Last night’s episode of Ashes to Ashes was a bit of a disappointment. After two episodes of “balls to the wall” action and intrigue, the writers took their foot off the gas with this touching (yet slow) episode.
The episode begins with an amusing drug bust: Gene fires up the Quattro and chases a white van through the streets of London, only to find it stuffed full of… garden gnomes… which are in turn stuffed full of drugs. While tidying up the crime scene, DI Drake stumbles across a girl that’s not only mute, but appears to be quite troubled about something as well.
Back at the station, Hunt and Drake try questioning the girl without success. Shortly thereafter, a prostitute named Trixie walks into the station, claiming to have been raped and nearly murdered on a party boat. She also mentions that the would-be killer called her “impure” and said “something about ‘being beautiful on the outside but full of old bones on the inside'”. The male officers are completely dismissive at first, and most are unsure that a “prozzie” can even be raped. DI Drake’s protestations that rape isn’t about sex but about power and control fall on deaf ears. That is, until Trixie shows Drake her wounds, which include a 4-inch gash on her left breast. This stirs Hunt into action, as a murder victim was recently found with similar wounds, the details of which were not made public.
So the team begins searching for a serial attacker. Drake begins by looking through the case file of the murder victim – a young black girl that, unlike Trixie, was a “completely normal”, church-going girl that was actively involved in the choir there. There’s an interesting scene where Hunt and Drake gather the team to explain what they should be looking for. Drake uses all of her psychology technobabble, the type of modern-day criminal profiling stuff we’ve grown accustomed to. DCI Hunt interrupts her a few times, giving the team his own “old school” wisdom about the matter. It’s an interesting contrast between two contrasting, yet completely valid, policing styles.
Hunt and Drake go to the murder victim’s church. A surreal scene unfolds where Drake daydreams about her past, Molly and The Clown while the choir is practicing. This somehow leads Alex to a flash of inspiration: she grabs a Bible from the pew and rapidly flips through the pages until she finds Matthew, chapter 23, verses 27 & 28:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
This leads Drake to profile the would-be killer further. Hunt doesn’t entirely believe her (“Don’t you ever get brainache?”), especially after they get back to the station and read Trixie’s police record. She’s apparently stolen money from “clients” in the past. This makes Gene believe her even less. Drake wants to go undercover on the party boat to find out more, but Gene is wary of that too. It seems the owner of the party boat is a Mason, as are most of the higher-ups in the police department, so it would be detrimental to the careers of all the officers if Drake is wrong (there were several real-life scandals in the 1980s involving the Metropolitan Police and Freemasonry; although this site is anti-Freemasonry, it does have a good summary of what happened).
Drake wants to visit her mother (the lawyer) for reassurance, but as she approaches the office door, who should walk out the door but Evan (her uncle and her daughter Molly’s godfather). I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but Evan looks almost exactly the same in 1981 as he does in 2008; you’d think he’d age more in 27 years. Anyway, the two have a conversation where Alex vaguely describes what’s going on with the killer. Evan advises Alex to “go with her instinct”… which is to warn the prostitutes in the area where Trixie works about the killer.
Hunt eventually tracks her down. He asks Drake why she’s so protective of the prostitutes; Drake reveals that she was a prostitute in her younger years. Hunt doesn’t appear to really believe her, but Chris and Ray buy her story entirely. When Hunt appears to be on the verge of believing her, Drake tears into him. She asks him why he’d believe that she’d been raped, but not Trixie. The two get closer and closer and the discussion gets colder and colder… eventually Drake hauls off and punches Gene in the face… twice! The two eventually make up by getting drunk together at Luigi’s. A slick businessman starts hitting on Drake at the bar, and she takes him home for a one-night stand. We see the couple have sex, and the man apparently leaves later, as Drake is shown sleeping alone in her bed. The TV is on in the background, and during the BBC’s nightly sign-off, Molly and The Clown appear on the screen. Drake, fast asleep, is oblivious.
The next day, WPC Granger tells Alex that there’s a “fancy dress” (costume) party on the party boat that night. The team make plans to go undercover at the party.
At the party, the team closely observe the waitstaff. They’re looking for a man that meets Trixie’s description. Some comic relief is provided by Ray, who for some reason decided to go to the party as James Bond. Since he’s wearing a tuxedo, everyone at the party assumes that he’s a waiter, and guests hand him dirty glasses and try taking his drink. The crew eventually spot a suspect. Drake “dirty dances” with Ray while Hunt goes over to the waiter and talks about what a “slut” Drake is. The waiter agrees, and he eventually mentions the same line about being full of “dead men’s bones” that Trixie mentioned.
This leads to the waiter’s immediate arrest. At the station, he claims to have never seen Trixie before, much less attack her. When asked point blank by Hunt whether he raped Trixie, he swears on the Bible that he did not. Hunt leaves the interrogation room in a rage, but not before ordering Chris and Ray to “keep an eye on” the mute black girl that’s been hanging around the station the entire time. Chris is eventually called away, leaving Ray alone with the girl.
Now Ray is arguably the most racist, sexist and homophobic of the bunch. He’s as bad as Gene about suspecting “darkies” and “poofters”, yet he completely lacks any of the “spidey sense” that makes Gene so successful in spite of his prejudices. Nevertheless, Ray sits down with the girl and takes his right shoe and sock off to make a sock puppet to entertain her. Ray is actually sweet and slightly vulnerable with the girl. This leads her to confess that she’s the prostitute. Ray doesn’t believe her, until she opens her shirt to reveal bruises and a deep cut on her left breast. Apparently Trixie is the one that “recruited” the girl into prostitution, and her guilt about this (along with the girl’s reluctance to go to the police) led Trixie to commandeer Nina’s story as her own. Ray tells Drake this, who runs to Hunt to tell him; Hunt already knows, as he’s finally gotten the truth out of Trixie.
The crew track down the attacker, who holds a knife to a prostitute’s throat as the police surround him. Ray, who Hunt told to go around the back way, sneaks up on the attacker and knocks the knife away. The hooker takes off, which means that only Nina is left to testify against the attacker. She is reluctant at first, but Ray promises to protect her. She’s still unconvinced, and when Hunt (sadly) says that no jury will believe her, the charges are dropped and the murderer is set free.
That doesn’t mean that he won’t get what’s coming to him, though. The next day, the crew go to Luigi’s for an after-work drink. Hunt is talking with Drake when he nods towards the TV set, which is showing the news. Apparently the attacker was arrested that morning for possession of 10kg of cocaine… concealed in garden gnomes. Drake looks at Hunt and says “You didn’t?” to which Hunt replies that he had nothing to do with it. Drake looks at Ray, who gives her a wry smile and shrugs his shoulders. Drake tells Ray that “perhaps there’s more to you than I thought”, at which point Chris says “Hey Ray, I bet you can’t light one of your farts!”… thus bringing everything back to normal.
MUSIC HEARD IN THIS EPISODE:
The Ruts – “Staring at the Rude Boys”
Joe Jackson – “It’s Different for Girls”
Bryan Ferry – “Let’s Stick Together”
Roxy Music – “Over You”
Bucks Fizz – “Making Your Mind Up”
Modern Romance – “Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey”
Duran Duran – “Planet Earth”
Altered Images – “Happy Birthday”
The Beat – “Doors of Your Heart”