Line Of Duty (S3 E5/6), Thursday 21st April, BBC2

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/04/2016 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 5) - Picture Shows:  Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

 (C) World Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

We’re now in the position that we don’t know if anyone in this series is totally innocent; with the Masons rearing their conspiratorial heads, even Hastings is under suspicion. As Dot Cottan gets his bravery award at a black tie dinner (surely a uniformed ceremony would be more appropriate?), Steve Arnott’s face is particularly scrunched up; it would be even more so if he knew that Dot was pouring poison into Kate’s ear. That doesn’t explain why he goes armed to Waldron’s lonely funeral – perhaps he thinks the reanimated corpse is going to leap out of the coffin.

Dot’s plan to discredit Arnott relies on the credulousness of Hastings and Bigelow, and Maneet’s (Maya Sondhi) willingness to conceal forensic evidence; we’re glad to see Maneet back in action, and that she hasn’t fallen for Dot’s line of bull. Arnott gets the forensics he needs, and tries to convince Kate that there must be some missing evidence.

Arnott and Kate track down another witness to abuse in Sands View, and hear further accusations about Chief Superintendent Fairbank (George Costigan), but this forces a confrontation with Hastings and Cottan. Arnott get suspended, but manages to plant seeds of suspicion in Hastings when he refers to the redacted files.

At least Kate manages to resist the slimy charms of Dot, with his bunch of garage forecourt flowers and his bowls of chili; though she looks tempted, nothing in the series could be more horrific than the thought of the two of them coupling. And something else is going on in her mind; she goes to another force to authorize an undercover operation against someone in AC-12, choosing a high ranking female officer who she knows can’t therefore be a Mason. Surely the Masons would have thought of that, though?

Arnott goes to Lindsay for help to prove that he didn’t plant evidence on her, but she still maintains that she was framed – “I want justice, and I don’t care how unjustly I get it” she insists, pithily. Still, the two inevitably team up, to investigate Waldron’s lockup, though Kate and Dot are observing their every move.

Lindsay spots an internet café and realises that Danny probably concealed information there; but dim Arnott misses the clue, and swallows a red herring Lindsay feeds him about a graveyard. She plunders his notes for password information, in the process pissing off Arnott’s girlfriend.

Implausibly, Kate and Dot are following Arnott and Lindsay themselves – isn’t there a ludicrously high chance that they’d be spotted? – and even more implausibly, Arnott then goes to investigate the red herring in the graveyard in the middle of the night.

Lindsay follows up the real evidence trail to the internet café, flashes what we assume is a fake warrant card, and finds Waldron’s secret email account, containing a photo of the destroyed list; and indeed, the names on it include that of Chief Superintendent Fairbank.

Meanwhile, Hastings has perhaps foolishly gone to Bigelow for help investigating Fairbank, and she offers to collect the files – which we figure means she intends to doctor them. What is she up to? She can hardly be a sex abuser, or a Mason, so who is she protecting?

Nonetheless, Hastings demolishes Fairbank’s defence of his failure to investigate pervy councillor Dale Roach (almost an anagram of Rochdale, if you haven’t made the connection with alleged paedophile MP Cyril Smith).

It doesn’t help that Fairbank is shown to have been photographed with Roach, and a certain tracksuit-clad abuser whose showbiz celebrity the BBC did a great deal to promote. “We all know that show business people have very low morals”, says Hastings, hilariously. Still, this is a chilling TV moment, blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a way some viewers might find disturbing – we’ll be phoning the helpline right after the episode.

Jed Mercurio pulls out all the stops with references to Operation Yewtree and even the debunked Operation Midland – talk about plundering the headlines, these investigations are still sending shockwaves through the establishment, the media and the police.

Finally, Hastings realises from Arnott’s evidence, that Bigelow has fed him redacted information. He confronts her, and she throws up his Masonic associations. But surely, Hastings can’t be both a Catholic, and a Mason? – the two are deadly enemies.  Is the writer misdirecting us here, or is this a mistake on his part?

Finally, tragically, and inevitably, Cottan catches up with Lindsay, threatens to send her back to jail, forces the information about the list out of her, and when he can’t buy her off, shoots her (miraculously avoiding breaking the car window). He’s thought ahead to some extent, using Arnott’s car with fake plates, but there’s no way such a messy murder will go unsolved, particularly as Lindsay has already passed on the data file.

Poor old Lindsay – if, as Dot claims, she did only take the bribe money to find missing youngster Carli, her heart was in the right place. But though the police office in her resurfaced in the end, she was too fatally compromised to survive. As for Dot Cottan, his dissolution is surely as inevitable, as how much longer can he stay ahead of dim Steve Arnott and gullible Hastings? Has the Caddy played his final stroke?

Chris Jenkins

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