‘So when they say they launder money… they don’t really wash it then?’
These wise words, and the naïve view of Chris, shows that even with the continued criticism of Ashes to Ashes by some members of the press, the show has not lost its ability to entertain. Personally I cannot see where the criticism is aimed, this show is not – as I say every week – Life on Mars, it is a different beast entirely, albeit one that still has a police setting and Gene Hunt in it. And the criticism of Keely Hawes for not being John Simm is just wrong: as well as looking gorgeous in 80s gear, she has had to tackle subject matters and stories that are far darker than the relatively light and fluffy crimes and situations dealt with in the prior series. This latest episode is no different.
This week kicked off with hallucinations; the bullet that has ‘shot’ Alex back to 1981 and is holding her on the brink of death is the focal point of the beginning of the show. Drifting through bed-sheets in darkness, is Alex dreaming or is her life flashing before her eyes? Is she dead, dying, in a coma or really back in time? It’s a question that is touched upon, but still ambiguous to keep you guessing.
Quite literally shooting back into the Ashes to Ashes world, Alex, Gene and co are called upon to investigate a robbery from a local post office by a extravagant cocky burglar who has a unique calling card and style. As usual, things are not what they seem. From an elaborate motorcycle and car chase, to Gene digging up his past, this episode is initially full of red herrings and misdirection, full of surprises and quite touching moments.
As well as this initial plot, we also have a storyline that deals with Alex as she potentially edges closer to death. The use of ice, cold and illness is used superbly as a metaphor for the life draining out of her, and the sinister clown it seems as the series progresses is being used to represent death. On the opposite side however we seem to have Gene representing life and with the last minute rescue he provides this week it seems the sexual tension is also switched up a gear.
This episode again seems to be getting darker: we have not only the deeper psychosis of Alex, along with her troubling childhood and issues, but also the crimes the team investigate are getting meaner, with the use of guns and gangs killings becoming a common theme.
That isn’t to say there is not some fun on the way, as both Ray and Chris still provide the much needed comic relief to the show. From their ‘bang-bang’ shotgun song and dance routine at the beginning, to Ray stating that Chris was ‘becoming gay, all you want to do is spend time with women’, it’s often comedy gold and delivered with such unintentional dry wit that it would give Leslie Neilsen a run for his money.
Overall this was once again a superb episode, helped along the way by some cracking 80s tunes. Ultravox’s Vienna makes an appearance, as well as the very apt choice of Visage’s Ghosts, as the soundtrack to the very creepy and more harrowing hallucinations that Alex is experiencing.
This was a great episode, to add to this already top-notch drama, and both actors and writers alike that should ignore the nattering and back-chat opinion of gutter press reporters and keep up with the first rate work. Heck, if we didn’t have shows like this, we would have the schedule filled up with repeats of inferior shows like Crime Traveller or Bugs. Remember them?