It’s a TV blogger’s curse when watching any TV show: you spend most of the episode planning what you’re going to say. [[Ashes To Ashes (TV Series)|Ashes To Ashes]] is particularly difficult, because they jam so much into every episode, you couldn’t possibly comment on it all without pasting in the script.
Last night’s episode was stuffed with action: from the usual Gene Hunt quips and dopey Skeltonisms “Mime artists? Get a job…” to Carling’s crisis of confidence in the police force, Alex torturing her future ex-husband (pure brilliance) and the mysterious Martin Summers reveals himself and asks for Drake’s help in return for helping her get home.
Oh yeah, and there’s the little matter of a trans-gender former crook who returns from a stint in Spain as a blonde named Gaynor. After faking his own death two years previously. Sometimes I think Ashes plays it fast and loose with credible storylines. But since it’s a show about comatose peole travelling back in time, we’ll overlook that, OK?
Now that we’re past the midpoint of the second series, I think it’s safe to say that Ashes is probably one of the best television dramas on British TV screens at the moment. Not only are the individual episodes gripping and funny in their own right, but the series arcs are immersive and I’m full of questions as to how the series will end and if/how Alex will get back home.
If – as I said in a previous review – Gene Hunt is getting tamer, Alex Drake is becoming a real tough nut. Not only does she sanction Carling to beat up someone they’re interrogating, she threatens the same guy with having his nuts squeezed tight in a vice. And she’s very convincing!
Bringing Drake to the burglary of her future in-laws is a stroke of genius. At first she beats herself up about not anticipating the event, but finally comes to realise that she cannot actually change events. Better still, she meets her future ex-husband and impetuously uses the opportunity to criticise him for his future indiscretions, thus completely freaking the poor 14-year-old out! (A touch of the Minority Report there, perhaps? Punishing him for future crimes?)
Against the running theme of police corruption, Ray Carling considers quitting the force for the army. Until Drake cleverly tricks him into handing over his application form and then rips it up in front of him! Drake herself is given a choice by Martin Summers – if she becomes corrupt, he’ll help her get home. And despite her desperation to get home, she refuses on principle. Funnily enough, I’m now wondering whether Alex really wants to get home – the reduced role of her daughter in this series makes me think otherwise.
Oh yes, full kudos for having a criminal who commits robberies in a Margaret Thatcher mask and having the street name of Metal Mickey. Remember Metal Mickey? Here’s a visual: