apparently she has a daughter, but she hasn’t mentioned her for bloody ages, and whatever happened to the godfather character, Evan, who featured so prominently in the first series? Everything about her previous life appears to be shrinking further and further away, so does this mean the script writers aren’t going to bring her back to present day at the end of the series?

This episode seems to be majorly about double-crossing and pulling the wool over peoples eyes, and the Crime Of The Week centres around an undercover policewoman (Louise Gardener) and her being planted amongst a criminal gang (when did gangs ever engage in legal and above-board activities?) who have been deemed a “bunch of bastards” by Gene Hunt. The gang, the Staffords, have begun to deal in heroin, and, in a bid to become the main dealers on the street, have started killing off other dealers by over-dosing them on their own commodity. Cruel but effective. In detection work, Alex and Hunt go to visit a heroin addict, which is somewhat depressing as most addictions are, but it leads to an intriguing episode of the addict saying:

“You look like you’re visiting but you’re not are you? You’re staying.”

(Which means what?! Is she staying or going?!), and there is plenty of graffiti written on the wall stating “For a good time, call 6602” and “Molly was here” etc. Unlike Sam Tyler, there have been little or no flashbacks, and no one in 2009 trying to make contact with Alex Drake – she seems more cut-off than ever, and flinging her back to present day at the end of Ashes to Ashes seems, currently, like it wouldn’t work. It would be too blunt and incongruous.

Anyway, the undercover agent, Louise, is visited at her placement by Drake and Hunt, and then she turns up at CID somewhat bloodied and bruised, allegedly attacked by Daniel Stafford. This attack leaves DCI Keats a tad angry (brilliant!), and he oozes his usual negativity into every single scene. The team pick up Daniel Stafford very early the next morning, and “nick” him for having heroin in the glove compartment of his car. Or “motor”, as Ray says. After talking to Louise, Chris discovers that Daniel raped her, which sends him into a fit of rage and he promptly invades the cells and “beats Daniel Stafford into an inch of his life”. Which then leads to hospitalisation and Chris potentially losing his job, but Hunt remains ever loyal to his team and would not let such things happen.

The final scene is pretty epic – after finding out where the Staffords have Louise and discovering her kissing Terry Stafford (Daniel’s dad) – so she has initially double crossed him by being undercover, then double crossed the police by being ‘undercover’ whilst sleeping with who she is supposed to be spying on. She pulls a gun on the team, but Hunt shoots it out of her hand. Then Daniel Stafford, after fighting with Chris and Ray, drives his van into Louise, and, as she is drawing her last breaths, Drake smashes his door into him. Awesome stuff. What’s not so awesome is when Keats thinks it’s ok for him to first move Louise’s body (could cause further injury you idiot!), and then spend her last moments holding her. He is possibly the least sensitive character in this scene. There is an excellent camera shot on each of the team, showing how the death has affected them here.

A particularly good contextual reference in this week’s episode was the inclusion of the 1983 vadalisation of the Blue Peter garden. This actually occurred in November 1983, and it was comical with adding in the real footage for an appeal to raise funds to repair the damage. Hunt’s reaction was “It’s only a bloody garden!” Very good referencing, but it would have worked better if it hadn’t been light at 5:30am when Chris and Ray were picking up Daniel Stafford – it is never light at 5:30am in November.

So. Team relations. How are they going? Well, there was a lovely ‘eyes moment’ between Hunt and Drake, and another moment where they nearly kiss when Alex is passed out in her flat (again). But still nothing. Shaz rejects Chris’ affections (again!), but is quite clearly jealous when he starts talking to Louise. Ray continues to be a blunt machine, and Keats continues to be as disgusting as ever, although I think I may be getting used to this now. However, his main purpose appears to be to comment on the scene, saying unnecessary rubbish that no one wants to hear. He is a little too exacerbated for my liking – too stereotyped to take seriously, and it feels like the script writers have gone too far with this character. Still, can’t wait until his potential death – surely this has to occur at some point?

Next week looks pretty exciting – a character and policeman from Manchester makes a reappearance, and, at episode 5, we should be getting at least some strings tied up. Shouldn’t we?! Get the fuck on with it. Sometimes it does feel a little like surplus, and they could have ended it at series 2, but it still makes for good watching, and there aren’t many programmes around this well written at the moment. Also, I love Gene Hunt.

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