Ashes to Ashes Series Three
Episode One (8.0)
Series three of Ashes to Ashes begins with Alex back in the present day, or is she? It may be that she is stuck in a coma in 1983 and Gene is on the run for accidentally shooting her.
Best Moment: So many, but here’s a few…. the DVD with Gene & Co. on the cover and firing up the Quattro to the the sound of “Sweet Dreams are Made of These” by the Eurythmics. Also loved the end when Keats enters Gene’s office and reveals his true colours.
Verdict: I would’ve loved to have seen more with Drake in the present day, maybe even doing research on Gene Hunt to see if he really existed. That said, this was a fantastic opening episode. As Gene fights to reestablish his authority after having skipped the country, we get some interesting scenes with the new D.I., Ray, who just wants a little bit of praise from his boss for having kept it together these past few months. Then there’s this new character, Keats. Is he a good guy? Gene certainly wouldn’t think so. Of course, we’re learning that Gene might not be quite the crusader of good and saviour of puppies, after all. Not really a surprise. Not a real stretch given some of the things he had his hands in back in series one of Life on Mars. And speaking of Life on Mars… just who is this mysterious character? My best guess is that we’re supposed to assume that it was Sam, and that Gene had something to do with Sam’s death. But this is early days yet, and no doubt this third and final series of Ashes will take a few twists and turns before the end- all to some ultra cool eighties tunes.
Episode Two (8.5)
This week’s episode has Shaz thinking about leaving the force, while the fellas at CID investigate a dating agency which may be connected to a serial killer. Meanwhile, Alex is busy making discrete inquiries into the death of Sam Tyler.
Best Moment: Do you even need to ask? What can possibly top the opening for this weeks episode with Gene & Co. reenacting that classic Billy Joel music video, Uptown Girl. So funny we had to watch it again, after watching the original video to see just how close they got it.
Verdict: Another fantastic episode, although, they really couldn’t top the opener. The main case was interesting enough, although why they didn’t get out and follow Shaz, I don’t know. For the first time, I found myself as frustrated as Sam or Alex must be by the lack of technology. Did I feel that Shaz was in danger, or that she really would leave the Met? No, not really. But it was an interesting journey for her. I must admit, during the first series I didn’t much care for Shaz, but by this point, I really do want to see her promoted. The stuff with Ray was pretty hysterical, as was everyone involved in the Speed Dating scene. As for Alex’s investigation, it’s coming along slowly. There are certainly discrepancies in the case. I can’t imagine that Gene killed Sam, and the mysterious figure that keeps visiting Alex is clearly not Sam. Are we supposed to know who he is? I’m not sure. As for Keats, who else noticed that he was in the credits? I guess this Keats character is not going anywhere, much to Gene Hunt’s chagrin I’m sure. And what about all these little clues within the episode. 6-6-20 which appears first on Alex’s desk and then on the coat of the man with half a face. Or when Shaz agrees to stay, the camera closing in on her while the Life on Mars music plays and Nelson’s voice can be heard saying “Welcome.” I suspect that once this series is over, I’ll be rewatching it (and probably LoM as well) from the very beginning, in search of clues.
Episode Three (7.5)
This week CID tackles an arsonist targeting polling stations during election week.
Best Moment: Lots of nice Ray moment this week, especially when Ray saves the day by connecting to the arsonist and then threatens Alex with itching powder if she tells anyone that he was telling the truth about his dad.
Verdict: Alas, not nearly as exciting as the previous weeks episode, but still a solid episode overall. The case was a bit more predictable, probably because arsonists in movies nowadays always end up being the fireman. There was a lot of nice character development with Ray this week. He’s come a long way from his LoM days, that’s for sure. Speaking of, we got another weird shot this week when Gene buys him a cigar where the camera closes in and we hear Nelson and the LoM music. This is becoming a recurrent theme. Does this mean that next week we can expect a Chris-centric episode? A couple of interesting things to note: it appears that Shaz has also had a starry encounter just like Alex. Then we have Alex seeing the man with half a face. As he disappears into the background, she looks up and sees Keats looking at her. How is he connected to this mysterious man? As for Keats, he’s still gunning for Gene with a plan to divide and conquer, which just may be working.
Episode Four (7.0)
When CID investigates the deaths of a string drug dealers, they stumble upon an undercover operation, much to Gene Hunt’s chagrin.
Best Moment: Without a question the best moment can only be the discovery that the true perpetrators of the notorious Blue Peter gardens vandalism was in fact, Gene, Chris and company while in pursuit of a suspect.
Verdict: Another interesting story, though I could tell from a mile off that there was something a little suspicious about Louise, the undercover police officer, especially after Chris started falling for her. Speaking of Chris, what a long way he’s come! Back in his LoM days, you would never think that he’d end up beating up a suspect in custody, much less accepting money from corrupt officers, as seen last year. I had thought we might have a repetition of the whole close in on one of the characters as we saw with Shaz and Ray in previous eps. But this episode was different. Perhaps the most significant scene was of Keats holding Louise’s body at the end. What a strange scene, that just left you wondering just who or what Keats is. Whoever he is, he is continuing to worm his way into CID, as seen with Chris referring to him as “the gov.” Unfortunately, Alex is no closer in her investigation into Sam Tyler, however we did get to see more creepy scenes with the officer with half a face, as well as more mention of 6620.
Episode Five (7.5)
When Gene’s arch rival, DCI Litton turns up looking for a former stand up comic who supposedly stole from the Police Widows Fund, Gene decides there must be more to the story. Meanwhile, the influx of people from Gene’s past in Manchester gives Alex the opportunity to do a little more digging into the Sam Tyler case.
Best Moment: Well, the talent show, obviously. First we had Chris break dancing away followed by a nervous Ray singing “Danny Boy.”
Verdict: A really interesting episode. It was cool to see DCI Litton again, there to antagonize Gene. The crime story of the week part was entertaining enough, especially with Litton pilfering the radio from Ray. Although, seriously, why is it always down to the main characters in CID to do everything. Where’s the back up? Going back to Ray though…. so we know Ray has also seen the stars. Too bad Shaz wasn’t able to get him to talk about it. All signs seem to be pointing to the fact that Alex, Shaz and Ray are actually all in the same boat. So again I wonder, will Chris see these stars? Shaz and Ray’s relationship took some nice developments, most poignant of which was her going up on stage to help sing “Danny Boy” when Ray freezes up. It’s such a mournful song with lyrics such as “if I am dead, as dead I well may be” that this particular scene was quite ominous. And then there’s the Sam Tyler investigation. We didn’t learn anything definitive as yet, but DI Bevan strongly suggested that Gene had been directly involved in Sam Tyler’s death. Alex isn’t learning anything new from Gene himself, except that he’s worried enough that he decides to destroy the evidence, and he shoots Bevan after he gives himself up. What was the purpose of this? It seems that it was to scare Bevan, and if that is the case, then it worked like a charm. One wonders just what Gene said to Bevan when he was writhing on the ground to make him react with such sheer terror….
Episode Six (8.0)
A prison riot leads to Viv being captured and held hostage by a cop-killing prisoner. The only one who can help seems to be an escaped prisoner who believes he is Sam Tyler.
Best Moment: Probably the scene between Chris and Ray when they believe they’re going to die. It was just perfect for these two characters, funny and yet touching.
Verdict: Another brilliant episode from the folks at Kudos. It’s amazing to me how an episode can seemingly reveal so little, and yet so much at the same time. The writers of Lost should take note of how its done! We have Thordy (Sam Tyler’s last collar before he disappeared), a man who seems to know things that he shouldn’t possibly know about Sam. Is he crazy or is he telling the truth? Then of course we have Viv’s excruciating death. Others have mentioned how evil the scene with Louise dying in Keats’ arms appeared, in episode four. I must admit, I’m a bit dense, I didn’t notice it, although there was clearly some sort of supernaturalism at play. With Viv’s death there was no question about it. Not only does it strongly appear that Keats sucked out Viv’s soul, but it also looked like Viv would’ve had a good chance of surviving if Keats hadn’t come along. And what’s the connection between Louise and Viv? Both coppers ended up betraying the Met. If so, this doesn’t bode well for Chris who betrayed CID last year. And yet again we have another creepy song, this time it’s Keats whistling “I’m forever blowing bubbles.” Another seemingly benign song with creepy lyrics. And of course there’s the tin box that Alex finds in Gene’s desk. It contains a roll of undeveloped film and a photograph of a police officer with the numbers “6620” on his uniform. This of course is the police officer with half a face that has been haunting Alex. But just who is he and why is his picture in Gene’s desk?
Episode Seven (8.5)
While CID are still reeling from the loss of one of their own, the team must investigate a potential ANC attack on the South African Embassy. Meanwhile, Keats’ report on Gene is almost complete.
Best moment: Loved the confrontation between Chris and Gene. It was nice to finally see Chris become his own person. Which of course leads perfectly to my next favourite bit where Shaz, Ray and Chris compare notes on all all the weird things that they’ve been experiencing.
Verdict: A brilliant penultimate episode. All the pieces are in place for a devastating finale. We finally know that Gene didn’t kill Sam, but instead helped him to fake his own death. Of course, just as Alex is beginning to trust Gene again, Keats shows up on her doorstep with damning evidence against Gene that sends her running- at the most inopportune time. No doubt Gene will be quite upset about that! Of course, Alex is foolish to trust Keats. What’s with giving him that roll of film she found in Gene’s desk? Surely she realises that he’s out to get Gene, any way he can! Speaking of Keats, not only is his report done, but he apparently has video tapes labeled with Chris, Shaz and Ray’s names. This of course leaves us wondering what exactly is on these tapes. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.
Episode Eight (9.0)
We finally get answers as to who or what Gene Hunt is, what Chris, Ray & Shaz have been experiencing, and whether or not Alex will be able to go home again.
Best Moment: Far too many to list. I loved (as heartbreaking as it was) Gene’s expression when Alex discovers the body of the mysterious copper with half a face. For different reasons, I also loved the destruction of the Quattro. The scene was hilarious and perfectly signified the end of an era. I also adored Daniel Mays performance as Keats’ facade breaks down throughout the episode, finally revealing a feral, demonic nature.
Verdict: I don’t say this often of finales, but this one was just about perfect. Unlike other recent finales, everything made sense- not that it was predictable- more like getting the final pieces to a particularly difficult puzzle. It’s generally what you thought it was, but you didn’t see them coming together in quite that way. Well, I didn’t, anyway.
I should say that the finale didn’t offer all the answers. Some you have to come up with yourself. After all, it’s never really explained what Keats and Gene are and what their relationship is to each other. Although it’s strongly implied (downward elevator to hell, anyone?). Gene appears to have once been a regular copper, who died, becoming a guardian of a type of police purgatory, guiding coppers until they are ready to go to heaven. And the way to heaven just happens to be via the Railway Arms.
But backtracking a moment, how about the big reveal for Ray, Chris and Shaz! Again, this is not particularly surprising, but the scenes of them watching their deaths is still visceral. The tapes explain so much of why these characters are the way they are. We finally got to know why Shaz reacts the way she does to screwdrivers and why Ray always seemed like such an inherently sad character, and why he so desires Guv’s approval. The revelation about the video tapes is just what Keats needs in his bid to divide and conquer. Of course, it doesn’t last long, as the trio return to help the Guv, as we always knew they would.
And what about the revelation that Alex in fact died at 9.06 and that she would never be seeing her daughter again. What a gut wrenching scene! This is it for the team. This is goodbye, as Shaz, Ray, Chris and Alex get ready to follow Nelson into the Railways Arms where they can move on. I can’t help but feel a slight twinge of sadness that Gene can’t go with them- of course, that’s not Gene’s place, never was. He’s got more wayward police officers to guide. What’s also clear is that his entanglement with Keats is just one of many. And so, by the end of the episode, we find Gene already shopping for a replacement car, ready to deal with a new batch of CID recruits. What a perfect way to end one of the best UK series of recent years.