Life on Mars (UK)

Season 2 Episode 2

Episode 2

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 20, 2007 on BBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Sam's mentor from 2006 arrives at the station as a young DC, and is immediately the target of racist jokes. DCI Hunt leads an investigation into a spate of armed robberies.

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  • Code Of Battle Written by Chris Chibnall Directed by S.J. Clarkson

    Sam: "I've seen it a dozen times. Look, half of CID will be alcoholics by the time Maggie Thatcher becomes Prime Minister".

    Woolf: "If Margaret Thatcher ever becomes Prime Minister, I'll have been doing something a lot stronger than whisky".

    Corruption within the police is something that every cop shows, some a lot better than other. It only makes sense that the already corrupt policing of 1973 would go one further by shattering some of the beliefs in characters like Sam and Gene about their profession.

    Harry Woolf was introduced in the last episode as Gene's mentor. He's one of the very few people that someone like Gene would aspire to as a cop and also one of the very few people that Gene would happily break bones in defending as well. So because of that, there must be something very dirty about this Harry. Okay terrible pun but you get the point.

    The episode opened with Sam, Chris and Ray collecting Dickie Fingers and before we even got to the opening credits, a few armed men made sure that the three of them were minus a criminal. We could suggest bad luck or a combination of Chris' crappy driving skills but conspiracy is the more likely option.

    Sam himself even thinks that there was nothing coincidental with Dickie's abduction and soon enough, he's unsuccessfully trying to get various contacts to squeal on where the petty crook is being stashed. Only Gene is able to come up with some better solutions.

    The first is hauling in Arnold Malone, one of the biggest nemeses of Harry but it's a good call. Aside from the cat and mouse antics between Harry and Malone, the latter does give Sam and Gene heads up on a particular robbery. Sam's naturally suspicious of Malone's sudden co-operation and to be honest, how could anyone not be?

    Predictably enough the robbery goes off and Gene has everyone prepared in advance. There's a really fun moment however where he curses himself when both Annie and Phyllis are openly hostile with the robbers in question but it's not much of a shock to learn that one of the robbers happens to be Dickie as well.

    Like many of the petty crooks on this show, while Dickie is probably not the worst human in existence, he's still downright unlikeable and when he demands alone time with Sam, a part of me assumed he wanted to use Sam's more empathetic nature for his own benefit.

    That feeling only intensified when he told Sam that it was Harry responsible for springing him out of jail and for the series of robberies. I like that Sam didn't instantly believe Dickie because I actually wanted Dickie to be lying. I like Harry as a character so I didn't want him to be corrupt.

    More importantly is that Sam didn't keep this to himself. He talked about it with Annie and even she tried to get him to consider that Dickie could be lying. Sam not believing that Dickie was felt typical for him but at least he told Gene about what the petty crook had told him.

    Gene's response was delightful. Okay so it's looking at this point that Dickie is telling the truth but I still didn't mind Gene using his own methods to test that theory. Then Sam had to challenge Harry about the accusations made against him. The fact that Harry seemingly supported the idea of Sam taking these accusations into account was a clever move.

    It should've been enough to make Sam doubt himself and when it didn't work, Harry sort of used Gene to put Sam in line. Even locking Sam in the boot of a car wasn't enough of a deterrent for him. Once again Sam knew he was right about Harry and Gene also didn't want to believe him.

    It was when Gene and Sam confronted Malone that the truth really began to sink in. Rarely do we get any scenes where true sympathy can be conveyed for Gene, despite the series succeeding in making him more than a brute. However seeing a part of Gene's belief system shattered is quite devastating to watch.

    Harry was probably one of the few people genuinely left in his profession that wasn't tarred with some form of scandal or compromise. Annie herself even gave Sam a rundown of the man's strengths and legacies. Of course it also meant that Sam was right, which makes you wonder is Gene going to just trust Sam on something?

    The confrontation between the three of them is beautifully written. Harry's motivations for trying to frame Malone are plausible. Every day we see less than savoury characters more financially solvent than those who struggle to make ends meat so the desire to get one less scumbag off the street regardless of means is believable.

    Another thorny issue in this episode comes in the arrival of black police officer Glen Fletcher. Not much tends to make me uncomfortable but watching morons like Ray making racist remarks is up there. Worse still was witnessing Glen making similarly disparaging comments about himself. I don't think I've ever been more disgusted by anything else than I was with that scene.

    Sam spent a good time during this episode trying to get Glen to stand up for himself. I can understand why Glen would prefer to stay in the background and while he did say and do things in this episode that frustrated me as a viewer, I'm glad that Sam's words did actually make a difference towards the end of the episode.

    As for the Hyde material, it seems that Sam is at Gene' precinct in an undercover capacity. Except that Sam isn't aware of this and is equally confused when told by Hyde not to call them again. I do like this angle to Sam's ongoing saga and hopefully there will be a satisfying payoff to everything here.

    Also in "Episode 10"

    As much Ray's racist remarks disgusted, I didn't mind him and Chris teasing Dickie about sheep. Sam even privately laughed about it.

    Chris: "I can't do five years. I'm not that strong".

    Sam: "Chris you don't even have a life".

    I think this might have been the first episode in the series without Nelson. I did miss him seeing as him and Sam get great scenes together.

    Dillis: "Ain't talking in front of your pansy".

    Gene (to Sam): "I think she means you".

    Woolf (re Sam): "He knows his onions this lad".

    Gene: "Oh he's a right little smartarse".

    So two people in this episode actually thought that Sam was gay Aside from one gangster, we haven't exactly been awash with gay characters.

    Annie: "Thanks for being so sympathetic sir. Just hope you don't end up in my firing line".

    Gene (to Sam): "Did she just threaten to shoot me?"

    Glen: "Why should I fight all the battles?"

    Sam: "Because if you don't, who will?"

    We learned in this episode that it was Glen who was Sam's mentor in the future. Without Sam's intervention, I wonder what motivated Glen into becoming more proactive.

    Gene: "Talk me out of it. Tell me it's untrue".

    Woolf: "I can't. I made you too good".

    Woolf: "How many villains have I put away? Does that not earn me something?"

    Gene: "No".

    Sam saw an ad about Glen's death in 2006 presumably.

    Woolf: "Don't remember me like this".

    Gene: "I'll call you an ambulance, Guv".

    Standout music: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John stood out the most for me.

    Another in a series of thematic episodes for the successful and one that continues to get better on repeated watching. Chris Chibnall packs in a great character driven script with brilliant performances from all concerned.moreless
  • It just keeps getting better

    For those of us who are lucky enough to have Freeview and got to see this ep last week after ep 1 it was good to see it again on BBC1.

    I know that the story line of a bent copper has been done to death on virtually every police drama but here everyone, including the viewer was kept in the dark until near the end.

    It also dealt with racism and stereo typical views of the 70's with Sams mentor entering the unit as a young recruit. Although the ep did show how racist the police force could be in the 70's it dealt with the whole issue without coming across as showing it for the sake of showing it. Sam trying to make Fletcher realise that he does not have to put on an act to fit in. Again Sam trying to change something in 1973 that ends up having consequences in 2006/7.

    A great well written ep and more shouting between Gene and Sam although the background characters of Chris and Ray could have been in it a bit more. Annie is starting to fit in and boys are sort of accepting her and let’s hope by the end of the series she feels part and parcel of the unit. Great line from Gene about the team being prepared for this type of thing and then Chris asking, "Guv was it bank or post office". Next weeks ep (which I have now seen) looks and is really good.moreless
Bill Rodgers

Bill Rodgers


Guest Star

Ray Emmet Brown

Ray Emmet Brown

Glenn Fletcher

Guest Star

Chris Bieske

Chris Bieske

1st Twin

Guest Star

Noreen Kershaw

Noreen Kershaw

Phyllis Dobbs

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • In the scene between Hunt and Tyler which takes place directly after Hunt has been "communicating" his outrage to Dickie by hitting his hand repeatedly with a telephone, Hunt puts his hands in his pockets. However, in the next shot, which is the opposite camera angle, his hands are suddenly back out of his pockets. When the camera angle changes again, they're back in, all with no movement on his part.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • Hunt: The rules go like this: you're my officer, you do as I say!
      Sam: I was following my instincts…
      Hunt: Well, I should charge your instincts with wasting police time!

    • Hunt: Don't move! You're surrounded by armed bastards!

    • Annie [ to Sam ]: You've got to tell DCI Hunt.
      Hunt: Got to tell me what? Well, it's all becoming clear now. Glances across the canteen. Late night conversations in the office. Before you know it, Cartwright, you'll be stuck at home with nine kids doing the ironing while he's touching up the youngest blonde in the typing pool. Don't say I didn't warn you.
      Sam: How does your missus put up with you?
      Hunt: Must be my legendary prowess as a lover.

    • Phyllis: Look at yourself. Women's undies on your head, pointing a gun at a woman. How small must your John Thomas be?

    • Sam: I saw your hands shaking before.
      Woolf: You have no idea.
      Sam: I do. I've seen it a dozen times. Look, half of CID will be alcoholics by the time Maggie Thatcher becomes Prime Minister.
      Woolf: If Margaret Thatcher ever becomes Prime Minister, I'll have been doing something a lot stronger than whisky.

    • Hunt [ to Sam ]: You know, if I was as worried as you, I'd never fart for fear of shitting myself.

    • Sam: Sorry, Ray, I forget you have trouble with words of more than no syllables.

    • Woolf: He knows his onions this lad, eh?
      Hunt: Oh, he's a right little smartarse. So, what do you suggest, buddha?

    • Sam: When our car was attacked, Dickie Fingers was more scared than all of us put together. He had no idea what was going on.
      Hunt: I don't know whether you noticed, Marjorie, but the criminal fraternity sometimes indulge in practices called pretending and lying. You'll have to excuse D.I. Tyler, he has this terrible condition called naivety.

    • Hunt [ to Sam ]: What's up with you? You're as white as a pint of Gold Top.

    • Hunt: You didn't try hard enough. A villain farts in this city, our snouts should be able to name the arse responsible.

    • Hunt: I've seen cesspits with more brains. This was supposed to be a simple job.
      Sam: It was a stitch up. Somebody knew what we were doing.
      Hunt: Yes, thank you, Dorothy, I think we've worked that out. I just thought three of my finest might have put up a better fight. Should have taken Cartwright with you, she could have flashed her tits and stopped them. How's your first day, petal?
      Annie: All the better for the pile of topless calendars someone left on my desk, sir.

    • Skelton: Dickie's famous for getting caught in Alicante.
      Carling: Flagrante, Chris, in flagrante.
      Skelton: Aye, flagrante, with a sheep.
      Dickie: It were dark. We all make mistakes.

    • Sam: One day, there's gonna be a young recruit who will look to you to show him the way. He'll take his principles, his values, his beliefs directly from you. When that day comes, if you're not good enough, if all you can tell him is to keep your head down and don't cause any trouble, then there's no hope for any of us is there? How do you want to be remembered, Glen? You know, when you die? What do you want people to say about the sort of copper you were? About the sort of man you were?

    • Sam: You'll have to excuse D.S. Carling. He's our resident Neanderthal.

    • Woolf: Arnold Malone's time is up.
      Sam: Not that this is a vendetta, of course.
      Woolf: Oh, that's exactly what it is.

    • Annie: I haven't received any firearms training. That's not right.
      Hunt: You see? This is why birds and CID don't mix. You give a bloke a gun, it's a dream come true. You give a girl one, she moans it doesn't go with her dress. Start behaving like a detective and show some balls.
      Annie: Thanks for being so symathetic, sir. Let's hope you don't end up in my firing line.
      Hunt: She just threaten to shoot me?

    • Glenn Fletcher: League tables?
      Sam: Yeah.
      Glenn: I haven't a blue clue what you're on about, sir.
      Sam: Well, uh, it's a list with the likeliest targets at the top.
      Glenn: Why couldn't you say that in the first place?
      Carling: Because he wouldn't have sounded like a twonk.

    • Fletcher: Don't take this the wrong way, D.I. Tyler, but you're a mental case.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Music used in this episode:
      Sweet Jane by Mott the Hoople
      In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry
      Ain't Got No by Derek Wadsworth (from Hair)
      Love Machine by Uriah Heep
      Bird Of Prey by Uriah Heep
      Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress by The Hollies
      Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John

    • This episode was first broadcast on BBC Four at 10.00pm on 13 February 2007. This guide follows the BBC's convention, which regards the broadcast date as the date of transmission on BBC One, with the BBC Four broadcast seen as an advance screening for digital households.