Steve & Gemma – Analysis

Prisoners’ Wives – Steve & Gemma

Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed watching Prisoners’ Wives and am really looking forward to series 2. The only little nag I had during the series was how they dealt with the storyline of Steve & Gemma. As my good friend said, it had more plotholes than the roads here in Belgium (and uhm we’ve many LOL 😛 ). I’m sure the majority of the viewers wouldn’t have seen it that way, or were just too enthralled by the focus on Gemma throughout the episodes, to care all that much about Steve. Now with Jonas Armstrong playing Steve, of course we did the opposite and spent lots more attention to the script, dialogue, character development etc… The result of that made me seriously question the script at times and here’s how:

Steve’s Character

From the original press release and website we can read:

Steve Roscoe is easy going, fun-loving and mischievous, Steve is great company. He is also a family man, devoted to his beautiful wife Gemma and over the moon about becoming a Dad.Finding himself in prison is a massive shock to Steve, but as long as he has Gemma by his side he thinks he can deal with anything.”

So from the very onset, and first episode we the viewers get a glimpse to who Steve is. I took particular note of the fact that even for Steve it was a complete shock to have found himself arrested & in prison. Hence why Gemma visits him, he keeps saying at first it’s all a mistake! At that point – thought the script might go down the route that Steve was framed by Andy and that perhaps through the 6 episodes Gemma might help out and try to get evidence on behalf of her husband to try and get him released & put the real culprit Andy behind bars.

Barely 25 minutes later, we find out actually Steve did very much kill someone but it was an accident, the gun just went off during a fight on the car-park of the bar. O_o Not only that he hid the gun in his mum’s caravan…Seriously and he was all surprised to find himself in prison?!!!  Ok I suppose one can argue the point he didn’t want to hurt Gemma with the awful truth right away, but still that’s not how the BBC made it look like when they wrote down those character details!

Secondly, the focus lies very much on the devotion to his wife and unborn child. I suppose if there was a back-story we’d see Steve working at his soft drinks business until Andy comes along with a dubious deal of some kind to get some extra cash quickly. And yes Steve takes the offer and apparently uses that money to provide Gemma with a brand new kitchen in their lovely new house. I suppose if the quick money can come once, they repeated whatever they did (maybe DVD piracy on small scale) and with that cash, Steve used the money on the nursery. Foolish and idiotic for sure! But one cannot deny he truly loves his wife and looks forward on being a dad.

As the story progresses and we see Gemma visiting him every week, that really shines through. Until that bloody weird Family Day. Will come to the events that leads to Gemma turning on her husband in a bit. But yes at that point we’re supposed to believe Steve is a human trafficking crook, selling thousands of dvd piracy goods on massive scale and Gemma knows that too and has grassed him out to the cops. During family day, we’re all meant to see that ‘evil nasty side’ of Steve as he goes into Jack ’24’ Bauer mode and grabs his wife hard handed to try and find out what she’s been hiding or not telling him. Frankly it was so out of character to what we’ve seen in the four other episodes, was truly shocked! Not only that, once again with barely 5 minutes in between shots, we see Gemma & Steve have one of their nice cosy chats again, Gemma even beams and smiles at him throughout…WTF! They even both talk about the future, Steve realises he will miss the birth of his child, is truly sorry for leaving Gemma in that mess and wonders aloud if she’ll continue to come and visit even though he’ll be inside prison for many years. Upon which Gemma fully replies of course she will, consoling him with a hug and a kiss. She leaves, we see Steve still being rather devastated by it all.  But wait it’s not over yet, as in the final moments of the episode, we see Steve calling Andy, saying he knows who the grass is: Gemma!

It simply makes 0 sense from what we know about Steve for him to do that! How stupid it was we see in episode 6 as nasty Andy goes after Gemma and tries several times to kill her and Steve’s unborn child. Steve is utterly unaware of what happens and it in utter shock when DS Hunter asks for his help to stop it. Of course Steve helps! They’re his wife and child, he loves them dearly as we all know from the first seconds since episode 1.

The episode & story concludes rather weirdly with a very similar chat during Family Day. Steve & Gemma are beaming at their son, Steve apologises once again for everything, Gemma however does a complete turn and tells him she will no longer bring their son for visits, and frankly she will no longer visit him either! 😦  We are left with Steve beyond consolable and Gemma beaming with huge smile, leaving the prison. OK I get it Steve did a bad thing, but it looks to me like they really were telling two stories, sometimes went with the one and sometimes with the other, ending rather messily.

Gemma’s Character

Gemma bless her was only 21 when she married Steve and finds herself pregnant with her first child at 22. She’s had it rough as life had been very unkind to her as her own mother abandoned her and was brought up in care. Thankfully she had a very good relationship with her foster-mum, so she landed on her feet.

At first glance she has it all, great house, loving husband and baby on the way. Naturally it all goes wrong when Steve gets arrested. Many keep saying how naive she is for trusting him etc. Well why wouldn’t she?! Especially since during the first part of the episode , Steve is shocked to be arrested remember? But all too soon we learn that Steve did indeed kill someone all be it accidental, so Gemma agrees, in order to get her prefect life back, to get rid of the gun. No gun, no evidence against Steve you see?

But then things change…on an ordinary day she wanders into the Roscoe & North soft drink business where she sees nasty Andy beating an Asian guy into a pulp. Shocked and scared, she hides! Where does she hide? In a container full of illegal foreign workers, making heaps of dvd’s O_o and then she does a runner to? Oh yeah without even a backward glance, she goes straight to DS Hunter and tells him not only what she saw but where she hid the gun = betraying Steve and grassing him up!  I truly don’t get that at all, she loves him up to the point of doing a criminal offence herself, and then grass him up without even asking Steve if he knew anything about that container?! More about container rage in next paragraph.

So from episode four onwards, Gemma goes from loving wife to ‘ALIAS’ / ‘Covert Affair’ mode as Steve cannot get suspicious that his wife betrayed him. For all we know, Steve did not know about the container and could be innocent. But Gemma doesn’t ask questions no more,  she played her ‘Alias role’ perfectly on Family day as she certainly had Steve and everyone else fooled during that chat about the future, as she giggled and flirted with Steve. But when she walked away she had that look of being rather ruthless really. Even the word bitch came into mind sorry to say.

But I really and truly felt for during the last episode, with nasty Andy trying to murder her while she was giving birth, no that was just horrendous! So very glad it all worked out in the end with safe delivery and nasty Andy being jailed. I was however flabbergasted at her u-turn during her self-declared last visit. Of course their relationship was screwed with the betraying on both sides, but to never visit again? Nope, she knows all to well how it’s like to grow up without a parent, so she denies her child his father? That’s just grand Gemma, really…O_o  And the excuse of ‘I don’t want him to grow up like you’, that really stings. Yes Steve screwed up on massive scale, but he did have nasty psycho Andy running the show at the business. I’m sure he’d teach his son everything that’s good and not let him make same mistakes as he did.

Once again I feel like they switched their mind -way through, from loving naive Gemma to Gemma the rather cold character, to fully independent ‘screw them all’ attitude at the end. I know it’s called : the Journey of the character but they could have achieved it much better if only they had fixed the script somewhat.

The script & plotholes

For me the biggest mistake in the entire script was …that container of illegal workers! Making out Steve and Andy were into the human trafficking business, next to selling soft drinks. I’ll call it the container debacle from now on lol.

It shouldn’t exist for starters! How come? Well let’s take you back to the first episode where they raided Steve’s & Gemma’s place from top to bottom, to find that elusive gun…the gun Steve used to kill the guy on the car-park. They did this as soon as they arrested Steve. Now, I’m sorry but shouldn’t they have raided Steve’s workplace at same time of the arrest? Isn’t it standard procedure in the UK to get a warrant to your prime suspect’s own workplace to see if he could have hid any evidence there? *facepalm*  Apparently they didn’t or they’d have searched all those large containers on the terrain of the business and would have found…wait for it… illegal workers doing a bit of DVD piracy stuff! I’m beyond angry at the script for taking us like gullible viewers on this account, I’m sorry but it just is ludicrous!

Not only that ’cause of this damn container debacle’ the whole focus shifts from someone who actually lost a life, to Gemma losing control after seeing those workers. Of course it’s deplorable but we almost never hear about the murder again, it’s all about what she saw in those containers from then on. Because of those bloody containers Gemma goes on to betray her husband, without even asking Steve about those first!

For the viewer it’s also very unclear what, if anything Steve has to do with it, since the police finally do a raid on the containers…8 yes 8 full weeks after Steve’s arrest! Well , good luck trying to pin him down for that one…sheesh! In the end we learn that this was all Andy’s doing, he is clearly mental! Steve would have loved to simply have walked away from it all but couldn’t as he well, knew too much…

Moving on from ‘container debacle’, actually want to look into that murder. Ok so Steve reluctantly admits he did kill that man, in the car park. An apparent other business partner. First it was an accident, and then it moves to a murder under duress. Steve tells it like it during the last episode: basically it was again nasty Andy keeping hold of the reigns. Ether Andy was going to kill Steve, or Steve had to kill that other man. So Steve was left with no choice, even though he did not want to do it. After what we’ve seen from Andy, Steve very much can be telling the truth! But once again in order to fit it with Gemma’s Journey, they leave it at that.  Basically at that point, it no longer matters if Steve had excuses or not, he could even have been innocent and writers would have still let Gemma drop Steve.

Clearly Steve was at fault of course! From moment he saw what psycho Andy was like, he should have gone to the police. But I can see his point of view of Andy having a hand, since Steve did partake in it to get that kitchen and nursery…but yeah he was a foolish bastard for getting along with it in first place.

What I also didn’t understand was why would Steve, grass Gemma to Andy, since he knew what he was like? Made no sense at all…unless the writers juggled with two stories. One is where Steve was almost blameless (the innocent-wondering why he was arrested from episode 1) or the second one where Steve is just as dangerous and evil as Andy ( the Steve we saw during Family Day, taking hold of Gemma and grass her to Andy). Basically think they were left unsure themselves and got us into the messy plot we ended up with.

I’m sure the casual viewer, would not have been having all these questions about the character of Steve, far from it. After all it was called ‘Prisoners’ Wives’, telling the stories of the women, not the prisoners themselves. Read many comments and the majority thinks Steve is a rather evil, nasty piece of work but looks rather cute & fit 😉 So I don’t know if it’s because Jonas played Steve, I was rooting for him to be less guilty or not. But fact remains it should have been made more clearer. I’ve now concluded for myself that Steve is of course very much guilty of murder, but with special circumstances (I do believe Andy was threatening him). About the whole DVD piracy mess, i’m sure Steve can tell it all to DS Hunter, incriminate nasty Andy and so get leniency for that as well. Have no idea about how many years he’d get in UK, but here in Belgium he can get out after doing just 2/3ds of his sentence, sometimes even less for good behaviour! So he could still have a future with his kid to look forward to…sure Gemma will come round to it in the end, that every child has the right to both parents. (even if one is in prison, look at little Mason)

Have no idea if Steve & Gemma will or can return in the second series, but if so I’d really like to see the trial. I know it’s not ‘Silk’ but would be interesting none the less, to know exactly about the who what when… Also would be rather great to know the name of that cute baby lol

If you’ve read it all, frankly you deserve a standing ovation, for reading my ramblings! Thank you very much xx 😀


4 thoughts on “Steve & Gemma – Analysis”

  1. Then I’m in the front row giving you a standing ovation. Why is it when a Female writer (such as Julie Gearey) is praised for her brilliant writing, there seems to be a need for script-writers, possibly male writers at that, Producers and Directors all see fit to put their own interpretation on these stories to the point of spoiling them? I believe female scriptwriters would correct all the little important things lacking from a male p.o.v, in Robin Hood when so many storylines were ruined in what started out so very well. Secret of Chimnneys was nothing like the Book! Now it seems it’s happened all over again. Not that I mean to criticise but Men just don’t have that sensitivity about them missing what would make a better story-telling with Women working together for the best outcome. Reading between the lines there seems to be a real need for a second Season at least to tie up loose ends. I’m still of the opinion there should be a better conclusion to Steve and Gemma’s story although at this stage, it seems SHE has ruined their marriage by being incapable of supporting her own husband who I think (or want to believe) has indeed been framed by Andy. Sure Steve will be sentenced but be seen as an unwilling accessory and go down for a far less sentence whereas if Andy is behind everything, he will spend years behind bars. The part where Steve tells Andy Gemma is at fault for grassing doesn’t make sense at all, surely he can’t be that naive he thinks Andy would just grin and bear that and let Gemma off the hook. Anyway, thank you for this and I’m looking forward to receiving my DVD which should be released this coming Monday.

    • Thanks for reading 😀
      I do think they had several plot ideas how to turn Gemma from being naive to have more self-confidence and independent of others. I applaud the idea I really do, it’s just the execution of it with Steve’s involvement that simply ended on a bad note.

      Either they should have gone with the storyline that Steve was actually no better than Francesca’s husband Paul, a real criminal and so deserves whatever he got…(so it makes sense that Gemma leaves him) Or indeed have gone for a semi-happy end.
      Where Gemma agrees to still visit Steve with the baby but maybe that he should set her free for a while… so it’s not clear if they’ll continue to be married or not.

      Now they went for Steve, being a foolish bastard with a heart in right place, not at all as guilty as Andy …yet loses it all. Well aware that might have been a message as well from the writers. But then we’re back at the plot mess that was why did he have to grass Gemma to Andy? Lol so yeah it should have been worked out a lot better!

  2. Starting off by agreeing with your opening disclaimer: I loved it, too, talked about each ep for a few days afterward (probably annoyed some people who aren’t as into shows as I am, haha), and can’t wait for my DVD’s to arrive. 😀 The writing, itself, was fantastic, as were the acting, directing, score (btw, thanks for linking to the composer on Twitter! I’m really bummed to have missed the first four eps’ worth of music, but I’m thrilled to have gotten the last two). The only holes I’m really aware of were in plotting, and only with one of the four stories. That’s pretty awesome, really.

    Really, you’ve summed it all up here, imo, and have actually pointed out some character inconsistencies that were nagging at me but I couldn’t quite pinpoint. And I can actually see what they were trying to do with Steve, to keep us guessing (and of course Jonas sold whatever it was Steve was apparently up to at any given moment, which is the main reason it worked as much as it did, I think). I -suppose- that Gemma’s inconsistencies could largely be attributed to bewilderment, but that’s an excuse. And again, Emma brought it in spades.

    I had trouble swallowing the idea that Gemma found the gun before the police, tbh, but the container just made me wtf. The only other thing that made me wtf was her actions in ep 6, but I already beat that to death in the ep review, I think. 😉 (And that was edited down before I posted, hahaha). That honestly makes no sense.

    I suspect we’ve seen all we’re going to see about Steve and Gemma, so it may be that we just have to fall back on fan explanations once more.

    • I really hope the series gets nominated for a Bafta, i really do as I enjoyed it a lot! 😀
      Yes the soundtrack was on twitter all that time *facepalm* , didn’t get first 3 episodes either but glad Daniel put up a compilation link on Wednesday so managed to get at least some mp3’s that way.

      I know they probably wanted us to keep guessing if Steve was innocent or guilty. But now we found out he was somewhat in between … I suppose he didn’t make any statement about Andy to the police before, because of his own involvement with getting the cash for kitchen/nursery and still hoped it would just blow over, with the gun in the caravan (haha yes another place the police failed to search 😛 ) then in a field so they wouldn’t be able to make a case against him.

      Frankly if they had put the lovely Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) from ‘The Mentalist’ in to question Steve , he might have just told the truth right away 😛 haha but guess that wouldn’t have done dramatic suspense much good either lol

      I liked Emma a lot, never saw Hollyoaks so it was a pleasant surprise to see her act as good as she did! Read many reviews about why Gemma just didn’t ask the first person she saw for help! Even the hotel lobby people at reception would have protected her ;p But yes overall it was a very great series!

      So far no characters, or cast have been confirmed for series 2. That said I even wonder if Jonas would like to explore more of ‘Steve’ or if he thinks it’s ready to move on to next projects.

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