Life on Mars — S2 Ep7

Life on Mars, S2 E7 -- Sam Ray and Chris at the Pub

Here it is, then:  the final stretch.  This is the episode that sets up the finale, so it had better be good.

It is…sort of.  Look, I just admitted that the episode before this one was probably the weakest of the bunch, useful more for the fact that it tied up the Sam/Maya storyline than for the criminal investigation itself.  But this one… sigh.  This episode is so freakin’ slow, I just wanted to watch it in fast forward.  Like all Life on Mars episodes, I’d seen this thing three times before I sat down to watch it again for the recap.  But unlike the others, there weren’t really any scenes in this episode I was looking forward to seeing.

Life on Mars, S2 E7 - Small GeneIt makes sense, really.  You’re not going to have any of that brilliant Gene/Sam banter that makes even the dullest plotline sparkle.  Gene is looking down the barrel at life in prison, which takes a man off his game.  I think the camera angles tell it best.  Look at Gene when he’s first checked into one of the cells; have you ever seen him looking so small?  He tells Sam that he needs Sam to be the “picky pain” that he normally is–and he uses that phrase repeatedly.  This isn’t Gene dishing out his usual compliment-hiding-in-an-insult; this is Gene asking Sam for what he desperately needs.

Of course he’s going to ask Sam rather than Ray.  He knows Sam is eons (well, decades, at least) ahead of Ray as an investigator.  But what’s really interesting about this is that, although Ray stands up for Gene in front of Sam in the pub, it’s Sam who will go on the run with Gene.  Morgan ordered Ray and Chris to arrest Gene, so Ray and Chris chase Gene.  At no point do Ray and Chris even think, “Gosh, it’s Gene.  What say we just let him go?”  Sam will break rules for the people he cares about — and this includes Gene.

Life on Mars, S2 E7 - MorganDid everybody catch the new DCI’s name?  That cop who comes over from Hyde — the one who sets up for an interrogation in exactly the same way Sam does — that’s Frank Morgan.  Named, surely, for the actor who played the wonderful Wizard of Oz.  We’ve had Wizard of Oz references peppered throughout Life on Mars; this episode ends with Frank Morgan telling Sam that they’ll soon be bringing him home.  Coincidence?  Hell no.

Did we also catch when, at the end of the party, Annie said she is going home, and Sam responds, “Stay”?  Very reminiscent of their Episode One encounter on the top of the building, except now their roles are reversed.  It’s almost as if “Stay” has become their little shorthand phrase for saying how they feel about each other without saying anything at all.

Life on Mars, S2 E7 - Gene wearing Tufty CostumeProbably the only genuine laughs in this episode come from Annie, and then Gene, dressing up as Tufty Fluffytail, the Traffic Safety Squirrel.  (That would be the British Traffic Safety equivalent of Smokey Bear or Woodsy Owl.)

Life on Mars, S2 E7 -- Gene Walking TallWhat’s important about this episode, though, is that, when Gene returns to CID, he’s walking tall again; the camera goes back to shooting him from below, and he is (as usual) willing to forgive and forget, as long as enough alcohol is involved.

Even more important is what Morgan says to Sam as he steps in the elevator to leave.  “Not your fault Hunt managed to wriggle out of it.”  Come again?  Does he actually want Gene to go down for murder?