Review: Line Of Duty (S3 E2/6), Thursday 31st March, BBC2

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 22/03/2016 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows:  Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Steffan Hill
 (C) World Productions – Photographer: Steffan Hill

NB: If you haven’t watched this yet (or episode one), please do not read. Spoilers are everywhere!

After the gurgling, blood-soaked mayhem that ended last week’s episode – the shocking shooting of Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays) – AC-12 has lost its chief suspect in the unlawful killing of gangster Ronan Murphy.This unexpected development opens up the probability that there’s something rotten running through the firearms squad, the surviving trio all looking as guilty as a puppy next to a pile of poo.

Danny Waldron, we know, had some personal issues with Murphy’s family, and had compiled some sort of death list – but if DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and boss Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) had been hoping to divide and conquer after Danny’s death, they are confounded, as his unhappy troops close ranks. So who fired the fatal shot, and why did none of the team help the dying Waldron?

DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) is still embedded with them, but isn’t making much headway – they were uncommunicative before, and after the shooting the team claims to be in emotional shutdown, testifying that Waldron shot himself. Could this be true, or have they in fact conspired to kill him, to cover their complicity in an earlier crime?

While the cops and their overseers argue about Waldron’s state of mind and the squad’s level of guilt, examination of Waldron’s flat reveals the dog he took from Linus Murphy, and the list of names he intended to send to Arnott; but ‘Dot’ Cottan, seeing the name of his old criminal mentor Tommy Hunter on the list, appropriates it for his own purposes. Dot tells Kate she’s a brilliant liar – well, it takes one to know one.

Linus Murphy is found dead – but why was he tortured and decapitated? – and Waldron’s lockup is found contain his head in a freezer bag. A football team photo links the young Waldron to the Murphys, so is there a historic motive? Suspicions that sexual abuse was involved seem to be confirmed when Waldron’s semen is found on Murphy’s head.

Meanwhile, the Tommy Hunter ambush case (from Series 2) is reopened when Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) mounts an appeal. This big surprise hasn’t been at all signposted, though in a way it was inevitable, as the revelation of ‘Dot’ Cottan’s corruption has to be the ultimate end point of this story arc.

Arnott testifies against Denton, but his evidence starts to sounds shaky when she claims they had a sexual relationship.

Hastings gets a file on Ronan Murphy, which reveals nothing – has Dot doctored it?

Increasing pressure on Danny’s team pushes Rod Kennedy (Will Mellor) to the edge, and after arguing with colleague Hari (Arsher Ali), he apparently hangs himself. Hari now claims that Kennedy killed Waldron in a jealous rage over his relationship with Jackie (Leanne Best), but is this another lie?

Cottan has burned the list of names, and now seems to be controlling Hari, so has the ‘Caddy’ put one over on AC12 again?

The return of Lindsay Denton and her unforgiving fringe was such a crucial point in Jed Mercurio’s satisfyingly twisty plot that the character name was redacted from the TV listings; this indicates if any more proof were needed that Line of Duty has become a tent-pole of BBC drama.

Director Michael Keillor keeps up the pace brilliantly, but as usual it’s the focused intensity of the performances that make this essential viewing. If this level can be kept up for another four episodes, we’ll be a bag of nerves before the end of it, and a BAFTA is in the bag.

Deborah Shrewsbury

For our episode one review, go here

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