Sometimes I think the BBC do it right with these short series’ like Ashes To Ashes. A paltry eight episodes and the series is over already, but if you enjoyed it as much as I did, you’ll already be gagging for the next series.
But let’s not wander off to the end of the episode – when we join in this episode, Chris is still an outcast in the department: Ray’s barely speaking to him, and it’s not certain whether Shaz is still interested either. The only person who can remotely sympathise is Alex Drake.
It’s a result of Drake’s forgiveness of Chris that the episode really takes off. Chris – still in contact with the crooks who have a hold over him – uses his position to keep Drake in the loop and tells her the details of the heist that is Operation Rose. In a stroke of luck, Drake remembers the heist from her studies and uses this knowledge to foretell where the heist will end up.
Unfortunately, rogue time traveller Martin Summers has left one of Drake’s recordings on Gene Hunt’s desk and he hears some unpleasant comments that she’s made about him. When he enquires about the tapes, she decides to come clean. But her patter about being ‘from the future’ upsets him and he loses trust for her. With good reason since SuperMac was crooked, Chris Skelton was compromised and he thinks Drake is making a fool of him.
As the episode reaches its mildly gripping climax, Hunt suspends Drake and warns her that if she gets in the way of his investigation, he’ll kill her. And as Operation Rose takes its course, everything pans out as Drake predicted. Summers flees the scene, and captures Drake along the way, but Hunt appears and after a short altercation, shoots Summers dead. Just as everything looks settled, a floozie who’d been working on Gene throughout the episode appears and holds Drake at gunpoint. As Drake breaks her hold, Hunt shoots, but manages to hit Drake.
And that’s where things get really interesting – will Alex wake up in 1982 or 2008? Well, the big head bandage is a bit of a giveaway. She’s briefly reunited with Mollie and we all breathe a sigh of relief – with Drake back in 2008, surely she’ll be in a position to look up Gene Hunt and the others? Will someone finally get to the bottom of this mysterious parallel universe?
No. Things get even more bizarre. Despite Drake seemingly being alive and well in 2008, Gene Hunt suddenly starts beaming messages to her through anything with a screen attached! He’s in trouble – having shot Drake in 1982, and having openly threatened her life if she showed up at the crime scene, people believe he shot her deliberately. What a great set-up from the writers. Now Drake is in the impossible situation of being home, but being the only person capable of clearing Hunt’s name in 1982.
More importantly, the universe is potentially turned on its head – when we believed that Alex was from 2008, the ‘present-day’ found ways of getting messages through to her – like the number of milligrams of medicine Drake had been given. But now we have a message coming to the present from 1982 – does this throw the Ashes To Ashes universe into a spin? Should we be asking more questions about the nature of this reality – if Alex is fully conscious and in her own time, how the hell is she seeing Gene Hunt on TV screens? Is it fair to say she might be brain damaged, or is something else afoot?
I don’t know, but tonight’s finale was a fantastic conclusion to the series. And it’s nice to know that there’s another series in the pipeline. Hopefully we’ll get to see if Hunt really exists or if he’s a foul-mouthed figment of people’s imaginations!
Did you enjoy it?