May 22nd, 2010
|08:16 am - Ashes to Ashes|
The grand finale of Ashes To Ashes more or less played out as I expected, except Sam didn't turn up. I take londonkds's comment that it would have upstaged Alex in her own show, and so fair enough.
Apart from that - yes, Gene and Jim are psychopomps, who transition souls through an intermediary state between life and death, and yes Gene barely knows what he is, his interior life is obscure to him. It even ended with Dixon of Dock Green. Here is an interview in the Guardian with Matthew Graham, who co-created the series and wrote the final episode.
"We both agreed that Gene isn't appointed by anyone," says Graham. "He has done this for himself. He's re-invented himself and built a world that is very potent and real that draws others in. But Gene doesn't know he's doing it. He doesn't go off into a room on his own and talk to God. He just obeys some animal spiritual instinct inside him."
So, in this respect the ending was the appropriate conclusion of the show, of the two shows. I felt it had integrity within the trajectory of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. However, I personally think it was not as good as it could have been. I'm not sure if my objection is strongly tied to my personality, in which case other people may not share it.
I think it would have been much better if there was not an absolute ground of moral truth and meaning, which was revealed, which sorted everything into categories: true, false, good, evil. In this respect I think Life on Mars was better because more open.
I thought the revelation of Jim Keats as a demon was well done, Daniel Mays' acting was extraordinary for mainstream telly, and he should be recognised for it. However I would have preferred a story and a universe where there aren't absolute simplistic categories, with irrevocable sorting of people into the damned and saved as a result of seemingly arbitrary decisions. This is partly a spiritual preference on my part, and partly an artistic one. In my mind epistemic certainty is linked to sentimentality and over-tidiness of resolution.
For example, what I particularly liked about Life on Mars was that you could take from it not only that the life in the 1970s was an illusion, not only that the life in the 2000s was an illusion, not only that both were part of a TV show which is a fiction, but that you - watching it - were just as caught up in an illusion. There was no final ground of being.
But if Alex is living in a shadow world, this is contrasted with the real world she has left and the real heaven and hell ahead of her. She may be trapped in some transitional unreal moment, but what comes before and after is real. Similarly, the implication is that Keats is evil, not in what he does but in what he is. There is a ground of moral certitude which is inherent in existence. Let us say that Ray trusted Keats, went with him in all innocence - and, if not for the mercy of the script, he would have - what then? The very second comment on that interview in The Guardian: 'Should Ray Carling not have gone to hell though?' No. duh.
So, you see I am being churlish. I like TV to tackle interesting moral and philosophical issues in pop-culture ways. Perfect. And then when it happens I gripe because I disagree with the philosophical position. I hope you take this to be me engaging fully with the show, and the fact that it has a spiritual position I can even disagree with, puts it ahead of most telly ever. So, take it in that light. An exceptional piece of television.
I watched LoM, but not A2A, although I've been following the storylines.
So, I find it interesting that the writers conceive that Gene (and possibly also Jim Keats, unless he is in effect a creation of Gene) have constructed this role for themselves. In the narrative is it unequivocal that the binary heaven/hell thing exists, or is it possible that there is *still* an ambiguity - in that it is part of Gene's construction of "reality"? (i.e. we have experienced another shift of PoV into someone else's construct and so should not treat it as "the truth".)
(i.e. what we are seeing in the finality is something which matches the cultural construction of the experience of "death" of a young man of the 1950s)
Yes. It is indeed left possible that Keats is a projection of something in Gene's psyche (as are heaven and hell). Keats' last words to Gene are along the lines 'Alone, all alone' or something like that: implying perhaps 'there is only one of us'.
I got the impression that you were supposed to see Keats as a demon, and that interview makes me feel that is the writers' intention. But to be fair I used to feel that everything the writers said about the real meaning of Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars was misleading, or left important things out. And so, perhaps I should not jump to that conclusion.
I see in that interview that they considered having Sam be the person who came out of the Railway Arms to welcome them and decided against. Overall I agree with why they said they made that decision.
Yes, their logic was just what you had said last week about Alex.
I really enjoyed it - it worked for me, particularly when Keats is offering them "What they deserve".
I also liked tracking back to Annie in Life of Mars. We know that in the "real world" she died in the 70's and now we can interpret the end of LoM to mean that she as well as Sam got to go to the coppers' heaven.
I think I probably resist resolution, and I know that's about my personality rather than some over-arching artistic principle.
I thought Keats was genuinely disturbing and unpleasant in this episode - I mean in a good way.
Aha - whereas I like resolution - which is why I dislike soaps or any long-running drama that turns into a soap. It's taken me years to appreciate ambivalent endings.
Keats was brilliant. I also found his "reassuring" stroking of Alex to be deeply disturbing and was so glad that he did prove to be evil.
|Date:||May 23rd, 2010 08:09 am (UTC)|| |
I was riveted. Lucky you always have to wait ages for the lift. "It's coming from the **basement**", I was shouting at the telly. Shaz saves the day - again. Brilliant.
The one thing that didn't ring quite true was that I would have expected Alex to beg Gene a bit more for her old life at the end. Felt like she gave it all up a bit quick.
J hated it. A lot. She wished she'd never watched it.
Did she? I wonder if, like me, she has an aversion to seeing characters despatched to hell. I loathe that sort of story.
NB I don't mean I loathed this, but if they'd all ended up in hell it would have really pissed me off
Edited at 2010-05-23 03:31 pm (UTC)