Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 2.2

Jed did a barrel roll.
Ashes To Ashes - Series Two, Episode Two

One thing now immediately obvious from my so-far two episode wander in to the Fourth Series of the Bonanza is that after Ashes To Ashes' shakey start, the producers finally know how to milk the concepts at hand for all they're worth. Unlike previous series, Series Two is a nest of golden continuity. Its themes are cohesive and flowing, its characterisations are delicious and the soundtrack is the best it's ever been. 2.2 struck at the heart of this series' core themes and did so with a gusto that has made me that much more excited for the rest of the Bonanza.
      The episode began with a trip to a group of Travellers, where known criminal Jed Wicklow flipped his car after having a shunt from Gene in a car chase. Jed left behind his abused and pregnant girlfriend Elva, who is currently being looked after by the swarthy Dr. Battleford. While there are whispers of conspiracy to cover up Gene's possible implication in his death, Alex finds evidence that implicates Battleford - who replies to Gene's follow-up with a certain type of handshake. While Gene is secretive and holds Alex at arm's length, she undergoes her own investigation. On the side, she begins to realise that her memories of 2008 are slipping away from her.
Gene joins the Masons.
     After a pile of evidence against Battleford is ignored, Alex follows Gene one night and finds him joining the Masons. The next day, with the evidence against him set in concrete, Gene confides to Alex that he is aware of the wide-spread corruption within the Met and needed to infiltrate the Freemasons to discover how far up it went. Using the newly discovered fact that the barely-over-age Elva's baby belongs to Battleford, Gene has him arrested and sent down. As SuperMac barely lets it slide, Gene and Alex look ahead to battling the Masons' influence. And finally, in other developments; Alex speaks to the man who abducted her last week, Chris proposes to Chaz and Kevin Hales has disappeared from prison.
     So far I'm loving the characterisations in this series. Gene gets to become a complex human being instead of a shouty caricature, and his internal conflict over the Masons is one of the best parts of the episode. Alex is also acting more like a real person than she did in the last series, and all is well. Much praise has to go to Dean Andrews, whose Ray this week became much more angry and sinister due to both his involvement in the Masons and the escalating reports of the Falklands' War, and Roger Allam as SuperMac. SuperMac is a brilliant villain - creepy and unnerving, but with that hint of authority that gives him a commanding presence in every scene he's in.
Gene ignores the will of the Masons.
       The Bonanza has covered Police Corruption approximately four times prior to this series, but here we really get the final say on the matter. 2.2 delved into the world of the Masons and explored it through characterisation rather than Mars' sudden shock revelation that Harry Woolf was crooked. It was also a great way of developing Ray and Chris as characters; the former to demonstrate the ubiquity of the issue as well as the character's own neuroses, and the latter in his complete rejection of the Cult in the name of love. It's really quite touching.
       Because of its continuity, its deeply-written themes and its excellent use of characterisations, the second episode of Ashes To Ashes' sophomore series far exceeds everything else that the show has done before. The examination of Police Corruption through the different viewpoints of Alex and Gene was absolutely stunning, and I admit that I loved every second.


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