Ashes To Ashes – The Final Chapter.

Every time someone said “Let’s find out the truth about Gene Hunt”, it always sounded so negative. So wrongly negative. The majority vote – or at least what the reviews said – seemed to believe he killed Sam Tyler. I never thought he did. Gene Hunt, as I believe has been discussed countless times, remains a loyal to his team as his team is to him. And, although I think it might have been better if none of us knew the truth (both viewers and fictional characters) as this has somewhat tainted potential re-runs and the non-serious side of Gene Hunt world, the truth turned out to be a positive thing, more or less, for Hunt fans. He was not evil. The evil one, AS I THINK I STATED ALL ALONG, turned out to be DCI Jim Keats. Jim ‘I don’t have a purpose until the final episode’ Keats.

The first showing on Friday made for exceptionally confusing viewing, in that I did not understand at all. Subsequent discussions between my watching companions were then needed, and when I rewatched it today, it made much more sense. But either the script writers wanted to be cryptic or they, too, were so lost by this point in Gene Hunt World that they weren’t relating too much to the viewer, who had no idea how this was supposed to end, anymore. I am dubious as to whether they had this explanation/ending planned since Sam Tyler was around, or whether, when they started writing Series 3, this is what they came up with. It seems a little more like the latter – surely Keats would have been around for much longer, given his somewhat incredibly intrinsic role in the whole thing? Fans have been confused, upset (mainly due, I have found, to the killing of the Quattro) and devastated by the end of this saga – I keep telling them it’s fictional – but what I am most upset about is the lack of anything Gene Hunt anymore. Obviously had it gone on much longer the whole thing would get boring and be ruined, but he’s such a good character how could you not wish for more of the same? I believe one interview with Philip Glenister actually asked the question “So why are you leaving Gene Hunt behind?”, which I found bizarre – surely it’s up to the script writers and the BBC budget, not one actor in a show of many many workers?

So much happened it’s hard to know what to write about first. I think I agree with the rumours – the episode could have done with being 90 minutes. It wasn’t rushed so much, but still could have been longer. The end of episode 7 saw Alex leaving Hunt alone in her flat, literally about to hop into bed with each other (in fairness, Gene Hunt probably would have been even more crude about it). I was extremely annoyed about this – it couldn’t ever happen now. Keats shows up and ruins the evening, as usual, and leaves Drake intrigued by a photograph of an old house – the old house that featured in the news report shown in Alex’s hospital room. Where a body has been found in a shallow grave. Obviously Alex jumps to the conclusion that it’s Sam – why would it be anyone else’s?

Oh how wrong she was. From what I seem to be able to deduce, from the very vague script  (which, incidentally, was just as funny this week – “His pulse was all over the bloody floor!” etc etc., – but seemed less so due to the ridiculously serious nature of all things ending. Too serious for what was one a light-hearted show) and things I have read in various places (ie. the internet), the world they are in is not the real world. I mean that was pretty obvious to begin with – no one travels back in time, no one can travel forward in time and not age (Hunt, Chris, Ray etc, from the 70s to the 80s had nothing in their appearance change), and no one can travel forwards AND backwards in time (Alex). But why are they there? And how are they there, if it isn’t the real world?

After leaving the three other members of the team to sort out a diamond heist in London, Drake races up to the location of the building in the photograph, given to her by Keats. Hunt finds out and tries to stop her, but he reaches the scarecrow on top of the hill (where the shallow grave is) just as she discovers the badge that says ‘6620’. As she digs in the dirt (literally and metaphorically), Hunt pulls a gun on her and orders her to stop, but she finds an identity card stating that the body buried is that of the ghost that has been haunting her. The police officer with the number 6620. The signature states it is a young Gene Hunt.

Keats, being the evil tosser that he is, reveals to Chris, Ray and Shaz, before Hunt and Drake can do it gently, through his ‘report’ (three Betamax tapes, addressed to each individually) that they are not really alive. The tapes contain footage of their deaths – this I totally did not understand at the time, and thought it was a prediction of their deaths – (what the hell were Oasis doing in a show that has predominantly amazing music?) – and when they realise that they have been dead all this time, they are, understandably, somewhat perplexed and confused and upset.  Keats tries to convince them that Gene Hunt has covered the truth up from them too long, but the REAL truth (I said it was confusing…) is that Mr Gene Hunt himself was unaware of things, as he had ‘forgotten’. How very vague. It appears that Ray killed himself after not joining the army, Chris was shot whilst on duty, and Shaz was stabbed by a car thief. This is when Oasis turned up (on the soundtrack), so we must surmise that Shaz died in the 90s.

So. If they’re all dead, why is everything still happening? Conclusions draw that Gene Hunt runs a world (or Limbo, as Keats yells) for troubled coppers, who have had dubious or undeserved deaths, and need to hang around for a little before they can go to Copper Heaven. Or Copper Hell, if they follow Keats. Yes, Keats turns out to be the Devil, as is suggested by his evil tempting of them, his constant “Gene Hunt’s a bastard so pick me instead” stance, and the small hints like the lift in their new police building going down (to Hell, one assumes), the three same numbers to press on the key code on the door lock, and the red button on the lift. Hints, hints, hints, but you don’t actually notice them until you watch it a second time. I was a little disappointed that it turned out to be a regular Good vs Evil battle in the end – that seemed a little too blunt and obvious – but it was still pretty good.

“Gradually they come to you, those who had issues with their passing, and you tucked in their shirts and wiped their noses. Sorting out the troubled souls of her Majesty’s constabulary.” Ironically, Keats says it best.

There were some epicly touching moments. In the building next to where the young Gene Hunt is buried, Alex talks to Hunt, and finds out about his past. He died in 1953 – Coronation Day – hence the British flags still decorating the place, and didn’t deserve a shallow grave. I didn’t understand why Gene Hunt had been chosen to help the troubled souls, post-service, as he’d only died in ’53 – surely there had been plenty of dead officers priory to this? But as he remembers his past, he actually looks genuinely upset. There was some incredible acting here, so it was a shame that Keats had to turn up and ruin it. I liked the way the inside of the building looked like the interview room in ‘Life On Mars’.

In the midst of all this confusion and ‘explanation’ and so on, Shaz, Chris and Ray are still on the case of the diamond heist. A gang in London was going to hand over jewels to Dutch traders (I think?), and the downsized team plan on inserting Shaz into the operation. A sting, if you will. Before this can happen, Keats tries to tempt them to a new life in his division – which they initially take up, as it seems like there is nothing left for them in Hunt’s Fenchurch East. Luckily, Shaz returns to Hunt and Drake, all ready to complete the mission, and there is a fantastic scene where Hunt asks the rest of Fenchurch East “Are you armed bastards?”, and ‘Beat It’ plays as the Quattro and four other cars line up, driving to the London Aerodrome.

Everything goes to plan until the Dutch gang suspect Shaz. Luckily, Chris and Ray have not abandoned the team, and drive their car into the Dutch one, allowing Hunt to shoot the leader, based largely on the fact that he killed the Quattro. What a tosser.

So, the mission is a success, and the team agree the next plan of action is “pub”. As Hunt said, “you don’t need to put the word ‘why’ after ‘pub'”. When they get there, the Railway Arms from Manchester and Life On Mars times is there instead of Luigi’s. I assume this is because Luigi has gone back to Italy. I also assume the team moved to London after Manchester as that was where Alex was shot.

A final touching scene it is indeed – Ray, Chris and Shaz know they have to say goodbye to Hunt, and that he cannot come into the world beyond the door of the pub (one assumes this is Copper Heaven). Chris and Shaz make amends and get back together, in that Shaz declares her undying love for him (haha), and the three of them leave. Drake has spent the entire episode assuming that she is not dead, and her purpose in this world was to help the team move on. But Keats shows up (AGAIN), and tries to convince her she is still alive. She realises that it’s 9:06 – it is always 9:06 as this is the time she died (she WAS shot in the head…), and that Keats is not what he seems. He is evil. Drake becomes very upset about her daughter Molly, who hasn’t been present in this series as Drake has died and cannot contact her, but Hunt assures her that she’ll be fine. They FINALLY kiss, although it was a disappointment considering what it should have been, and Drake wants to stay in limbo with him so much, but I suppose just isn’t allowed to. It appears there are some rules. She leaves through the pub door, to the sound of ‘Life On Mars’ by David Bowie. Gene Hunt is all alone, but as soon as he walks into his office and picks up the Mercedes-Benz catalogue, a new case walks through the door, asking to have his iPhone back. The cycle begins again…


Ashes To Ashes – Series 3, Episode 6.

Wow. I think this was possibly the most intense episode of the series, minus maybe the first episode. Although this one was much more tension-themed than the first – the first just revealed a lot. Not a huge amount more than we already know was shown in this, which leads me to the question – how are they going to answer everything in the two hours left of ‘Ashes To Ashes’?

This week it was all about Viv. Which is unusual – he is something of a secondary character, as it were, but all episodes so far in this series have focussed on a different character (Shaz, Ray, Chris etc., although not a huge amount on Chris so far…), and I assume they had run out of them so chose Viv for this week. Crime Of The Week is all about a riot that has broken out in D-Wing of Fenchurch East prison – these are no ordinary criminals (“These are M and S criminals!”), in Gene Hunt’s words, they’ve “raped it, robbed it, killed it”. Them in riot form is pretty scary, and there were some epic scenes here: as Hunt and the first riot squad arrive at the prison, bricks and bombs are falling all around them to the sound of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ by U2 (despite being U2, it is a cracking tune, and so, so fitting for the scene). Even though the riot squad have shields (plastic ones, this is no mediaeval seige) and headgear, Gene Hunt leads them, unprotected, into the prison, like an army walking up to battle (seige may be the word). Then we get a horrific scenes of policeman (including Viv, I should point out) being attacked by the rioting prisoners, and these particular prisoners seem very angry. Bloodied and bruised, the squad regroup outside, but Hunt realises Viv is left inside. He makes to go back in, but is stopped (as he probably would get killed), and  returns to the police station.

There is a general West Ham theme echoing throughout, from Keats whistling ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’, to Drake taking Viv’s West Ham football to the prison, and Hunt saying “Now I hate West Ham, but tonight we’re all Hammers fans, ok?” A little creepy, but I suppose represents a good deal of British society.

Before the first wave of policemen at the prison, Viv tries to tell Gene Hunt something, but can’t quite get the words out. Just as he is about to, Keats interrupts, literally saying “Sorry Viv, you’ve missed your chance”. Which to me, from the tone of his voice as well, sounds like Keats knew something about the whole thing – the something that Viv wanted to tell Hunt. As the team observe Viv, through the CCTV, being held hostage by the prisoners, and more specifically the ringleader Jason Sachs,  Alex manages to fuck things up again with her psychological talks (“This goes at your own pace, in your own time,” Of course it bloody does, he’s the one with the gun!), and Viv’s life hangs in the balance.

While all of this is going on, there has been an escaped prisoner on the loose since the riot began. His name is Paul Thordy. He thinks he is Sam Tyler. Even though he doesn’t look or sound like him. Paul Thordy is a con-artist, and not one of Gene Hunt’s favourite people. As soon as Chris and Ray find him, Hunt exposes him to what Drake calls “torture”. Really, it’s just Hunt doing what he likes to do. As Drake interviews Paul Thordy, she becomes more and more sucked into what he is saying about Hunt and the truth behind the whole situation. On the surface, he appears to know his stuff: he informs Alex that the riot is a cover-up, and that Viv agreed to bring a gun in for Sachs as long as Sachs made one of his men own up to a crime that his cousin was accused of. However, later it is revealed that Sachs and Thordy used to share a cell, so it’s not wonder that Thordy also has plans of the whole building being electrified, and that if anyone walks in, people die.

While THIS has been occurring (told you it was intense), Chris and Ray have been sent into the prison as “press”, to see if they can get Viv out. But as soon as Ray catches a glimpse of the beaten Viv, he reveals himself and Chris to be who they really are. The three of them are strung up to the electrics, and they can only wait for people to come and save them – or kill them as they will if they enter the prison.There is an exceptionally touching scene between Ray and Chris as they think they are going to die: Chris tells Ray to tell Shaz that, if he doesn’t get out of there, he loves her. Lots of sentiment, and the tension builds as the next wave of crime-fighters are about to break into the prison, and Hunt and Drake are running to try to stop them…

Gene Hunt throws a rock at the electrics box to make the whole building down (YES Hunt!), and Chris and Ray are saved. But Viv is taken by Sachs, and by the time Keats arrives there (why does he turn up now? Good work. Twat), he is dying. Like Episode 4, Keats is the one holding the dying character… How odd. The theme of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ returns, and the team are left to comfort each other, surrounding Viv’s body.

DEPRESSING. But, team relations, I believe, were on the up. Keats is becoming more and more of a spare part, as he is only hindering the team and not helping (and why the hell does he always leave his mouth open after every insult he gives? He acts like a school boy instead of what he should be) (ARGH!). Ray and Chris are solid, as ever, and Hunt’s loyalty to the team is outstanding. The only annoying character (aside from Keats) this week was Alex, as she is more concerned with ‘finding the answers’ instead of helping towards what really matters. Why should getting back home matter now? It hasn’t mattered for a few years now. This new character of Paul Thordy was an interesting one – was he really Sam Tyler? (probably not). And who really is Keats and why is he there? (Angel of Death, as he always seems to be around when someone’s dying?). What’s going to happen in the last two episodes, and what the hell is going to be revealed about Hunt? Questions, questions! Although I’m not sure if I really want to know the truth about Gene Hunt and his world – I quite like it the way it is.

Next week looks out-bloody-standing – Keats leans more on Alex to find out stuff about Hunt (do your bloody job Keats), and relations between Drake and Hunt appear to be growing (I think?). Chris is not a popular character next week, and I want to know what happens!  Good it’s only tomorrow really 🙂

Ashes To Ashes – Series 3, Episode 5.

“No shooting Bols? Alright, let’s go run him over.”

Now this was a pretty good episode really – musically, it was outstanding, and there’s some old faces in the guise of “The Gay Tash Twins” – DCI Litton and DI Bevan from Manchester. These two slightly evil characters are actually oddly likeable – Litton anyway at least, and compared to DCI Keats they’re positively peachy. On their arrival in London, Keats basically latches onto them and insists on the cooperation of Fenchurch East with Litton and Bevan, to which Hunt says “Right – A Team – mush!”, and Litton refers to Keats as “pencil-neck”.

This episode was also good as it was not too Keats-heavy, as there were two new additions to antagonise the team instead.

Crime Of The Week this episode, ergo, focused around the reason Litton and Bevan were in the capital city, and initially it was because the chap they were chasing, Frank Hardwick, had stolen £2000 from the Police Widows Fund. However, as the episode progressed, and Hunt gazed a scathing eye upon the situation, it became clear this was not the motive for wanting Hardwick either in jail or dead. To me, it was hard to decipher exactly why DCI Litton actually wanted to ‘nick’ him, but Hardwick was terrified of both Litton and Bevan so there must have been something involving him.

Now, there was a fantastic high point when there was a race to capture Frank Hardwick between Litton and Hunt, and then the birds of the show, DI Alex Drake and Sharon Granger, managed to get there first. Absolutely supreme, especially when they took Hardwick out of the place of arrest semi-clothed. He is then shot at, and Ray thinks he’s seen something but can’t quite put his finger on it. There were loyalty issues with Ray quite emphatically in this episode – old colleagues from Manchester reverted him back slightly to his misogynistic ways, and he sways slightly to Litton and Bevan, but eventually comes through when he realises that what he saw was Bevan trying to shoot Hardwick. The race is on the both save and shot Hardwick, and this culminates in Hunt and Drake having a late-night talk with Frank in Luigi’s about why it is that he’s so scared of the Manchester contingent. He informs them that there had been ‘meetings’ for what he thought were coppers to ‘rough up’ the local unsavouries – drug dealers and so on – and that in one instance, he saw someone beating up a black man until he didn’t breath anymore. It turns out this man was Bevan.

So! Drake and Hunt confront Litton, but he genuinely is unaware of the situation (which is why I still need a motive for him wanting to get Hardwick), and this leads to a wonderful partnership between Hunt, Drake and Litton to bring Bevan down, and eventually, after a police gala (‘Opportunity Cops’), Hunt shoots him. Very good work from a patch work team that didn’t involve Keats too much, until the end when he arrests Bevan for “failing to prevent criminal acts perpetrated by your own officer.” To which Hunt replies “He’s got twenty-five years service! He’s innocent! I mean he’s a prat, but an innocent prat.”

So – team relations, I thought, were on the up, as the team worked very well and uncovered something that Keats was supposed to (corruption in CID) before he did (win!), and all loyalties were back in place before the credits, but at the end, Alex followed Keats after he asked “Do we need to talk?” (why Alex why?!), and she kept bloody asking Hunt anything she could about Sam Tyler. My opinion on the Sam thing now is that he left Life On Mars world with the help of Hunt (good help, I assume he wanted to leave), and Hunt is trying to cover for Tyler as there is something negative about the whole situation.

Ray had his “Life On Mars” moment this week and saw stars, like Shaz has done previously, and Alex seems to do all the time, and Chris achieved some excellent dancing and body popping at the police gala and later in CID, Shaz teamed up with Ray for some singing also at the gala, and Drake spoiled the whole thing by buggering off with Keats at the end. Each week I am more and more disappointed in Keats, as he seems to have less and less purpose – and this technically means he shouldn’t be there. Why does he have power to be so evil with no reason? It makes for something of an unbelivable character – you can almost see Daniel Mays just being horrible for the sake of it when he’s acting, as there’s no motivation to be so otherwise. Sort it out writers…

Next week there appears to be some form of riot in a prison, hostages and press reporters, and possibly something bad happens to Ray and Chris – I don’t know, but it’s only two days away, and less than a month until the end of the whole thing, so not much longer to wait!

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.