I actually thought the bulk of the second series of Torchwood wasn’t bad – the non-killing off of Owen annoyed me a bit, but generally the stories were pretty good, indeed the episode last week wasn’t bad, aside from the somewhat amazing fact that Owen – who lest we forget now cannot recover from any injury – somehow walks away from an exploding building without a scratch.
What we had in the final episode was pretty much an incoherent mess – dare I say it (and I’m sure the lower expectations I have are something to do with it) but I found that I enjoyed the episode of the critically mauled Flash Gordon that we watched earlier in the evening more than I did this mess.
The plot of Exit Wounds was fairly simple, Captain John returns with Gray, Captain Jack’s long lost brother. They capture Jack and cause chaos in Cardiff to occupy the rest of the team. Jack is taken back in time and is buried meaning that he will continually die and resurrect until he is dug up – almost one thousand nine hundred years later he is found by an earlier Torchwood who hide him away, and he reveals himself in time to save the day – however in the process Owen and Tosh apparently get killed.
Much as with the uninjured Owen thing last week, the major plot device of Jack being buried really wasn’t thought through. Although Jack doesn’t stay dead, unlike Owen he’s still living – it’s been established that he eats and drinks, and I’m assuming sleeps. He really doesn’t seem to be particularly affected either mentally or physically after nineteen hundred years buried – what’s he been eating all this time? What had happened to Gray was little explained, and strangely enough Gray called his brother Jack despite the fact that we known that to be a pseudonym. Essentially, the whole plot was a mess.
After all of that, we then have the deaths of Owen and Tosh. Tosh gets shot by Gray but whilst bleeding to death talks Owen through deactivating a nuclear power station. As always in these situations they just happen to be the only people around who can do this in much the same way as in a load of Star Trek movies the Enterprise is the only ship available. Having apparently killed off Owen once already in the series, apparently killing off Owen again really lost it’s impact. In reality I suspect they’d realised that they’d blocked themselves into a corner with the restrictions on the character following his resurrection, so it was fairly much inevitable that he’d go. Tosh hasn’t really been used that much either, so despatching her as the other character to go made sense. However, by the time you’d sat through the rest of the episode, rather than passing round the tissues at the characters sad passing, you really were left wondering why you were still watching it…
So we’ve just finished watching the season 3 finale of Lost, Through the Looking Glass, and to be honest I’m vaguely uninspired by the whole episode. Certainly I’m left wondering quite what they are going to do to fill the remaining 48 episodes, and getting the definite thought that after questions early on in series 3 as to whether it had, I may have just seen the moment when the series has well and truly jumped the shark…
Partly I think it’s because I thought at the point in the pre-credit sequence where Jack was about to jump off the bridge that this was maybe a flash-forward, events occuring after they had been rescued and Jack couldn’t cope, indeed I was half-expecting them to actually have him jump. When the car crash occurs and he doesn’t I put that to one side, but then once Jack on the island manages to get the phone working, and you then see the flash back/flash forward Jack surrounded by maps, I’d pretty well concluded that this wasn’t a flashback. The thought that maybe it was some sort of parallel reality briefly occurred, but then he meets Kate and it seems certain it is a flash forward. Having said that, the title of the episode is apparently very much an allusion to the Lewis Carrollnovel of the same name.
The other part of it though is that in much the same way that the later X-Files episodes disappeared under a conspiracy that was so convoluted as to be totally unbelievable, Lost seems to be very much going the same way.
It has to be said though, that after last weeks episode, things were looking quite promising, we had finally found out what was on the other end of the mysterious cable, and Charlie and Desmond are heading down to investigate. At the conclusion Charlie had discovered that the apparently deserted station in fact had two occupants. Following on from that, in the early part of the episode tonight it was fairly obvious that things were starting to get pretty uncomfortable for Ben, with various of his people starting to question his decisions.
However, later on in the episode things start to go a bit pear shaped. We have some apparent resurrections. Firstly, Locke wakes up, having been shot by Ben a couple of episodes ago. He then sees what looks like Walt – someone we last saw heading off on a boat with his father. My thought is that this is a vision of some sort, but equally if what has been revealed previously about the crashed Oceanic 815 having been found, having Walt and Michael reappear would pose a big question, so it could well be Walt brought back. To some extent I had been expecting Locke not to be dead, as one of the core themes of the series is the tension between faith and science represented by Locke and Jack.
However we also had Mikhail come back from the dead having been shot with a harpoon gun by Desmond, in order to apparently kill of Charlie. What is bizarre about the whole sequence is that it comes across as Charlie killing himself. He sees Mikhail outside the window with the grenade after he has shut off the jamming signal and picked up a transmission from Penny, who is nothing to do with the boat off the coast, knows nothing about the island, but somehow has a transmission connected to the island. Having seen what Mikhail is about to do, he then runs to the door and locks himself inside – the simple question is why? He has the time to get to the door, and can easily step through and close it, but instead he locks himself in, it just makes no sense, and ultimately left me feeling that killing him off was just a pointless exercise. Indeed I’m half expecting to have him resurrected come next season, especially as he’s died once already anyway.
There is one more apparent resurrection, Jack’s father Christian. It has previously been established that Jack was bringing his father’s body home when the plane crashed. However early on we also saw his father walking around on the island. In the flash forward at one point Jack is arguing with another doctor in the hospital, and demands that his father is brought down. Could it be that Jack is so totally drugged up on Oxycodone that he doesn’t remember that his father is actually dead, or did the island resurrect his father also?
So where does the series go from here? The last scene we saw on the island, before the big reveal of the flash forward was Jack talking to the boat off shore. Both Ben and Locke have told Jack not to make the call, Ben even warning that everyone will die if he does so, but he makes the call anyway, getting an answer from someone who says they will be there to collect them.
The flash forwards seem to imply that Jack regrets being rescued and wants to get back to the island, and we’re clearly meant to think that he regrets having made the call in some way. However equally they’ve got another 48 episodes to fill, so I’m expecting that either Ben and Locke are right and season four becomes the survivors and the others having to work together against a common enemy, or maybe that we’ll see Jack trying to get back to the island, or events after the rescue.
There are a number of questions thrown up by the flash forward. At the opening of the episode Jack sees a notice in the newspaper, and goes and visits a funeral home with somebody who he tells the attendant is neither a friend or family – however we never find out who it is. In the final scene with Kate he shows her the notice, and she responds angrily asking â€œWhy would I go?â€?. She also says that she can’t stay long as â€œHe’ll wonder where I am.â€? You are never told either who Kate is with, or whose funeral it is.
So much as it has done for a while, the final episode actually generated a lot more questions whilst answering no major questions at all. Last season, the finale did at least give some answers, but many of the questions it posed, such as the Portuguese team at the south pole, and the whole Penny plotline seem to have largely been forgotten. I don’t doubt I’ll probably watch the first episodes of season 4 – however quite how much longer I will keep watching will depend on the evidence that the show has got back on track – sadly for such a promising start, the series does seem now to have jumped the shark…
So Life on Mars has come to a close, and in perhaps not the most surprising of endings it left it open, with the ambiguity over what has actually happened to Sam still intact.
As the episode opens, Sam is listening to the radio, where he again hears voices from outside his apparent coma, saying that it has been discovered that he has a brain tumour, and that they are going to operate to remove it. In 1973, Frank Morgan is pushing Sam to collect further evidence in order to remove Gene Hunt for misconduct.
Sam obtains evidence during an investigation into a planned train robbery. Gene is proposing to go undercover, without proper back-up to catch the criminals in the act, and it seems that he will stop at nothing to get it. Sam secretly tapes interviews and documents the plans, thinking he can stop the operation. Having collected the evidence, Sam meets Frank Morgan by a church yard, and is told that to finish the job off he has to allow Gene to go through with the plan, jeopardising his friends along with Gene. He will also have to testify against Gene in court. At this point Sam tells Frank that he thinks that this is all in his imagination, and that Frank Morgan is really his surgeon, trying to remove the tumour. Frank then says that the team in Hyde had had concerns about Sam’s mental state but thought he was okay, but that it seemed that he has amnesia, and was living his assumed identity. Sam is really part of a programme to uncover corruption, and Frank takes him into the graveyard and shows him his parents grave – Sam is really Sam Williams, and is part of the Metropolitan Accountability and Reconciliation Strategy – MARS… Sam doesn’t believe Frank, but then Frank tells how they had come up with Sam’s assumed identity in this graveyard, and takes him to a group of Tyler graves, including one for a Sam Tyler, who died in the 19th century.
Sam rushes back to the police station and retrieves his file, finding that it was Frank Morgan who had transferred him from Hyde to DCI Hunt’s team. Frank then assures him that this is all he has to do, and hands him a radio over which to call for backup during the train robbery when he needs it. He then goes to the pub, where his colleagues are putting together the final plans for the undercover job. He asks the barman what he should do, and is told that he should go wherever he feels truly alive. Sam leaves the pub and spends the night thinking things over, and trying to find a message on the radio. When nothing comes, Sam then tells Annie, Ray and Chris that he is really working undercover – they of course are shocked and feel betrayed, but as there is nobody else, they can’t exclude him from the train job.
The train job goes ahead, and needless to say goes wrong – Sam’s radio crackles and is revealed in front of the train robbers, and a gun fight ensues. Sam tries to call for backup but there is no reply from Frank. Thinking there is a problem, he goes for help, promising Annie that he will come back for her. He meets Frank in a tunnel ahead of the train, and Frank tells him that there is no backup, that he thinks it will be better if DCI Hunt goes down after getting fellow officers injured. Annie, Ray, Chris and Gene have followed Sam out, and one by one are shot. Annie screams out for Sam to help, but behind him in the tunnel there is a bright white light, and Sam can hear Frank’s voice calling him to make one more step. He takes the step, and wakes up in hospital – in Hyde Ward, room 2612 – the phone number in Hyde he had called to talk with Frank Morgan – and with his mother looking on.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sam recovers and leaves the hospital, going back to his police work. He tells his mother something of what has happened, and she says to Sam that he always keeps his promises. Then during a meeting he cuts himself but doesn’t feel it. He goes up onto the roof of the building and looks around – and then throws himself off, waking up at the point he left, in the tunnel with his colleagues under fire. He shoots the lead train robber, saving them all.
With his friends in the pub, they celebrate having escaped, and Phyllis, the desk sergeant tells Sam to go find Annie. Meeting her outside, Sam asks Annie what he should do, she tells him he should stay. Gene drives up, and they all get into the car. Voices of doctors saying they are loosing him crackle over the radio, but Sam turns it off, and they drive off – then the credits roll.
Was Sam mad, in a coma, or back in time? After the final episode it really isn’t any clearer, and I suspect that is the intention.
On the one hand you could argue that he was in the coma, and was brought out, and couldn’t face his life back in 2006, and chooses to end it all. Equally, there is a very noticeable greyness and other worldliness about 2006 as compared to the vibrant colours of his 1973 life – maybe Frank was right, and Sam’s mind had constructed an elaborate future life to explain his amnesia. But then when he comes back, Frank Morgan is gone, and he opts to stay with Gene Hunt and the rest of his friends, with apparently no comeback, and of course the radio crackles into life with voices of doctors again, could it be that he is really in a coma and didn’t wake up, or that these are doctors trying to save him after him having leapt off the roof? Who knows, but I’m sure like one or two other enigmatic final episodes, people will be debating this one for years, especially as Gene Hunt – who is possibly a figment of Sam’s imagination is due to appear in his own series next year!
Interestingly, alongside the Wizard of Oz association with Frank Morgan that I’ve mentioned previously, the episode took cues from the film in other ways, for example the almost black and white elements of Sam’s apparent ‘real life’ as compared to the colour of 1973. We even get a version of Over the Rainbow playing as Sam decides what to do. But then in the Wizard of Oz Dorothy decides that there really is no place like home, whilst in Sam’s 2006 he has been left pretty well alone. Maya, his girlfriend in 2006 stopped visiting, and there is certainly no great welcome back, just the greyness, and as the barman advises he returns to what seems most real – Annie and the others in 1973.
Enigmatic to the end. I’m certainly going to have to watch the whole series through again to try and fathom out what was really going on! However, can the proposed plot for the spin off show, with another 21st Century detective back in time give us any clues?
I guess we kind of knew he wasn’t going to wake up, the news that a second series of Life on Mars has been commissioned really meant that he couldn’t leave 1973.
Having said that, the final episode of the first series of Life on Mars was certainly a gripping hour, as Sam discovered the truth about his father, and also finally pieced together his flashbacks.
Following on from the arrest of the local gangland boss back in episode four, rival gangs are fighting for control, one being led by the Morton brothers. As part of the investigation the police find Sam’s father in a hotel room, and the whole episode is Sam trying to find explanations for his father’s behaviour, as more and more of the evidence points towards him being heavily mixed up in the gang. Sam believes that his father is the key to his coma – if only he can persuade his father to stay, then he will wake up.
The finale takes place at a family wedding, the wedding where Sam last saw his father, shortly before he vanished. As Sam follows his father as he walks away from the wedding, he realises that his flashbacks are this same walk, the walk he took as a child, and again, he sees his father beating up an undercover policewoman – Annie – but this time he intervenes. As he gets closer and closer to the truth, he starts to hear more and more of what is going on in 2006. However, he realises that he cannot win – there is no way that he can get his father to stay. If he leaves, the young Sam and his mother will be alone, but if he doesn’t leave, he will be arrested for his criminal activities.
Sam lets his father escape, and with his father, go the voices from 2006, and Sam is left in 1973.
All in all, it has been a superb series. On paper, a drama set in what seems to be someone’s coma based fantasy sounds a decidedly odd premise, however in practice it has worked well. On the one level you have the basic seventies police drama, but on another you get some decidedly subtle moments. These vary from the anachronisms, such as Sam always wearing a modern watch, to points where you don’t know whether the other characters in Sam’s universe are his subconscious, or whatever, but suddenly they seem to be talking to Sam out of time, knowing that he is in his own past. For example in tonight’s episode on a couple of occasions Sam talks to Gene, his DCI, and whilst Sam is talking about waking up from his coma, Gene is talking about his life in 1973 – or is he?
In some ways these scenes are very reminiscent of the conversations of another time-travelling Sam, Sam Beckett in the final episode of Quantum Leap, where Al the barman tells Sam that he is leaping because he wants to do so – in the same way Gene, and other characters have told Sam Tyler that he is staying because he wants to stay – because he has things he wants to do.
Certainly we’ve got no objection if he wants to stay – as we are really quite looking forward to seeing more of Sam and his life in 1973 when they are shown next year!
Thoughts from, and the lives of a Canadian and a Brit living in Southern England.