Ashes to Ashes (3.5): Giving me the SHIVERS

Raaah… we’re back firing on all four cylinders this week. There was nothing average about last night’s episode – from Alex’s dream about the lovely Sam Tyler, to the improved quality of Gene’s one-liners (“Not going to shoot him Bols? Then let’s go and run him over…”), the look of terror on Ray’s face, Chris body-popping – when they’re good, they’re very, very good.

Life on Mars fans will remember DCI “Bastard” Litton (and Press Gang fans will remember Lee Ross). It’s a delight to watch the tension between Litton and Hunt (Alison Graham describes it beautifully as ‘like watching two polyester-clad stags’ and I just can’t do any better.) as the former turns up on the trail of Manchester comedian Frank Hardwick, accused of stealing two grand from the Police Widows’ Fund.

You can almost smell the testosterone and cheap aftershave coming off the TV screen  – despite Litton’s nasty grey ‘Next for men loafers’.

Gene, of course, quickly discerns that there’s more to this than meets the eye, and determines to ruin Litton’s day by catching Hardwick (the great Roy Hudd) and arresting him on trumped up charges for selling hardcore porn. Alex, disapproving turns up to arrest Hardwick for the theft instead and gets to meet Ben Elton. (Incidentally, I’d love to know exactly which facet of Elton’s personality or career pissed off the writer so much that not only did he get crunched by Gene, but fatally shot by our bad guy – my money’s on We Will Rock You.)

Kudos to the writers too, for demonstrating just how fine the line between Gene’s outrageous one-liners and Litton’s downright offensiveness is. How they have kept Gene from teetering over that line in all this time is frankly miraculous. I also liked the little line about troglodytes they gave to Shaz – “It means big, strong men from the north.”

More worrying is Keats’ offer to transfer Alex to Fenchurch East and Gene’s refusal to talk about what happened to Sam. I still have faith in the Gene Genie (I even have a theory for what’s going on now), but I worry that Alex will be lost by the end of episode eight if she doesn’t take the leap of faith that Gene describes to her.

Actually, I’m worried about them all now – the look of terror on Ray’s face at seeing the edge of the world reminded me of a great novel about near death experiences (Passage by Connie Willis – possibly the most frightening book I’ve ever read – highly recommended). And here’s my theory – they’re all dead already (or as near to dead as makes no difference in the case of Sam and Alex); Gene is the guardian angel of this world; and perhaps he despatched Sam because Sam was threatening the stability of the world. That they’re seeing stars could mean the world is coming apart again. Whatever the truth of this world is, I’m damn sure that is what Gene whispered in the ear of the bad man at the end of the episode.

Speaking of which, it turns out that Litton’s righthand man DI Bevan is trying to kill Hardwick because he witnessed Bevan kicking a black teenager to death.

I’d say I don’t know why they had to use the Policeman’s Ball (as opposed to the Secret Policeman’s Ball) to lure Bevan out, but I do. It is so we can enjoy the sight of Chris bodypopping in cut-off vest top and shorts – or Oliver Newton Skelton, as Gene renames him. Not to mention the touching scene where Shaz and Ray singing Danny Boy (all that talk of dying… is giving me the SHIVERS. Sorry – rereading A Prayer For Owen Meany at the moment – my favourite book ever.)

Of course, just when everything seems about to turn out okay – Keats turns up to discipline Litton and show that actually he really does have power over them. Worse still is Alex losing her faith in Gene? He may be the only thing keeping her alive (he’s much more than a benign tumour, we know that already) and next week clearly has the potential for things to go badly wrong for someone. See you then?

Posted by Jo the Hat.

4 Comments

Filed under Ashes to Ashes

4 responses to “Ashes to Ashes (3.5): Giving me the SHIVERS

  1. Natalie

    you have given me the SHIVERS… I knew it had to be Owen Meaney from the headline.. that is my favourite book.. ever ever ever.. and it’s a great book I think to read along side A2A.. I had so many SHIVERS and goosebumps last night.. but Danny Boy, Ray seeing the Stars (and before Chris has) his complete journey and Shaz saying to him.. “so far from home”.
    I have your theory about Gene since S1ep8 when he told Alex he would always be there for you.. after he rescued her from the Clown/Father. Why can’t Alex trust him.. “Leap of Faith” I thought was key too. It was the most incredible episode last night.. Only 3 left..How will we cope?

    • You should also check out Passage then – that will also give you the SHIVERS. Talking of Owen Meany, can’t recommend the audiobook version (from Audible) highly enough. I get most of my reading done on audio since becoming a mum, and this is particularly good.
      I know it’s not an original theory and versions of it have been bashing around my head (and most people’s) since LoM, but last night was the first time I felt sure enough to say it out loud – enough corroborating evidence and it would explain why Gene made Sam disappear, why he’s sad about it and why he doesn’t want to talk about it.

  2. Natalie

    I will try them.. I have been looking for some good audio books.. read Owen Meaney for a book group a few years ago and couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Radio 4 did an amazing adaption last year.. with Toby Jones as Owen.
    do you think that keats is also a Guardian Angel and that is why him and Gene are at loggerheads… I didn’t think Keats had it in him until the scene with Louise.. my other half thinks that Sam is still alive and is the mysterious Newman that Keats talks about.. I wonder if Gene and Sam are some type of holy entity like the father and son.. ie God having to sacrifice his son Jesus. but I like the theory of Sam making their world unstable..
    as I keep saying there are only 3 episodes left.. I believe from interviews Philip Glenister is not keen on all the metaphysics and just concentrates on the story..it probably makes it all even more authentic. we are so close now! I have often wondered if the whole narrative is supposed to happen in a flash in the eye like the film Jacob’s ladder.

    • Keats may be trying to shift people/souls out of this world – but to heaven or hell? If it’s heaven (which would explain why Keats disapproves of Gene) then perhaps Gene disapproves in turn because the after-life is likely to be dull. If it’s hell, then it’s clear why Gene works so hard to keep the team together.
      Think Philip Glenister is ace – good on him for concentrating on the narrative – it’s an approach that works for me too.