Categories > TV > Life On Mars1 Reviews
Gene comes up with a theory to explain Sam.
"Your staff appraisal - you're the one who's always going on that we should have 'em - set your targets for next year or whatever we're supposed to do."
Sam looked back at him with an incredulous expression on his face.
"The excitement too much for you, Tyler? Lost and Found - now!"
Ray shot Chris a look as if to say Oh God - we're gonna have to have one and all now as Sam followed Gene down the corridor into the dingy room with thick walls. That alone should have started alarm bells ringing in Sam's head - surely this could have been done in Gene's office - but Sam was so bewildered by the concept of Gene undertaking his staff appraisal that it threw him. It wasn't until he stepped into the room and he saw a plain manila file open on the table that he twigged something was not quite right.
"Sit down, Tyler." He said motioning to the chair in front of the file. Gene himself did not sit down. Instead he leaned against the wall near the small windows which lit him eerily - almost menacingly in the shadows. He reached into his pocket, produced a cigarette and lit it. He took a long puff and exhaled the smoke - prolonging the silence and the awkwardness in the room.
"Do you know what they are Tyler?" he said pointing to the file.
Sam slid them towards him and picked up the first page.
"My transfer papers from Hyde - but..."
Part of Sam was still hoping that this could all be part of some weird Gene Hunt style staff appraisal, but he wasn't holding out much hope.
"Yes, all very accurate and totally believable, but you and I both know they're fake."
Sam felt his blood run cold.
"Yeah, fake - alright not like a forgery fake, they are official - that part checks out. But let's face it Sammy Boy, you've never worked in Hyde now have you?"
The smoke from his cigarette curled up into the dim light as Sam realised he'd been rumbled.
"You see Sam - I have this little theory about you. From the moment I met you something inside me - me gut instinct said - this bloke ain't from Hyde. Someone with ambition and talent like you wouldn't have hung around a suburban backwater for long - let alone nearly twenty years. It just didn't check out."
He threw his fag end on the floor and rubbed it in hard with his foot to put it out. Then he took out the packet from his pocket, shook out a new cigarette and placed it between his lips. He struck his lighter, causing it to illuminate his face for an instant as the flame caught hold of the end of the cigarette. Drawing the smoke in and then out again before carrying on.
"So I rang the Hyde branch to ask after you. Got talking to some plonk - best person to talk to, really - not high enough up to be told what not to say. She said I was the second person who'd rung up asking about a Sam Tyler and that she told me the same thing she told the other bloke - there's never been a Sam Tyler working at the Hyde branch in the fifteen years she'd worked there."
Gene shifted his position slightly as Sam lowered his head into his hands. What the Guv knew - or thought he knew about him was anyone's guess. Sam had a sinking feeling that these could be his last few minutes as a police officer in 1973, and then what? He'd have nothing. Gene hadn't finished talking and as yet had not offered Sam the opportunity to explain himself - which was a relief in itself. He did not know where to begin for starters. Did he lie or tell the truth? Either way would open up a whole can of worms - no, Sam thought - it was better to keep quiet and let the Guv finish. Then and only then could he decide what would be the best course of action.
"I take it the other bloke who rang up asking about Sam Tyler was you?"
It was the first time Gene had asked him a direct question.
"Y...yeah, it was."
"Checking up on your story were you, just in case someone else enquired?"
"Something like that."
Sam had been curious enough to ring to find out for himself if he'd ever existed in 1973 - and got the same response.
"You see Sam I had this uncle."
Gene's change of tone surprised Sam somewhat.
"He was a top bloke was my uncle John, honest, funny, very clever. Spoke French and German like a native. Then came the war and, well, he was in special ops. Behind enemy lines. Never talked about it much when he came back - I were about fifteen at the time, but he was never the same. All that time spent trying to be somebody else, living in fear that one day he'd be caught out and shot doesn't do much for a man now does it?
"Oh, most of the time he'd be perfectly normal like, but you could see it in his eyes that he wasn't quite right. Then he'd have these days when he'd have a funny turn or say something bizarre, act in a certain way that wasn't normal. Sometimes he'd go completely off and actually think he were a French filing clerk or something - whatever his cover had been during the war. He was very close to my mother and her way of dealing with his odd behaviour was to just ignore it or get him out of the situation as quickly as she could so he wasn't embarrassed or laughed at. She kept his dignity for him, you see - right up until he died last year."
Sam could hear in Gene's voice a tinge of sadness about his uncle. He was sure he understood something of what Gene was getting at in relation to his own often erratic behaviour. But he was at a complete loss at how it related to him being found out that he wasn't quite who he said he was.
"What was it with you, Sam? IRA? Gangland mafia types? I'm more inclined to figure the latter myself, can't see you passing yourself off as an Irish terrorist no matter how hard you tried."
"What?" Now he was really confused.
"Well, that's what it was, wasn't it? I'm thinking you were in the Met cos you certainly don't act like someone from round here. You're a bit well too cosmopolitan if you get what I mean. More like someone who's spent a lot of time in London, certainly not somewhere like Hyde. Someone like you with a brain in your head would have been snapped up - ideal for deep undercover work."
"W...where's this coming from, Guv?"
"All the evidence fits together. How do you know so much about drugs unless you've been on the front line like. Them London gangs are all into drug dealing - that's how they make all their money. And that psychological profiling you're always on about - you'd need to be able to do that to suss folks out - work out how to play them so your cover wouldn't get blown or else you'd end up at the bottom of the Thames. But see - what really clinched it for me was how you were with Warren. That was almost personal, like you were a bloke with a grudge. You're incorruptible - you can't be turned. Best person for a job like that, you see.
"But then I started to wonder what someone like you was doing being transferred to my department. At one stage I thought you were some sort of a spy been sent in to monitor the team, but I stopped thinking that after the Warren business. By the time we had that drugs death I damn well knew you were the only one who I could really rely on to sort things out. You're far too good a copper to have screwed up in a major way - they would have kicked you out the force if you'd been on the take or something of the sort. Oh, and I'm pretty sure you ain't a DI."
Sam looked at him apprehensively as he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.
"I twigged that one the time you me and Cartwright were locked in that room at the Manchester Gazette. You said something about being made a DCI was your best memory and when I corrected you like, you back peddled - like you'd said something that you weren't supposed to say. Your cover slipped a bit there, didn't it, Sammy Boy. It's amazing what staring death in the face will make a person admit to."
He'd relaxed a bit now. Confronting Sam had been the hard part, why he'd been so remote with him to begin with - after all it wasn't an easy thing to bring up in conversation.
"So now I have you in my division and it begs the question as to why? I'm willing to believe that it's cos you made a big collar and had to be transferred out quick or something."
As opposed to thinking that I went nuts on duty, thought Sam - but he kept what was going through his mind to himself.
"A suitable job came up in the provinces - that sort of thing. A man with no family or ties as if you have just moved here and left them all behind for some reason. From your accent you're obviously from this part of the world originally - unless that's fake too? I mean, for all I know you might not actually be called Sam Tyler if you're on some sort of witness protection thing."
"What? Sam Tyler International Man of Mystery?"
"I realise that if I'm right you're not allowed to talk about it and I appreciate that."
"What's this little talk been all about then, Guv?"
"You mean why didn't I just keep my big trap shut? Because if I have worked you out I didn't want any secrets between us. I thought it was only fair to tell you that, and well you might have once been a DCI - you might still think you are one at times, but you work in my team now - you're my DI and I'm going to continue to treat you as one. This changes nothing."
"Is that it then?"
"Yes, that's you staff appraisal - over and done with."
Sam felt relief wash through him as he started to relax. It was alright, everything was alright. Gene had put all the facts together and had come up with a theory - a good one at that - to explain everything.
Gene walked over and stood behind Sam.
"Right, Sam - I'll take this," said he closing the file. He placed his hand on Sam shoulder and got close to his ear,
"And we'll never talk of this again - you understand?" He pulled away from Sam before adding, "I'll send Chris in, shall I?"
"Well, you've got his staff appraisal to do, haven't you? Oh, and you can do Ray's while you're at it and all!"
And with that he left, leaving Sam with a wry smile on his face.