For those who have followed the Gene Hunt story from the first episode of Ashes to Ashes, this is almost as anticipated a final as Monday’s epic ending is for Lost aficionados.
So who is Gene Hunt? How does Jim Keets fit into the puzzle? And will Alex get home? Oh, and what happened to Sam Tyler? Not a lot to answer in one hour of television, wouldn’t you agree? As it turns out there is one scene in this final episode that makes all clear and turns the whole world of Gene Hunt on its head.
As with all episodes, there is a contained story to do with gang-land diamond smuggling, but that is only a sidetrack from the main story, which is what everyone is interested in. Jim Keets is ready to file his report on Gene, Alex heads off to discover whether Sam Tyler’s body is buried in a shallow grave and Ray, Chris and Shaz continue to see strange things around them. As it turns out, Alex does discover a body in Lancashire the body belonging to the dead young cop she keeps seeing in her visions. It is not Sam Tyler though – it is Gene Hunt.
It turns out that Gene was killed as a young cop and his soul arrived in a purgatory where he decided to stay and set up his own world. As police men and women die with unresolved issues in their lives they find themselves arriving in Gene’s world, where he takes them onto his team and pulls them into the life he leads after death. But that does not mean Gene is the bad guy – he simply forgot about who he was and how long he had been keeping people around him. After Keets brings Gene to his knees and delivers proof of their deaths in the real world to Shaz, Ray and Chris, the three leave with Keets with the promise of a better afterlife. Alex, however remains with Gene and after rousing him from his fug, she gets him to radio the other three and ask them to come back to him. The call comes through as Keets is about to usher them into a lift heading down.
Yes, Keets is the devil. So what does that make Gene? Well, God of his own world obviously. In the end the gang do reunite, foil the diamond smugglers but Gene also suffers the loss of his beloved Quattro (at the hands of a dye digging tosspot – a line that brings a tear to the eye knowing it will probably be the last such cracking line we hear from Hunt’s lips), and then Gene leads them all to the Railway Pub from Life on Mars which is their gateway to heaven.
So Alex discovers she is dead, having died at 9:06 (the time Keets’ watch is stuck on), and accepts that she too must leave Gene’s world just as Sam Tyler had to in the end. Keets is not done though, as the devil never is, and he goads Gene that they will meet again.
When you watch the episode, and previous ones, there are many comments that link into this. Gene saying how the world around him is his, the times Alex tells Gene how immature he is, Keet’s frequent references to Gene controlling the people around him and being safe in the world he has created around himself. It is all there if you look for it. There is also the fact that in the first Ashes to Ashes episode we knew Sam
Tyler was dead, which should have explained that Alex was too. And of course, as the credits roll another lost cop arrives in Gene’s station, talking about his ipod, and the cycle begins again.
There is no doubt that this is the end of the story, as now the truth is out there is no mystery and the whole of Gene’s world has taken on a different tone and purpose. There were many theories about the ending of the series, and to me this ending sealed what has been one of the most original, entertaining and worthy cop dramas to grace the screens. The fantasy elements have obviously taken on a more dominant role towards the end of the series, but at least the ending was given a decent story rather than the “all a dream” scenario that the US Life on Mars suffered. A well rounded finale to what will be a largely missed series.