Wow! Wow! Just… wow! After last week’s snoozer, Ashes to Ashes came roaring back with one of the best episodes ever! Let’s stop playing around and get right to it!
The episode begins at Liugi’s, where Gene has told the gang about his pending transfer to Plymouth. Everyone’s heartbroken, and it’s made worse by a much larger table full of guys from “Division A” who are taunting Gene and the gang by singing “Combine Harvester” with exaggerated West Country accents. Ray, defending the group’s honor, tosses a roll at the next table. Chris joins in. An all-out food fight starts, which quickly escalates into a real brawl, despite Luigi’s pleas to take it outside.
Before the fight breaks out, Alex excuses herself and leaves, and just as the fight starts, the gang turns around and finds that Gene has disappeared… leading the others to wonder what, exactly, the two are up to. Is it an affair?
Actually, no: Alex and Gene are busy planting a bug in Supermac’s office. As Gene stands on Mac’s desk to plant the bug, Alex wonders aloud where all of Mac’s purloined money is going. She mentions a gold bullion heist where some of the evidence “disappeared”, yet Mac still lives in the same house, drives the same car, and still takes the same crappy vacations. Alex wonders if it’s time to bring Ray and Chris in on it, but Gene says no. The two then go to Gene’s office to work on a flip chart of all of Mac’s connections.
The next morning, Ray, Chris, Shaz and Viv find Alex and Gene asleep in his office. Although the two are fully clothed and sleeping on separate chairs, everyone looks at them as if the two were sleeping together. Ray blasts Gene for leaving them at Luigi’s… and just as he finishes, intrepid reporter Jackie Queen walks in (see the “Other Stuff” section, below). She agrees that Gene has always ran away from his obligations… and opens her coat to reveal that she is very pregnant:
Gene says that he can’t possibly be the father, as there is no way that he would ever sleep with Jackie. Jackie says that they most certainly did sleep together, although Gene was too drunk to remember it. Jackie then reveals that she’s also there for another reason: she’s writing a news story about teenage girls that come to London from northern England and go missing. She’s specifically looking for a girl named Rachel Lessing. But here’s the thing: the Met has actively ignored her requests for information. Gene asks Jackie who she had spoken to, and she apparently names Viv. Gene talks to Viv, who says that he was acting under a direct order from Mac.
The gang then travels to a bus station, where Alex berates Gene for wasting time on a missing persons case when they’re building an important conspiracy case against Mac. Gene says the he wants to know why Mac would refuse a routine request from a member of the press. Jackie spies a man that she’s seen every morning at the bus station. Ray and Chris don’t see anything especially wrong about a man trying to talk up girls at a bus station, but Gene tells them to follow him. As the crew starts walking away, Alex’s walkie-talkie squawks, and Creepy Doctor says that he could smell her hair “even as I put it in your pocket”. Alex then pulls a rose out of her coat pocket. Creepy Doctor warns Alex not to “spoil the fun” or people will get hurt. Alex asks if they can meet, but just at that moment Gene yells at Alex to come on.
The Bus Station Pervert is tracked to a pub, where he apparently rents a room above the bar. Oh, and his name is Gordon Lannigan. Ray busts down the door to Lannigan’s room to find him taking pictures of the girl, Debbie, in her underwear. Gene knocks a bunch of photo developing chemicals on the floor; Gordon protests that the chemicals could be lethal. Gene, acting surprised by this, orders Chris to make the man a cocktail from the chemicals. Jackie rushes up to Gordon, shows him a picture of Rachel Lessing, and asks if he knows her. Predictably, Gordon says no. Gene takes Debbie aside and gives her some money:
“All right then Debbie, I’m a police officer and I’m going to give you a bit of advice. You never, ever do what scumbags like him tell you to… understood? Life is too precious – keep it that way. Right… piss off back to Liverpool and have a lovely life stealing hubcaps and being over sentimental, OK?”
Gene then turns to Gordon and says that they have a problem with Northern girls going missing. Ray, in the meantime, has been looking through Gordon’s portfolio and finds a picture of Rachel. The man says he has no idea what happened to her. Jackie headbutts Gordon while Ray grabs him from behind and holds him in place. Chris hands Gene the “cocktail”. Gordon says that he sends the girls to “parties”, but only if they’re virgins. Gordon refuses to say who has the parties… until Gene brings the “drink” to Gordon’s lips. He then admits that the parties are held by a man named Ralph Jarvis. Jackie starts crying, and it’s only after Gene hugs her that she admits that Rachel is actually her niece.
Back at the station, the gang finds out that Ralph Jarvis was implicated in the death of a teenage girl in 1977, but had top-dollar lawyers and an alibi, and was thus exonerated. He’s brought in for questioning but is absolutely no help, as both Jarvis and his lawyer admit nothing. Gene then preps his whole team to be on the lookout for Rachel… when Mac walks in the office in a rage. He orders Gene to never question, talk to, or bring Jarvis in again ever, for any reason. He then says that the department’s record for clearing mugging cases are too low and that they should all be out working on “cases” like that. Gene asks Shaz what the “seized property room” looks like; when told that it’s jam-packed with bikes and briefcases, he tells the boys to go out and arrest as many homeless people as they can find (using the seized property as “evidence”). He also says that he wants to talk to any Northern girls that they might have brought in recently. When Chris starts to remind Gene of what Mac said. he cuts him off. Alex and Gene retreat into Hunt’s office and close all the blinds, making the rest of the gang even more suspicious.
In his office, Gene shows Alex some illegally-obtained bank statements which show that several officers connected to Mac have suspiciously high bank accounts, and that the deposits were all made a week after the gold bullion heist. Thankfully, Chris and Ray appear to be clean. Just at that moment, the bug Alex and Gene planted in Mac’s office picks up a conversation between Mac and Jarvis. Mac berates Jarvis for bringing attention to himself and their dealings. Jarvis then threatens Mac’s daughter Victoria, which apparently results in a punch from Mac. Just then Jackie Queen walks into the station and bangs on Hunt’s door with news: Mac and Jarvis were classmates at the police academy until Jarvis dropped out.
Next up, we see Shaz all dolled up in civilian clothes to go undercover as a teen runaway so that Gene and company can learn more about the “parties”. As Chris prepares a wire for Shaz, Alex compliments him on his work, to which Chris replies that he was “taught by Sam Tyler himself”. Jackie perks up at the mention of Sam, but refuses to say any more when asked about him by Alex. Despite coming across as a bit “pushy” with the homeless girls rounded up at the station, Shaz is able to get the address of a house in the country.
Gene and the gang go to the house, but find that it appears to be shut down, as most of the furniture is covered. Gene wonders if “they” knew they were coming; Alex says no one knew about the house. Gene counters that he had to ask a judge for a search warrant, implying that the corruption might extend to the bench too. Just at that moment, Rachel (conveniently) walks in and asks if this is the right house for the parties. Jackie is initially overjoyed at finding her niece … until she finds out that Rachel hitchhiked to the house. “You could have been killed!”, she says.
Everyone goes to Luigi’s to celebrate Rachel’s safe return, and there Gene proposes to Jackie. His “terms” for the marriage are hilarious:
“Three rules: I never, ever see you without your makeup, I am never going to Glasgow, and he is going to be called Gene.”
Jackie then drops the bomb: she never slept with Gene and the baby isn’t his. As Luigi comes to the table with a now-pointless bottle of champagne, Jackie wonders where Rachel has gone off to. Luigi says that she left, and he hands her a note from her that says “I am not a kid”.
We’re next taken to Alex’s apartment, where Jackie is spending the night. As Alex and Jackie make up a bed on the sofa, Alex admits to Jackie that she has a child. When Jackie asks where she is, Alex only says “she’s not with me”. Jackie asks Alex what motherhood is like, and Alex says that you’re no longer alone any more, that you have someone you’d lay down your life for. Alex asks Jackie if Sam Tyler had any kids. Jackie asks if she knew Sam, to which Alex says “a little bit”. Alex mentions that Sam and Annie were married. Jackie says that they were the happiest couple she ever saw, but that they didn’t have children. Alex asks if Sam ever asked her questions about the future, or if he ever seemed unhappy or talked about going back somewhere. Jackie says that once he settled down and “stopped fighting whatever it was that he was fighting” he was happy. Jackie says that she wrote his obituary for the paper and that he was the “most loved man” she ever met. After a moment of quiet reflection, Alex says that’s the difference between her and Sam: that she has someone to go back for.
Alex then goes into the bedroom and goes to sleep, where she has a nightmare that Molly has been kidnapped by Jarvis. She is initially blindfolded, but when he pulls the blindfold away, Molly is on a stage, and there are six men standing there in silhouette watching her:
Alex is jarred awake by the telephone ringing. Creepy Doctor is on the line, and he says that Alex got Mac agitated. He asks her when she’s “going to learn that what you do in this place has consequences”. Jackie walks in the room to see if Alex is OK, and just as the two hug, Gene walks in. Alex tells him to go ahead and make a smutty comment, but he is totally serious. “Get dressed”, he says, then leaves the room. He takes them to the river, where the body of a young girl has been found. Jackie, thinking that it’s Rachel, almost can’t bear to look… but it turns out to be Debbie, the girl Gordon Lannigan had been photographing earlier.
It appears that the investigation has reached a dead end. Back at the station, Gene says that the only way they can to Mac now is to appeal to whatever sense of decency he has left. He finds Mac in the toilets. Mac says that Drake has been nothing but trouble. He also begs Gene to “come back to us”. Gene says that someone somewhere loved Debbie. He also says that he knows that Jarvis didn’t like it when Mac told him to keep his head down. Gene says that he doesn’t know if he’s in business with Jarvis, or if he (Jarvis) is a Mason or what, but that he knows that Mac is protecting Jarvis for some reason. He tells Mac to give him the word and he’ll bring Jarvis in on charges of double murder. Mac just stares at him and leaves the room.
Gene has decided that it’s time to bring Ray and Chris in on this, and back in his office, Gene lays everything out to them. Chris and Ray don’t believe it at first, but Gene appeals to their sense of loyalty to him. Ray says that he’d jump off Tower Bridge for Gene, and says that he’s in. Chris agrees. Mac bangs on the door and has Alex arrested for embezzlement, corruption, perverting the course of justice and receiving stolen goods. He also has a search warrant for her flat. During the search, they find money, drugs, sketchy bank statements, and a television from Kevin Hales’ apartment – all of it planted, of course. Just before she’s taken back to the station, Alex tells Mac that the man who phones her also leaves roses. Mac’s face is completely expressionless, leading us to think he knows nothing about Creepy Doctor.
Back at the station, Mac leads a farcical interview with Alex. He says that she is suspended pending further investigation, and he sends her home. Shaz and Ray are supportive of her as she cleans out her desk, but Ray wants to know where the TV came from. Shaz says that Jackie has a phone call. It’s Rachel, who says that she’s going to a party tonight and to tell Dad that she’ll be fine. The thing is, her Dad died five years ago.
Back at Alex’s flat, she’s cleaning up the mess from the police search from earlier when the TV comes on by itself. Roland Rat is on, and he’ s taking a phone call from Molly, who says that she wants her mom back, and that she’s in an ambulance. Gene and Jackie arrive shortly thereafter, having been tipped off by the “Rachel’s dad” signal. They’re going back to Jarvis’ house.
“Oi! You and your Fallopian tubes get back in the car and do nothing!” – Gene, to Jackie, outside Jarvis’ house.
After breaking a window, the gang enters the house. Loud music is heard coming from somewhere in the house. Chris opens an interior… only to see a Rottweiler blocking the way. Chris slowly approaches the dog, who initially acts friendly. When Chris gets too close, however, he starts barking… and Gene pulls out a gun and shoots the dog. The gang moves into the room the dog was guarding. Alex spies some expensive artwork in the room, and wants to pause to look further. “Collectors have patterns”, she says. Gene is against it… until Alex looks at some other paintings, one of which is a painting of Mac and his daughter! The gang then realizes the horrible truth: that Mac covered for Jarvis when he killed Wendy Gorman back in 1977, and that this house is the result of “hush money” paid to Mac by Jarvis. As the gang starts to leave the room, Ray spies Debbie’s scarf.
They track down the source of the music: there’s a party going on with several men and lots of young girls. Ray asks what they’re going to do; Alex and Gene initially say that they’re just going to wait, as there are far too many people for the four of them to handle. Just at that moment, however, a guard brings Jackie into the room. Jackie tells the man that they’re “surrounded by armed bastards”. Gene, irritated that Jackie has forced him into action, says that he and Alex will arrest Jarvis, and that all the other men are fair game for Ray and Chris. They storm into the room and a small riot quickly breaks out. Jackie rushes over to Rachel while Gene and Alex arrest Jarvis, who is surprisingly mellow about the bust. He says that he cannot be touched; Gene says that we’ll see about that.
Back at the station, Gene and Alex storm into Mac’s office. Gene tells Mac that they’re brought Jarvis in. Mac, looking cool as ice, says that he forbid Gene from doing that. He also reminds Alex that she is supposed to be suspended. Gene starts giving a speech to Mac, who denies everything. Mac is defiant… until Alex says that they found the portrait of Mac and his daughter at the house. His defiance seems to collapse further when Alex shows him Debbie’s scarf. Mac says that the scarf could have been planted by anyone.. like a suspended DI with a grudge. Mac seems to give up completely when Gene asks if Mac can live with what he’s become.
In the interview room, Jarvis is once again less than helpful, answering “no comment” to every question asked of him. Alex walks out of the interview and she talks with Rachel, trying to get more information about the day’s events. Alex convinces her to identify Jarvis as the man that tried to sell her virginity. Once in the interview room, however, Rachel, becomes too scared to identify him.
It looks like Gene and the gang have once again been defeated by Mac and his cronies. Jarvis walks triumphantly down the hall away from the interview room, while Gene, Alex, Ray, Jackie and Rachel follow behind, wondering what went wrong. Jarvis turns a corner and sees Mac waiting for him. Smiling, Jarvis puts his arms out to hug Mac. Instead, Mac pulls out a gun and shoots Jarvis in the chest:
When Jarvis falls to the ground, Mac steps over him and fires again, presumably finishing the job. Mac the points the gun to his own head, which causes Gene to rush up to him and try to wrestle the gun away. Gene and Mac struggle for a few seconds, and suddenly the gun goes off… Mac has succeeded in shooting himself. As Mac lies there dying, he asks Gene to forgive him (and he does). Mac also says that there is something larger going on… and his last words are “Operation Rose… is coming”.
Everyone is hanging out in the main office of the station. The mood is somber. Ray says that “it’s all over”, meaning that the Met’s leadership is going to dismantle the whole division. Gene gives a short speech about police corruption:
“Once upon a time, in this room, a man drew a line. He said that police corruption was going to become a thing of the past. Well, that man was a liar and that man is now dead. I’m going to redraw that line. I am not a liar. We are police officers and we will behave like police officers. We will fight, slap, knock down, beat up and intimidate to hold back the wave of scum. That is our right, and that is our duty. But if I find one man feathering his own nest by so much as one bent penny, I will destroy him. Any questions?”
Gene then leads the gang in a toast to Mac, “there but for the grace of God”.
At the bus station, Gene and Alex see off Jackie and Rachel. Jackie once again asks Alex if there’s anything going on between her and Gene. Alex again denies it. As she turns to get on the bus, Jackie starts to take off the coat she’s been wearing (which actually belongs to Gene). Gene tells to to keep it, as she might need it to keep the baby warm.
At Luigi’s, Alex and Gene have a somber talk about Mac and what “Operation Rose” might be. Gene asks Alex what Jackie meant by her “nothing going on” question, and Alex evades the question. Gene presses her, but just then Luigi walks up and says that Alex has a phone call. Creepy Doctor is on the line, and he says that Alex might be right, that they could possibly work together. He suggests that they meet… alone. He hangs up the phone, and just then Alex looks up at Luigi’s menu board… which has a chalk drawing of a rose on it.
– I just loved Shaz’s “watch your face, baby!” line during the brawl with Division A. I dunno why… it was just sweet sounding.
– “Combine Harvester” is a snarky parody of Melanie’s song “Brand New Key”.
– Alex says that the “gold bullion job” happened on “Ball’s Pond Road”. I couldn’t help but giggle at the name, but Ball’s Pond Road is a real street in London.
– Jackie Queen was a reporter from Manchester that first appeared in season 1, episode 6 of Life On Mars (the “hostage” episode; read a summary of it here)
– Gene says that he will “dance the light fantastic” on Gordon’s head. Although “tripping the light fantastic” is a line from “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum, it was also used in “And the Dance Goes On” by The Mission and “Walking in the Rain” by Grace Jones. It was also said by Zaphod Beeblebrox in the film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, the phrase itself is much older than that, going back to John Milton’s poem L’Allegro.
– Mac and Jarvis both attended Hendon Police College, a real police academy in the UK.
– There was another reference to “agony aunts” in this episode, when Alex is explaining criminal profiling to Jackie.
– Jarvis’ house is protected by Mercus Security. Their phone number is 01 946 1010. I can’t help but think that there’s a message or something in that, since there were Mercus Security signs on both sides of the gate at Jarvis’ (later revealed to be Mac’s) house, and that they were right at eye level. Why would the prop department make two signs, and why place them so prominently if it didn’t mean anything?
– At the celebratory dinner, Jackie asks Rachel if she thinks they play “Pass the Parcel” at the parties. Pass the Parcel is a popular child’s party game in Britain, and is similar to Musical Chairs. A gift is wrapped with several different layers of wrapping paper, and smaller gifts might be included between layers of paper. A song is played, and the parcel is passed around a circle of kids. When the music pauses, the child holding the gift gets to unwrap the current layer of paper, and he or she gets to keep the gift (if any) in that layer. Play continues until the main gift is finally unwrapped. Although the music is supposed to be paused at random by one of the adults, most times the music is stopped so that each child gets a small gift, or so that the birthday kid gets the main present (or both).
– At the celebratory dinner, Ray challenges Chris to name five famous people from Devon. Alex butts in and starts off the list with Sir Walter Raleigh. When Chris can only name race car driver Nigel Mansell, Alex pops in again with Sir Francis Drake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Agatha Christie.
– At Alex’s place, Jackie says that Gene was “not put on this earth to have kids” and that he “has other work to do”. What does this mean, exactly? Why does she say “other work” instead of “police work” or that he was “put on this earth to be a cop” or something similar?
– Mac tells Alex that the facilities in Holloway leave a lot to be desired. Holloway is a real prison for female offenders. It opened in 1852.
– At her flat after being suspended, the TV mysteriously comes on, and Roland Rat is on the air. It was a real show, and was, in fact, credited with saving “breakfast television” (morning show) network tv-am. After Roland’s debut, the network’s audience went from 100,000 to 1.8 million. Some have joked that he was the “only rat to ever jump on a sinking ship”. On the show, Roland lived under the King’s Cross railway station. Amusingly, he is named after Tears For Fears’ member Roland Orzabal.
– I wonder how many complaints the BBC will field about Gene shooting the dog!
– Will it be as many as the inevitable complaints about of the “northern bashing” in this episode? If you think only the United States has divisions between the north and south, read this Wikipedia article about the divide between north and south in England.
– GOOF: If you watch the scene where Mac shoots Jarvis in slow motion, you can clearly see that there is no “dye pack” on the actor playing Jarvis. No wound is visible whatsoever. After he falls to the ground, however, the wound is prominent on his chest. Way to skimp on the SFX budget, BBC!
– Four Bauhaus songs in one episode? Really?
– “It Ain’t What You Do….” was originally written as “T’ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” back in the 1930s by jazz musicians Melvin Oliver and James Young. Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three really liked Bananarama’s look, and he invited the girls to sing backup on a cover version of the song. The girls returned the favor by having Fun Boy Three sing backup on their next single, “Really Sayin’ Something”. Although the “official” title of the Fun Boy Three version heard in this episode is “It Ain’t What You Do….”, it is sometimes written as “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” or “T’ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)”. Some people even seem to be confused to who actually released the song – Fun Boy Three or Bananarama. It’s most definitely a Fun Boy Three song.
MUSIC HEARD IN THIS EPISODE:
Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – “Ebony & Ivory”
Bauhaus – “Harry”
Fun Boy Three & Bananarama – “It Ain’t What You Do….”
Bauhaus – “The Three Shadows”
Al Jarreau – “We’re In This Love Together”
Broken English – “The Token Man”
Bauhuas – “Hair of The Dog”
The Associates – “Love Hangover”
Bauhaus – “In Fear Of The Dub”
Queen and David Bowie – “Under Pressure”
The Korgis – “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime”