This week’s episode of Ashes To Ashes sees two former colleagues of Gene’s follow him down to London to chase down a suspect who’d fled Manchester.
The Manchester cops have traveled to London to hunt down a comedian called Frank Hardwick. They claim that Hardwick has stolen from a police widows pension fund, but Hunt and the others suspect that a stitch up is in progress. And they want to find out why.
Introducing Litton and Bevan at this stage was a fantastic plot device: their very presence seems to put Gene Hunt on red alert. Drake notes the parallels between Hunt and his ex-colleagues: “they make you look positively homo erectus.”
It was interesting to watch the little touches that showed the similarities between Hunt’s crew and the Manc coppers. When Litton viciously kicks a suspect when he’s down, Hunt mirrors it with a kick of his own. And sitting in the CID room, Ray Carling and Jeff Bevan chew gum in exactly the same rhythm.
Prostitutes and stand-up comedians
A quick shout-out to Camille Coduri, who looked pretty tasty as a glammed-up hooker, all crimped hair and cleavage. Lady, if you’re reading this, you are a joy to watch. I can’t believe I have a secret crush on Rose Tyler’s mum…
Roy Hudd did a brilliant job as comedian Frank Hardwick, channeling all the politically incorrect stand-ups of the eighties. All that Bernard Manning/Mike Reid type vulgarity was just excellent. Lee Ross was fantastic as an almost mirror-image of Hunt, all stitch-ups and violence behind that ridiculous mustache.
Seeing stars and conspiracy theories
We’re getting dragged into a whole new world of theories about how the series will conclude. Ray and Shaz are both sharing some surreal experiences: those spotlight moments when Life On Mars plays in the background. We witness Ray seeing the strange stars that Drake and Shaz have also seen, and Chris Skelton makes a very funny remark about calling mission control.
Let’s drag in a flyaway comment Hunt made (also in the quotes section below): “Of all the forces in all the world, they end up in mine.”
Is Hunt referring to Sam Tyler and Alex Drake, or does the conspiracy stretch right through Hunt’s department? Are they all comatose refugees from different eras? And why are more of them starting to experience trippy things like the stars – in the past it’s only been the central character of Alex or Sam. Are we moving towards a theme of awakening with all of the Ashes To Ashes characters?
An interesting comment from Bevan to Gene Hunt when they’re in the middle of a stand-off: “When did you grow wings and a halo?” It reminded me of something Rosie-Lee said on our Theories on how Ashes To Ashes will end thread. She thought there might be some good versus evil motif running through the series, but we need to work out whether Gene Hunt is on the side of the angels or the demons. Hence the halo and wings quote?
Jim Keats corner
Keats was a little bit back to front this week. Despite being out to get Hunt for his renegade methods, he initially backs DCI Litton. Yes, he offers the full support of the department when Litton shows up in London.
However, Keats changes his tune when Litton works with Hunt to bring down Bevan. He uses police procedure against Litton in order to get him suspended from the force. Sour grapes? I think so. Keats hasn’t been terribly successful in turning people against Hunt so far.
And I don’t think Drake had much of a reason to leave with Keats, unless she’s especially sore about Hunt destroying the Sam Tyler evidence.
On the subject of Hunt covering things up…what’s that all about? And are we talking about Sam Tyler’s disappearance or his death? The two phrases seem to be used interchangably, don’t they? Could it be that Sam is still out there, minus his trademark leather jacket?
And we largely ignore it, but when Drake talks to Hunt about her world, he tends to pointedly ignore her. Sometimes this hints at an awareness that she’s out of place, that he understands her should-be-nonsensical babbling. Tonight, more than ever, he seemed to be acknowledging that there is something she doesn’t know. But for some reason, he still doesn’t want to tell her.
Which is why his burning of the Tyler file and shooting of Jeff Bevan are all the more suspicious. He’s going to extraordinary lengths to keep Bolly in the dark about something.
Oh, and a stray observation: Officer Half-a-face didn’t appear in tonight’s episode. He’s a very unreliable phantom copper. And yet again, no references to Drake’s daughter.
Quotes from this episode
- Gene Hunt: You serve eight years in the same manor, you know someone. Trust me, Litton’s a lying little bastard weasel boy.
- Litton: “Last week, Frank Hardwick became scumbag number one.” Hunt: “Why, what did he do? Throw up all over your next for men’s loafers?”
- Bevan: “London’ll turn you soft as a plimsole full of shite.” Shaz: “How many sugars for the troglodytes?”Bevan: “Troglodytes? What’s that mean?” Shaz: “It means big, strong, from the north.”
- Gloria asks the eternal Ashes To Ashes question: “Good cop, bad cop. I wonder which is which.”
- Alex Drake cuts a Ben Elton lookalike down to size: “Wanna know what’s really funny? In twenty years’ time, you’ll be fat, bald and writing soft rock musicals.”
- Litton: “If I were talking to the old Gene Hunt, I might have a little quake in me boots right now. But I come down ‘ere and you’re surrounded by halfwits and girl guides who don’t take orders.”
- Hardwick: “How do you brainwash a policeman? Put him on a bidet.”
- Bevan: “The thing about Gene Hunt…it’s not what he did. It’s what he got other people to do.”
- Hunt: “Look at us, like Sapphire and Steel. I’m him and you are her. Teamwork. Cop solidarity.”
- Hunt: Of all the forces in all the world, they end up in mine. (Who ends up in his force? A possible side-reference to Sam Tyler and Alex Drake?)
Hello, Railway Arms
I just wanted to finish off this review with a quick hello to the folks over at the Railway Arms, a forum dedicated to discussing Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes. They’ve been kind enough to link to my reviews for the last few weeks, so thank you guys, and hello. Do feel free to log on here and leave a few comments!