Another Thursday, another episode of Ashes to Ashes! This week’s episode, while far from perfect, was a vast improvement over last week’s snoozer. This episode almost had it all: murder, adultery, spies, nuclear weapons… and angry female communists! Let’s get right to the recap, shall we?
A body is found in an abandoned warehouse in the Docklands area of London. At first, DCI Hunt and crew think that they’ve discovered a suicide, as the man appeared to fall from the top of the warehouse’s giant staircase. This notion is quickly dismissed by Ray, who finds blood and scuff marks on the floor upstairs, and also by a forensic examiner, who notes blunt force trauma to the man’s head and green wool under his nails, as if he’d grabbed someone’s clothes to try and stop his fall.
The man had no ID on him, so Hunt and crew take the man’s diary back to the station, where Ray notes several references to something called “RWF”. Drake takes the diary and finds a hidden compartment, where she finds a small piece of paper with some type of code on it… as well as her mother’s phone number, which she stealthily puts into her back pocket. Drake then goes to have another look at the body, only to find that it’s already been picked up by the coroner. The lab technician said that the men from the coroner’s office have only just left, so Alex rushes to the loading dock to find several shady men loading the body into a white van. The men seem to be led by a creepy-looking guy in a black Mercedes. None of them reply to Alex when she tries talking to them – they simply finish loading the van and drive away. Come to find out, the quick removal of the body was ordered by the Home Office. Alex thinks that this is strange, but Gene Hunt isn’t worried. In fact, he doesn’t really think much at all about it. While Alex and Gene are arguing about what Home Office involvement means in the case, Chris enters. They’ve identified the body as one Martin Kennedy.
Alex then has lunch with Evan White at Luigi’s. Amusingly, Luigi doesn’t know that White is Alex’s godfather, and thinks the two are on a date. He lavishes them with attention, and gives Alex knowing winks and free drinks. Alex asks White if he knows Martin Kennedy, or if Kennedy was a client of his firm. White denies any knowledge of him. Alex asks if he thinks Tim and Caroline Price (her parents, and the two main partners at the firm) know Kennedy. White tells Alex to ask Caroline herself.
Back at the station, Hunt sits in his (strangely quiet) office, carefully examining a key that was found on Kennedy, as well as the piece of paper with the code on it:
Hunt knows that Desk Sergeant Viv James (Geff Francis) is constantly doing crosswords and other puzzles, so he hands him the code and asks him to have a whack at it (by the way: thanks to Francis and the writers for not making Viv another magic negro character). As Drake walks with Alex back to his office, he tells her that Kennedy worked part time as a security guard at a secret nuclear weapons research site at Edgehampton. This sets Alex off: Home Office involvement, secret weapons research sites, codes… just then, Chris and Ray walk up to Gene and Alex. They’re really happy with themselves, as they’ve figured out what “RWF” stands for. Just as they’re about to reveal what it is, Shaz says “RWF? The Revolutionary Workers Front?” – thus spoiling Chris and Ray’s big reveal. Chris and Ray say that RWF are having a meeting today at the Red Lion pub, so the boys take off to see what they can find out.
Alex decides to instead visit her mother to see what she knows about Kennedy. It’s a touching scene, as it’s the first time she’s been “home” since she traveled back in time. There are a lot of soft-focus shots of a young Alex playing in the front yard (including lifting a rock to get a key – will this be important later?). Caroline leads Alex to the family room, where Caroline and Evanare enjoying glasses of wine and (how’s this for early 80s) Danish blue cheese. Caroline reveals that she hired Kennedy to do some odd jobs – and nothing more. Alex asks Caroline if she knew that Kennedy worked at the Edgehampton weapons facility. Caroline says that “he might have mentioned it”, but doesn’t seem to know much more than that. Caroline’s spidey sense is tingling though – as one of Britain’s most prominent left-wing lawyers, Caroline is quick to assign anything awful to the government. She tells Alex to “tread carefully”.
Alex thanks her and excuses herself to go to the toilet. However, she instead goes up to her room, where she has a loving reunion with some of her old possessions – a book, her roller skates, a Shakin’ Stevens cassette… and her diary. Here’s another possible plot twist: young Alex hid her diary in the fireplace of her bedroom. Older Alex knows this, and she pulls it down and starts reading it. Caroline then walks in on older Alex, who stammers and apologizes for being nosy. Caroline seems surprised to see the diary, as if she had no idea that it even existed. Although she swears to Alex that she hasn’t read it, we’re left wondering if Caroline’s “discovery” of the diary will have implications in the future. Or past. You know what I mean.
Meanwhile, the boys have reached the Red Lion. At first, they stand in the back of the room quietly as a female speaker rails against neutron bombs, Ronald Reagan’s research into them, Margaret Thatcher’s approval of them, and their inevitable appearance on British soil. The crowd, consisting only of women, cheers with delight as the speaker asks them to “join our European sisters” against the weapons. A woman at the front of the crowd tells the speaker not to bring gender into it, and she doesn’t see the need to “make it some petty bourgeois ‘Mothers Against The Bomb’ crap”. The speaker continues on with her left-wing gender politics, at one point saying “woman have a voice that needs to be heard!!!” In one of the funniest moments of Ashes to Ashes so far, Hunt then yells “Don’t we get enough of that?” over the crowd, flashes his badge, and starts rounding up the women… as Duran Duran’s “Girls On Film” starts playing in the background.
The leftists are taken back to the station. Ray, clueless that a woman can be smarter than himself, becomes furious as he goes ’round and ’round in questioning an uncooperative leftist. Chris, on the other hand, is having an earnest conversation with another of the leftists, and quickly becomes convinced that he’s a part of the “capitalist patriarchy stained with the blood of oppressed women”. Or some such. Those two are so funny! Hunt isn’t having much luck either. As he questions one of the women, she calls him a fascist for threatening her. Hunt, in one of his classic lines, says “I’m trying to find out who murdered this man. If that makes he a fascist then Heil bloody Hitler!” The women then begin an anti-Thatcher rally inside the police station. Not much has come from all this, aside from a frazzled Gene and Ray… and some photographs of an RWF meeting held the same night as Kennedy’s murder.
Later that night, Alex gets a phone call at home. The caller doesn’t say anything, and only a crackling can be heard on the phone line. Alex immediately suspects that he phone is tapped – which is interesting because: a) you’d think that spy agencies would be more subtle than to call someone who’s phone line they’ve tapped, and b) Alex immediately thinks “wire tap” and not “contact from 2008”, as Sam Tyler might have in Life On Mars. In any case, she returns to work the next day, more certain than ever that some huge conspiracy is afoot. Alex and Gene then have this classic exchange:
Gene: There is no conspiracy. Contrary to what commie nutters believe and what you’ve seem to have forgotten is that this is the home of bloody democracy, Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia, roast beef and Yorkshire pud and a square deal for all. If the government are keeping secrets, it’s probably for our own bloody good.
Alex: You are so naive.
Gene: And you are really pissing me off. The British government does not go around throwing people off the tops of buildings…
Alex: Kennedy worked part time at a top secret weapons research center, joined a left-wing group… suddenly he’s murdered and his body goes missing…
Gene: Spies do not wear camo and keep girlie mags under their beds. They’re too busy sipping claret and touching each other’s posh todges. You probably know some of them. This is a murder inquiry.
Alex: One that could already be compromised. They could be watching us right now!
Gene: And when they come, they’ll be wearing white coats and carrying a straightjacket and it won’t be my bloody size!
Chris then enters Hunt’s office and announces that Kennedy was indeed a spy… because he was broke. I’m not sure I quite follow that. Anyway, Sergeant James finds Drake and tells her that the “code” is a cipher, and that he’s figured out a word from it: Artemis. Alex mentions that Artemis was the “goddess of the hunt”, which makes Ray ask if “that’s who you are – the goddess of the hunt?” Chris, still under the influence of the leftist feminists mentions that it’s a “potent symbol of female power”. She asks Ray and Chris whether they’ve noticed anyone following them. The two seem confused, so she gives them a crash course in surveillance.
A few minutes later, Alex finds Hunt, who has found out about Kennedy’s odd jobs work. The two decide to check out Kennedy’s workshop… but are “tailed” by Chris and Ray, who do such an awful job tracking Hunt and Drake that Gene knows from the start that they’re being tailed:
At the workshop, Gene uses the mysterious key to open a locked chest. Inside he finds some garden variety porn… and pictures of Caroline and Evan having sex! They’re blackmail pictures, apparently. The gang decide to pay Caroline a visit. Alex, as you might imagine, is furious with her mother for cheating on her dad. But of course, she can’t tell her mom why. Caroline denies paying Kennedy any hush money and also reveals that her husband still does not know of the affair, since he is away in America. How convenient, Gene thinks, that Kennedy ended up dead before he had a chance to contact Caroline’s husband. Alex then screams herself red at Caroline, then storms out into the hallway to try an to calm herself down. There she suddenly remembers, as a child, seeing Caroline and Evan embracing. Alex returns to the parlor, where Caroline mentions that Kennedy might have tried selling the pictures to “another buyer”. As left-wing, anti-government lawyers they have many enemies… especially at MI-5. Foreshadowing, perhaps?
Back at the station, Evan shows up for questioning. Hunt begins with his standard “bad cop” schtick, when Alex suddenly jumps in on a more personal level. Alex keeps “chatting” with Evan as she escorts him out of the building. Evan assures Alex that he and Caroline’s “relationship” is over. He begins to walk away, and, as Alex turns to walk back into the building, she sees the “Mercedes man” leaving. Alex rushes back inside and asks Viv what the man wanted. He says that the man identified himself as “DC Baker from Kennington”, and that he picked up some evidence related to the Kennedy case.
Alex rushes to the evidence room, only to find Kennedy’s diary gone. She hightails it to Hunt’s office, and asks if he has the diary. When Gene says that he does not, Alex closes the blinds and cranks up the radio (as an anti-surveillance measure). She says that she now has proof that something’s going on: DC Baker from Kennington is a 25 year-old female, while the person that picked up the evidence is a man in his 40s. Gene is finally convinced that a conspiracy is afoot. The two move to the kitchenette, where they talk over a running tap (running water camouflages conversations). Shaz interrupts them to tell them that the RWF had several charges against them, and all were handled by… Tim Price.
As an amusing sidenote… does anyone else remember the poster behind Gene in this scene:
Gene and Alex decide to question Sara Templeton, the leader of the RWF. With Kennedy now connected to them by Tim Price, Alex notes that Kennedy – a worker and a secret weapons lab – could be quite valuable to a left-wing group. As the two are leaving, Viv stops them to tell them that he’s cracked the code. The paper is apparently a list of old Tube station names. Sara then meets Gene and Alex at a pub, where she readily admits that she used Kennedy to get information about the weapons lab. She says that they found a document called “Artemis” that would prove that the British government was working on a neutron bomb, but that Kennedy was killed before they could actually get their hands on the document.
Hunt and Drake go back to Caroline’s house, where she admits that she knows about Kennedy and Templeton’s shenanigans, and that Kennedy’s connection to the RWF might have made him a target for British intelligence services. Alex shows Caroline the list of Tube station names. Caroline says that Edgehampton has many underground levels, and each named after a former Tube station name. Later on, at home, Alex wonders if she’s been sent back in time to save her parents, who were killed in 1981 when a bomb was planted under their car. Poor Alex – she really doesn’t have any idea what’s going on, does she?
And so – Gene and Alex do the only logical thing… infiltrate the weapons lab! Gene takes Kennedy’s ID and pastes his picture over it. Which is kind of amusing, if you think about it. Nowadays, “modern” identification cards use watermarks, holograms, RFID chips and such… and yet, all Gene needs is a photo booth picture of himself and some glue to get into a top secret military base! Anyway, Gene and Alex are successful in infiltrating the base – mostly due to Gene’s purposeful gait, I’m convinced – the two find the “Artemis” document. However, they’re almost caught when a soldier passes by. Alex, in a panic, closes the airtight vault, thus locking herself in with Gene. The two are trapped for some time, and it begins to get hot in the vault. Gene starts sweating like a pig, so he starts unbuttoning his shirt. Alex is initially repulsed, but as it gets hotter, she does the same.
INSERT GRATUITOUS KEELEY HAWES CLEAVAGE SHOT HERE:
While Gene and Alex are locked in the vault, Ray comes back from a date with “one of the commie girls”… and he’s carrying a green jumper (sweater). On his date, Ray found out that Sara had borrowed the sweater from his date, and that she (Sara) was late to the meeting the night of Kennedy’s murder. In the photographs taken of that night (which we’d seen earlier), Sara is the only one not wearing a heavy sweater or coat, as she’d given the sweater back to its owner.
Chris and Ray bring Sara in for questioning, and she breaks under their “good cop, bad cop” routine. Ray then notices the time. Knowing that Gene should have been back by now, he and Chris go to the weapons lab. Somehow (it’s never shown how) they infiltrate the lab and free Alex and Gene. They all then go back to the station, where Sara admits that she killed Kennedy, but says she did it in self defense. She slept with him to get the information about “Artemis”. He then demanded money, and when she refused he raped her. Caroline comes to the station, ostensively to defend Sara. During a talk with Alex, however, Caroline admits that the whole thing was a set-up, and that she was one that wanted the information. Which makes sense, really. Who’s the average person going to believe? A bunch of hippy-like left-wing radicals, or a well respected, but anti-establishment, lawyer? Alex, disgusted with Caroline, gives the incriminating pictures (with negatives) back to Caroline for some reason. As Alex is leaving the building, Evan comes to her and says that it’s “completely over” with Caroline. He seems to be telling her this so he can get a date with Alex, but she quickly cuts him off.
Alex and Gene meet up at Luigi’s… where they’re joined by the mysterious “Mercedes Man”, who, in fact, does work for the Security Services. The man said that he’d had his eye on Kennedy for a while, and that “something is missing” from the vault. Gene doesn’t admit to taking anything, only that they’d better fix up security at the site. The man asks Gene to return the “thing” if he comes across it. Gene locked the “Artemis” file in his desk as he was leaving for Luigi’s. Will it still be there in the morning?
MUSIC HEARD IN THIS EPISODE:
Spandau Ballet – “To Cut A Long Story Short”
Shakin’ Stevens – “Green Door”
Duran Duran – “Girls On Film”
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Enola Gay”
The Clash – “London Calling”
Human League – “Love Action”
The Teardrop Explodes – “Reward”
The Clash – “Police and Thieves”