ABC - 25th February 2009 - 10.00pm
Whilst at the crime scene of a murdered journalist, Sam appears to have a flash forwards to a similar murder in 2008 and during the investigation meets the murderer who he will eventually arrest in 2008. This is pretty much a carbon copy of the Series 2 opening episode in the UK, even down to the name of the murderer, Tony Crane. However, it's remounted here with some considerable flair and the changes it introduces are logical, add colourful period detail and provide a satisfyingly emotional conclusion. In the original episode Sam fears the release of Tony Crane in 2007 has put his comatose body in danger with Tony attempting to murder him at his bedside. This is dispensed with here and instead the story concentrates on artist Eve Flannery, Crane's protogee and lover, who it seems will become Penny Margolis the murder victim in 2008 that we see Sam having flash forwards about. Thus the story becomes three sub-plots: solve the crime of the murdered journalist, ensure Tony Crane is arrested in 1973 and, finally, ensure Eve/Penny isn't murdered in 2008. The problem with this is that we have to assume Tony still gets out of jail and murders Eve/Penny in 2008 or we are left considering that Sam has actually changed his and Eve's future. The episode doesn't really delve into the temporal logic of the story.
We also get further insights into Gene's past.What does strike you here is that the writing is continuing to improve. It may have borrowed its story from the UK series but the version presented here is sharp and witty. Whilst the plot might concern itself with Tony Crane and Eve, the meat of this is about Sam's desperation to get Tony behind bars at any cost. This therefore means he'll happily throw away the rule book and go as far as planting evidence and physically attacking the suspect to get his man. Whilst he ordinarily would let Gene and Ray practice this unorthodox approach to police work, there is added pressure for the 125 to do everything by the book because Chief Harry Wolf is warning the precinct that the press want a quick resolution to the case. This gives lead man Jason O'Mara a chance to show how mad Sam must seem to those around him when he starts babbling about being from the future and how he knows. He gives quite an intense performance in this episode. It's also ironic that he fusses about Chris' contamination at the crime scene and later suggests doing the same thing in order to get a conviction. We also get further insights into Gene's past. The 125 is prejudiced against the murder of the journalist Joey Conway because he's done several hatchet jobs on policing and a particular piece on Gene Hunt that almost ended his career. We also get introduced to nicely sketched out, slightly cliched, supporting characters, as well as the main roles of Eve and Tony. Kerry Bishe is excellent as Eve, the rather naive artist, and Chris Bowers is suitably slimy as the villain Tony.
There's a rivalry being built up between Ray and SamThe artists' milieu of the early 1970s is also well presented and there's a blink and you'll miss it appearance from Truman Capote in the gallery's private view sequence. The arrest of suspect Dimitri Pantos is also a very tongue in cheek homage to 1970s American police series and even though Gene knows he's operating under the full glare of the press he still relents and allows Ray to kick the victim as long as he doesn't leave a mark! The following interrogation scene is hilarious as Ray keeps losing his temper with Dimitri and has to get Chris to keep rewinding and re-recording the evidence tape. Gene's ability to get a confession from Dimitri is founded on his own bitterness towards Conway and Harvey is again impressive in this scene in the way he articulates his pent up anger. There's a rivalry being built up between Ray and Sam too, where Ray is keen to solve the case and get a promotion. Ironically, it's when Ray listens to Conway's own tapes that he realises that Sam is actually right about Tony Crane being the murderer. The twist of Eve knowing about Tony's crimes through her relationship with Conway is neat and Eve comes across as yet another victim in waiting. I also like the way Sam turns the tables on Crane, insinuating that it is Crane that is mad and babbling about being from the future.
A solidly entertaining episode, well written and rather stylishly directed. The ensemble cast are all playing very well and each of the main characters has a satisfying moment in the story. The story pulls you in and is intriguing enough to keep you watching. I wasn't sure about the heavy handed use of music in this episode as it tended to over-dominate in some scenes. They need to be a little subtler about the use of their 1970s playlist. And it isn't clear if Eve is Penny or if it's just a coincidence that Eve starts making work, the 'paintings of rain' that Penny was famous for.
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