Life on Mars — S2 Ep2

The word of the week is “mentor.”

Fletcher becoming the man he's meant to be

We have Sam’s mentor:  Glen Fletcher.  Sam learns early on in the episode that, back in 2006, Fletcher died.  (Communication from 2006 is better this season, as though the connection is stronger.)  Shortly thereafter, he meets the young Fletcher.  Not the confident supervisor who elevated Sam to DCI and told him to be a good role model, but the young DC who needs Sam to be a role model to him.  (It’s a time loop that would make Doctor Who proud.)  But Fletcher is black — and just as Annie has to deal with topless calendars on her desk (thanks, Ray), Fletcher has to deal with bananas outside his locker.  Fletcher plays along and mocks himself to get by, which more or less disgusts Sam.  (Shouldn’t it?  Sam is watching the man he looked up to demean himself in order to fit in.)   But Sam knows that he has to help Fletcher, and it isn’t easy.  Fletcher doesn’t trust Sam, and questions Sam’s attempts to make him into the leader Sam knows he will become.  But Sam ultimately gets through to him.  At the end of the episode, Fletcher stands up straight, probably for the first time since he came to CID.

Suggestive much?

At the other end of the scale, we have Gene’s mentor:  Harry (Harcourt) Woolf.  (Or, if you prefer, “Harry (the big bad) Woolf.”)   When Dickie Fingers fingers Woolf, Sam finds it hard to believe.  I find that hard to believe.  Sam has seen corruption up and down this department — hell, the Superintendent destroyed the tape of Ray killing a guy last season — so why should Sam be surprised by the idea that this Super might be super bent?  (Maybe it’s Woolf’s admission that he’s dying of cancer — but that would just give him a motive to make some fast scores and a reason not to care about getting caught, right?)  Dickie is right, it all fits together.  The only surprise is that Sam didn’t see it sooner.

Gene doesn’t want to see it at all, and it takes an awful lot of evidence for him to believe it.  What I love about Gene here is the main thing about Harry being bent that pisses him off.  Gene isn’t angry that Harry let him down, or even that Harry broke the law.  Gene’s very first thought is of all the rapists and murderers that he and his team could have been investigating while they were chasing their tails on Harry’s robberies.  It’s Manchester that he’s angry for — Harry’s misdeeds have made Gene a less effective sheriff, and that’s unforgivable.

Gene arrests him, too.  He doesn’t let the dying man go, and live out his days in peace.  (At this point, I wondered if he really was dying, or if he’d been lying about that, too.  Maybe Gene wonders too, and that’s why he makes the arrest.)  In any event, that’s not the end of the story — Gene assures Sam that Harry won’t die penniless and alone.  Gene will be there for him, because that’s what Gene does.

And that, in case you missed it, is the third and most important mentoring relationship going on in this episode:  Gene, leading by example, and teaching Sam that he can do right by the law (arrest Woolf) and also do right by the man as well (not desert him).

Along the way, we’re also treated to some iconic Life on Mars moments — such as Annie’s response when Gene is unsympathetic to her lack of firearms training; and Gene not so subtlely expressing his displeasure with Sam by locking him in the trunk (boot, whatever).

Welcome to Britain:

When Fletcher first comes to CID, he makes a joke about thinking Enoch Powell deported him.  Powell was a British politician who was opposed to unchecked immigration and anti-discrimination legislation.  If you’d like to make yourself sick, google “Rivers of Blood speech.”

At the start of the show, it is revealed that Dickie Fingers was caught in a compromising position with a sheep.  When Ray and Chris jokingly point out a lamb, Dickie says, “What do you think I am, a nonce?”  “Nonce” is a child molestor.  (Get it?)

Thing to Watch For:

Woolf asks Sam if he’s read his Freud, and comments “Every son kills his father.”  But Sam didn’t kill his father.  He let his father go, and didn’t even arrest him.  But Woolf isn’t talking about Sam’s real dad; he’s talking about Gene.  Remember this.