I will get into the ending in a bit but wow the casting was terrible here. Gretchen Mol was good and I have no complaints about the guy who played Skelton. There was a big problem with Sam, Ray and Gene. I know everyone has this image of Harvey Keitel as a bad ass but he is an actor and he isn't a big guy. There is this very PC image of the tough woman or little guy who everyone has to deffer to but that is nothing that the British life on mars was about. In the original version Gene is a brutish bully but we slowly find he does nearly everything for good motives. That is why we loved the character I was a hair away from the bad guys yet totally committed to being a good guy. This is a little of this in Keitels version but not enough. The US version didn't seem to play much with the idea of bad Gene Hunt. If you take the episode with the murder of the gay veteran, the us version really didn't play up Gene's homophobia. With out that Gene saying a murders is worse is nothing. In the British version it was powerful almost like a heel turning baby face.
Then you have Ray who isn't a bad version of the character but he seems less menacing than pissy. You had a real feeling that he wanted to kick Sam's ass all the time in the British version. Here he is more or less passive aggressive. In the British version he is a bit of a number two dog fighting to keep his place and he really hurts each time Sam Tyler is praised. He has a feeling of betrayal from Gene as if he is being replaced.
Man that Sci fi ending I have got to say what the fuck. Everything that was challenging and great about the end of life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes thrown away. I guess that is why they didn't care about throwing in messages from heaven saying your in purgatory. If you know what is going on with the Brit version the US pretty much does the reveal in the episode with whoopie goldberg. Really a shame as it probably won't point many to track down the much better British version of the show and its follow up.