Ashes To Ashes series 3 episode 8: the spoiler-free review

Can the final episode of Ashes To Ashes match the standard set by the series thus far? Oh yes…

The golden rule of a spoiler-free review is not to give away an iota of the story.

The golden rule of a spoiler-free review of a series finale, particularly one as eagerly awaited as the finale to Ashes To Ashes, is this: if in any doubt, shut the heck up.

Thus, you’ll have to forgive us if this review is extremely vague, as we simply don’t want to risk spoiling the show in any way for you.

Instead, let’s get down to what we can talk about: the finale of Ashes To Ashes is brilliant. We’ve watched it twice now, and it’s still spinning around in our heads, with no sign whatsoever of going away.

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It does, as co-creator Matthew Graham has promised, wrap the show up. It does it logically, it does it in a way that makes sense, and it also does it in a way that’s going to have you perched fairly near the edge of your seat for the best part of an hour.

Will everyone love it? Of course not. Will some be disappointed? That’s inevitable. You can’t end a series such as Ashes To Ashes in a manner that will satisfy everyone.

But we’d counter-argue that it’s hard to see just what more could have been done. All stops have been pulled here to deliver a massively impactful final episode, and we’d wager right now that the overwhelming majority will be mightily impressed with it. It’s packed full of conviction, answers the questions that the show has posed, and is set to be discussed for a long, long time to come.

Internet meltdown is predicted for roughly 10.01pm on Friday night.

What’s more, the episode doesn’t cut corners, isn’t interested in flashy distractions or gimmicks, and instead pulls together some quite brilliant writing with outstanding performances from the cast, who more than match the high standard of the material. This is proper, high quality drama, superbly executed and quite relentless at times.

As you might expect too, this is as intense an episode of the show as we’ve seen to date. It does still make room for one more throwback to an 80s TV show, and it’s not shy of a few traditionally cutting, very funny lines too. They’re more appreciated than usual too, allowing you to temporarily breathe out under the weight of an extremely packed hour of very concentrated storytelling. There’s even a crime of the week story packed in there too, but inevitably, it takes a bit of a back seat this time round.

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And it’s wonderfully confident television, an hour of drama that’s very much in control of where it’s going. If we could give you one piece of advice right now, it’s this: record the episode. As soon as the credits rolled, we went right back to the start and watched it through again, and appreciated it even more second time round.

It is, were we, hunting for criticism, a million miles away from light Friday night fodder. That’s more a scheduling complaint than anything to do with the show, for this isn’t the kind of episode that sits well with a few beers and a curry on a Friday evening. It deserves and demands quite a high level of concentration, given just how much has been packed so tightly into one hour of television.

Please be pre-warned about that, because it’s an episode for those of us who have been avidly watching the show, rather than the casual viewer. There are no easy entry points here.

Yet it’s very much an episode that rewards all the attention you give it, taking the show out on a high, while it’s still at the peak of its powers. And while we’ll miss Ashes To Ashes a lot, and while our lives will be a bit emptier without Gene Hunt around on our TV screens, we’ll be talking about the show – and this episode – for many, many years into the future.

Bottom line on the final episode, then? It’s goosebump good. Really. And you might just be exhausted by the end of it…

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Our so spoiler-y-it-hurts-review will be live on Friday night.