Ashes to Ashes: Season 2, Episode 2

After last week’s massive 4000+ word recap, you’ll probably be disappointed with this week’s recap. I’m really going to make an effort to make this short and sweet… so here goes:

The episode begins with Alex having a daydream or hallucination. She’s walking down a hall at the police station, and spies a girl that looks a bit like Molly. She takes a few steps towards her, then hears “operating room noises” from a door to her right. She bangs on the door and tries desperately to open it. She comes back to “reality”, still banging on the door, and asks Shaz if she has the key to the door. Shaz looks at her oddly, and simply turns the knob… to reveal an empty “Interview Room 1”. Alex asks Shaz if he could “hear them talking” and other things that make her sound like a loon. The important thing here is that Alex wonders aloud if she’s forgetting her life in 2008.

Shaz says that Hunt has been calling for her (“loudly”) and so Alex goes outside to find Gene. As she steps outside, she hears the helicopter sound again and so she looks up in the air. Two guys are nearby, working on a disabled police car with the hood up. At first, Alex hears them talking as if they were EMT workers, but eventually their words morph back to the present (1982) day, where one of them says he wants to get a sandwich. Alex walks up to them, once again talking like a crazy person. “Fight for me”, she begs. “More like fight over ya, darlin'” one of them says.

Thankfully, Gene pulls up just then in the Quattro. He says they’ve gotten a tip about “Operation Burning Ring”, and we next see them in a car chase near a gypsy camp. Hunt pulls the Quattro even with the fleeing car, and Alex notices that the man appears to be intoxicated or having a seizure. We then hear a “crunching” sound, but we do not see Gene hit the other vehicle, nor do we see any obvious damage to the Quattro. In any case, the car flies off the road and has a spectacular crash, coming to as rest just at the edge of the gypsy camp.

The gang pile out of the Quattro, and Chris runs up to the car and verifies that the man is dead. The gypsies from the camp all run up to see what has happened. Hunt has two great lines at this point:

Alex: I’m 90% certain he was on something…
Gene: Only 90%? How frightfully modest! The whole camp looks cheery this mornin’… is there a musical called “Paint Your Wagon Shit-Colored”?

A man then comes running up, claiming to be a doctor. He leans over and examines the body:

Doctor: He’s dead!
Gene: So… five years of medical school paid off, then?

Gene announces that the dead man is Jed Wicklow, a gypsy who was running a “carvering operation” (or “chop shop” in the American slang). The gypsies start accusing Hunt of running Wicklow off the road and thus murdering him. Tensions mount until Alex asks the doctor to get the gypsies to back off.

Back at the station, Alex hears Chris and Ray talking about “covering up” the earlier accident. Alex says that what happened was an accident and that their “moral compasses” require them to acknowledge it. Supermac walks up behind her and agrees with Alex. Chris says that if this investigation is going to be “whiter than white” that Gene will have to admit to dangerous driving. Ray says that he’ll be fine. Meanwhile, Gene and Supermac go into Gene’s office, and Gene draws the blind.

Alex then bursts into Gene’s office, trying to find out how they’re going to “play” the day’s events. Gene is, of course, happy that the chop shop operator is dead, while Alex is on her moral “high horse”. Supermac seems to agree with both of them. In fact, Supermac opens the door of Hunt’s office and starts walking through the office, running through the days’ events in a very loud voice. It’s obvious that Supermac is telling the officers at the station the “official” version of events. He says that Gene is a hero, because he prevented Wicklow from running over a child. Alex, baffled because she doesn’t remember seeing any child, says just that. Supermac says that it must have “been on your blind side”, and that they have a witness who will verify the story. Shaz looks at the ground in shame, and Alex still looks confused. Supermac then makes it clear that conversation about the events is over.

Alex follows Supermac down the hall and says that she wants to talk to him about Kevin Hales (from last week’s episode). Supermac advises her to drop it, then walks away. Hunt, who has spied the conversation, also advises her to drop it. Alex smells another cover-up. Hunt walks down a hallway and up to a window, where he sees Supermac giving the “official” story to reporters.

Back in the office, the news is on, and the reporter is talking about the sinking of the Argentinian warship the General Belgrano. Ray says that “they’re really giving those Argies some shit”. Shaz says that the Argentinian military is made of of conscripts, and that they didn’t deserve to die. Ray, disgusted with Shaz’s moralizing, walks away, where Chris stops him and shows him an engagement ring he’s bought for Shaz. Alex walks up and asks Chris to find Kevin Hales for her, and that she’s going to the morgue to see what the autopsy report says about Jed Wicklow. Ray says not to bother, as the body was stolen by the gypsies.

Alex: Why don’t you let me handle this?
Gene: You in a field with a bunch of gyppos on your own? Don’t be ridiculous – they’ll tie you up as a sex slave and make a rabbit trap out’ve your knickers…

Back at the gypsy camp, Hunt demands the body of Jed Wicklow. The doctor is there, and says that they’ve taken the body as it’s part of their culture. He then offers Gene his hand with the cryptic phrase “All square?” but before Gene can return the handshake, Chris runs up and says that the gypsies are burning Wicklow’s possessions. The gang race over and chase the gypsies off. Amongst Wicklow’s possessions, Alex finds a baggie with speed inside, enough of the drug for felony charges. Ray says that they’ve found the body in another caravan. Everyone else takes off, but Alex sees the doctor talking to a teenage girl. The girl, Alva, says that Jed was her boyfriend. Gene decides that he needs to bring the entire camp in for questioning.

As you might guess, chaos breaks out at the station when all the gypsies arrive. Alex, questioning the doctor, finds out that the car that Wicklow was driving actually belonged to the doctor, who says that he didn’t report it stolen because he didn’t want to get any of the gypsies in trouble with the law. Chris says that he’s looked everywhere, but can’t find Kevin Hales. Alex asks if he finds that suspicious. Chris says that they sometimes “hide” police officers in jail because of the risk. He also confirms that the pills found in Wicklow’s possessions are speed.

Hunt, meanwhile, is questioning an older gypsy lady. She says that Wicklow was a drinker and a fighter and was “an enemy of my people”. When Hunt asks what she means, she says that he was “everything that people think we are”. While continuing to talk about Wicklow, she pulls out a deck of tarot cards and starts laying them down on the desk. When she has the cards laid out for a reading, she says that she’s never seen anything like this before. Gene cracks that there is a “tall, dark and handsome man” in Alex’s future. The older lady says that he’s tall, and that some might consider him handsome but that others might consider him “the devil made flesh”. She looks at Alex and says that she’s “been taken away from a child” and that she “always fights to get back” to her. The older lady grabs Alex’s hand and starts to give her a palm reading. “Time is short”, she says. She looks at Alex’s “lifeline” and gets a puzzled look on her face. She asks why Alex’s lifeline is fading. Alex pulls her hand away and runs out of the room. Gene and Alex have a few words outside – he advises her to get her head back in the “real world”, and Alex asks “what if there’s more than one ‘real world’?” Gene goes back to the interview room, where the old lady says that Gene’s card is The Hanged Man, and that he’ll soon have to give up his power. Gene says that will never happen, and that she should get her coat and leave. She says that he will have to give his power up… to a Tyler! Gene appears to be shaken by the old lady’s words.

Back in the main office, Alex asks Ray if he’s seen Dr Battleford. He says that they have the autopsy report from the morgue, and that the good doctor was on his way out. Alex tracks down Battleford, and says that it’s interesting how he’s been able to answer all their questions while not actually saying anything useful. Alex says that he never mentioned the stolen car being his until the police brought it up, and that the brake lines on his car were cut. Dr Battleford protests that he “has enough going on” in his life without the police making it worse, and that he’s going through a nasty divorce. Alex then turns to Gene, who walked up in the middle of the conversation, and notes that Battleford showed “no surprise whatsoever” that the brakes on his car were cut. Alex says that she thinks he’s hiding something. Gene agrees, and hauls him off to an interview room.

Once in the room, Battleford tells Gene that he’s an upstanding citizen… “a square sort of bloke”. Supermac walks in just as he’s saying this, and Battleford repeats the “square sort of bloke” phrase. Supermac says that Gene is “square and on the level”. Battleford offers Gene his hand again, and this time Gene takes it. We see the two have an unusual handshake. Supermac then dismisses Dr Battleford. Supermac then says that he and Gene “need to have a chat”.

Alex then goes to Gene’s office, where she gets on his computer. She’s obviously frustrated with the early 80s computer: whilst loggin in, she says “Somebody invent drag and drop!” After logging in, the lights in Gene’s office dim, and the screen simply says “Crash Crew Standing By. ETA 4 Minutes.” It seems that 2008 is trying to get to Alex yet again. The screen then simply says “Losing her” over and over again. The lights come back up and Shaz walks in. Alex screams at her (literally) and scares her away.

We next see Supermac and Gene in a sauna. Supermac then tells Gene all about his “club” (i.e. the Masons). Supermac then starts talking about Super Glue, and their amazing commercials. He tells Gene that they need to be like Super Glue, and that his predecessor, DCI Garret, didn’t understand that. He says that he doesn’t want to see Gene’s [power] chair vacant. Gene takes the hint, and says that he’d like to join the Masons. Supermac says that he’ll inform the lodge.

At Luigi’s, Alex tells Luigi that she sees conspiracies everywhere and that she’s lost track of herself. Luigi says that she drinks too much, which causes Alex to say that she “can’t remember [Molly’s] face any more”. She also says that Gene “wants her to belong”, although it’s not clear if she means “belonging to the 80s” or the Masons.

At home, Alex has a dream that features the old gypsy lady and her tarot cards, Gene Hunt saying that “you’re on our side now”, Supermac repeating the same phrase, and the doctor hanging out with Supermac and Gene. She awakes, apparently just now figuring out that they’re all Masons. She sees Supermac on the end of her bed and asks him what he’s doing. He slowly fades away, and Alex falls back into her bed.

The next morning, Chris tracks down Alex and hands her the toxicology report on Jed Wicklow. He apparently died from a massive overdose of sleeping pills. As she dials the phone, she wonders aloud who might have a large supply of sleeping pills. She was calling for Dr Battleford. He’s ignoring Alex’s calls. She tells Chris to find Dr Battleford and apply some pressure on him to talk about the drugs he’s dispensed. Chris asks if he should tell Hunt. Alex says no.

We next see her back at the gypsy camp. She finds Alva, who shows him a bruise and talks about how Jed really loved her, despite his abuse. Alex asks her about Dr Battleford, and Alva immediately becomes defensive, saying that he’s there to help them. The old lady that read Alex’s tarot cards calls Alva away, and Alex take the opportunity to look through Alva’s caravan. There she finds stashes of drugs hidden in some dolls.

Back at the station, Alex tells Gene about the drugs she found. She sees a conspiracy – the doctor provided Alva with the drugs, and the toxicology report found that Jed has “five day’s worth” of the drug in his system. Gene isn’t interested – he’s distracted by the TV, where the news reports are coming in about the Argentinian hit of the HMS Sheffield. Ray, in an indignant huff, turns to Shaz and asks if this is the work of “conscript schoolboys”. Shaz, for once, keeps her mouth shut. Gene seems to try everything he can to deflect Alex away from Dr Battleford. Alex, of course, gets all worked up about this.

Chris has found Battleford and has him in an interview room. Alex and Chris question him about the sleeping pills. He admits to prescribing Alva the pills, but says that he can’t control what she did with them. Alex storms out of the room and back into Gene’s office, where she accuses him of protecting Battleford. Gene accuses Alex of protecting Alva. Alex says that she just wants to be able to “understand this”. Gene says that they’ve taken Oxtail soup out of the vending machine. Alex says that “hot cow’s ass isn’t my idea of a power drink”. Gene then says that Oxtail soup has always been a part of the police force, and that if an officer is too tired to eat, the soup tricks the belly into thinking that you’ve had a hot meal. Alex says that they’ve strayed from the issue. Gene says that they’re precisely on the issue – that “they” are trying to change everything about the police force. It’s not clear, but it appears that Gene wants to become a Mason because the Masons are trying to stop “progressives” from changing “what works” for the police force. Alex begs Gene to “let her in”. Hunt refuses.

Out in the office, Chris attempts to pop the question to Shaz, but he puts his hand in his pocket to feel the box, and Shaz thinks he’s feeling himself. Grossed out, she walks away. Ray announces that the gypsies are due to be evicted, and gets a cheer from everyone in the room. Chris, anxious about popping the question to Shaz, asks Ray if he wants to pop out for a pint. Ray passes, saying that he’s busy.

What follows is one of the all-time best scenes in Ashes to Ashes history: we hear the opening bars of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” as the office thins out. Hunt, alone in his office, drinking a Scotch and smoking one of his trademark cigarillos, calls former DCI Garrett. Garrett seems surprised to be addressed as a DCI. Hunt asks him why he left, and Garrett says that he got a “sudden urge to live by the sea”. Garrett asks Gene if he’s “being a good little Indian”. Hunt asks what he means. Garrett says “[o]f course you are. You’d have to be”. There’s a pause, then Garrett tells Hunt not to call him again, then he hangs up. Gene holds the phone in the aier for a second, then puts it on the hook. He crumples up the piece of paper with Garrett’s phone number on it and tosses it away. Hunt downs his Scotch and puts out his cigar. The music then cuts to the famous drumroll, and we see the overhead lights switch off in time with the music, as Gene, in his trenchcoat, walks out of his office. Alex, hiding in the shadows, watches Hunt walk away, and as soon as he’s gone, she starts following him.

She tails him to a nondescript building, where Gene undergoes the Masonic initiation ritual, complete with a noose around his neck and only one shoe on. Supermac walks him to the door, which is guarded by Ray – who is known as the “keeper of the door”… or Tyler in Mason-speak. Gene is blindfolded and led into a room filled with his future Masons. Alex, having snuck in, watches as Gene is initiated into the Masonic lodge. She also sees Dr Battleford there, in addition to Ray and Supermac.

After Gene’s initiation, Alex hears the voice of the doctor that abducted her in the previous episode. We see her look over, and catch a glimpse of someone in full Masonic regalia heading out a side door. She follows him. He greets her. She accuses him of drugging her. He says that he had to know who she was. Alex asks where he came from. He says “the same place as you”, and that Molly is waiting for her. He says that, if she trusts him, they can go home together. She says that she doesn’t trust him. He quickly says goodbye and takes off out a side door. Alex pleads for him to wait, but he’s gone in an instant.

Gene goes back to the station after the initiation, and Alex arrives soon thereafter. He tells her to leave him alone. Alex talks for a few moments about people “arent what you think they are”, implying that she knows about Hunt’s newfound Masonic membership. He tells her to bugger off. As she’s walking out the door, she spies a plastic crate that Chris had been going through earlier that day. Gene says that the stuff belonged to Battleford, as it was his car that was stolen. Alex then realizes that the drug-filled dolls in the caravan belonged to Battleford, not Alva or Jed.

The next morning, Alex drags Battleford back in for questioning. She asks him when Jed found out that he (Battleford) was sleeping with Alva. Battleford says there was mutual attraction between him and Alva. Chris, in a rare show of professionalism, says that Battleford was paying off Jed to be the “baby daddy”, but that it couldn’t last because Battleford’s wife was “bleeding him dry” with the divorce. Battleford asks for a lawyer. Alex continues, saying that Battleford was about to be “outed” to the gypsy community as the father, so the doctor gave him an overdose of sleeping pills and cut the brake lines on his own car. Chris then says “a pikey in a crashed auto… who’s going to look further?” Alex, with a rare kick-ass line, then says, “and if they do, you just shake their hand. Because for all your liberal bullshit, you still couldn’t understand why anyone would give a shit about one dead pikey thief… I think you’re nicked, doctor”.

Hunt then comes into the interview room, and tells Battleford that he’s free to go. Chris looks at Gene, puzzled, then storms out of the room. Alex says that Battleford is guilty of murder. In a rage, she tells Gene that, if this is his idea of “preserving something”, then he should hang, along with the rest of them. She tells Gene that he’s filthy and rotten… and he interrupts her, saying that she has a very pretty face, but that “your mouth goes on longer than the Eurovision song contest”. He says that he knows the station is corrupt, and that he knows that Supermac is “as bent as a ten bob bit”, and that he hates the “poufy, freaky, creepy, weirdy, trouser-hitching, nipple-waggling bloody Masons”. She says that she followed him and knows that he’s a Mason now. He says that she just doesn’t get it, that he has to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. How, he asks, can he get to the top of the Masonic conspiracy if he gets laid off or forced into early retirement for not joining “the club”? Hunt emphatically says that he hates the Masons and what they’ve done to the police force. Alex, realizing what Gene’s doing says:

Alex: You’re playing with them?
Gene: No, that’s just the way I’m standing.

He says that he wanted to tell Alex sooner, but that the whole thing is risky, and he figured that Alex was better off not knowing. He says that he’ll “make sure” that Battleford gets what’s coming to him, but he has to be careful, since any investigation will cause the Masons to scatter “like rats leaving a sinking ship”. The tension between the two breaks, and Gene and Alex have a moment of genuine admiration for each other.

It almost seems as if Gene and Alex are going to kiss or something… but then Shaz bursts into the room, saying that Ray has taken a bunch of officers down to the gypsy camp for some “rough justice”. At the campsite, Ray tells the gypsies that they’re breaking the law and that they have to leave. Pushing and shoving ensues, which quickly leads to punches. Gene and Alex show up just in time to stop a riot from breaking out. The old lasy that read Alex’s palm earlier tells Alex that Alva has disappeared. Gene, meanwhile, grabs Ray and tells him to cool off.

Gene walks off to find Alex, who has now also disappeared. Alva is giving birth in the woods, and Gene stumbles upon Alex acting as a midwife. Gene is clearly uncomfortable with the situation, but when Alex tells him to hold Alva’s hand he quietly and quickly obeys. Gene tries talking to Alva, then decides to go get the car. Alva, in considerable pain, clutches down on his hand. It’s funny to see big, scary Gene Hunt afraid of a tiny little girl like Alva, and it’s especially funny to see him wince in pain as she grips his hand ever tighter. She eventually gives birth to a baby girl. Back at the car, a calmer Ray says that he’ll take Alva to the hospital. Alex asks Gene if he’s OK. He says that he is, but that “[he’s] not going to let Luigi cook me lasagna again”. He then takes a slug off his flask.

We next see Gene leading Battleford into some toilets at the police station. He shoves Battleford’s face into a urinal and gives him a lecture about the doctor taking advantage of a young girl like Alva. He “advises” the doctor to confess to murder, that it’ll “go down better”. A whiny Battleford then breaks down crying, saying the Jed was the one thing standing between his happiness with Alva. Gene then leads him out into the hallway, where Viv waits to take him to be booked. Alex, watching Gene from down the hallway, smiles at him.

We next see Supermac in Gene’s office. Hunt says that they have Battleford’s full confession. Supermac seems baffled, having thought the whole matter was “handled”. Gene blames Drake for pushing him to do it, and besides, he doesn’t think it’s worth the aggravation. Supermac reminds Gene that Battleford is ” all square”. Gene says that he’d be happy to let Battleford go, but reminds Supermac that he did admit to having with a 16 year-old girl. He asks Supermac how he’d feel if it were his daughter. Supermac thinks about it for a moment, then agrees with Gene, explicitly telling him to hang Battleford “out to dry”.

Supermac walks out of Gene’s office, and Hunt tells Chris and Alex to make sure that Battleford is fully booked. Alex thanks Gene, who then gives her a brutal dressing down in front of Supermac. A few minutes pass, and Chris gets down on one knee and asks Shaz to marry him. She says yes! (Awwww!) Alex and Gene then have a sweet conversation together, in which Gene says that he and Alex are a team.

The episode closes with Alex walking by Gene’s office and hearing his computer beep. She walks around his desk and sees the same “Crash Team Standing By  – ETA 2 Minutes” screen she saw earlier. Shaz walks in, all smiles, and Alex looks at her, then back at the screen. She tells Shaz that someone should come and take a look at Gene’s computer, that something’s wrong with it. Shaz asks what the screen says, and Alex says “something about ‘ETA’ or something”. There’s a brief pause, then she says “never mind, it’s gone now, disappeared”. Alex, smiling, gets up and walks around Gene’s desk and follows Shaz out for celebratory drinks. The camera moves to the screen on Gene’s computer, and we see that the screen does, in fact, still say “Crash Team Standing By”.


– I watch every episode of Ashes to Ashes at least twice: once for pleasure, and again to write these recaps. I initially didn’t like this episode, but I liked it more on the second viewing, and definitely appreciated it more the second time around.

-There’s definitely something afoot with all the references to “princesses” on this show. Last week, Princess Diana was mentioned at the end of the episode. This week, the car Jed drives that flips over was a Princess, a car marketed by British Leyland, Britain’s version of GM. The Princess was unusual in that it was a large 4-door family car, and it had a considerable interior size advantage over other cars. Despite manufacturing Jaguar, Rover, Land Rover, and Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. Renamed the Rover Group in 1986, it was renamed again to the MG Rover Group. The company’s 2005 bankruptcy brought an end to British-owned mass manufacture of automobiles. Note also that during this episode, Gene mentions the “death of a Princess”, referring to the car, but with a hint of foreshadowing.

–  This episode takes place on or around May 2, 1982. We know this because early in the episode a TV is on in the police station, and news of the sinking of the General Belgrano is on.

– The ARA General Belgrano was a real ship, sunk by HMS Conqueror during the Falkland Islands conflict. Interestingly, the ship began life with the United States Navy as the USS Phoenix (CL-46). To give you an idea of how behind the times the Argentinian Navy was, the Belgrano’s keel was originally laid in 1935, and the ship was launched in March, 1938. Even more interestingly, Belgrano was not only the second ship to be sunk by a submarine since World War II, she is still the only ship to have been sunk by a nuclear-powered submarine. Human rights activists stirred up considerable controversy over the sinking of the Belgrano, as she was outside of the “exclusion zone” the UK had set up during the war, and was allegedly heading west (towards Argentina) when she was sunk. However, the “exclusion zone” only applied to commercial vessels; warships were fair game regardless of location, and both British and Argentinian governments later agreed that the Belgrano was a legitimate wartime target.

– While news of the Belgrano’s sinking is on the TV, Ray holds a copy of The Sun newspaper. The one word headline – “Gotcha!” – is perhaps the most infamous in British newspaper history. When The Sun went to press that night, news had only just arrived about the sinking. Later that day, when it became known that 323 Argentinian sailors had died in the sinking, the Sun’s editors replaced it with a more somber “Did 1,200 Argies drown?” headline.

– INTENTIONAL GOOF? Copies of The Sun with the infamous “Gotcha!” headline were mostly early editions distributed in northern England. Editions of the paper printed for the London market had the new “more somber” headline. It’s very unlikely that Ray would have picked up a copy of that particular edition of The Sun at his local newsagent. However, the headline is so iconic to British history that the producers must have felt obligated to use it.

– We learn in this episode that Shaz is “part Romany”.

– When Alex asks Chris if he’s found Kevin Hales, he says that he’s checked “Pentonville and Wormwood Scrubs”, but can’t find him. Both Pentonville and Wormwood Scrubs are real prisons in the UK. Woodworm Scrubs, in particular, is especially embedded in British culture. It was seen in the original version of the film The Italian Job (1969), and was frequently seen in the 1970s TV show The Sweeney (which itself was the main inspiration for Life on Mars). Wormwood Scrubs is also mentioned in The Jam’s “Down in a Tube Station at Midnight” and Billy Bragg’s “Rotting on Remand”. Pete Doherty’s song “Broken Love Song” is about his experience there in 2008.

– All the talk about “squares” and being “on the level” in this episode is Masonic code. Since Masonry is based on architectural and stonecutting tools, much of the Masonic “secret code” is based on building or measuring things.

– Like the General Belgrano, the HMS Sheffield was a real ship that was involved in the Falklands War. The Sheffield was hit by an Exocet anti-ship missile on May 4, 1982. The Royal Navy tried to tow the ship back to either Gibraltar or the UK, but bad weather led her to fill with water and sink on May 10. Twenty British sailors died in the attack.

– Chris says that the ring he bought Shaz cost £500. Adjusted for inflation (using the handy inflation calculator at the Bank of England’s website), we learn that this is equivalent to £1,322.56 in 2008 pounds, or $1,935 U.S. dollars.

– When the old lady that reads Alex’s palm asks Gene for his astrological sign, he says “Serpico”. Gene is no doubt referencing Serpico, a 1973 (!) film starring Al Pacino as real-life New York detective Frank Serpico. Frank Serpico fought against corruption in the NYPD by going undercover. No parallel there are all, is there? Perhaps we should be on the lookout for the numbers 5566 – Serpico’s badge number.

– POSSIBLE GOOF? In the sauna, Supermac mentions commercials for Super Glue, with “the man hanging from a helicopter”. Unless something is radically different in the UK, the “man hanging from a helicopter” commercials were actually for Krazy Glue, one of Super Glue’s competitors. Amusingly, the history page at the Super Glue website explicitly states that “[s]ome of our competitor’s currently have ‘hanging things’ like people, & television sets [in their commercials], but nothing compares to the strength of our hanging car”, referencing a stunt held by a radio station sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

– When Alex is alone at Luigi’s complaining about wanting to go home, we see a man in the shadowed foreground, smoking a cigarette and looking at Alex. Later, when Alex sneaks in to the Masonic temple, we see a man smoking a cigarette and watching her. Can we assume that this is the same “Crazy Doctor” from the previous episode? A few minutes later we hear a man with the exact same voice talking to Alex in the stairwell. Since he too is smoking, I feel sure that this is the same person in every instance.

– When Alex gets the toxicology report on Jed Wicklow, she says that sleeping pills are the “panacea of desperate housewives”. Is this a shout-out to the girls of Wisteria Lane?

– When Alex is at the gypsy camp talking to Alva, she mentions that her daughters name is “Milly… I mean, Molly”. Has Alex really forgotten that much so quickly?

–  At one point, Gene asks “Who am I? Marjorie Proops?” Marjorie Proops was Britain’s version of “Dear Abby” or “Ann Landers”, and her popular “Dear Marje” advice column ran in the Daily Mirror newspaper for years. Amusingly, such people are called “agony aunts” in the UK, not “advice columnists”. Bruce Rioch, who was Arsenal football club’s manager in 1996, made the comment that he ‘felt like Marje Proops’, and that comment played a large part in his dismissal from the club.

– When the old lady told Gene that he would have to “give his power up to a Tyler”, Life on Mars fans were no doubt excited. However, we later see Ray in the Masonic lodge acting as “Tyler” or doorman. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Tylers: “Tyler (or Tiler) is the name of the office of outer guard of a Masonic Lodge. Early speculative Masonic lodges met in rooms in taverns and other public meeting places, and all Lodges appoint a Tyler to guard the door from unqualified, malicious or simply curious people. Although an Officer of the Lodge and often a highly experienced Past Master, he may be considered akin to a sergeant: the Tyler may be an employee rather than a member of the Lodge, in which case he will often prepare the room, supply regalia or refreshments, and act as permanent steward of the furniture and premises. William Hogarth’s famous print of Night shows a drunken Mason being helped home by the Tyler, from one of the four original Lodges in 1717 at the Rummer & Grapes tavern.”

– When Alex goes off on Gene about corruption, she says that “Newman and Scarman are right”. This is a reference to Kenneth Newman and Baron Scarman, both real-life reformers. Lord Scarman led a famous commission investigating the Brixton Riot of 1981, while Kenneth Newman was Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police from 1982 to 1987.

– Gene says that Alex has a pretty face but her mouth goes on longer than the Eurovision song contest. Eurovision is a real music competition, started in 1956, in which residents of most European countries select an artist to represent them. The show is broadcast live to all participating countries, and votes are tallied either by telephone or SMS messages. The contest is a pretty long and drawn out affair. The only Eurovision winners that Americans have probably heard of are Celine Dion, Bucks Fizz, and ABBA, whose performance of “Waterloo” was pretty legendary.

– When Ray forms a posse and goes to the camp to force the gypsies to move, he cites the “Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act of 1960”. This is a real law in the UK – you can read the full text of it here.

– When Gene shows up at the camp, he says that this “isn’t the rumble in the bloody jungle”. This is a reference to the Rumble in the Jungle, a boxing match between then world heavyweight champion George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. The bout took place on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. It was one of the first fights put together by Don King, who had gotten Foreman and Ali to sign separate contracts, and needed outside investors to fund the purse. Zaire’s president Mobutu Sésé Seko, eager for publicity for his country, asked King to host it there.

–  POSSIBLE GOOF? When Alva is having her baby, Alex tells Gene to hold her hand. She squeezes his hand as hard as she can, which causes Gene to say “come on, Eileen!” repeatedly. Alex asks him what that means, and he says that it’s just something he made up. Alva decides to name the baby Eileen after Gene’s outbursts. The only problem is that the famous song “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners was released on February 5, 1982. It didn’t hit number one in the UK charts until August of that year, but you have to think that Gene might have heard it by early May (when the episode takes place). Even if Gene wasn’t familiar with it, you’d think that Chris might have said something about it when Alva tells everyone that baby’s name.


Echo & The Bunnymen – “Breaking The Back Of Love”
Kid Creole And The Coconuts – “Stool Pigeon”
Squeeze – “Tempted”
Japan – “I Second That Emotion”
Phil Collins – “In The Air Tonight”
The Jam – “A Town Called Malice”
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Come On Eileen”
OMD – “Messages”
A Flock of Seagulls – “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)”

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