Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stacking the Evidence

Thriller the Thursday

After one of his previous arrests unravels, Gene falls back on his reliance on alcohol, only to find himself in an even worse situation when he's accused of murder. Sam is torn between his loyalty to Gene and his determination to find the truth when he's forced to investigate his superior's activities.

The review for "Drugs on the Street" can be read here.

Sam's (John Simm) loyalties have been tested time and again since his arrival in 1973, and while he has formed a very close bond with Gene (Philip Glenister) and the other people involved in his life now, there remains a distance between them due to Sam's determination to get home. The one thing that hasn't changed about Sam's life since his trip back in time is his search for truth and fight for justice, and it's his inability to turn a blind eye to his friends' indiscretions that often pits them against each other.

Gene very passionately sticks to his guns when he takes the stand, angry when the verdict is 'not guilty,' and determined to see that justice is found. So often Gene is presented as a crooked cop, and it's nice to see, here, that he finds the right cause to back, something that strikes a chord so genuinely with him that he can't turn a blind eye to the workings of the criminal element. It's this same notion that has Sam empathizing with him, and later, as he uncovers evidence indicating that Gene had lied to him, it makes him question everything about the case, wondering if he should even help Gene get free from prison or help to put him away. Gene is a very flawed character, living a life rife with hypocrisy, but he isn't necessarily a bad person, and while he doesn't always maintain a balance between the good and bad that he does it's interesting to see the state of his priorities as he tries to clean his streets of crime.

DCI Morgan (Ralph Brown) asks both Chris (Marshall Lancaster) and Ray (Dean Andrews) to keep an eye on Gene to ensure that he doesn't take matter into his own hands, and both men, who have proven themselves loyal to Gene time and again, struggle with their assignment. At first Ray is very much against what they've been asked to do, feeling that Gene has earned their trust and shouldn't be placed under such scrutiny, while Chris is hesitant to take action against Gene while also understanding the need for him to do so. Later, when both men have grown convinced that Gene is guilty of his crime, Ray is shown to flip entirely, considering Gene's actions something of a betrayal to him and doing everything in his power to bring him down, while Chris remains largely uncertain, convinced that there could be more to the case than meets the eye, but willing to do what he has to in order to maintain a sense of justice. The actions of both characters speak to who they are as individuals as well as how they are in the workplace, and it's a subtle and interesting study in their characters.

Gene, in a drunken stupor, staggers back toward Haslam's (Seamus O'Neill) place to retrieve his gun, and while it's perfectly understandable that he would need that back, it's unacceptable, and out of character, that Sam would simply allow him to head off alone. In the morning Gene phones Sam stating that "[he] appear[s] to have killed a man," and it's very clear, from the moment that he threw the gun into the bushes, that it would lead to this. The series of events leading toward Gene's potential incarceration are incredibly obvious and poorly strung together, made only worse when the truth is revealed in the end as a number of coincidences that very easily could have been avoided.

At no point does anyone recall the events of the last episode wherein Gene was not only perfectly willing to let someone be killed, but he actively hired someone for the sole purpose of murdering a suspect that he had insufficient evidence to put behind bars, yet everyone is shocked that he may actually have killed someone here. Given his very recent past, the only surprise is that he may have killed someone with his own hand, but there's already plenty of blood on his hands, and everyone should be well aware of this fact.

The acting in this episode is largely good from everyone, but the story is carried by Glenister's performance as a desperate man on the run. Kieran O'Brien also portrays his character of Mackay the boxer quite well, playing off of Glenister fantastically and helping to make the character somewhat more sympathetic than he might have been on the page.

There are a lot of ups and downs in the direction of this episode, resulting in something of a mixed bag from S. J. Clarkson. The hints that Morgan might be more than meets the eye seem at first to be something of a red herring, but they pay off in the end when he tells Sam that he will soon get to go home, revealing the fact that he's aware of Sam's situation, though not stating precisely what that situation is. On the downside is the fact that Chris and Ray manage to mistake an elderly bald man for Gene, who is not only bigger and taller but has a full head of hair, and it's distracting that these policemen can be shown to be so consistently incapable throughout the story.

Written by Mark Greig, the bulk of this story is focused on Gene, but there is a lot happening behind the scenes with Morgan, first appearing and seeming to know who everyone is despite never having met a single one of them. Sam's interactions with him are tinged with confusion, as Sam remarks that Morgan's techniques match up perfectly with his own, Morgan stating that they're necessary in order to "keep everyone honest," both police and public. As she notices the similarities between Sam and Morgan, Annie (Liz White) jokes that Morgan really is from Hyde, like Sam supposedly is, and it's this moment that makes Sam take notice, realizing that there must be something more to Morgan's sudden appearance than he lets on. Morgan remains a step ahead of Sam the entire way, bringing Wilkes (Ian Hanmore) in for questioning before Sam can even suggest it and hinting, in the final moments, that Sam's journey in Manchester is soon to come to an end. Greig never hits the audience over the head with hints about Morgan's true nature, but it's left open enough for interpretation, and it's very finely weaved into the story.

There clearly is a big reveal for Sam coming in the form of Morgan, and whether or not he remains loyal to Gene and his friends or takes an opportunity to get home remains up in the air.

The review for Episode 2.8 will be posted on December 27th.


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