Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 3.4

Gene breaks into the Blue Peter Garden.
Ashes To Ashes - Series Three, Episode Four 
Written 28/6/12

Halfway through the final series, and I'm finding it ever more disconnected than before. There's some concentrated effort to focus on the characters, but that doesn't correlate with the overall tone; it's almost as if a character gains traits in one episode and then defaults to character stereotype in the next. That's the big problem with any mix of crime drama with another genre, in that the case-a-week format doesn't allow much character development. This week's episode certainly wasn't at all bad, but it was treading on themes and cliches that the series has driven into the ground, and its plot twists are signposted from a mile away.
     Following a drugs tipoff, the gang accidentally step on the territory of a neighbouring division. Their officer, DI Louise Gardiner, is undercover in the rising criminal organisation of disgraced criminal Terry Stafford and his son Daniel, with whom Gene has a vengeance. When Gardiner appears to have been attacked, they investigate in full force, but soon discover that the head of Gardiner's department has been bribed by the Staffords for years, and that Gardiner faked Daniel's attacks in order to keep the Police away from Terry's criminal activities. Gardiner is caught in stray gunfire and a creepy Keats ushers her into sleep.
     Gardiner was an interesting character for the most part, introducing a female presence into CID that due to the main cast's platonic relationships hasn't ever really shown up. For a while it seemed as if Gardiner would be joining the main crew; well, for a few seconds, anyway - that is, before the realisation that they're not going to introduce a new cast member only four episodes away from the finale and that the character was being obviously sneaky. It's an unfortunate sign that after the incredible creativity of the second series, the Bonanza is losing steam and writer efforts to present us with an epic finale are overshadowing the other episodes of the series.
Keats ushers Gardiner into death.
     There were a few character moments here of there that stood out, but they were sporadic at best. Chris's decision, after hearing Gardiner's claim of rape, to go down to the cells and beat up Daniel Stafford, showed his character's attempts to show heroism, but otherwise are completely at odds with what the character has always stood for - trying to follow the modern ways presented by Sam and be a good copper. That's the key to an overall problem with this series, that despite the sporadic historical references (including one to the vandalisation of the Blue Peter Garden this week), it could still be set in the modern era without changing a lot. The best of these character moments was no doubt Jim's final rites upon Gardiner, which is foreshadowing of the most blatant towards his role in Alex and Sam's world.
      Like most of the episodes in this series so far, there have been a few good elements to what are fundamentally flawed stories. 3.4 didn't fail to captivate; it just didn't do anything particularly interesting until the final few minutes, and that's a worrying trend in a series that beforehand has shown such creativity and skill. Onward towards the finale, I say, and try to ignore the next few weeks of dullness.


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