If anyone out there thought last week’s episode had uncharacteristically hit the snooze button, this week’s is back to its solar plexus-punching, heart-stopping norm.
The necessary lull in episode three was the pivot for the fast turn of events now hurtling in – and it also dispatched one of the outside favourites for the police insider ‘H’ – the paedophilic murder squad boss DCS Lester Hargreaves, guvnor of DS Sam Railston (Aiysha Hart).
It also set up a scenario that could yet lead AC-12 Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) to unravel mentally after his Achilles’ heel is hit. Hastings was already a very worried man, and looking as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo. After a sectarian-style punishment beating administered to his estranged Roisin (Andrea Irvine) in her home by (apparently) two OCG (organised crime group) assailants, he is incandescent with a potent cocktail of fear and vengeance (Dunbar at the top of his formidable game).
AC-12 anti-corruption cops DS Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) are growing ever more worried about their boss’s state of mind.
Gear stolen in the £50 million Eastfield raid organised by DS John Corbett (Stephen Graham, giving a bravura performance) proves impossible to fence all in one go; it was meant to be a showing-off tactic to impress ‘H’, but it seems to have served to annoy the OCG supremo. Corbett tells Lisa that he wants a meet with ‘H’, who he says must be a senior police officer because a civilian couldn’t orchestrate anything this professionally.
Corbett and Arnott’s uneasy pact is also disintegrating. Corbett tells Arnott that Hastings had called his troops out to diverge them from the Eastfield robbery and when Arnott tries to arrest him for Hargreaves’ murder, Corbett shoots over his head in fury.
In hospital, Roisin is drugged up to the eyeballs, but Hastings recognises sectarian torture when he sees it. She takes umbrage when he says if they’d been together he could have protected her. The serious crime department is in charge of her case because she doesn’t want him involved.
Back at AC-12, preserved semen deposits found at the brothel that were used to blackmail police officers are tested and found to be recent; Hargreaves DNA is among them. But Fleming casts doubt on Hargreaves being ‘H’
“There’s no way he can be ‘H’ – ‘H’ goes back much further.”
Cybercrime boffins hit pay dirt at the OCG’s print shop base. In a search of data services used to connect the gang by laptops, they track down the service provider info to find the gang is using virtual private networks with strong encryption. Fleming asks if enough metadata can be found so that AC-12 can simulate messages from ‘H’ online.
Hastings is suffering from huge guilt because the attack happened while he was canoodling with comely Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker) – his Catholic self-condemnation urged him to turn down his wife’s photo on his bedside table.
Gill is present as he squirms in front of Deputy Chief Constable Wise (Elizabeth Rider) during a dressing down for the Eastfield fiasco – and saves him as he flounders, by “vouching for his personal integrity … no one’s a bigger stickler for regulations”.
Why is Gill so keen to keep him in play in the corruption case? Especially as he rebuffs her advances outside Wise’s office. Some quite clever money is being placed on Gill being ‘H’ for Her. Certainly, she can play Hastings, and as a legal counsel to the Central Police’s and the Crime Commissioner (previously assigned to AC-12), she does have immense knowledge of the department’s secrets.
Slippery Moffatt (Patrick Fitzsymons) intercepts Hastings at the police station with more details about the ‘development’ he’s trying to drag him into. The brown envelope he hands over just screams bung; Hastings is getting sloppy.
On the phone to Arnott, Corbett plays a tape of the attack on a terrified and (obviously blindfold) Roisin revealing the extent of Hastings’ indebtedness.
Arnott’s trust in his guv’nor is definitely (definately?) slipping; he points out that Hastings could have taken a gold-plated pension by now, but Fleming is still giving him the benefit of the doubt, however, she does see the need to look further into Corbett’s background for Irish connections, as plays other ‘assailant’ with a strong Northern Ireland accent.
Having lost their brothel, Lisa arranges a meet with other gang members to find premises for incoming trafficked girls. Corbett is not keen on continuing the livestock trade, but Lisa says “business is business” and it’s been passed at the highest level.
During a tense High Noon confrontation between Corbett and a wired-for-sound Arnott, Hastings totally loses his cool and orders Arnott to fire against Fleming’s warning that they will lose their source of OCG intel. When Corbett offers him the front row at a pow-wow with ‘H’, Arnott tears out his earpiece. “The wee gobshite,” he hisses under his breath.
Hastings chews out Arnott in full view of his whole unit when the promised meeting between Corbett and ‘H’ fails to materialise. Armed officers overlooking the scene were stood down because of the risk to the public. Again, Hastings is unaccountably infuriated.
He goes to lean on gang member Lee Banks (Alistair Natkiel) in prison – we aren’t privy to why, but later as Arnott and Fleming send a bogus message from ‘H’ to Lisa and Corbett, Hastings takes command of the keyboard to offer help getting the robbery proceeds out of the country. Does he purposely misspell ‘definitely’ because ‘H’ did it before? He ends the message with: “I want you to bring all this to a close.”
The ramifications of this are dreadful. Does Lisa take this as a tacit order to have Corbett killed?
Bad girl Lisa MacQueen (Rochenda Sandall) is still an unknown quantity – we’re persisting in hedging our bets that she may yet turn out to be another UCO (undercover officer). She for a second looks genuinely startled as the other gang members dispatch Corbett in their customary manner. Her conscience forcefully emerges yet again as she stifles her screams at his horrifying death as she stalks away.
We are terribly sad to see Graham’s character snuffed out so early, but we should inured to that by now – Mercurio loves to sacrifice star names to eye-popping effect.
For those who might have missed it last week, writer Jed Mercurio slipped in one of the series’ very few jokey references. DI Kate Fleming’s police radio call sign is 37 and DS Steve Arnott’s is 45 – the numbers of agents Bodie and Doyle in The Professionals. Hastings, of course, is 1 zero – George Cowley was Alpha 1.
Not to be cruel, because we love his choochie little face, but Arnott is no Ray Doyle (c’mon, guys, Martin Shaw was just so hot). Fleming, on the other hand, is Wonderwoman to her fingertips; we’d love to see Vicky McClure cast as an ass-kicking heroine in a Hollywood action franchise – those cheekbones deserve to be seen on a big screen.
TO READ OUR OF EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE
TO READ OUR REVIEW OF EPISODE TWO CLICK HERE
TO READ OUR REVIEW OF EPISODE THREE CLICK HERE