Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 3.2

Shaz spends the episode uneasy about her
future in the force.
Ashes To Ashes - Series Three, Episode Two
Written 18/6/12 

Shaz is a weird character in terms of the series' relationship to its predecessor. There the "chick" was most definitely Annie Cartwright, and she remained rather in the background for both series of Life On Mars. It's a nice sign that as we near the end this second episode of the series delivers us with a Shaz-centric episode in the style of Lost (not the first comparison I'll be making) and improves her character in an interesting and complex way. It also consolidated a few things from the premiere; mainly Jim Keats characterisation and some of the series' main motifs.
     With construction work at CID making everyone irritated, the crew are sent a hand in the post branded with a crescent moon. Trawling through past cases, they discover a string of women killed and branded, then buried in waste ground in several spots around the country. Shaz starts feeling off and everyone notices. Further investigation reveals that all of the victims were divorcees and went to the same dating agency, one that has just happened to have opened a new branch in Fenchurch; Alex and Gene plan to infiltrate it. Alex talks to Shaz, who confides in her that she doesn't feel like being a policewoman is what she was meant to do. The next day, when they find the body corresponding with the hand, Shaz runs off.
     Trying to find the killer, Alex invents speed dating, getting a chance to look at all of the male clients who responded to her form, which was designed to match the victims. This is mostly played for comedy, which is a shame, except when she meets the unassuming real killer and later Jim Keats. Keats himself has tried to convince Shaz to leave the force, and she announces her resignation the next day. On the way home, she attempts to confront a gang of youths but they threaten her with the chisel that she was frightened of earlier in the day and she is completely shaken. Trying to maintain her support, the Guv puts her on the mission to catch the killer - a man with only a few months to live, who decided to spend those months taking metaphorical vengeance on his ex-wife. For her bravery, Shaz is promoted to plain clothes and has a weird moment of "Life On Mars Music" epiphany.
The bitter murderer.
     The problem with Shaz's character is that beforehand she had Chris to rely on for emotional support. We're never clued into the reasons why they split up between seasons, especially when their get-together in the Series Two finale was such an important moment for them. It feels like it's been put there specifically to create drama, and that makes the series a little transparent. The chisel motif makes a direct reference to the finale, which we won't get into here, but it would have been more fun to have had that motif running throughout all three seasons for a better payoff.
     Other than that, there's impressively little to say about this Shaz-centric episode. Nothing really stood out or wowed me; just the introduction of a few motifs. The main plot was predictable and uninteresting, the background plot hasn't really picked up any steam yet and it's pretty much disappointment all round. Better luck next time?


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