Actually, I didn’t want to blog about the ending of Ashes to Ashes, since there are so many more wonderful pieces already out there (UPDATE: Ian Wylie’s extras for his interview with writer Matthew Graham. Woot!), but there’s this one thing I can’t keep my hands off; so please, bear with me after the jump. As Gene Hunt, the most impossible, possibly infuriating, and adorable (there, I said it) TV character I’ve seen in a long while (apart from the Doctor, I s’pose), stood on the damp, cold streets outside The Railway Arms—finally having punched Keats in his making-weird-demonic-noises face—; alone and with an eternal job ahead of him, only one thing came to my mind: The Doctor, as “he’s ancient and forever [and] he burns at the center of time.”
Gene Hunt cannot move on, not yet, and he probably never will (whether for redemption or punishment, we don’t know), can only accompany and care for the people who are temporarily stuck with him, helping them to pass on to Heaven/the afterlife (whatver floats your boat, really, since it’s not really spelt out for the audience). He can only have them as companions, not as partners. He’s got a job to do, and they can’t stay with him forever, nor can he settle down with them. And we’ve seen what happens to people who’ve stayed with him too long; what happens to him when he gets too attached or falls in love with them against his better judgement (though his judgement can’t really be blamed: he’d downright forgotten what he was until Alex reminded him). It’s not that the problem’s the aging process, souls in coppers’ purgatory don’t age, after all, but the dead coppers have to work through their issues they’ve taken with them, or they’ll go insane.
Both can’t see their pals ever again—or won’t. The Doctor’s clearly somewhat deluded in Amy’s Choice when he says, “You know me: I don’t just abandon people when they leave the TARDIS.” RIGHT. And what about Gene? “See you around, Bolly-kicks.” Really? Can he just drop by in the afterlife and say hello? Like, And a voice rang through Heaven, “Bolly, where are you, you posh mouthy tart!” He’s been compared to Davy Jones already, but does he have that ten-years-lease of stopping by? Well, what do I know. ‘d be awesome, though. This is where the main similarities end, though, and one key difference strikes the viewer:
The Doctor is sometimes called something like a dark angel, trying to save those he could, but leaving destruction in his wake. It fits somehow, because the Doctor tends not to relieve the companions of their baggage, but, rather, to enhance it. Rose released Nine (and by extension Ten) from his demons, but he left her troubled and with HandyMan (10.5, HumanDoctor, whatever you want to call him) to look after. Martha got off relatively fine, but with the exhausting experience of unrequited love under her belt; and Donna, well, she doesn’t even remember him. Gene Hunt redeems his companions—the Doctor leaves them scarred. Often wiser, more aware, grown in courage—but still scarred.
Both have companions and both inevitably lose them, the main difference in their relationships being that the Doctor needs his companions to know when to stop, to stave off the loneliness—and although the next lost copper soul will surely also serve to help Gene get over the loss of his friends from Manchester (1973-1980) and Fenchurch East (1981-1983), most of all, they (unknowingly) need him, they need him to tell them when to stop. And now that Gene’s freshly aware of what he is, after Philip Glenister has so extraordinarily dismantled his character and then put him back together, the next officer will surely have yet a different kind of guidance to deal with, courtesy of the Gene Genie.