Ashes to Ashes: Season 3, Episode 2

This episode begins with Alex having a dream… in which Gene and the gang recreate Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” video:


Alex wakes up, and static crackles on the TV. A lonely Alex looks at the TV and asks where everyone is.

Back at the station, “Uptown Girl” plays on the radio as workers hammer and saw and make other construction noise. Shaz jumps up and asks who long they’re going to be, as they’re giving her a headache. The workers say that they’re “dragging this place into 1983”. Chris tries to comfort her with some small talk, but a short-fused Shaz tells him to get lost.

Alex walks in, and slowly makes her way over to her desk whilst keeping an eye on the builders… especially since they’re playing that Billy Joel song. She pulls a file out of her desk, and notices something newly carved into her desk:


It appears to be the numbers “6-6-20”. Alex asks a passing officer who carved it, but he says he doesn’t know. Just then, Gene bursts out of his office, complaining about the music. He says that Jim Keats is in the office today and he wants to know about the “efficiency of the ship” Gene runs. Alex looks at Gene, remembers the “Uptown Girl” spoof, then looks down at the numbers carved into her desk.

After the credits, Ray comes running in to the office, saying that he has a “treat” for Chris. Chris says that he has to open the mail, but Ray drags him off to an interrogation room, where two young blonde girls are sitting. It seems that the girls had “borrowed” their father’s car, and they’re now “desperate for [Ray] to lose the paperwork”. Chris thinks about it for a moment, then says he has to go back to opening the mail. Ray asks Chris what’s wrong with him and that the girls will give them “a couple of hand jobs-here, minimum”. Chris says that he doesn’t want a hand job, he wants love. As a response, Ray insults him.

Alex walks in to Gene’s office, asking if he got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. He says that he did, because now that D&C are all in his business, he now has five times the paperwork to do. Alex jokes that five times nothing is still nothing, but Gene says that if he’d known about the construction work, he wouldn’t have opened the second bottle of Johnnie Walker. Alex asks him about Sam Tyler, but Gene doesn’t want to talk about it. When Alex presses him, Gene says “Sam Tyler was a friend of mine. Sam Tyler died. End of. It is not a subject for small talk.” Alex presses Gene even more, but he simply refuses to talk.

Out in the office, Shaz is screaming because one of the workmen left a file (a tool, not some papers) on her desk. She picks it up and throws it, surprising both Gene and Alex. Gene says that if she’s “riding the cotton pony” she can go home to do it. Alex, repulsed at Gene, tries to talk to her, but she walks away. Chris, who is walking in the door as Shaz storms out, tries to talk to her, but she angrily tells him (and everyone else) to leave her alone. Gene, in a rage, tells everyone to sit down and get to work, and to give him five minutes of peace and quiet while he soothes his hangover.

Gene turns to walk back into his office, but he’s interrupted by a shout from Chris… who has opened a package to find a severed hand inside. Gene angrily asks Chris what he’s shouting about, but then he sees the hand on his desk. Ray quips that Chris got his “hand job” after all.

Down at the pathology lab, the hand is identified as belonging to a young woman in her late teens or early twenties. There is no ring on her finger, nor an imprint or tan line, indicating that the girl was not married. The pathologist estimates that she died around three days ago. Alex asks if the hand was removed before or after the woman’s death, and is told that it was after death, but only by an hour or so. When Alex asks about any fibers or hair under her nails the pathologist only shakes his head. Alex lastly asks what type of instrument was used to cut off the hand; the pathologist has no idea, only that it was very sharp, as the hand was not “hacked”. Gene turns to leave (“I’ve probably got 18 forms to fill in about this”), but the pathologist notes one interesting thing: that the woman’s palm was burned… branded to be exact.

Back in the office, Alex tells Shaz to pull the missing persons reports for the past week. She then tells Ray and Chris to pull all the reports of murdered women over the past two years, paying special attention to any photographs. Ray protests that it’s a lot of files, and that he has arrest reports to fill in. When he says that he’ll do it later, Alex tells him that he will do it now. Ray says that Alex cannot pull rank on him any more. Before Alex can reply, Gene walks up and says that he’s sure the killing is a “one-off”. Alex says that she’s not so sure, because branding is a “specific psychological trigger”. She’s sure that the killer would have branded other victims too, and that maybe they can find other cases if they look at past records. Gene then wonders why the killer mailed the hand to them this time, and not any other times. Alex suggests that perhaps something has changed with the murderer, and perhaps he’s “asking for help”. Just at that moment, Jim opens the office door and says that Alex has an interesting theory. He then calls Ray in for questioning.

Some time passes, and we see Alex sitting at her desk, reviewing Sam Tyler’s file. Chris comes over to talk to her about Shaz, as she “hasn’t been herself” for the past few days. Alex asks if he’s talked to her, and he says that she won’t give him the time of day. So she volunteers to have a word with Shaz for him. Chris starts to walk away, but Alex calls him back, asking if he was friends with Sam Tyler. Chris says that he was more of a mentor than friend, and that he was an “amazing bloke”. Alex asks if he was there when they found Sam’s car in the river; Chris says that the robbers split up, and so did the cops. It was Gene and Ray who found Sam’s car.

Chris walks away just as Shaz walks up. She thinks she’s found something: the body of a woman named Fiona Day appears to have a similar brand on the underside of her left arm. She was found in a shallow grave in Hoxton, and the investigating officer was… Gene Hunt.

Meanwhile, Ray has been escorted to Jim’s cramped office. Ray complains that it’s “hotter than a Majorcan minge” in the room, which Jim excuses as being for his bad circulation. Jim asks Ray about leaving Manchester. Ray says that when they came down with Gene they didn’t know what they’d find. He says that they haven’t always played it “by the book”, but that they’ve created a special team in London. Jim asks him about Drake, and Ray says that even she has her moments. Jim then compliments Ray on his loyalty, but Ray says it’s just the truth. Jim then says that he’s not here to dismantle the station or get rid of Hunt, that he’s just trying to do a difficult job.

Back in the office, Alex and Gene are going over the Fiona Day case. Alex asks about the report, which indicates that not a single suspect was found. Gene says that there was only an ex-husband, but he had an ironclad alibi and seemed as upset as everyone else. He also says that the mark under her arm wasn’t brought to his attention. He also says that he went to her funeral, which surprises Alex. Gene explains that he feels like he let her down. Alex says that she knows there’s some connection between the cases; Gene tells her to take the search nationwide by asking every police force in the country to dig through their old pathology reports.

Later that night, Alex dreams of being home alone and watching TV. In the dream, she flips through the dial, passing by a nature documentary about beetles, and comes across a game show… in which Shaz is playing and an unseen Gene Hunt hosts. Hunt asks her “What ‘T’ can be used as an occupational name and a given name for both genders?” She answers “Tyler”, the door keeper of an inn. He then asks her “What ‘M’ means to kill with premeditation?'” She says “murder”. Gene asks her to speak up, so she looks at the screen and very loudly says “MURDER!”:


Alex is jarred awake.

The next morning, news has come down that six young women have been murdered and branded with a crescent in towns all over England. When Alex asks what the connection to the cities is, Ray points out that Bristol, Sheffield, Norwich and Newcastle all have crappy football teams. Chris wonders if the killer is a traveling salesman. Shaz wonders if the killer is doing it at random to seem arbitrary. Alex says that she doesn’t believe in arbitrary. Gene asks about the victims, and Alex says that they were all young, slim and dark-haired. Gene asks if they were prostitutes, but Alex says that there’s no evidence of that. Ray suggests that they were all members of the same social club, but Shaz says that she doesn’t think so. Chris says that each victim was buried in a shallow grave on waste land. Gene asks about the branding, and Ray says that all Forensics said was that the edges were well defined, as if the brand wasn’t homemade. Gene asks Chris about the package the hand came in; he says that it was sent from a post office six streets away, but there’s nothing distinctive about the handwriting. Gene says that there’s some kind of pattern here, and that no one will leave until they find it.

Gene then paces his office. He looks at Alex, and then looks over at the news clippings on his wall about the death of Sam Tyler. He walks up them, then pulls one of them off the wall and crumples it up. He then walks over to his desk and starts flipping through the victim’s files.. suddenly he notices something.

He walks out of his office and asks the room when people are at their most vulnerable. He then turns to Ray, who says that he’s never vulnerable. Alex pipes up “when we’re in love”, and Gene says “when we just out of love”. He’s noticed that all the victims are divorcees. When Ray says he doesn’t understand how this will help them, Alex asks him where he goes to meet women. After admitting that he goes to bus stations, pubs and art galleries to meet women, Ray also sheepishly admits – under pressure from the group – that he’s used dating agencies. Alex asks Shaz for a copy of the Cosmo she’d been reading – Chris, sympathetically, says that he read the article on female circumcision – and suddenly there it is: The Crescent Moon Dating Agency, founded by a woman named Elaine Downing. Apparently Ms Downing comes in to a new town, gets the agency up and running and franchises it out to a buyer. Interesting tidbit? The agency has branches in Hoxton, Bristol, Sheffield, Norwich, and Newcastle… and they just opened a new branch in Fenchurch a couple of months ago. Gene says that he’ll find Ms Downing and “hang her upside down and see if any murderers fall out”. Alex suggests that this is too direct an approach. She suggests going undercover as a lonely woman (Gene: “No change there, then”). Gene doesn’t like the plan, but when Alex mentions that it would impress Keats, he approves.

We then see Gene hauling ass in the Quattro with Alex, who keeps repeating that she could have just taken the bus. Meanwhile, Keats is interviewing Chris. He asks him about the station’s poor “clean-up rate”. Chris says that this is because they don’t do paperwork half the time, and that’s because Gene says they were put on this earth to catch bad people, not do paperwork. When Keats asks if Chris thinks all his arrests have been legal, Chris asks him to define “legal”. After Keats defines “legal” for him, Chris says that yes, technically, all their arrests were legal. Keats then notes that Chris wrote that he’s “ambitious” on one of his forms. He then tries to drive a wedge between Chris and Gene by suggesting that Chris could rank much higher in the police force if he’d only spread his wings. Chris then says that perhaps he’s not all that ambitious, and that if he has to be in someone’s shadow, he can’t think of anyone’s he’d rather be in than Gene’s.

By this time, Gene and Alex are in the car outside the dating agency. Gene says that he’s not sure he should let Alex do this by herself. Alex, meanwhile, is “primping” in the mirror, trying to make herself look “plain and desperate”. Gene reminds her not to get killed, as this wouldn’t impress Keats.

Back at the station, Ray asks Chris about the twins. Chris doesn’t seem very interested, and Ray assumes it’s because of Shaz. He loudly calls across the room to her, asking her “permission” for Chris to date other people. Shaz says that it has nothing to do with her. Ray says that he will call the girls.

Back at the agency, Alex meets with Elaine under the alias “Kate Winslet”. Elaine gives her some forms to fill out that she will match with her database of available men. Alex, trying to play scared, asks if it’s safe. Elaine says that it’s very safe, as long as Alex takes proper precautions, like only meeting in public places. Alex asks if any of their dates have “gone wrong” and Elaine says that “Ms. Winslet” is very attractive and shouldn’t have trouble meeting men. Alex says that she’s having a hard time finding the right man. Alex then says that she is recently divorced, and asks Elaine if that will be a problem. Just at that moment, Gene walks in: “I’m looking for love. You got any?”

Meanwhile, Chris is trying to convince Ray to go see a Star Wars movie with him, and even mentions that Alec Guinness is in it. Ray then asserts that they are going to see The Hunger, which he describes as “Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in a sci-fi lesbian romp”. Chris, looking longingly at Shaz, asks her if she wants to go to the movies. She declines, and a sad Chris walks away. Later on, Gene and Alex sit in his office and discuss the events at the dating agency whilst filling out their dating forms.

Alex: “And your favourite artist?”
Gene: “Herb Alpert and His Tijuana Brass.”
Alex: “Herb Alpert?!”
Gene: “Yes, women love it. Reminds them of sun and sea, and getting poked behind an electricity substation in Torremolinos.”

Gene and Alex have a few witty exchanges over their answers to their respective questionnaires (“And I’ve told you more than once, Bolly… Nelson Mandela is a terrorist.”). Shaz pops her head in the office to say that she’s leaving. Alex wonders what’s wrong with her, and asks Gene where she lives. Gene doesn’t know, because he’s never asked.

Alex decides to follow Shaz home. She follows her through a narrow alley, only to see a starry sky at the end of it:


A nervous Alex looks behind her and sees and hears nothing. When she turns back around, the night sky has been replaced with a normal city street. She then hears Shaz behind her, asking if Alex was following her. The two then sit on benches near the Tower of London and talk. Shaz says she doesn’t know what’s wrong. Alex says that she’s not her “usual happy, battling self”, and Shaz agrees that she is not. Alex asks if everything is OK at home (it is), then asks if she misses Chris (she does, a bit, but thinks they’re better off apart). Shaz then says that she thinks the problem is the police force. All she ever wanted to be, she says, was a copper… but now she feels like she just doesn’t belong. She says that Alex can take all the men’s insults and turn it into energy, and she just doesn’t know how to do that. Shaz says that CID might be better without her, and she might be better without them. Alex says that they’ll keep talking about it. Shaz, with a smile on her face, tells Alex that she’s “rubbish at following people”.

The next morning, Ray asks Alex why he just can’t go to Crescent Moon and pull the dead girls’ questionnaires; Alex says it’s because they don’t want to tip anyone off that they’re on the hunt. Chris then walks in the office, and Alex stops him and reveals that she’s been looking at the Sam Tyler file again by asking him who took the photograph of Sam’s upturned car in the river if Chris (the gang’s photographer) wasn’t present. Chris looks at the photograph, ominous music plays, but he just says that he has no idea, and suggest that Ray might have taken it.

Just then, Viv walks up with a man named Colin Danson, who says that his estranged wife has been missing for three days. At first, Alex tries to push the man back off on Viv, but Colin says that her bank called him that morning to inquire about a bunch odd payments to betting shops and liquor stores. He further says that he went to her apartment and found that she hadn’t been there for days, and that he found an invoice from Crescent Moon Dating Agency in her mail.

We next see the gang staking out a corner store. After Ray makes a crude comment about the lesbian scene in The Hunger, Alex tells him to shut up, then explains that a man comes in to the shop every day to buy groceries for his sick mother using Mrs Danson’s checkbook. After a few moments of talk, the shopkeeper lowers the blind, which is the signal that the man is in the store. The young man opens the door to the shop… only to find this waiting for him:


Hunt drags the young man to a vacant lot and throws him up against the wall. The man denies being a killer, but does admit to using the stolen checkbook. When Hunt asks him where he got the checkbook, the man (well, boy, really) looks around the lot and says that he can’t remember. Gene gets him in a headlock, and the boy points to a location a few feet away. The gang spread out to see what they can find. Shaz, who had been looking at the boy as if she sympathized with him, finds a bra. She starts digging with her hands, and soon finds the severed wrist of a dead girl. Shaz just yells that she’s “sick of this” and runs off. The rest of the gang converge on the spot, and soon they’ve uncovered the body of a female. Chris then finds Sandie Danson’s driver’s license. Gene then vows to find the man who did this.

At the station, Alex tries to look through her replies, but decides that there are simply too many. Poor Gene has no replies, and since the the team has to a) accept the possibility that the killer might be a woman; and b) needs single women to attract the killer (who is likely male), Alex decides to… invent speed dating! The rest of the gang look confused, so Alex explains that they’ll call up the men, pretending to be the agency. They’ll arrange a “divorcee evening”, and they’ll use female friends of the gang as bait. Each one will talk to a man for five minutes, then move on. Shaz thinks it sounds stupid, but Alex is certain that it’ll work.

Just at that moment, Elaine bursts through the door. She’s angry because she’s promised her clients that their information will be confidential. She then looks over at Ray and calls out his name. When she asks him what he’s doing there, a deflated Ray says that he works there. He halfheartedly says that he doesn’t know who she is. Elaine says that Ray said that he was a solider. Gene regains control of the conversation, and tells Elaine that one of her clients is a murderer, and that the rest are “losers and tossers”.  Elaine warns him that she’ll call up every single male client and warn them off if the police don’t cease using her records. Whilst Elaine recites platitudes about love, Gene goes back in his office and pulls a photograph of one of the murdered girls and hands it to her. He quips that she’s not selling love, she’s selling “lust and filth”.

So the “speed dating” ruse goes forward at Luigi’s. The event begins with Alex talking to a trainspotter. After he explains the difference between the  loading gauges of British, European and American trains, Alex mentions that she recently went to Norwich, and asks him if he’s ever been there. Meanwhile, a bored Gene talks to a woman about her ex-husbands, but wakes up when the woman says the reason she married her most recent ex is because “[h]e was hung like something off the beach at Weston Super Mare”. Ray talks to the twins, and when he says that there must be some part of their bodies that isn’t the same, they just shrug and say “wouldn’t you like to know”. And poor Chris is stuck with a dowdy older woman who doesn’t like football. At the bar, Elaine asks Luigi if Gene is married; Luigi says that there was a Mrs. Hunt once. Elaine looks sad and apparently feels sympathy for the “poor, poor woman”. Luigi says that he’s now just married to his job. He then rings the speed dating bell.

Back at the station, Shaz is making a cup of tea when Jim sticks his head in the kitchenette and notes that she’s working late. Shaz says that everyone else is at Luigi’s, but that she didn’t feel well enough to go. Jim asks her why she became a cop, and she says that it was to “make a difference”. She further says that she knows it sounds stupid, but she thought that if she kept her head down and did her work well that she could do something. Jim says that the police force is changing and that women will soon be very important to the police force. He mentions Alex as an example. Shaz says that Alex is the most amazing woman she’s ever met, but she’s also the one who’s making her think that perhaps the police force isn’t for her. Jim asks if it’s because she can’t complete with Alex, but Shaz says she can’t compete with any of them. She says that she d0esn’t think she’s strong enough to be a cop. Jim asks what Gene would think of that, and Shaz says that he wouldn’t understand, and that he’s “as brave as a lion and he don’t have time for anyone who ain’t”. Jim then says that it takes a lot of courage to admit that you might have taken a wrong turn with your career. Shaz asks if he thinks she should leave, and Jim says that he thinks she knows what to do.

Back at Luigi’s, a bored Gene keeps talking to the same woman, because none of the other women wanted to sit with him. She then flirts pretty heavily with Gene. In the meantime, Alex is sitting with a new man, who takes out a picture of his kids. Alex says that they’re lovely, and that the only good thing about her recent divorce is that there were no children involved. The man says that he wasn’t divorced, and that his wife died. Chris is now talking to the twins, talking about what a great guy Ray is. Ray is now talking to the frumpy woman Chris was seen with earlier. She sees him looking at the twins, and says that if he doesn’t want to talk to her, he could have just said so. Ray, feeling guilty about ignoring the woman, tries to come up with something to say… but is only able to ask her where the strangest place she’s ever had sex is. To Ray’s surprise, she says “probably in my bottom”.

Shaz and Jim arrive at Luigi’s, where Jim makes some nice comments about Alex. Shaz says that she’s feeling better, and suggests that he go and talk to Alex. Just then, Luigi rings the bell to change seats, so Jim goes over to Alex and says that his name is Jim and that he’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. Meanwhile, Gene’s hot tamale says that her underwear is in her purse; she asks him what he thinks of that. Gene, possibly tipsy, leans towards her and says “Herb Alpert and His Tijuana Brass”. Ray and Chris is both talking to the twins now, and Ray suggests that they go to Alex’s apartment above the restaurant for a game of cards. Ray looks over at Alex and says that she “looks busy” with Jim, so why don’t they have at it? Shaz, meanwhile, tells Luigi that she thinks she’ll go home. Luigi begs her to stay, and gives her the beer on the house. She says that she just doesn’t feel like she belongs any more. In the meantime, Jim is telling Alex about his music preferences (“Elvis Costello, Philip Glass, Mahler”). The two seem to bond over the Adagietto from his Fifth Symphony. The horny woman seems to have passed out on Gene, who demands that Luigi ring the bell.

Upstairs in Alex’s flat, the twins and Ray appear to be mostly clothed, but Chris is down to his underwear… which is probably not what Ray had in mind when he talked about Strip Poker! Back at the bar, Gene laments the wasted evening. Alex agrees. Elaine walks up to say good night. Alex asks if she noticed anything unusual. She says that didn’t. She then apologizes that these “terrible crimes” happened because of her agency.

Shaz, walking home, sees some hooligans causing trouble. Although greatly outnumbered, she pulls out her badge and tells everyone that they’re under arrest. One of the men pulls out a screwdriver and threatens to stab her with it. The scene moves in slow-motion for Shaz, who clumsily escapes up some stairs. We then see Shaz, alone, looking out over the Thames, and Gene alone at his desk looking at the pictures of the victims and drinking a Scotch. Alex, also alone, is asleep, but having a nightmare of Shaz screaming “Murder!”, the spoof of “Uptown Girl” and the latest victim opening her eyes whilst still buried in the ground. She wakes up, with a hopeful look on her face.

The next morning, Alex asks everyone why now? Why is the murderer sending police clues now, and not with the earlier victims? Gene isn’t too keen on Alex’s theory, but then Keats walks in and says that Alex might be right… why now? Keats suggests it’s for fame, like Ted Bundy. Alex then mentions Jeffrey Dahmer, which causes confused looks (Dahmer wasn’t arrested until July 22, 1991; most of his murders took place between 1987 and 1991). Keeping the conversation moving, Gene asks why he just doesn’t out himself on a Terry Wogan show. Jim suggests that it’s because he enjoys making a fool of Hunt. Alex wonders if the hand is a sign, and she and Keats have an exchange about that. Maybe he’s sick? Or dying? Hunt asks the two if it’s a private game, or can the rest of them join in. Alex then asks for the medical records of every Crescent Moon client in every city. She wants to contact their doctors and see if any of them have a terminal disease. Alex then begs for someone to stop all the construction noise. Shaz, who happens to walk in at that moment, unplugs the electric saw making the racket, then drops a bombshell: she is resigning from the police force. After Shaz gives a short speech, Viv walks up to Alex with a package from Manchester – the personal effects of Sam Tyler.


Meanwhile, Chris has found a Crescent Moon client who was diagnosed with terminal cancer a couple of months ago. Alex asks to see the file. It’s McLean, a man she met speed dating. She says that he’s a widower with two kids, and that it can’t possibly be him. Ray snickers and reminds her that “my wife died” is the oldest trick in the book. Gene walks over and agrees with Ray. Alex, disgusted with herself, wants to go after him immediately. Gene, in a rare show of restraint, reminds her that they need evidence first. Alex offers to go undercover with him, but Gene says that he’s already seen her. He says that McLean seems to like them young (which Alex takes offense to), divorced, and dark-haired. He needs Shaz.

We then see Gene talking to Shaz in the kitchenette. He says that he won’t try to talk her out of leaving (although he doesn’t understand it). So instead, he asks her to go out in a blaze of glory. Shaz is very reluctant. Gene reminds her that there are women all over the country in shallow graves, and that it’s their job to stop the killer from killing again. She begs Gene not to ask her, but Gene says that he’d only ask her if he felt that she could do it. Shaz starts sobbing, and eventually asks Gene, “and then no more?” Gene agrees.

Some time later we see Elaine at the station, sitting next to a red telephone. Shaz walks up and asks how everything works, and Elaine outlines how the agency works. Off to the side, Ray tells Chris that the twins are “almost identical… but not quite”. Alex says that Ray didn’t get anywhere near the twins. When he says that he did, Alex says that he has a tell, that he strokes him mustache when he lies. Shaz sits and waits for McLean to call, looking as if she might be sick. Chris reminds her that she doesn’t have to go through with this, but Shaz reassures him (and herself) that it’ll be the last thing she does as a cop. Chris says that he hopes it isn’t.

The phone suddenly rings.

Elaine answers it as if she were back at the agency. To no one’s surprise, it’s McLean, and he’s calling about Shaz. Elaine nonchalantly says that she’ll pass his info on to Sharon.

Later that night, we see Shaz sitting alone in a pub. In a surveillance van outside, Chris says that “this is wrong”, because Shaz is not in the right frame of mind for it. Ray tells him to take it up with the Guv, and Chris assures him that he will. Gene ans Alex then step into the van with cups of tea. Ray tells the Guv that Chris wants to say something, but he demurs. Ray then makes fun of him for never standing up to authority. Ray and Chris trade barbs, and eventually the talk is of Shaz and how brave she is.

Back in the bar, Graham McLean walks up to Sharon, a bouquet of roses in his hand. They exchange introductions, and after a few minutes retire to a table, where McLean takes out the picture of his kids he’d shown Alex. Shaz says that the kids are lovely, and Graham says that the kids told him they don’t want their daddy to be alone forever (please!). He then asks Shaz why she’s using a dating agency. She says that she’s dated guys her own age, and found them inadequate. McLean then asks where his manners are, and offers to buy Shaz a drink… only he gets about halfway to the bar before turning around and suggesting that they go to an area he know with a great view of the Thames. Shaz says that Elaine told her to stay around other people. McLean (secretly let down) agrees, and turns to order her a Bacardi and Coke. But Shaz then changes her mind and says that she would like a nice view.

We then see Shaz and Graham walking in a deserted area underneath a bridge or railroad trestle. Shaz asks him about his wife, which he thinks is a strange question. Shaz asks where they are, and Graham says that it’s a shortcut. He asks if she’s cold, and although she appears to be, she says that she isn’t. He offers to make them a fire, which makes Shaz ask about the view of the Thames she was promised. Graham ignores her, saying that women feel cold more than men.

Back in the van, the gang have been listening in. Ray calls McLean a nutter, Gene begs Shaz to make him talk, and Chris says he knows that this will end badly. Ray takes out a map and notes a large wasteland to the south, and that if they let them get that far it will be like “looking for a needle in a haystack”, as Chris notes. Alex notes that there will be a fire to mark where they are, and Gene just begs him to confess.

At the campfire, a creepy Graham mentions that Shaz asked about his wife. A scared Shaz says that they should perhaps go back now. Graham says that his wife was a slut and a liar. Shaz asks if she’s really dead, and he says that she lived in Aberdeen, and might as well be. He then says that she has a restraining order against him and that she met “her gingery Scotsman”, the father of her children, at a dating agency. He says that he was working “all hours” and she was seeing men through an agency. Shaz asks him what he does for a living, and he says he manages a supermarket. She then goes on the offensive, saying that he’s traveled around the country. When McLean denies it, Shaz said that he lied about having a dead life and lovely kids.

Graham asks Shaz if she’s a slut. She says that she isn’t, but he says that he thinks she is. He pulls out a crescent brand, and says that the “ginger Scotsman” gave his wife a necklace with a crescent on it. He puts the brand into the fire and says that it’s a romantic present because his wife met her lover at a dating agency. Shaz asks what happened to the girls he met, but he ignores the question, calls Shaz a “very pretty slut” and starts to assault her. Back in the van, Gene tells the gang to move in. Meanwhile, Graham is on top of Shaz, and says that the irony is that while his wife if living in “ginger happiness”, he has cancer. He says that women are sluts, and that they should be branded like cattle… then slaughtered like cattle. He says that no one can touch him, because he’s either going to die of cancer in a prison cell or die of cancer a free man. He reaches towards the fire to get the brand, but Shaz finds a screwdriver lying on the ground, which she jams into his chest. She then takes off running.

We see the gang looking for Shaz, and Ray hears her crying. They run up to her, and Chris tries to comfort her, but she pushes him away. She says that they need an ambulance or he will die without confessing. Of all the people there, Shaz runs to Gene and collapses in his arms. Ray calls Alex away to look for Graham. Chris stands there looking at a crying Shaz for a moment, then turns to join Ray and Alex.

Back at the office, Gene, alone, drops a file on Alex’s desk. He sees a bit of leather sticking out the top of one of her drawers, so he opens it and pushes the leather back into the envelope. Whether Gene knows that it’s Sam’s jacket or not is unknown – Gene shows no emotion, be we get the feeling that he knows Alex is on to him.

At Luigi’s, Ray calls for order, and says that while he might not have been a big supporter of women in the police force [understatement of the year!], that Shaz was incredible tonight. The gang shout in approval. Ray further says that he’s proud to have her as a colleague… then tells her to go make his dinner! Even Shaz has to smile at this. Chris, sitting next to her, says that she’ll be brilliant at whatever she does next, and that he hopes he always knows her. Shaz assures her that he will.

Gene walks in and demands an end to the talk to Shaz leaving. He says that he’s always wanted to see her out of her uniform. Shaz is shocked, so Gene says that he meant THE uniform. He tells her that if she keeps up the works she’s doing now that she’ll be in CID by Christmas. Shaz says that he can’t be serious.

Gene: “When I’m not being serious, I have lovely crinkly lines at the side of my eyes.”
Chris: “Crows feet, Guv.”
Gene: “Thank you, Christopher. What do you say, Granger?”

She says that she’ll stay, and the crowd erupts with delight. Just at that moment, though, the lights fade on everyone but Shaz and the camera zooms in for a close-up of her face. The sound of the bar fades away, and Bowie’s “Life on Mars” can be faintly heard:


Jim walks in to the bar and stands next to Alex. He says Gene is “quite the showman”, and that Alex did really well on the case. Alex says that they all did, as they’re a team. Jim says that he’s heard she’s been in contact with Manchester. Alex says that she’s interested in some of Sam Tyler’s files. After a pause, Jim says that he think that Alex thinks that Gene killed Sam. Alex coldly says she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Jim says he thinks Gene killed him too… then walks off. Alex stares at Gene for a few moments, while Hunt moves in slow motion and suspenseful music plays. The moment is interrupted by Ray, who calls out to Gene. Elaine is there, and she thanks him for taking the killer off the streets. Gene says that the man can die in a prison cell as far as he’s concerned. Elaine then pulls him in and kisses him deeply. The men and surprised, and some whistle. She tells Gene that if he ever wants a date to call her, then she tucks her business card in his jacket pocket. Ray asks how he does it, and Gene says that “either you have it, or you don’t”. Ray then raises a glass to Shaz.

The gang all dance to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as Gene walks over to Alex at the bar. He says that they make a good team, “posh totty and a bit of rough”. Alex answers with “uptown girl, downtown man”. Alex says that Shaz is blooming. Gene them reminds her that teams stick together through thick and thin. Alex says that she knows, but Gene continues that “[t]hey don’t go behind your back digging up old files, old files that are better left well alone”. He tells Alex that Keats wants to take them down, and that she shouldn’t help him, no matter what he says.

Gene walks away. Alex gets a serious look on her face as the music fades away. We see a shot of a beautiful sky, and the camera pans over to the dead officer standing in a field. We then see a brief flash of a weather vane… and the tiniest flash of a TV screen.

BREAKING NEWS: For a possible juicy spoiler, see the section called “Spoiler Alert”, below!


– In case you want to see the original “Uptown Girl” video, it’s on YouTube here.

– Any early guesses as to what “6-6-20” means? It doesn’t appear to be a date, since Brits normally use a slash instead of a dash to separate dates (e.g. 21/04/2010 instead of 21-04-2010). And even if it were a date, what would it mean? I don’t think it would be a birthday – is any regular Ashes to Ashes cast member supposed to be 63 years old? I don’t think it’s some kind of combination, either, as most combination locks I’m familiar with can’t have repeating numbers. I could be wrong, however.

-“Radio One” is BBC Radio 1, the company’s flagship radio station in the UK.

– Ray calls Chris a “pillow biter”, which is a person who is receiving sex so hard that they bite the pillow. Since Chris is male, the implication is that Chris is gay.

The Driller Killer is a 1979 horror film about a man who… kills people with electric drills. The film has something of a cult following in United States, but is much more infamous in the UK. This is because the film was one of Britain’s first video nasties, extremely violent films that, thanks to the proliferation of home video equipment and the lack of a system to control video cassette distribution, were “polluting and corrupting” the British public of the early 1980s. Britain had long had a strict censorship policy for films shown in cinemas, but VCRs rendered that entire system moot. The Driller Killer was one of the first films banned in the UK strictly on the basis of video cassette distribution. Amusingly, the furor in the UK actually ended up helping the movie: as soon as the moral busybodies starting making a stink about the low-budget film, thousands of copies were sold just to “see what it’s all about”.

– Johnnie Walker, the world’s best selling brand of Scotch whisky, was named after a real man who owned a grocery store in Ayrshire, Scotland. Johnnie Walker sold his blended whisky along with every other product that a grocery store would sell. It was Johnnie’s son and grandson – Alexander Walker and Alexander Walker II – who turned to making whisky full-time. It was Johnnie’s son Alexander who, in 1870,  introduced the iconic square bottle and the label applied at an angle; the famous “Striding Man” logo would not appear until 1908.

– Hoxton is an area in the borough of Hackney, just north of the City of London. In Tudor times, Hoxton was famous as an area for ambassadors and courtiers, as it allowed them to have “country air”, yet still be close to the city. So many Europeans in the area meant that Hoxton had a high concentration of Catholics, and masses (which were outlawed) were often performed in this area. Hoxton is most famous for being the home of Lord Monteagle, a Catholic who was warned of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the King and Parliament. Monteagle was sent an anonymous letter warning him to stay away from Parliament on a certain upcoming day. Monteagle the showed the letter to Robert Cecil and other government ministers, and the plot unraveled. The next day Monteagle was one of the people who found Guy Fawkes and his gunpowder in a vault underneath Westminster Hall. Some historians have speculated that Monteagle wrote the letter himself to curry favor with the king. The fact that James gave him a reward of £700 per year – at least $200,000 a year in modern terms, although the Bank of England’s inflation calculator only goes back to 1750 – perhaps bolsters that claim. Incidentally, Monteagle used part of James’ reward money to buy shares of the Virginia Company.

– Which Star Wars film does Chris want to go see? Given that it’s 1983, you’d think that it would be Return of the Jedi, but I have a hard time believing that even Ray would consider the Star Wars films to be mere “kid’s movies”, especially given all the hype behind the franchise at the time.

The Hunger was released on April 29, 1983 in the US and Return of the Jedi was released on May 25, 1983. I don’t know when these movies were released in the UK, but I think it’s safe to assume that this episode takes place in early June.

– “Kate Winslet’s” favorite meal includes “braised Konbu“, which is an edible form of kelp popular in Asia. I’m not sure that konbu would appear on many British menus in 1983, and I was especially surprised that Gene didn’t comment on it or ask what it was.

Trainspotting is a genuine British hobby. Enthusiasts often hang out in train stations, noting the make, model and registration number of each train that comes through the station. Because the hobby requires them to sit outside in the British weather for hours at a time, trainspotters often wear windbreakers, which are called anoraks in the UK. Thus, “anorak” has become a slang term for “nerd” in British English. It’s a nice touch that the trainspotter shown in this episode is wearing just such a windbreaker.

Loading gauge describes the maximum height and width of trains. It’s important because it defines the size of bridges and tunnels. You need to define this nationally if you want trains to be able to go anywhere in the country. American trains, for example, are too large for most British tunnels and bridges.

– After skimming over the relevant Wikipedia entry, I have no idea what “hung like something off the beach at Weston Super Mare” means. Help?

– Did the original Newlywed Game game show air in the UK? I ask because one of the most famous “bloopers” in American TV history occurred on the show, when host Bob Eubanks asked a newlywed woman where “the strangest place you’ve ever made whoopie” was. The woman thought for a second, then said “In the ass?” The clip has became legendary. It has its own section in the Wikipedia entry for the show. “In the Butt, Bob” was the title of an episode of NYPD Blue, and the scene was shown in its entirely in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, a film about TV producer Chuck Barris, who created the show. However, it’s also the obvious comedic answer to the question, so I don’t know if the Ashes to Ashes writers were giving a shout-out to The Newlywed Game or just thought it was randomly funny.

Terry Wogan is a British institution. Now 71 years-old, Wogan has been a popular radio personality since the mid 1960s, when the Irish-born Wogan was dropped by Ireland’s Raidió Teilifís Éireann in a format change and went to the BBC looking for work. His most recent radio show, Wake Up to Wogan, started in 1993 and only ended on December 18, 2009. With 8 million listeners, it was the most popular radio show in Europe.

– Many Americans know that “ginger” is British slang for redhead. Few know that there are actually many recorded hate crimes against redheads in the UK. This article at the BBC, for example, wonders whether “gingerism” is as bad as racism. Who knew?


I was watching the very end of the episode frame-by-frame when I noticed that:

(highlight to read)

The dead police officer has “6620” on his epaulets. I think (but am not 100% certain) that that would be his badge number (or whatever they call them in the UK). I watched it again at regular speed and don’t know if you can make it out (since I already knew what it said on the epaulets, it was obvious to me). But I don’t think you can see it at normal speed. If this is the answer to the 6-6-20 mystery, why is it written that way (instead of “6620”) on Alex’s desk?


You want me to write more about this episode? Hell, I’ve already written 8200 words about it!

Joking aside, I liked it better than last week’s episode, although I don’t understand why Alex is doing all this research into Sam Tyler now, and not two years ago. Ya know?


Billy Joel – “Uptown Girl”
The Human League – “Don’t You Want Me”
David Bowie – “Let’s Dance”
Public Image Ltd. – “This is Not a Love Song”
Smokey Robinson – “Being With You”
UB40 – “Red Red Wine”
KC and The Sunshine Band – “Give it Up”
Tom Robinson – “War Baby”
The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star”
Haircut One Hundred – “Love Plus One”
Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”

8 Replies to “Ashes to Ashes: Season 3, Episode 2”

  1. Good lord, I’m not even going to pretend I read that whole thing. 🙂 I would submit a proposal for the “hung like something off the beach…” comment. Basing it on the common usage of “off the” to mean “on the” in British speech, and the propensity for Europeans to wear Speedo suits even when they very clearly have no business doing so, it might be referring to someone’s “package.” Perhaps Weston is the British equivalent of the Jersey shore? Of course, not having seen the episode, I have no context, so it’s just a thought.

  2. I spoke to my London friend. Apparently it is a common phrase because he got it right off. I had the meaning right, the reason is WAYYYYY off. Apparently the pier at Weston Super Mare is significantly higher off the beach than other piers at British seasides. Therefore, in order to hang something off the pier, it must be long.

  3. Sorry this is really crude but what he means is the chap was well endowed.
    The phrase in Britain is “hung like a donkey”
    Weston Super Mare is a British seaside resort where they have donkeys on the beach that children can pay and have little rides on. ( I know I know we Brits are weird – but donkey rides at the seaside and “Kiss me Quick” hats are our idea of a big day out) – so he is alluding to a donkey.

    Thank you as ever for these great detailed synopsis they really add to my enjoyement

  4. Glad you enjoy the recaps… but which one is the right answer? That the pier is higher than others, or that the beach has donkeys?

  5. Just watching Season 3 on bit torrent–a correction: Shaz didn’t just find the screwdriver. They showed it in one of the workmen’s bag in the police dept. right before they left, so she must have brought it with her.

    And at the end after the kiss, Gene doesn’t say: “either you have it, or you don’t” He says “either you’ve got it or you haven’t” (much more British).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.