“Why shouldn’t he be?”
“You’ve said it. He’s a weak man.”
“He may be a weak man, but he’s also a mate... as are you. And I haven’t ditched you over side for being a raving loony, have I?”
Ray Carling. I don’t like him. I find it exceedingly difficult to find any characteristic of virtue in him. But somehow, I want him to be redeemed. I want Sam to have to work to help him and I want Ray to have to work to help Sam.
"When I first joined CID, I were terrified. Ray took me under his wing-like. Showed me the ropes. And still does, sometimes, when I'm confused, though I think I've come into me own."
Ray and Chris seem to do everything together. It would be safe to say that if there is an official partnership on the show, it's actually between Ray and Chris, not Sam and Gene. Chris isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he also isn't that stupid - he made it to CID after all. He's impressionable, but he's also forward-thinking. He likes Ray, quite clearly. He protects Ray in turn. I'm not going to say that sweethearts never like thoroughly odious scroats, but there must be reasons.
There are a couple of instances of Ray sticking his neck out on the line for Chris. In the first episode, Sam starts to get annoyed with the investigation of Susie and asks "so you're not gonna take statements?" in an accustatory manner. Ray steps forward and answers for Chris. There's something very protective about it.
In the beginning of episode 5. Chris gets tangled up in the net of a football goal. Gene commands everyone to just leave him, but Ray waits - telling Chris to come on, before he eventually drives off. The important thing here is that he didn't have to wait. He's already been told to go. He waits.
"He's probably bitter. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that he expected to be promoted and when DCI Hunt accepted someone to transfer in instead, he was disappointed. He mythologises DCI Hunt, so he couldn't be angry at him. He had to be angry at the person who came and took his rightful place."
"Is this your considered opinion as someone with a degree in psychiatry, Annie?"
"Yeah. I could also tell you why Litton wears that awful aftershave, from a psychological point of view, if you'd like."
Episode 7 is the one where we get to see the worst of Ray. He gets put in charge and the result is Billy Kemble's death. This is Gene's fault as much as Ray's, at least in Gene's estimation. He knew Ray wasn't really up to it, because he's got a keen idea that Ray doesn't know where to draw the line. We get to hear Ray's motivation, and I think this is the most intriguing of all; "I promised the guv a result. I'm not letting him down."
Throughout the series, despite being pushed to the side for 'wonder boy' by the Guv, Ray only shows annoyance towards Sam. He tells Gene that he did it for him - not that it was Gene's fault that he made the mistake (when he eventually owns up to the mistake - because he is forced to.) Even though he must know that Gene is human; they play darts and poker together, they drink together - he still treats him as if he is God On Earth.
In some ways, it shows how powerful Gene is - that he commands this much respect and admiration. In others, it is quite terrifying how little Ray questions other people's methods and motives. For a police officer, he has the potential to hold a great deal of power. He abuses it. He also never questions it. This is worrying.
To put Ray into a more positive light, though - if he'd really wanted to, Ray could have let Chris take the fall for the whole Kemble affair. It's Chris's name down on the charge sheet. If the tape were to be destroyed, no-one would know. He doesn't do this. Ray, despite being a git, doesn't allow anyone else to take his punishment. It's obvious he would have preferred no punishment at all, but he eventually accepts the one he is given.
"So you're not going to do anything about him, then?"
"Nothing to do. Ray'll learn."
"Oh, really? How? If you never tell him where he's going wrong?"
Ray is a deeply flawed character, I think we can all agree on that. A lot of his flaws are those representative of the times, though. He's bigotted, but then, a lot of people were. He's also thoroughly insensitive, but again, a lot of people thought sensitivity was a black mark against your name. Ray's really no worse than Gene in either of those regards - yet I love Gene with a burning firey passion. Why not Ray? Gene pegs it. He's weak. He doesn't stand by his convictions. He doesn't admit to his mistakes. He's got a cruel streak to him that manifests itself in his hatred of Sam.
Yet, in series 2, I really want to see Ray proving himself as an able asset to Gene's team. I want to see him making good choices. This is what makes me think that Ray is not only incredibly well-written, but incredibly well-acted too. I don't like Ray, but I want to. There's a lot of potential in him and I can't wait to see some of it explored.