Ashes to Ashes: Season 3, Episode 7

Episode 7 opens at Viv’s funeral. As the crowd sings “Abide with Me”, the curtain is drawn to allow Viv’s body to enter the crematoria… only it gets stuck. The gang look at each other, and finally Gene puts his hymnal down and walks up to the curtain to pull it shut. Gene apologizes to Viv, while Chris and Ray snicker and find the whole thing amusing. Gene notices.

We then see the gang at Luigi’s, where they have a few drinks and share memories in Viv’s honor. But then Chris spills a beer whilst trying to open it, and this sets Gene off:


He hurls his glass at the wall and tears into Chris, saying that he’s lost one of his finest officers and is now left with a “clumsy bastard” like Chris. Gene then asks for Alex, who is back at her desk at the station. Jim walks up to her and says that another good officer is gone. Jim says that if you find a dead officer, you’ll find Gene Hunt standing over him. Alex, not in the mood for Jim’s talk, says that she has work to do. Jim says that she’s lucky, as Gene’s bullet didn’t kill her. Alex insists that it was an accident.

Jim notices that Alex was looking at a photograph, so he walks over and asks who the man in the picture is. She says that it’s the ghost who has been haunting her. He asks where she found the picture, and she says it was in Gene’s office. Jim laughs, calls Gene slippery and says that he’s good in covering his tracks. Alex says that Gene is clean. Jim picks up the roll of film Alex found with the photograph at the end of the last episode and asks about it. Alex says that she’s going to get it developed, but Jim insists that he can get it developed at D&C.  He then says that he and Alex are the same, but she says that the difference between them is that she doesn’t wish for cops to be bad. Jim tells her to “do what you were put here to do… get me Gene Hunt”.

The next morning, Gene stares blankly out the window of his office. Alex walks over to Ray and asks how Gene is doing. Ray asks her how she thinks he’s doing, and says that Gene blames himself for Viv’s death. Alex then asks if Ray has heard anything from his colleague and friend from Manchester about the “6620” epaulet numbers. He says that he hasn’t, and Alex asks him to try again. When Ray asks what’s so important about it, she says that it’s just something she’s looking into.

The sound of a police whistle is then heard… and Chris stands up and demands to know how is making the noise. Two officers walk in with a whistle and look hurt, as if Chris interrupted their joke. Shaz asks if he’s okay, and Ray says that Luigi’s cheapest Chianti on an empty stomach is a “recipe for mental disaster”. Chris, however, insists that he’s not hungover. Shaz asks what’s wrong with them all.

Alex walks into Gene’s office. He tells her to bugger off because he’s grieving. She asks how he’s doing, and he says that he misses his pal. She asks him what he’s doing that evening, and he jokes that he’s going to a play. Alex says that they’ve been through a lot together, and she asks Gene out to dinner that evening. When Gene asks why, she says that she has a feeling that they won’t have many more opportunities to do so. Gene asks her if it’s a “date”, and she supposes that it is. Gene agrees, but he jokingly warns her that he’ll only allow her to touch his breasts outside his shirt on the first date.

Just then, Ray bursts in saying that there’s been a disturbance at a speakeasy in Dalston. Alex wonders why uniformed officers can’t handle the situation, and Ray says that it’s an ANC shebeen. Gene suggests that they go and “splinter some skulls” for Viv. The gang hop in the Quattro and take off. Back at the station, Jim Keats opens a package of three videotapes.

We then see the gang descend a flight of stairs into the shebeen. We hear someone call someone else a “Judas” just as Gene loudly asks if  they are “in Dalston or did just we take a wrong turn to Bogobogo Land”. A man approaches Gene and asks if he can help him. Gene says that there’s been a report of a disturbance. The man looks around and points out to Gene that nothing is going on. Gene asks if it’s true that police don’t need warrants in South Africa, and that they can hang a man because they don’t like the “cut of his jib”. The man corrects him by saying “of the color of his skin”. Gene then tells Ray to take the place apart, which Alex calls a bit extreme. Some men start speaking in an African language (Zulu?) and Chris asks everyone to stand in the middle of the room. Gene asks what he’s doing, and Chris says that they don’t know that anything has happened, so there’s no sense in roughing them up. Gene says that when he wants Chris’ opinion he’ll ask for it, and that he’ll never ask for it. Alex tries to intervene, saying she knows he’s upset… but the Africans have been fighting against an abhorrent society. Gene says that they’re all members of a terrorist organization, then orders Ray to continue checking out the shebeen. Alex says that these people didn’t kill Viv, nor did Chris, nor did she. Suddenly, a woman walks up and starts speaking in Zulu, and the “leader” (the man Gene has been speaking with) looks at her and shakes his head. Gene sees this, and tells them not to stop talking on his account. Ray suddenly spots blood on the floor. He follows a trail of it to a closet, and when he opens the door a body falls onto him.

All is bedlam back at the station, as the office is filled with Africans with a limited understanding of English. Chris loudly asks the crowd to quiet down, and that no one will be “falling down the stairs” today. Ray says that he’s not so sure about that. Shaz asks Chris what Gene said to him. When Chris says that it doesn’t matter, Shaz tells him that he has to stand up for himself. Gene and Alex then walk in the office, and Gene screams to get these people processed now. Jim walks in and tells Chris to make some copies of some papers. Chris says that he’s busy, but Jim tells him to do it now. Gene says that Jim looks “unpleasantly happy”, and Jim says that his report is almost done. Gene says “good”, and that he’ll be sodding off then. Alex asks what it will says, and Jim says that’s for him to know and her to read. Gene says that Jim has nothing other than a few unpaid parking tickets and some lost forms. Jim turns to Gene and says that he wants to believe that. Gene says that it’s nothing the capture of am ANC terrorist can’t fix. Gene then turns to the crowd and loudly asks for “a bit of peace and bastard quiet”.


Down in the morgue, the coroner notes that the body has 13 wounds to the stomach and torso. He also says that the wound that killed the man is at the trachea. Gene asks about the time of death, and Alex says that the call came in at around nine that morning. The coroner agrees with that general time of death. Gene asks what they know about the man. Alex, looking through the file, says that his name is Oliver Ndlovu. He was a member of the ANC who fled South Africa six months ago after being accused of organizing strikes in township schools. Gene asks about the murder weapon, and the coroner says that it was a small knife with a serrated edge, probably a kitchen knife.

Upstairs, Ray, Shaz and Gene interview suspects and witnesses. Everyone claims to have been in the bathroom and saw nothing. Gene interviews Tobias Ndbele, the “head honcho” he was speaking with earlier, and he tells Tobias that he might not be able to pull his fingernails out, but he’s not stupid. Gene says that Oliver was murdered at his club and on his watch… but Ndbele insists that he was in the bathroom. Gene says he thinks that he killed Oliver. He then asks Ndbele if he’s ever been inside an English prison, and that they’d love him in there: “a bit of African rough, something different for the weekend”. Gene says that Ndbele wouldn’t be able to sit down for a thousand years. Chris, who has been watching, snickers and calls Gene’s line a “classic”. Gene turns and stares at him.

Upstairs, Alex interviews Tsitsi, the women who had spoken to Ndbele in Zulu earlier. Alex tells her that there’s no need to be afraid of the police in England. She asks Tsitsi if she knew Oliver. Tsitsi says that she was in the bathroom. Alex says that’s not what she asked. She then says that Oliver had strong views about the “struggle”, and shows Tsitsi some pamphlets that Oliver had on him at the time of his death. She asks if Oliver’s strong views are what got him killed. Tsitsi says nothing, so Alex reminds her that they will find out who killed Oliver, and when they do, there will be discussions about who should be deported back to South Africa (and a certain death sentence). Tsitsi begs Alex not to send her back, as they will kill her as they killed her father. Alex asks how the man died, and Tsitsi says that they put wires on his penis and shocked him. This cracked his spine and damaged his vocal cords. Tsitsi says that her father couldn’t even say goodbye to her before he died. Alex says that she’s sorry. Tsitsi again says that she was in the bathroom.

Back in the office, Chris and Ray reenact the final scene from the movie Zulu with some other detectives. Gene walks in just as they are finishing up and ruins the fun. He walks up to Alex and says that he’s had suspects stonewall him before, but the South Africans are major league. Alex says that they’re just doing civil disobedience, hoping that they won’t be able to separate the killer from the herd. Gene says that they need something to shake them up, so he orders Ray to go back to the shebeen and see if he can find anything. He tells him to take “the plonk” (Shaz) with him, and Shaz reminds him that she should be promoted to CID by now. Gene ignores her by telling them to go now, then turns to Alex and asks what they’ve got. Alex says their best lead is Tsitsi, because she agitated for some reason. He says that maybe it’s time she spoke to her Uncle Gene; Alex begs him to go easy on her, as she’s had a horrible life. He opens the office door and tells “Zitty” that he needs to speak with her.

At the shebeen, Shaz says that she wishes Chris would just stand up to Gene just once. Ray says that it’s not in his nature, and that you “can’t ask a Labrador to become a Rottweiler”. Shaz asserts that people can change, but Ray says that Chris can’t. He then asks Shaz what she’d do with the knife if she’d stabbed someone. Shaz says it depends on whether she was trying to hide it from the others or not. Ray says that everyone at the bar is in on it, that it was a drunken argument gone wrong. Shaz asks if he’s sure, since it was nine in the morning. Ray says that they’re Africans, but before Shaz can insert a politically correct rejoinder, he walks across the room and recreates the stabbing. He asks her again what she would do with the knife. She says she’d make a run out back and throw it in the canal. Ray says that it’s broad daylight, and someone might see you. He walks towards a barrel of beer while Shaz returns to the subject of Chris. Ray gets a glass and starts to pour himself a pint over Shaz’s objection, but the beer tap seems blocked. Shaz says that Chris must “take control of his own destiny” and that he’s currently in denial. Ray jokes that denial is a river in Egypt, then pulls out a switchblade to investigate the beer tap (Shaz says that knife is illegal, and Ray advises her to call the police). He pries the cover off the barrel… and finds the knife, along with a variety of passports. Ray calls it a “one-stop illegal immigration shop”.


Back at the station, Alex is interviewing Tobias. She says that she can only imagine the experiences he went through in South Africa and that she has the profoundest respect for his struggle. She then says it might sound trite, but she argued in their favor on her university’s debate team, and “very nearly won”. Alex, realizing that she does sound trite, looks uncomfortable. She then says that she knows what he’s doing: creating a “conversational vacuum” that he thinks her “white liberal guilt will fill with inane chatter and banalities almost completely without punctuation or coherent syntax”, thus taking the heat off the important thing, which is the murder. She then tells Tobias that it will all “end beautifully”, that Nelson Mandela will be released in seven years, and that he will become the first democratically-elected president of South Africa. As tears swell in Tobias’ eyes, she tells him that she wants him to be there on that “wonderful day”, and not rotting away in a London prison. She says that he must help her.

Meanwhile, Gene, in another interview room, tells Tsitsi that he doesn’t care what happened to her in South Africa, or what happens to her when he deports her. He says that they’ll probably wire her up like a light bulb and plug her into the wall. She begs him not to send her back, but when he asks who killed Oliver, she falls silent. He tells her that Tobias can’t get her in here. Just then Ray pops in and asks for a word. Gene says that he can say whatever he likes in front of “Titty” as they’re old friends. Ray walks up to the desk and throws the knife on it. Tsitsi gasps, and Gene demands that she stand up. He tells her to take her dress off. Ray says that they should get Shaz in there, as they’re not allowed to do this without a female witness. Gene tells Tsitsi to take her dress off or he’ll put her on the next plane to Johannesburg. Tsitsi starts crying, and asserts that she was in the bathroom… but as soon as she opens her coat, we see her dress covered in blood.

In the office, Gene looks at the fake passports Ray and Shaz found, and says that this is a full-blown ANC cell. Alex says that she’s going to call Special Branch, but Gene orders her not to. He says that there’s a big fish there, and he’s theirs, and that his capture will negate anything in Keats’ report. Ray asks about “he”, but Gene says that Tsitsi is only a scared girl and that Tobias is the real prize. Gene tells Ray to get Tsitsi out from the cells, and to tell her that the South African police want to talk to her.

A few minutes later, we see Tobias sitting on a chair in the office as Ray beings Tsitsi in. Gene tells Chris to let everyone else go. Tsitsi starts talking to Tobias in Zulu. Despite Gene’s demand that they speak in English, Tobias walks towards her, also speaking in Zulu. Tsitsi and Tobias have one more exchange, and as Ray leads Tsitsi to be interviewed by the “South African police”, Tobias blurts out that he killed Oliver. Gene asks why, and Tobias says that Oliver was a hothead who wanted to bring violence to London. Tobias says he couldn’t let that happen. Alex says that she doesn’t believe him. Tobias says that he was peeling potatoes when Oliver same at him, and that he killed Oliver in self defense. Alex says that they saw the body, and that it didn’t look like self defense. Gene mentions Tsitsi’s blood-stained clothes, but Tobias says that they were lovers, and that she tried to save him. Gene tells Ray to take Tobias to his office. Tsitsi is then led away, still saying that she was in the bathroom.

In Gene’s office, Tobias is asked about the various passports and other fake documents. He says that they run a cleaning company, and that the papers are needed so that his people can work. Gene then points out the forged visas and laundered money. Tobias says he will tell Gene everything if he will let the girl go. When Gene clarifies that he wants a full confession, Tobias says that he’ll do it. Gene then has Ray take Tobias away. Alex says that this isn’t right, that Tobias would says anything to get Tsitsi cleared. She asks if he’d let a potential killer go just to get a high-profile, headline-grabbing collar. Gene says that this is the “final chapter”, and that they’re all fighting for their lives.

Meanwhile, Ray tries to convince Shaz that he’s not a bad guy. He says that he might not fully agree with apartheid, but look at the mess the rest of Africa is in. He says it’s like Liverpool but “with sunshine and elephants”. Shaz calls him the most “intolerant, prejudiced” man she’s ever met. He says that he probably says that to all the boys. The two of them turn a corner, and both of them hear otherworldly laughter. Shaz says that she’s scared, but Ray says that it’s okay because he’s there. Ray puts his arm around her and she clings to him and the laughter continues. She says that they’re all going mad. Just then Chris walks up, asking what the hell they’re doing. Ray says “nothing”, but a hysterical Shaz asks how he can say that. Chris thinks that Ray and Shaz are an item, and he stomps off. Shaz calls back to him, saying that they’ve heard noises and seen stars. She begs Chris to says that he’s seen stars too, but Chris says that they’re both crazy and they deserve each other.

Upstairs, Gene and Alex have Tsitsi in his office. He says that a man was murdered and another man confessed, so she’s free to go. Alex asks her, point blank, if she killed Oliver. Gene tells Alex to give it a rest, but she asks Tsitsi again for any information. Gene opens his office door and calls for Chris. He tells Chris to escort Tsitsi out, but not before telling her one las thing:

“You tell your terrorist friends to keep out of my manor or I’ll hunt them down like rats. Understood? Bye-bye.”

After Tsitsi leaves, Alex tells Gene that he can’t be sure it wasn’t her, and he can’t be sure that it was Tobias, either. Gene reiterates that Tobias is giving them an entire ANC terrorist cell, and that he is the prize. Alex asks him if he cares about the truth, and he tells her to grow up.

At that moment, Jim walks into Gene’s office, and Gene says that his mood has improved, as he’s apprehended a murderer, avoided an international incident, has a terrorist leader in his cells, and has a “promise” with Bolly. Gene further asks if Jim needs to know how to spell “stupendous” for his report. Jim brings the joy to an instant halt by saying that Oliver Ndlovu, the dead man, is from Special Branch. He says that Oliver’s real name is Vincent Sarpong, that he was originally from South Africa but had lived in London the past five years, and that he’d worked for Special Branch for the past three. Sarpong heard that the ANC was gathering bomb-making materials to avenge an attack on their headquarters last year, and was working undercover to find out what they were up to. Jim then says that the President of South Africa is due in London for secret talks with the Prime Minister. Gene asks if the ANC were planning on assassinating him, and Jim says that Sarpong thought so, which is why the ANC terrorists executed him. Gene disagrees, saying that the brutal stabbing was the result of passion, not an execution. Jim says that no one cares what Gene thinks, and that Special Branch are coming to pick up Tobias. Gene asks if Jim has their request form, APR-13. When Jim asks what he means, Gene says they do everything by the book these days, and that as soon as he has the signed and dated form he will consider the release. Jim asks if Gene knows how serious this is, and Gene says that he does, and that it’s going to be a hell of a last chapter.

In the office, Gene has the gang look through the suspects’ belongings. While everyone else goes through dirty laundry in suitcases, Alex loudly muses on how the ANC have never carried out a terrorist attack outside of Africa. Gene says “yet” and notes what a huge catch it will be if they prevent the assassination of a foreign head of state. He then begs the group to find him a smoking gun. Ray, meanwhile, calls Alex over and says that he spoke to his friend in Manchester, and that a fire destroyed all the older records of epaulet records. Shaz then walks in the office and says that forensics found no prints on the knife. Ray tells Gene that there are no explosives in any of the belongings, and Gene tells him to check Tobias’ flat… and to be careful about it, as he is a “crafty bugger”. He then tells Chris to stay in CID and keep an eye on Tobias as he’s their prisoner. Alex says that they can’t take Tobias without the APR-13 form, and Gene calls her a “dozy mare” and tells her that there is no such form. Gene says that no one is to come in or go out, and he muses that he would trusts an estate agent before Special Branch. He then quietly asks Alex if her bra opens in the front or back. She laughs and says that he will never, ever, ever know.

That evening, Alex prepares to leave and wishes Chris, who is there alone, a good night. Chris seems out of sorts, so Alex asks if he’s okay. He asks why he wouldn’t be, and Alex says that she was just asking. The two are quiet for a moment, and Chris asks her if she’s ever had the feeling that things are falling apart, that the world as you know it is about to end and nothing will ever be the same. Jim then calls for Alex, but when she begs for a moment to talk to Chris, he insists.

In his office, Alex begins to say that they’ve found no evidence to support what Special Branch has alleged… but she’s cut off by Jim, who asks her if she thinks this is a game. She says that she doesn’t, and Jim reminds her that Sam lost his life. He says that Sam, and extraordinary man, was murdered. Alex says that they don’t know that. Jim says that the do, in their hearts. Jim says it’s up to her to find out from Gene himself how, where and why he killed Sam. Alex says it’s not that easy, but Jim says that it is:

“It’s about being a solution to a problem, a despicable problem. Or being part of the problem itself.”

Alex says that she’s having dinner with Gene tonight, and she will hopefully find out the truth then. Jim tells her that it’s her last chance to get Gene.

We then see Gene and Alex getting ready for their date:


Back at the station, Shaz approaches Chris, and asks him if he really thinks there’s anything going on between her and Ray. Chris says that he doesn’t know what to think any more, but Shaz says that a “misogynist with a mustache” doesn’t float her boat. He asks her what’s happening, and she says she doesn’t know. Chris says that he jumps out of his skin every time he hears a police whistle. She asks if it scares him, and when he says that it does, she touches his arm and says that they’ll be scared together. Just then Ray walks in and says it’s time for he and Shaz to go search Tobias’ apartment. Shaz asks Chris is he will be okay, and he assures her that he’ll be fine.

Jim labels the video tapes “Chris”, “Ray” and “Shaz”, then smiles at himself.

At Luigi’s, Luigi says that it’s a pleasure to see Gene, who jokes that the pleasure is all his. Luigi asks if he’s on a date, and Gene says that he is not, he is “meeting a colleague for a meal and a professional chat”. Luigi says that he knows enough about restaurants to know when a man is one a date, and Gene fires back that he knows enough about Italians and vats of boiling cooking oil. Luigi turns to see Alex walking in. Gene stands up and gentlemanly pulls out her chair whilst asking Luigi for a glass of champagne for “the lady”. He tells Bols that she cleans up well, and Alex returns the compliment.

Back at the station, Chris asks Tobias why he killed “Oliver”. Tobias says that he didn’t, and that Chris knows that, as he can see it in his eyes. Chris asks if he was covering for the girl, and if so, why? Tobias asks what time it is, and when Chris tells him that’s ten after nine, Tobias laughs. When Chris asks why, Tobias says that Tsitsi is safe and on the evening flight to Harare.

Meanwhile, Alex asks Gene if he’s noticed how strange the atmosphere has been at the office. Gene says that it’s a nut house, and always has been. Alex says that it’s more than that. Gene says that it’s the loss of Viv, who was the “quiet center of things”. Gene says that he feels like he’s on a date with Leonard Cohen, which makes Alex laugh. She says that they’ve had their differences in the past, and Gene says that they’re nothing but differences. The two then list a variety of well-known duos, but then there’s a pause when Alex takes of sip of wine. Gene takes the opportunity to mention the “elephant in the room”. She asks him directly if he killed Sam Tyler.

At the station, Tobias tells Chris that he was once a teacher. While he didn’t have much, he says that he had more than most, and that he did what he was told and didn’t cause trouble. Chris asks why he’s telling him this, and Tobias just continues his story, saying that there was a school strike and that all his students went to the rally. He then says that the police fired into them. Chris says that they must have had a reason, and Tobias says that the only reason is that there were black. Chris counters that they could have been communists, but admits that he doesn’t know all that much about South African politics. Tobias says that they were just children. Chris begins to ask if he is telling him this to justify murder, but Tobias cuts him off and says that one of his students was shot in the head, and as the student died in his arms, he vowed to no longer live like a dog “shivering in fear of what its master might do”. He says it’s better to be a dead lion than a live rat. Chris then offers him a cigarette.

At Tobias’ apartment, Ray tells the uniformed officers to hurry up so they can get home for Sportsnight. Ray walks in to Tobias’ room, still singing “Men of Harlech”, which a quiet Shaz notices that he doesn’t have many belongings. Ray, seeing a poster of Nelson Mandela, grabs a pen and starts to draw a mustache on him (which Shaz calls a “disgrace”), but as soon as he presses down on the poster, the pen goes right through it. He pulls the poster down and sees a hole cut in the wall with a tin box inside. He pulls it down and opens it up.

Gene tells Alex that Sam was a friend of his. He says that, truthfully, Sam was irritating most of the time, but he learned more from Sam than anyone else he’d ever met. He calls him a “strong, decent, brilliant” cop. Alex asks what happened. Gene says that he’d been acting strange for a while… “[a]nd Sam Tyler strange was very bloody strange indeed”. Alex says that he seemed happy, and he had Gene and Annie. Gene says that he asked Sam what was wrong, but he wouldn’t tell him. In fact, he said that he couldn’t tell Gene about it. Alex asks what Gene did. Gene says that Sam said he wanted to leave, and that he asked him to fake his death. Gene says that’s why they set his car on fire and pushed it into the river. Alex says that Sam wanted Gene’s help in an illegal act, and asks Gene if he just helped him. Gene says that he wasn’t happy to see Sam leave, and that he wanted him to stay. Alex asks what happened next, and Gene says that he never saw Sam again. Alex is shocked. She asks him again if Sam just vanished. She then says that Sam was like her (“not quite as annoying”, as Gene points out), and that whatever happened to him might happen to her. She must know what happened. Gene says that Sam told him that it would be better if he didn’t know. He then says it’s about respect, trust and faith, something she hasn’t learned about yet. Luigi then asks if he can get them anything else. Gene orders a brandy, but Alex asks for the check. Gene says that since she’s a feminist, she can pay half. Alex tells him to get his coat, that it’s time for them to go (wink-wink).

Just then, Ray walks in with the tin box from Tobias’ apartment. Gene opens it and finds dynamite inside.

At the station, Gene walks in to an interview room, where Tobias is waiting. He throws the tin of dynamite on the table and demands that Tobias start talking. Tobias says the he doesn’t understand, and seems genuinely surprised to hear about a hole in his wall. Alex asks where the rest of the dynamite is, and who it was meant for. Tobias says that he doesn’t know, and Gene calls him a liar. Chris says that he might be telling the truth, that Tobias himself said that there were multiple factions within the ANC. Gene rudely tells him to shut up, then turns to Tobias and says that he wants answers and he wants them now. Tobias reiterates that the movement was splitting, and that certain “hothead” elements wanted to bring the fight to London. Tobias says that he doesn’t believe in violence. Gene says “bollocks” to that, and says that he stabbed a Special Branch officer. Again he asks where the dynamite is, and again Tobias says he doesn’t know.

Jim walks in the room with a man who is introduced as Anders De Villiers. Jim looks at the dynamite and calls Tobias and his people “bloody amateurs”. He then says that the situation has gone beyond murder now. De Villiers, who is obviously a white South African, says that Tobias is going with them now. Alex says that she doesn’t think so, and Chris says that he’s their suspect, and so he’s staying there. De Villiers looks at Alex and Chris, and says that Tobias has them wrapped around his little finger. He then looks at Tobias and asks “Joshua” how things are going. Gene then asks what the hell is going on, and De Villiers says that Joshua likes police officers, and he pulls out several photographs of police officers murdered by a bomb Joshua had planted. A confused Chris asks when this happened, and De Villiers says that it was ten years ago. Jim says that there’s been enough talk, and that Tobias\Joshua now belongs to Special Branch. Alex says that Tobias won’t stand a chance with Special Branch, but Jim says that Both is due in London in two hours. Just then, Ray pops his head in to say that a bomb has gone off at the South African embassy.

The gang then go to the embassy, whose lobby is now a burned-out shell. De Villiers, walking down the stairs, blames Gene and Company for the blast. Alex asks where Botha is, and Jim says he’s still at Heathrow and will be flown back to South Africa. Gene asks about fatalities, and is told that one person – a cleaning woman – was killed. It seems that the bomb went off before the timer was set. Ray says that seems amateurish for international terrorists, but Alex counters that they were never terrorists. De Villiers says that the gang now knows what they’re fighting for, and that they’re fighting for the British as well, so stop the Communists. Alex tells the “racist git” to shut his face, and Jim tells everyone to calm down. De Villiers says that news of the bombing must never get out, and Jim says that they’ll leak a story about a gas leak to the newspapers. De Villiers says he wants no publicity at all for the ANC. He then says that he wants Tobias. Now. Alex refuses, but Gene says that it’s out of their league now. Gene tells Ray to radio Chris to get Tobias ready for transport.

The gurney with the fatality is wheeled by. It’s Tsitsi.

At the station, Chris is with Joshua in his cell. He asks him if he’s behind the bombing. He says that they found the explosives in his room. Joshua says that he had confiscated them from the younger guys and that Tsitsi knew they were there. Chris asks why she just didn’t go back to Africa if he’d given her the chance. Joshua says that she just not have been in her right mind, and that she must have seen her chance and took it. He then says that Tsitsi was in love with Oliver until she found out he was a traitor. Chris realizes that Tsitsi killed Oliver, so he asks Joshua why he covered for her. Joshua said that he’s had his life, and that Tsitsi had her life ahead of her. Chris asks why he killed those police officers back in South Africa. Joshua says that he was younger and angry that his people were being degraded. He says that he is still angry, but now wants to persuade the whites out of their wrongness, not kill them out of it. Chris asks what will happen when they send him back. Joshua says Chris knows what will happen to him. Chris asks if he’s scared, and Joshua loudly says that he is, of course, scared. But he says that he’s tired, too and that the struggle makes you weary. Chris asks if he had nothing to do with the bomb, and Joshua promises that he did not.

We then see Jim, Gene, Alex and Ray walking in to the office as Shaz sits at her desk. Jim says that he doesn’t like it any more than anyone else does, but this is now an international incident, something that Fenchurch East doesn’t need. Gene says that he doesn’t care about Jim’s report, but Jim calls him on it, saying that’s what all Gene’s posturing has been about. Alex says that this is more than a row with Special Branch, this involves another country now. Gene says he likes the sound of “Gene Hunt versus another country”, and Jim says that Gene makes his job easy. Alex asks Shaz what she’s doing there, and she says she couldn’t sleep, and thought she’d come and see how Chris was doing. Gene then asks for Joshua to be brought up from the cell.

Chris, who walked slowly into the room, says that he cannot do that. Gene asks why not, and Chris says it’s because he’s not there. Alex asks where his is, and Chris says that he doesn’t know. Gene starts to yell at Chris, but he cuts the Guv off, saying the he left Joshua go. Gene is speechless. Jim calls Chris an idiot and tells him that he released a murderer and a terrorist. Gene, finally finding his voice, asks Chis if he left him go, contrary to his express orders otherwise. Chris says that Joshua would never have gotten a fair trial in South Africa, perhaps no trial at all. Jim says that this is the ship Gene runs, with no “no discipline, no loyalty, no clue”. Ray asks Chris what he was thinking. Gene just looks at Chris and asks if he dared to disobey him. Chris says he didn’t join the police force to be a party to state murder. Gene says that he joined the force to wipe his ass and because no one else would have him. Chris said that Gene released the real murderer, Tsitsi, because he wanted the “Big Score”. Gene tells the “useless pile of shit” to not talk back to him.


Gene says that Chris’ job is to take orders, not make decisions. Chris says that he understands, but he doesn’t agree. Gene asks what he means, and Chris draws a line in the sand, saying that he doesn’t agree with sending Joshua back to South Africa. Jim tells Gene that he can call the Commissioner and explain why one of his men let a terrorist loose on the streets on London. Gene stares at Chris for a few moments, then punches him in the stomach. Alex begs them to stop, but after a few punches are throw, she tells everyone to just let them get it out of their systems. Gene, who has thrown Chris over a desk, sits on his chest, waiting to throw the knockout punch… but he just can’t do it. Instead, he tells Chris to get out. Chris grabs his coat, shakes off Shaz, and leaves. Jim calls the event “impressive” and says that he’s going to go and finish his report.

We then see Jim typing away when there is a knock at his door. Alex walks in, and Jim calls Fenchurch East a disgrace and a mockery. Alex says that they’re better than this. She starts to defend Chris, but Jim cuts her off, asking what she wants, as he’s busy. Ales watches Jim type for a few moments, then says that she doesn’t believe that Gene killed Sam. He asks how she knows, and Alex says it’s because she asked him. Jim laughs. He asks her about the falsified murder scene, falsified evidence, destroyed evidence… and the grave. Alex says that there’s no grave. Jim tells her to close the door on her way out. Alex says that she works with him, and that she has to believe him. Jim says that he’s “polluted” her, just as he has the others. Alex disagrees. Jim says that she disappoints him. He then orders her out of his office.

Chris walks down a street alone… when the sound of a police whistle is heard. Scared, he looks up and sees a child on a balcony. He tells the kid that he should be in bed. He then turns and sees someone.

Alex walks into Luigi’s, where Luigi begs her to cheer up Gene, as his sour mood is affecting the other customers. She walks up to him and says that every police officer in London has Tobias’ description, and every port and airport have been alerted. Gene says that Pam Ayres was right, that everything is falling apart. Alex says that everything will be OK, but Gene isn’t so easily cheered up. He says that if he can’t take care of his own, he’s nothing. First Viv died, now Chris has gone off the reservation. Alex mentions Sam, and says that Keats thinks that Gene killed him. She says that he will never give up. Gene says that he doesn’t care with Keats thinks. He only cares what Alex thinks, and if she doesn’t believe him, what’s the point?

On the embankment, Chris asks Tobias why he was following him. Tobias says that he wanted to thank him. He says that he was weary, and that Chris gave him life. Chris says that he shouldn’t be there, as every cop in London is looking for him. Tobias says that they won’t find him. He then asks Chris what happened to him. Chris says that the rat became a lion. Tobias asks if it feels good, and Chris says that it doesn’t. Chris asks him what he’s going to do next, and Tobias says that he will return to the struggle. Chris says that he should go… but Tobias asks him about Alex. He asks Chris how Alex could know that Mandela would be free in seven years. Chris says that Alex Drake knows all sorts of things. He says that he sometimes thinks Alex can see into the future, but when he says the last word he turns and Tobias is gone.

Back at Luigi’s, Gene walks over to a sad-looking Shaz and asks what she’s drinking. She says that it’s water, and Gene asks if she’s sure she wants to be in CID. She says that she’s not sure any more. Gene says that he went against orders, but Shaz says that Gene has been tough on him for months. Ray agrees. Just then, Chris says “it won’t happen again”. The gang turns and see Chris standing there. He says that Gene is the best DCI he’s ever met and he’s been proud to work for him… but he won’t be a doormat any more. Gene asks if he’s sure. The rest of the gang tenses up, expecting a confrontation. Instead, Chris asks Gene to buy him a drink, and say no more about it. He then extends his hand. A few tense moments pass, but then Gene calls out for Luigi to give Chris a drink. The two shake hands and even enjoy a “man hug”. Shaz walks up to Chris and says that she’s proud of him. As soon as she touches him, however, the lights go dim and Chris hears the sounds of a pub and Bowie’s “Life On Mars”. We even hear the voice of Nelson asking someone what they’re having. The lights return, and Chris tells Shaz and Ray that he heard music. Ray tells him to keep it to himself.

We then see Alex in her apartment, writing at her desk. There’s a knock at the door. It’s Gene, saying that he left “the children” playing. Alex says that he did well with Chris. Gene says that they have unfinished business. Alex agrees.

Downstairs, Chris asks what the music meant. Ray says it doesn’t mean anything, but Shaz says that it does, because they all heard it. Ray says the whole thing makes him uncomfortable. Chris says that it sounded like a pub. Luigi suddenly interrupts them with big news: his cousin back in Italy has died, and has left him money! He is going home. The “kids” think that even Luigi is losing his mind. Chris gets back to the subject by saying that he heard a voice. Shaz and Ray say that they heard voices too, but Chris says that he recognized one of the voices. Shaz says that he’s frightening her, but Chris continues. He says the voice was that of Nelson, the landlord of The Railway Arms back in Manchester.

Upstairs, Gene, relaxing on the sofa with Alex, says that Fenchurch East has lived to fight another day. Alex says that everyone is rattled because of Viv’s funeral. Gene says that Chris stepped up, and that he wasn’t sure that Chris had it in him. Alex says that everyone will be all right. Gene asks if she’s sure. Alex is quiet for a moment, then suggests a dance. Gene says that he does not dance. Alex says that he doesn’t, nor does he hug Chris. Alex gets up and puts a tape of Spandau Ballet’s “True” on. Gene says that they need to get the dancing out of the way, so he gets up and he and Alex start to dance. Alex stares at Gene, who asks if she has any Herb Alpert. The two come perilously close to kissing:


Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door. Alex, thinking that it’s “the kids”, tells Gene to wait in the bedroom so she can get rid of them. It’s Jim. Alex says that it’s not a good time, but Jim says that he got the pictures developed, and he thinks they’ve found the grave they’ve been looking for. Alex flips through the pictures. There’s one of Sam and Annie, and another of Gene and Ray. She then sees the same farmhouse she remembered from the news report in the first episode of this season. She flashes back to lying in her hospital bed in 2008. The farm is in Farringfield Green, in Lancashire. Jim tells her to be careful… very careful.

We then see Chris, Shaz and Ray walking down the street. Chris says that he has no problem with apartheid, and Shaz calls him a liar. Ray tries to say that he’s not a racist, but Shaz doesn’t buy it. Chris says that Ray doesn’t like Welsh people, and Ray says that he wouldn’t like them no matter their color. Shaz says that it’s still 1953 in their heads. The three of them then stop, because all they can see are stars:


Chris is stunned, but Shaz says that it’s OK, that they’re all there with him.

Back at Alex’s apartment, Gene has grown tired of waiting. He opens the bedroom door, walks out of her bedroom and calls out for her… but she is gone.


– “Abide with Me” is a Christian hymn written in 1847 by Henry Francis Lyte. The hymn was said to be a favorite of both King George V and Mahatma Gandhi. Although most commonly associated with funerals, the hymn, which is about the trials and tribulations of life, was sung at the weddings of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. It is also sung before every FA Cup (soccer) and Challenge Cup (rugby) final match and was rumored to be the last song played by the ship’s band during the Titanic disaster. Lyte wrote the hymn as he was dying from tuberculosis; he only survived three weeks after writing it.

– Cremation is much more popular in the UK than in the US. Using the latest figures I could find, in the cremation rate in the US was around 33% in 2003, while in the UK, almost 72% of all deaths ended in cremation in 2003. Whether this is due to the decline of religious faith in the UK or the lack of burial space (or both), I don’t know.

– At Luigi’s, Gene says “I remember when we were evicted from paradise and sent down to this southern shit-hole”. Is this foreshadowing?

– After joking about the “cheap Chianti”, Ray says that Chris should have had a vol-au-vent, which is a light French pastry.

The Caretaker is a 1960 play by Howard Pinter. The Royal Court is a theatre on Sloane Square in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It opened in 1870.

Shebeen is actually an Irish term, and the word has spread all over the former British Empire to England, Scotland, Canada, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Shebeens were perhaps most popular in South Africa and Zimbabwe, where racist policies kept blacks out of most pubs and bars. So the Africans created their own unlicensed bars to sell homebrew and function as a gathering place. As the war against apartheid escalated, shebeens became important meeting locations for activists. Most shebeens in South Africa are now legal. The word is almost unheard of in the United States, except for a pocket of Irish-descended miners in Pennsylvania.

Dalston is an area in the borough of Hackney, in east London. The area has long been known for its immigrants. At the turn of the century, it was home to Jews newly arrived from Central Europe. By the 1950s, the Jewish community had gotten wealthy and moved out, and was replaced by Caribbean immigrants. By the late 80s, the Caribbeans had left and were replaced by Turks and Vietnamese. More recently, the area has become home for Polish immigrants. In 2009, The Guardian newspaper called Dalston the coolest place to live in Britain. The name is thought to come from Deorlaf’s tun (“tun” is an old Anglo-Saxon word for “farm”), just as nearby Hoxton is thought to be from Hoch’s tun.

– A (very) brief history of South Africa: native Africans had lived there for 100,000 years, but in 1652 the Dutch East India Company founded what would become Cape Town as a “refueling station” for the India trade. By this time, most of the South Africa population was composed of two ethnic groups: the Xhosa and Zulu. The Dutch continued to settle the area until 1795, when Britain seized control of the area to prevent Revolutionary France from doing the same. The Brits returned control back to the Dutch in 1803, but the Dutch East India Company went bankrupt shortly thereafter, and Britain seized the area again in 1806. By the 1830s, some 12,000 Boers (Dutchmen) grew tried of British control, so they left settled areas and founded two “Boer Republics”. The discovery of diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1884 led to intense armed conflict between the Boers and British. The two fought to a stalemate in the First Boer War (1880-1881) and Britain was able to defeat the Dutch in the Second Boer War (1899-1092). While all this was going on, the native groups were also fighting each other and the Europeans, and most groups were trying to play one group off another. Until the British victory, “South Africa” was a patchwork of different British, Dutch and African areas, and it wasn’t until May 31, 1910 that the country was united under mostly British control as the Union of South Africa. In 1931, the Union was effectively made independent of Britain, although it would fight as an ally of the United Kingdom in World War II. In 1948, the National Party was voted to power, and began systemically removing rights of native Africans in a system called apartheid. The British were uneasy with such a move, and put pressure on the South African government to change their laws. The South Africans proved unwilling to budge, so on May 31, 1961 the nation became a republic and left the British Commonwealth. Although no longer under the official control of the UK, South Africa nevertheless had strong historical ties to the home country, and fears of terrorist attacks in London by the ANC were not completely unfounded.

– The African National Congress (ANC) was formed on January 8, 1912. At first, the ANC was something of a “social organization” not unlike the NAACP. But soon it became involved in non-violent protests along the lines of Gandhi. By 1960, it became clear that such non-violent tactics weren’t going to work in South Africa, so the ANC formed a paramilitary wing known as “Umkhonto we Sizwe” (“Spear of the Nation”). The wing was dedicated to sabotaging government facilities, and its first leader Nelson Mandela, was arrested and convicted of the same in 1964. The organization became much more violent in the 70s and 80s, leading to it being declared a terrorist organization by the governments of South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The ANC was forced to change tactics in the late 80s when their main financial supporter – the Soviet Union – collapsed. This also led many Western governments, who had supported the anti-communist South African government, to switch sides and pressure the government to change. On February 2 1990, the South African government “unbanned” the ANC, and the group – now a political party – won the first free elections in the country in 1994. The party has been in charge of South Africa ever since.

– “Judas” is, of course, referring to Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, leading to His capture and crucifixion. In Western cultures, the word “Judas” has since been leveled at turncoats and traitors, and the phrase “thirty pieces of silver” (the amount Judas received for his betrayal) has been used to describe the traitors’ reward or motivation. Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek at a market as a sign for the soldiers to seize Him, and the slang term “kiss of death” comes from this. Judas’ kiss is mentioned in U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”: “one man betrayed with a kiss”.

– Bogo-Bogo is a real town in Benin.

– Younger readers might not know that back in the 1970s there was a great “Format War” between two incompatible types of videocassette recorders: Betamax and VHS. Sony, the developer of Betamax, was certain that consumers would prefer the superior picture quality of their 1-hour tapes, but rival JVC was also certain that consumers and movie studios would prefer the 2-hour tapes of their VHS format. RCA, who hoped to market a rebranded Sony VCR, approached the company about creating a VCR that could record for four hours, slightly longer than the average length of an American football game. Sony engineers refused to compromise on picture quality, so RCA went to Matsushita, the parent company of JVC, who agreed (to JVC’s chagrin) to produce a VHS machine that could record for four hours. And thus it was recording time, and not picture quality, that became the central cause of the Format War. Sony didn’t help matters with several boneheaded marketing blunders, such as making a recording timer an expensive optional feature on Betamax machines while most VHS decks included a timer for free. There has also long been “common knowledge” that the porn industry’s decision to standardize on VHS cemented the format’s win over VHS, but this is debatable. Although the Betamax format died in the United States and Europe in 1988 when Sony finally started selling VHS recorders, the format lived on in South America and Japan until 2002. And the successor to Betamax, Betacam, is still used by most every professional organization that has not yet converted over to digital or high-def video tape. Read more about the Format Wars here.

– “Falling down the stairs” is often an excuse corrupt prison officials give to cover up the murder of a prisoner. I didn’t research it thoroughly, but if you google “ANC falling down stairs”, you’ll get several hits which list the deaths of ANC prisoners under the apartheid regime.

– Isn’t it cute how British people say “tray-KEA” instead of “trakeeuh”?

– “Men of Harlech” is a regimental march said to commemorate the events of the siege of Harlech Castle in Wales during the Wars of the Roses from 1461 and 1468. There are several versions of the song in both English and Welsh, but the one Ray and Chris sing was written especially for the 1964 film Zulu. The film tells the story of a contingent of Welsh soldiers who are stranded in the African desert, too far away to get help, and with too many wounded to flee quickly. The officer in charge, Lieutenant John Chard (played by Stanley Baker), decides to make a stand. Although desperately outnumbered, the British troops manage to fight the Zulus to a stalemate. In the final scene of the movie, Zulu troops prepare to attack by singing a war song, which causes the Welsh to sing “Men of Harlech” in return. Watch the scene here:


– American sports are somewhat unique in that there is only one professional league per sport. In the rest of the world, there are usually multiple leagues divided into tiers. In England, for example, there was once First Division, Second Division, etc. with teams assigned to a division according to their talent and winning record. There’s even a system of promotion and  relegation, where at season’s end the top teams in a lower division are promoted to a higher division, while the lowest-ranked teams in the higher division are regulated to the lower division. So whereas end of season games for low-ranked teams are often meaningless in the US, they are vital in other countries, as a team does not want to be relegated to the lower tier… so they play their hearts out. While this might sound appealing to Americans, keep in mind that being relegated can often be financially crippling for a team: imagine the Boston Red Sox having to meet payroll after being relegated to the AAA league! Some leagues offer “parachute payments” to soften the economic blow.

– Related to the previous note, First Division was the top tier of English football until 1992, when the top twenty teams broke away from the Football League to chase lucrative TV contracts as the Premier League. The move brought in huge amounts of money, allowing Premier League teams to build much needed new stadiums, better training facilities, and import better players from around the world. However, the Premier League is not without criticism: many complain that the “big money” has widened the talent and financial gap between Premier League teams and other divisions, and that it has helped the “Big Four” teams (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United) cement their dominance. The Premier League even has critics in other countries, who cite lagging attendance at local games when Premiere League games are on, and the siphoning of local talent to the big money of the Premier League.

– The phrase “denial is not just a river in Egypt” has a murky history. Thousands of websites attribute it to Mark Twain, but this is almost certainly incorrect. “Denial” was not used as a psychoanalytical term in Twain’s day, and the first reference to it as such in the Oxford English Dictionary dates to 1914, four years after Twain’s death. Moreoever, Twain is often cited as the source for almost any unattributed bit of folksy wisdom, just as Winston Churchill is often cited for more aristocratic or political sayings. This page has a heroic. but ultimately unsuccessful, search for the origin of the phrase, and although they cite the early 1990s as a source, I distinctly remember my first girlfriend having the phrase on a bumper sticker in 1986. So I don’t know for sure if Ray’s quip is an anachronism or not.

– Speaking of anachronisms, I don’t know the exact date “white guilt” came into being, but I’m pretty certain that the phrase was in use, especially by physiological types like Alex, by 1983 (yes, I know Alex is really from 2008 and could have picked it up then). As a cite, the Washington Post ran this story in 1978 about telephone con-men: “Telephone and mail solicitors, trading on ‘white guilt’ and on government pressure to advertise in minority-oriented publications, are inducing thousands of businessmen to buy ads in phony publications”. Washington is certainly not London, and I don’t know the extent that “white guilt” exists in the UK, but there is, at least, a cite predating this episode.

– Nelson Mandela was freed on February 11, 1990.

– The bombing of ANC headquarters in London really happened. On March 12, 1982, agents of the South African Security Branch detonated a bomb at the group’s headquarters at 27 Patten Street. Although no one was killed (a caretaker was slightly injured), it’s thought that the bomb targeted ANC president Oliver Tambo, who often held meetings at the offices at around that time. Read more about it here.

– The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Alex refers to was set up in South Africa in 1995, a year after the ANC won the country’s first free election. As the name suggests, the goal of the committee wasn’t “justice” so much as “reconciliation” between blacks and whites. White were generally afforded amnesty during the hearings, as long as they told the truth about human rights violations. Looking back on it now, the TRC was seen as a mixed success by many in the nation.

GOOF? Pieter Willem Botha was president of South Africa from September 3, 1984 to August 15, 1989. As far as I know, and as the opening credits of the show state, it’s still 1983 in the Ashes universe, so he couldn’t have been president at the time. Botha was prime minister of South Africa from September 29, 1978 to September 14, 1984. There is some overlap, as in 1983 Botha proposed a new constitution which created a “tricameral parliament”: one for whites, one for “coloureds” and another for Indians, where each house would vote on issues for its own community. More importantly, the new constitution abolished the office of prime minister and combined the duties of head of government with head of state under a new, more powerful presidential scheme. The vote for the new constitution was held on November 2, 1983, and since it passed, the constitution was voted into law later that year by the parliament. Elections for the new government were not held until August of 1984.

– “Estate agent” is the British term for “real estate agent” or “Realtor”. Pointless aside: “Realtor” is a trademarked term of the National Association of Realtors in the United States, and one must be a member of that body to use the term in their business.

– Any guesses as to what Gene’s line to Luigi about Italians and “vats of boiling cooking oil” pertain to? I’m guessing that it’s referring to some kind of wartime atrocity, but I’m having trouble finding anything about it. I’ve found a few references to a Giovanni Ravalli, a lieutenant in the Italian Army who ordered boiling oil poured over 70 prisoners in Greece during WWII. However, shortly after the war ended, he was captured by the Greeks and tried for war crimes, but got off the hook when the Italian government refused to pay reparations to Greece unless Ravalli was freed. Multiple websites state that Ravalli’s past was soon forgotten, and he apparently spent the rest of his adult life working as a cop specializing in organized crime. After being freed by the Greeks, he was apparently only questioned once about his alleged crimes, and that was by an American author in 1992, a full decade after this episode of Ashes. The fact that a Google search for Ravalli’s name only brings up a handful of war crimes sites (and unrelated Facebook pages) and no Wikipedia page makes me wonder a) how Gene was supposed to know about this; or b) if I’m looking at the wrong era.

Pam Ayres is a British poet who became a national sensation after appearing on Opportunity Knocks in 1975, a talent show not unlike America’s Got Talent or the older Star Search (although, unlike those shows, the winners of the version of Opportunity Knocks Ayres appeared on were decided by postal vote and not judges). Ayres is known for her simple style, humor and everyday subject matter, which is the joke: she couldn’t be more different from Yeats, whom Alex is actually quoting.

– “Tom and Jerry” were, of course, the cat and mouse cartoon duo. “Eric and Ernie” (better known to me as Morecambe and Wise) were a British comedy duo; in a 2006 poll, they ranked #2 in a list of all-time favorite British TV stars. “Abelard and Heloise” were a monk and a nun who fell in love in the 1100s and had a tragic relationship. “Saint and Greavsie” were the comedy duo of former soccer players Ian St. John and Jimmy Greaves.

Sportsnight was a BBC sports show which ran from 1968 to 1997. It was shown on Tuesday nights until 1973, when it moved to Wednesdays. So I guess we know what day of the week this episode is set.

Robben Island, around four and a half miles off the coast of Cape Town, is home to the former prison which housed Nelson Mandela, former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, and many other political prisoners.

Biltong is a type of South African cured meat, similar to beef jerky. Biltong was typically much thicker than today’s beef jerky, because back in the day it wasn’t a simple snack, it was a vital way to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. The method and spices used to make biltong differ from that of beef jerky, and “exotic” meats were sometimes used to make it, as it was what was available in South Africa at the time. The word comes from the Dutch bil (“rump”) and tong (“strip” or “tongue”).

– “Battipaglia is a town and comune in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy, with some 51,000 inhabitants. The birth of the comune of Battipaglia was officialised by a Royal Decree on 28 March 1929. The bourbonic authorities had already chosen Battipaglia as the site of an agricultural colony, where families which had survived the 1857 earthquake in Basilicata could be rehoused”. It must not be a very exciting place, because the quoted text is the entire Wikipedia article for the town.

– The Railway Arms was the name of the pub Gene, Chris, Ray and Sam Tyler hung out at in Manchester on Life On Mars. And Nelson was indeed the landlord (bartender) there. With his deadlocks, Caribbean accent and hints of a mystical nature, Nelson came dangerously close to the Magic Negro stereotype. However, given the time travel aspect of the show, it’s not clear exactly when Nelson is from, so it’s able to be overlooked. By me, anyway. Note that The Railway Arms is also the name of the biggest Mars\Ashes forum on the Internet. If you’re an Ashes fan and you haven’t been there yet, you should really check it out!

– In episode 2 of this season, Gene says that his favorite musical artist is Herb Alpert.

– The amusingly named Geoffrey Boycott was a cricket player from Yorkshire. Famous for both his skills as well as his controversial style, Boycott was repeatedly snubbed for captaincy of the English national team. During a self-imposed exile in 1982, he defied public opinion, the United Nations, and the Test and County Cricket Board (from 1968-1997 the governing body of English cricket) to go on a “rebel tour” of South Africa with 13 other English players. It seems that Boycott didn’t like a boycott.


As a teenager, I was very politically active. But I only tended to care about national issues: reducing the debt, the homelessness issue, affordable health care, winning the Cold War… stuff like that. South Africa seemed like a faraway place. I certainly knew about apartheid, but I just couldn’t seem to care all that much about it while people were starving in Appalachia, gangsters roamed the streets of Los Angeles, and people were sleeping on park benches in Manhattan.

So, for this reason, this episode’s “Crime of the Week” didn’t interest me all that much. I’m sure there are people my age who grew up in the UK for whom this was a big deal. Maybe they did a lot more than just buy the “Sun City” single. Maybe they protested at the South African embassy. Maybe they took part in letter writing campaigns. I dunno. South Africa was a former British colony, so there was that connection there that just didn’t exist back in the US, much less in a sleepy suburb of Atlanta.

Nevertheless, I was taken aback when Tobias disappeared from the park bench when he was talking to Chris. Does this mean that he… died? If so, it doesn’t seem like he got very far away before he did. Or maybe he just took off and Chris didn’t hear him.

Having said that, the South African policeman also called him “Joshua”, and Joshua was a major figure in the events of the Exodus in the Bible. Moses appointed him in charge of the Israelites after his death, and Joshua is informally known as the patron saint of spies. So that’s interesting. And then there’s the line he said to Chris in jail: “I was weary and you gave me life”, which I can’t help but think is somehow related to Matthew 11:28 (“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”), even though Tobias\Joshua’s meaning it kind of exact opposite of that in Matthew.

Perhaps more interesting is Alex quoting Yeats during her date with Gene. The poem she quoted is called “The Second Coming”, and it was written in 1919, just after the conclusion of World War I:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Now, there’s an awful lot going on in this poem, so I won’t dig too deeply in it. I’ll just point out the “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” lines that Alex mentioned in the episode, as well as the references to the Apocalypse (the final battle between Gene and Jim?), the Sphinx (Gene Hunt’s old nickname was the Manc Lion, if you recall) and the Spiritus Mundi, which translates as the “soul of the world”, which Yeats held to be a sort of “collective subconscious” where mankind held all its memories. Whew! That’s a lot, eh?

Another thought… why would Sam want to fake his own death… if the Ashes universe isn’t real?

I don’t know. But I feel the answers are coming soon.


Cast - “Abide with Me” (hymn at Viv’s funeral)
Eddy Grant - “I Don’t Wanna Dance”
John Martyn - “Couldn’t Love You More”
The Special AKA - “Free Nelson Mandela”
Spandau Ballet - “True”
Culture Club - “Victims”

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