With the past few weeks of Ashes To Ashes moving at breakneck speed, Operation Rose gaining momentum and the potential of Alex having a ‘get out of jail free’ card available to her if she turns to the dark side, things were getting interesting. And with the show nearing its finale things were well on the way to a superb climax. However, it seems that this week’s ‘filler’ episode really put the brakes on, stopping the superb plot momentum with an episode in which everything has been seen and done before.
After chasing down a suspect who really is not the smartest bad guy on the planet, Alex and Gene discover a floating body in the Thames, one which has signs that the victim was tortured before being thrown in the water. Identifying the victim as Colin Mitchell, Gene tracks down his father and wife and, after a funny scene involving a small and generally ineffective neighborhood watch scheme, we find that the victim used to work for sleazy loan shark named Trevor Riley, that up until that point has been working under Gene’s radar. That’s something that Gene is not pleased about at all.
Confronting the loan shark we find that there was a lot more going on with Mitchell than first thought, and that Mitchell’s wife Donna and Mitchell himself had layer upon layer of secrets. These range from absconding with insurance money to Donna having intimate relations with Riley in exchange for free passage to live their debt-filled life in peace.
Peeling back layer upon layer of lies and deceit, the team find that the eventual killer is the person they least expect (spoiler: Colin’s dad) and although every character goes through Gene’s own personal interrogation process, it’s the love between father and son and the piles of guilt that eventually lead to the conviction.
While the convoluted plot is very well developed, the whole process of deductions is somewhat clichéd and arduous, a sort of ‘who-dunnit’ with a pile of suspects, motives and secrets all piled together. Anyone could have done it and really it would not have mattered as the whole process was quite un-engaging and a little dull. The only real highlight of the episode was Gene’s special way of getting a confession and conviction from Riley the loan shark that involves a Triumph Dolomite, a car crusher and unpaid parking tickets.
Focusing on the ‘greed is good’ era of the 80s and the debt-filled lifestyle the Mitchell’s lead, I am sure the writer had good intentions in mind and in some ways was trying to comment on the debt crisis we are in today. But really the episode seemed much like a filler and even the sub-plot of Chris and Shaz’s up and coming wedding was resolved pretty easily. As a result, unlike a lot of the episodes over the past few weeks, there is a sense that nothing has changed. We do get an update of Alex in the recovery room in the real world, but unlike last week’s episode with the introduction of Summers, there is no real tension or movement forward.
Overall this was a pretty bland filler episode and even the comedy moments felt a bit flat. From Ray’s comment on Riley’s car to Gene’s rampage, this is all stuff we expect and have already seen done better before. With only two episodes left to resolve the series, hopefully the show will up its game and keep the quality as consistently good as the rest of the series rather than following this rather damp squib of an episode.
Check out our review of episode 5 here.