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Ashes to Ashes Thoughts and Speculations

Ashes to AshesAs I write this the final episode of Ashes to Ashes season 2 will air tomorrow evening.  Like Alex Drake, time is running out for me – I must speculate now or it will forever be lost to the past.

Since recording the last podcast (on Monday the 1st of June, overlapping with Ashes to Ashes 2.7) I have now had a chance to see the penultimate episode of season 2.  Or series 2, if you prefer, but that is even more confusing in the context of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes – during the podcast the phrase ‘the first series’ was used.  Did we mean Life on Mars in general or just Ashes to Ashes season one?!  We meant the latter in that case.  But I’m drifting!

I was clearly very wrong on my assumption that the mysterious ‘young’ Martin Summers was actually the ‘time travelling’ middle aged Martin Summers who had, somehow, assumed a different appearance.  Keith was very correct – there were two Martin Summers, the 2008 version and the ‘native’ 1982 version.  Does that mean he cannot change his appearance? Probably. Does this put paid to my theory that Martin Summers is, in reality, Sam Tyler in disguise? Most probably but not certainly. Is Fake Keith’s £5 bet with me, that it is Gene Hunt in the hospital bed AND that Martin Summers is Sam Tyler, in danger? I think so!

Ever since the final episode of Ashes to Ashes season one, there has been a new wrinkle of doubt about the 1980s reality. Did Gene Hunt save the young Alex Price (or Drake, as we now know her) in the real 1981? Alex’s flash backs to the event, before she relived it in her coma, suggests he did. How is that possible? Is/was there a real Gene Hunt? Perhaps the 2008 Gene Hunt (who, assuming he’s 46 in 1982 (Glenister’s current age) would be about 72 in 2008) is in a coma along with Alex and Sam Tyler before her? Maybe but I don’t quite buy it. As for him being the man in the 2008 hospital bed that we saw in the first scene of Ashes to Ashes 2.1, no, I think the hints that he is Martin Summers are too strong for that.  That would also displace Summers and, rather late in the game, raise the question as to what/where is he in reality.

2008 Hospital Bed from episode 2.1

As for Martin Summers – “The first man ever to live through a successful suicide attempt!”  What does his killing of his younger self tell us? That just leads me back to thinking this 1982 world is a fiction, as we all (Alex included) originally thought.  But if none of this is real, why is Summers going to so much trouble to put ‘Operation Rose’ into operation? Personally, I think it is a fiction. Somehow a shared fiction, a shared unconscious.  But there are rules to it, nonetheless.  A powerplay to break the reality?  Summers claims to be able to leave 1982 anytime he wishes.  Is he just staying for entertainment then?  What’s the point?  The only ‘real’ thing he can influence is Alex’s mind but when she wakes up I can’t see how any hold on her would persist into the real world.  My speculation runs dry here.  I can’t see Martin Summer’s motivation or goal.  Operation Rose?  Clearly he needs a lot of firepower and he couldn’t wield all that on his own.  Looks like he’s planning a little war.  Revenge against someone in power?  A fantasy revenge he can play out but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything in reality.

Sam Tyler - suicide file

So, Sam Tyler.  Is he dead? I was absolutely convinced he was in that final episode of Life on Mars.  I always read that as him committing suicide.  I know others didn’t see it that way at the time but the writers confirmed that and the files Alex Drake had on him quite clearly say ‘Suicide’. So why the sudden doubt?  For one thing, the rumours that a Life on Mars star (that isn’t already part of Ashes to Ashes!) will be turning up in Ashes to Ashes season two.  The general assumption is that it would be Annie (who Sam Tyler apparently married in the 1970s years that were, in reality, his last seconds of life in 2006).  But what would be the point of Annie turning up if that isn’t a pretext for Sam Tyler to return?  Perhaps the whole ‘returning character’ thing was nothing but misdirection, there to make us think that Martin Summers is Sam Tyler?  Possibly.  We’ll find out tomorrow evening, I suppose.  Still, I quite like the idea of Alex and Sam meeting up.  Are those reports of a third and final Ashes to Ashes season true (that will wrap up BOTH Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes)?  What of that old fashioned iPod, that we so closely associate with Sam Tyler, that appears alongside Martin Summers’ 2008 hospital bed?  More misdirection?  So small that only the real fan will see it – just the sort of people they would try to misdirect.  I do think Sam Tyler is dead but I can’t help but like the idea that the fifth and final season of the Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes saga might end with both Sam and Alex working together.  It probably wouldn’t work, though – I’m not sure even Gene Hunt could cope with both of them!

So the big ending tomorrow?  Obviously the ‘evil’ Martin Summers has to be dealt with.  Death in 1982 means death in 2008?  Probably.  That will prompt some big reveal about the nature of 1982 which will push us into a slightly different direction for next season.  Perhaps Alex will gain the ability to move between 1982 and 2008.  That raises the question of why she would ever leave her daughter, Molly, for 1982 again, though…

Also, has anyone else noticed that the amount of the 1980s compared to real time has dropped dramatically recently?  Since being shot and found, Alex has spent about 6 months in 1981/2.  Suddenly she is found and the time between the ambulance arriving and them finishing the (presumably) several hour long surgery was only a matter of weeks (at most) in 1982.  Let’s assume she was found within the ‘golden hour’, that was 6 months in the 1980s, for an hour in 2008.  Then, for presumably several hours in 2008, she only lives through a few weeks in 1982.  Most of that was before they took the bullet out, too, in case we think that is the cause.  Adrenaline dropping?  Does Martin Summers experience 1982 time at the same speed as Alex now does?  I doubt they’ll ever talk about that in the series!

So, pretty light speculation in the end.  I have more questions than theories.  Let’s see what answers the final episode of Ashes to Ashes season two brings tomorrow!

6 Responses to "Ashes to Ashes Thoughts and Speculations"

  1. Owain/Clive says:

    This could be the same symptom as Silenceof the Library/Forests of the Dead that if two people co-exist in a virtual reality?

  2. Macfadyan says:

    Hmm, we’ve recorded two Flashing Blade podcasts so far, each with a section in which we promise we get it wrong, lol.. Jo! has certain theories, some of which you share, I stay quiet as I’m always correct and it wouldn’t be fair to belittle everyone else in the whole wide world. It will indeed be interesting to see if anything any of us have thought about, is correct.

    Unlikely though. These telly writer type chaps – damn tricky.

  3. Ah, yes, Silence in the Library. I’d forgotten about my confusion over that one – how can two people control a fake reality that they share. Their inevitable clashing of reality shaping – is that why Summers wants to control Alex? Going back to Silence in the Library – what happened to Donna’s husband when Donna jumped scenes, apparently controlled by her subconscious? He can’t will her into his scenes without interrupting her scenes and vice versa. It doesn’t work unless one of them is a facsimile (which neither was). Likewise I think we can assume that neither Alex Drake nor Martin Summers are facsimiles. That suggests that neither of them control the 1980s they find themselves in. They might fight to influence it (as they would the real world) but that world doesn’t exist in one of their minds – their minds exist in it! So what is 1982? Who, or what, really controls it? Now look what thoughts you’ve put in my head, Owain!

    Glad I’m not entirely alone with my rambling ideas, either! I always thought Jo was smart! I look forward to hearing both your thoughts on the Flashing Blade podcast. I think you are right, though, the writers will wrong foot us. But, given today’s official announcement of an Ashes to Ashes season 3, I don’t suppose we’ll get as many answers today as we might otherwise expect. Just over an hour before 2.8 begins…

  4. So, the final episode of Ashes to Ashes season 2 is behind us. Perhaps we should start calling it Life on Mars season 4, yet more references to Sam Tyler.

    Spoilers ahoy for that season finale episode!

    What an incredible ending! Very much reminds me of the way some people interpreted the end of Life on Mars – namely that either 2006 was always the fake reality or the 2006 that he ‘returned to’ was actually a coma within a coma.

    My snap opinion is that she IS awake. 2008 is real and she has returned to that 2008 reality. Part of her mind is still stuck/connected to the 1982 ‘fantasy’ world (in the same way that part of her mind was still always in 2008 when she was in her coma).

    Martin Summers claimed to be able to leave 1982 whenever he wanted. It’s not clear if that means he could move between them at will or simply leave his coma when he chose, unable to return. Interesting that on his hospital bedside cabinet he has not only a Sam Tyler style iPod (now surely proved to be a red herring) but also a bottle of tablets. I’m no doctor but I doubt they tend to give coma patients tablets – it would more likely be intravenous medicines. Does that suggest he was awake some of the time?

    Presumably next year Alex will be moving between 2008 and 1982 – though probably not entirely at her control, at first at least. This will allow her to investigate Gene Hunt, Chris, Ray & Shaz in the real world (something that we, surprisingly, never see Sam Tyler do at the end of Life on Mars). Expect lots of convoluted stuff about that but, ultimately, this is how Alex Drake will solve the central mystery behind Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

    Back to 2.8, though. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the medical jeopardy that Alex was supposedly in. Why would the doctors in 2008 kill her? If they know a certain dose is fatal they surely wouldn’t go up to that dosage, even if that means letting her die of an infection. Do no harm. Sometimes they have to let patients die but they shouldn’t force the issue! I thought that was a bit weak but lets just assume her doctor was a bit crazy (and, before anyone points him out, Hugh Laurie’s Doctor House would be struck off in no time in real life, at least in the UK!) Putting that aside, though, I’m sure everyone else thought the same as me during the ‘death’ scene – namely that she’s about to wake up. I was a bit surprised, knowing there would be a season 3 (assuming that too wasn’t a massive red herring), that they were bringing her out of her coma but, of course, they are seriously pushing the overall plot onwards.

    Another thing that had me scratching my head is the tape recording. Shame we haven’t seen her making those recordings this year (but maybe she stopped after a few months – it did appear to be a very early tape that Summers gave Gene Hunt). My first thought, during the episode, was ‘why doesn’t Alex just rush home and give Gene Hunt all of the tapes she made?’ If she did it quick enough then clearly she wouldn’t have had time to fabricate them after the fact. It won’t prove she is from the future but it will suggest that she believes she is and, almost certainly, put Hunt’s mind at rest about her being ‘bent’. In fact I was also a little surprised that the one tape Hunt had wouldn’t be enough to convince him of that – those short excerpts were rather damning but (assuming the tape hadn’t been tampered with) the entirety of the tape would probably give a different impression.

    Despite those curious niggles I thought it was a good season closer, a good season overall (much better than season one) and a great cliffhanger to end it on!

  5. Steve says:

    I was curious as to why, when a coma patient has just come round after all that time and she wakes up screaming and running demented through the hospital, that nobody takes any notice of her! This leads me to believe that 2008 is the fantasy land.

    Also, why did Shaz rush to turn off the police radio? And how did she magically appear with a gun on the staircase?!

  6. We have to assume this is an NHS hospital. Patients wandering the corridors going loopy and being ignored by the nurses is part of the experience!

    No, I think if there is an answer to why Alex was left to go wandering, going crazy everytime she saw a screen, it might have more to do with the sudden death of the patient in the next room. I’ll have to rewatch it to remind myself of the timeline but I think it was only minutes after the two nurses (the same ones we see in the first scene of 2.1) wheel away Martin Summers (presuming that’s who he was). That death (probably unexpected, all things considered!) left them probably a little understaffed, perhaps with other staff members fending off the press?

    That does, of course, raise the question as to why she doesn’t have a police guard. She was just shot in the line of duty. Even if they discount the likelihood her attacker may try to finish the job, you can be certain that the press would like a photo of Alex in her hospital bed, all tubed and machined up. I think that is more likely a writing failure than any indication that she has ‘woken’ into another fantasy world. That’s my take on it, anyway.

    As for Shaz… Clearly the radio bit was just to mislead us, so we wouldn’t expect her to save the day. She must have changed her mind and turned it back on. They were going for a big ‘saves the day’ moment with her, which I think is fair enough. A lot of people on the Internet say they gave a little cheer when she showed up in her wedding dress with a big gun! Where did she get that Big Flipping (!) Gun? Erm, dramatic licence overrules gun licence! Well, we know 1982 doesn’t quite follow the rules of reality!

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