Ashley Pharoah is so wonderful. No-one does character like Ashley. Matthew may be the one who knows his sci-fi and has the ability to create these brilliantly weaving plots, but Ashley is the one who writes amazing character interaction scenes and who builds onto what we already know of these people in this show.
And wow. There was just as much in this episode as there was in the first, and trying to unpack it takes time. I think the thing I appreciate the most is how much of an ensemble this episode is. We get to see so much of Ray, Chris and Annie as well as Sam and Gene, and that's always good. I'm gaga about Sam and Gene, yes, but I really love the other characters too. I love when I'm given reasons to love them more. But really - what this episode says about Sam is kind of astounding.
We appear to have had it wrong, just a little bit. His drive to go home is still strong. And suddenly it's explicitly stated why he has the television on all hours of the day and night. But most of all - Sam's sort of... well, his focus, I guess, on women --- that's so fascinating to me. It's startling and brings up all of these thoughts in my head and I just have no idea how to express them. It almost suggests to me that Ashley's trying to say that Sam's really only comfortable with women, but, I don't know. There's something deeper there. If this is all in Sam's head (and Ashley always appears to write from that perspective), is 1973 primarily his unconscious masculinist movement? To define himself as a man?
One of my favourite devices is amazingly difficult to pull off, and that's to have two wildly different conversations interleaving within the same scene. It was absolutely brilliant outside the surveillance van with Chris and Ray talking about vol-au-vents and Sam and Gene talking about the case. Beautifully written and masterfully played.
Annie was great in this episode. The snark! Oh the snark!
This bit of dialogue was both illuminating and brilliant (as all dialogue should be - *cough*)
You know, where I'm from...
Yes, Hyde. People love me, you know? They don't want anything from me, they don't wanna fight me, they just love me. ... If they're still there.
Oh, never mind. There's always Gwen.
How's the, er, Treacle Sponge, Sir?
Yes. It's a triumph.
AND? SO TEMPTED TO WRITE SAM/GWEN, BUT I PROMISE I WON'T!
Chris/His Girlfriend. They were so. fucking. cute. I almost died. Chris was absolute gold in this episode. After I've had ten thousand of Matthew's babies and ten thousand of Ashley's, I may just need to have ten thousand of Marshall's. He nails everything about Chris so completely, it almost makes my head spin.
Gene mentioned his wife several times and HE CLEARLY LOVES HER TO DEATH! If I hadn't totally been thinking, "Sam should lick that sherbet away now. And now. And now. And right now", this would have been my main Gene/The Missus episode. Really.
I loved how they had someone show sexual interest in Gene. Legendary. prowess. as. a. lover. Yes, Matthew, the internet is the arena for perverts - but we have pie. Mrs Luckhurst was pretty hot, even if her method of sexing sounds terrifying. And Gene's hair in that scene where he bursts into the party had my full concentration for several minutes - because, when I'm not thinking about Sam's masculinist identity crisis, I'm thinking about hair.
I went a bit gooey, by the way, when the shirts starting coming off. I'll admit it.
Yeah. I really just loved this episode to teeny tiny pieces. Perhaps not quite more than episode two of this second series - there wasn't quite enough Sam and Gene interaction to elevate it towards that status - but I did love it. In every way.
I feel like I should conclude with - Annie and her whip - Ashley's compensation to the males who watch the show? And himself? Yes, I think so too.
Actually, though, I think I'll conclude with "Gene Hunt smashes doors down. He does not pick girly locks!" ---- "We are the law, yer bloody clowns!" - BRILLIANT, ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! From Chris and Ray playing with the torches - which - oh my God, they have never been cuter together than in this episode, to the reaction when the siren goes off, this scene was wonderful comedy.
I really love my show.