Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ashes to Ashes: Season 2 Episode 8

It seems that a few TV shows I watch are coming to the end of their current season this week, Ashes to Ashes being one of them (Smallville and Primeval are the other ones that come to mind). And this final episode of Season 2 goes out with a bang - followed by a fade to white and lots of shouts of "Bolly!".

Season 2 was a better series of 8 episodes than the first season, although still not quite as good as Life on Mars. Maybe this is because AtA is retreading a lot of familiar ground that LoM first explored? Or maybe it's because LoM was set in and around Manchester (my "home city" I guess) rather than AtA's London? Still, it is improving - perhaps due to additional little twists and weird events (such as the inclusion of Martin Summers, who appears to be another coma victim from the future) - which is unusual but very welcome.

In this episode we get Gene hosting Jackanory (hilarious!), Alex trying to stop Summers, Gene losing his trust in Alex, Alex discovering Summers is in the room next to hers in the future, Ray chomping on a phallic-like sausage (tee hee!), and the partial redemption of Chris after it was revealed he was a traitor to the team in last week’s episode.

Highlights were Gene's "You've been Quattroed" and a wedding-dress attired Shaz blasting away saving Chris. Of course, the biggest shock was Alex getting shot by Gene, the gradual fade and then waking up in 2009. But as Gene starts shouting to her from the monitors, we're left wondering is this the real 2009 or just another coma-induced dream? Has Alex gone mad?

Of course, we now know they'll be a third season of AtA, so somehow they'll have to pick this up and (probably) send Alex back to the 1980s. The currently favoured way-ahead is that Alex will "wake up" from the dream-2009 and find herself in a hospital back in the '80s. But who knows? There are dozens of theories out there about where Alex is, what it's all about and what’s going to happen.

And it's all this speculation and theorizing that, for me, is so fascinating. Sure, seeing a pastiche of an 80s cop show and looking at it through Alex's modern-day eyes can be quite entertaining but it can only take us so far (and we've currently had 4 seasons of this between LoM and AtA). It's the uncertainty of what's actually happening to Alex - whether Gene's World is a shared reality for cops in comas, just something made up by Alex's mind or something more - that keeps this interesting. It also helps a lot that the main characters, Gene, Alex, Ray and Chris, are so well realised and engaging.

A great ending to a good season. I can't wait for the third, and final, season next year!


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