After a cracking start to the season and a few darker corners of policing being explored, the sombre tone continues, this week we see that the statement that ‘we are everywhere’ that was mentioned last week is indeed true.
Who the ‘we’ are will be explained shortly, but to kick things off it seems that after last week’s ‘lapse’ back into the real world of 2009, Alex is once again suffering from delusions and having trouble differentiating between realities. Not only do the sounds of rescue helicopters, ECG machines and weird messages on the primitive computers in the office continue to torment her waking world, but her dreams are filled with spooky images of her daughter, who it seems is becoming faceless, and dwindling from Alex’s memory.
And it’s not just Alex who is in a dilemma this week as Chris, who has gone from the comic relief of the show to an important and key member of the team, is also in turmoil as after his strip last week in front of Shaz. He takes an even more serious step as the notion of marriage proposals rears its head, causing him a lot of stress and worry as to when and where to ‘pop the question’.
With half the team having private worries and slowly becoming emotional wrecks, you would think there would be enough to worry about. However, after an accident involving Gene, the Quattro and an under the influence traveller, things get just that little bit worse.
Mirroring some of the darker messages from the end of last week, there are a few light-hearted quips about ‘the death of a Princess’. Meaning, of course, the classic family saloon ‘Princess’ car driven by the intoxicated traveller rather than the ‘Princess’ of Wales. We are reminded of Alex’s sinister encounter with the shadowed figure from last week who seemed to know ‘when she died’ (Diana), and who asked Alex what she was doing at that time. Nudging this sub-plot forward a little we are kept guessing who this person is, teasing us as to who and where this new cigarette-smoking antagonist is from and why he seems to know so much about Alex and her past/present/future.
This out of time and place concept is also explored further as, while the team are investing the traveller’s camp asking about the car crash victim, an elderly traveller has a foreboding message for both Alex and Gene, both of whom are not too pleased with what is said.
For Alex the message about forgetting her daughter stirs up even more memories and for Gene the notion of his fate being tied to a ‘Tyler’ is suggested. And for those who remember Life On Mars we get a potential teaser return of Sam Tyler. This foreboding message has a lot more to it than first seems, putting us all off track completely with the ‘Tyler’ actually being somebody else completely different, and one of the biggest shocks of this series so far.
As mentioned in both this episode and the last, the ideas of corrupt policemen as well as the Masons are quite intertwined. From the suspect of a doctor and associate of the travellers being ‘all square’ (a thinly veiled reference to Masonic beliefs) and Supermac’s insistence that there was a witness who saw Gene’s accident to protect both the force and himself from further questioning, it seems to be that the line between law enforcement and corruption is becoming ever more blurred.
However, as is usual for the show, things are not always what they seem. The travellers, it seems, are more innocent than first suspected and the bad guy is the very person who should be helping them. And there are a lot more sinister things going on than just an accident, and far worse ‘bad guys’ than somebody stealing cars or cutting handbrakes. The blight of corruption seems to be infesting even the closest and most reliable of people.
It also seems that even Gene is not immune to the corruption as he is induced into the Masonic fraternity and shown that the guardian or ‘Tyler’ of the secret-y secrets is none other than Ray! Ray, it seems, is a bit too free with his newfound power, both within the office hierarchy and his fists, taking out his frustrations and anger on such matters as the Falklands war on anyone who happens to be around, be it Chris or, more specifically, the travellers.
This ideas of untouchable corrupt people who know the right handshake is something that really hits home and it seems that Gene has ways and means to try and stop this type of thing. He confesses to Alex in a couple of sexually heightened scenes what his plans are and the idea of ‘opening up’ could be taken in any number of ways.
Once again, tight scripts, well developed characters and cracking pace show that Ashes To Ashes is going from strength to strength. From the continued relationship (and hopefully happy ending) with Shaz and Chris to Gene’s fight against the future and Alex’s encounter with this shadowy and sinister character, the plots, concepts and ideas this season are a whole lot darker. And even with the inclusion of Sooty and Sweep in a cameo there is no doubt that the moody tone set over the past few weeks is likely to stay for a while longer. Which is great as it’s cracking stuff, and one of the best dramas on TV at the moment.
Check out our review of episode 1 here.