I never thought I'd say this, but Sam is actually really very likable, when placed adjacent to DI Alex Drake. She's smarmy and pretentious and shallow and I really hope we get some character development there because I want to slap her so very, very badly. From not being sure if I liked her last week, I have progressed to outright dislike. I just --- what? How could they possibly think we'd want to follow this character? She's horrible.
Sam in the beginning was --- Sam was a bit bland, really. A bit annoying. Thought he knew everything and didn't. But he had this warm, compassionate side that we saw very early on. The way he reacted to Annie, for instance. He opened up. Sure, he was telling her she was a figment of his imagination, but he asked her her first name. He let her into the investigation. He also solved the first case. Alex, on the other hand, goes around calling everyone 'constructs' with this lipstick plastered smirk that I want to smear all over her face. And decides she's going to bed the seriously not-cute creepy Thatcherite developer who likes to go around destroying communities. Plus, she was wrong about the case - very, very wrong - to the point of giving the boy the idea for his big finale. And seemed to feel absolutely no remorse. Sam made mistakes, it's true, but we got to see another side of him before he did so. We saw his desperation, and we felt his pain, we witnessed Gene trusting him, we understood why he acted like a dick. There's none of that set up with Alex. She's cold and crisp and smug.
This is the character who is supposed to be 'a match for Gene Hunt'. A match for him in regards to being as repulsive as possible? Because she already has him beat. But, in this episode, even Gene was worse than usual. It was a mirror of Life on Mars 1.01 - 1.02, actually (where, minus kidney punching, Gene's comparatively quite charming in 1.01 and then shows how nasty he can be with Leonard in 1.02), but still, he was dark. And he went from active dislike of his colleagues' racism towards Luigi to repeating it himself. This really annoys me.
The sexism is getting to me the most, though. Last week, I'd hoped it was just an establishment device. But this week, it's been increased. Ashley is usually really brilliant at writing female characters, but this time, it's just all over the place.
I don't understand getting a character so magnificently wrong, unless there's some kind of point. Why would you subject us to her without a very good reason? I am hoping against hope that she gets her come-uppance, and quickly. I shouldn't have been cackling when she freaked out about the bomb, I really shouldn't. There's some work there, with her worrying about Molly and her interaction with her own mother, but not nearly enough to get me caring about her.
Judging by this episode, this isn't Life on Mars lite, it isn't even a parody - it's just a mess, with pointless characters as well as a pointless plot. I usually adore Ashley's writing. This is deeply depressing me.
And now I'm beginning to think both texts are a social experiment, to see if you can get audiences watching hours upon hours of television shows where the main characters have few, if any, redeeming qualities.