Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 3.6

Paul Thordy claims to be one Sam Tyler.
Ashes To Ashes - Series Three, Episode Six
Written 9/8/12 

Woah, someone decided to get serious all of a sudden. After five weeks of bandying about with prophecies and cryptic hints with very weak main plots, the finale spirit finally kicked in with a dark and brooding story that struck at the heart of our characters and took time to fuck with the audience's perceptions. It also saw one of our main cast actually die, which is pretty breathtaking when you consider how safe the series has been in that regard up until now. Spoilers follow. (As if you care.)
       There's been a prison riot, and with desk sergeant Viv having gone inside to sort things out, the place has been overrun, with the brutal ringleader Sachs holding him as a hostage. Keats is breathing down Fenchurch's necks as they try to get their officer out of the fray, with Gene going in desperation to criminal Paul Thordy. Using brutality we haven't seen since Series One, Gene tries to get info on Sachs' plan, Thordy having shared a cell with him in prison. When Alex talks to Thordy, the man claims to be Sam Tyler, speaking in a very northern accent and knowing things about both the future and about Gene that makes her uncomfortable. He claims to have seen the truth behind Alex's world, and it's a truth that Gene clearly doesn't want her to know about. Just as Alex manages to discover the truth from Thordy about Sachs' plan, Gene has sent Ray and Chris in disguised as members of the press. As soon as Alex reveals to CID that Viv was originally working with Sachs to release his nephew, Sachs works out Ray and Chris' identities, and ties the three officers up to a fence. Keats sends in members of the Riot Squad, but Alex and Gene know that the place is tripwired to electrify the fences the moment they walk in. They turn off the power and save the two senior officers, but Viv has been shot and he dies when Keats ushers him to sleep, this time taking a much more creepy overtone.
     The drama here seemed real for the first time this season, with the steaks very much on the line. It was a very pessimistic series of events, almost every action taking CID further from success until the end. This was confounded slightly by the Thordy subplot, which felt both pandering and very psychologically weird at the same time. Thordy doesn't really fit into the final series model painted by the finale, and at the end of the day his knowledge of the inner workings of Sam Tyler remain unexplained. It was a nice way to add some character tension, but at the same time it felt very sensationalist and felt more like an excuse to use the characterisation of the former protagonist.
Viv's death was gruesome and unsettling.
     Keats is still creepy, Gene is still angry and misleadingly evil, Alex is still clueless and Chris has no character development. But at least the tone was flowing in the right direction this week, as we ready ourselves for the finale. The penultimate episode of the Bonanza won't really focus on the main themes of the series as much as this episode does, but it will see us in towards one of the most divisive grand finales in the last few years of British Television.


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