Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 2.3

David Bradley is the episode's only strong performance.
Though not as lively as last week, 2.3 continued a run of good-quality Ashes To Ashes, taking a lot of the themes set up so far and developing them. Mainly it was a Life on Mars-style setup of Alex fighting against an exterior force through the metaphor of her dreamscape, something that Ashes To Ashes is not in the favour of doing. Ultimately it was an issue that made the episode that small rung lower than the norm, but it didn't at all affect my enjoyment of this week's story.
     A scientist in charge of a Vivisection Lab arrives in CID, his daughter having discovered a dismembered rabbit as a warning from an Animal-Rights radicalist. On their way out, a radicalist on a motorcycle attacks the father and daughter with a bomb, leading Gene to pick up the case. With no leads, Alex focuses on convicted radicalist Robin Elliot (the excellent David Bradley, who excells in everything he's in).
     Robin knows more than he's telling, but even with the assistance of his old friend Jeremy he doesn't reveal anything. After a University Shooting Gene catches Adrian, a younger radicalist, but attacks are still taking place. After Robin's hunger strike sends him into hospital, Alex gets the last piece of the puzzle - a letter leading back to Robin's old friend Jeremy. He had been part of the events that Robin was arrested for seven years prior, and Robin was blackmailing him into comitting the radicalist acts.
     In the arc storyline, Kevin Hales is found to have committed suicide in his cell, something that Alex and Gene are suspicious of. Although Gene doesn't suspect that Supermac will go as far as murder, the rogue Superintendant tells Gene as a "brother" to amend the initial arrest files to mark Hales as suicidal. Gene refuses, and at the end of the episode SuperMac informs him of his transfer to Plymouth.
     It was fun, I suppose. It felt clever, in places. But it didn't really feel like anything new, and the angle of Alex fighting to stay alive felt like an unnecessary hangover from Life On Mars that I thought Series Two could have avoided. Even the arc storyline played out in a particularly predictable way; luckily that will change next week. That didn't stop the characters from being enjoyable, but they didn't go anywhere in particular.
     Episode 2.3 carried on a few themes from last week and was certainly enjoyable and interesting, but the characters and plotlines moved in predictable ways. The only stand-out thing is David Bradley's performance, which is magnificent. In this, the 27th Hour of the Bonanza, there are some things that we know not to do, and 2.3 did them. A real disappointment.


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