The more inquisitive viewers of this sixth series of Line Of Duty have been wondering, quite rightly, when AC-12 will actually remember what went on in the past five series.
There have been so many callbacks to previous episodes many of you out there – including me – have been shouting, “BUT WHY DON’T YOU REMEMBER THESE PEOPLE?” when someone from the past reappears again.
I’ve often why Kate (and Steve) isn’t as up to speed on Ian Buckells, for instance, as AC-12’s history with him would suggest. I’ve often wondered why they haven’t twigged that Terry Boyle isn’t somehow involved in this grand conspiracy when he’s been on their radar since series one. I’ve often wondered why they haven’t questioned if Carl Banks is related to Steve Banks, someone who Ted spent some time with in series five.
And, I’ve often wondered why Kate (and to a lesser extent Steve) didn’t do some background checks on Ryan Pilkington when he first appeared on the Operation Lighthouse team.
At least tonight we got some progress in this area.
Terry Boyle was brought back for questioning after a (dodgy) witness came forward and identified Boyle as the man who was arguing with the CHIS in the Red Lion pub. After a hard day’s questioning (where Davidson abruptly ended the interview even thought Terry was about to reveal the identity of ‘the other man’), Pilkington and PC Linda Patel drove him home.
After Davidson’s performance in the interview, Kate was suspicious so she followed the police car with Terry inside. Pilkington made excuses to alter the route, opened the window ‘to let some air in’ and promptly attacked Patel, making her swerve into a reservoir.
Thinking he had finished Terry and his colleague off, Patel rose from the water so Pilkington drowned her in ruthless fashion. He also tried to finish off Terry, too, when he emerged, gasping, from the water.
However, Kate got there just in time… only to see Pilkington making it look like he had rescued Terry. But the incident piqued her bent copper antenna and soon she was back at AC-12 reporting the attempt on Terry’s life.
Throughout this series Hastings has remained lukewarm at best whenever Kate’s name has been mentioned. However, as soon as she walked through the doors of AC-12, there were wistful smiles all round. I still think Hastings placed Kate in The Hill for a deep undercover exercise.
While Kate was at AC-12, she and Steve discussed Ryan Pilkington, and he looked him up on the database. And there he was as a teenager – the same teenager Kate interviewed at the end of series one and the same teenager that took a pair of cutters to Steve’s fingers. No wonder why they were shocked.
And yet there was more catching up to be done for AC-12. Later in the episode (and rather abruptly), Chloe had found the freezer from Terry’s flat dumped in a scrapyard. Within that freezer a blood deposit from Jackie Laverty was found, causing Ted Hastings to scream ‘MOTHER OF GOD!’ (well, internally at least).
This find, he exclaimed, was the evidence that tied the murder of Gail Vella to everything the OCG had done before and to Jo Davidson.
I mean, we could have told him this a few years back. I don’t mind lots of callbacks and names and faces from the past, because they’re fun and dramatic way to connect the stories and series. However, when you drop things that the audience have known about since series one in 2012, it’s difficult to feel surprise when the characters finally join the dots.
The audience knowing things before the characters is a great way of building suspense, but leave it too long and these sorts of reveals just don’t have any impact.
There was, of course, more in this episode.
With Jo becoming more and more suspicious of Kate – and the fact Terry Boyle (Jo’s first frame-up job) looks as though he’ll be soon into the care of AC-12 – I do wonder whether her beady eyes will turn towards her next. At the end of the episode she had framed Ian Buckells, who was taken into custody, so we know what she’s capable.
We also saw Jo contact the OCG on the same messenger service Hastings used in series five. She told her contact that everything was under control.
But with Boyle heading to AC-12 and Steve ordering more forensics on Farida’s house, I wouldn’t be so sure, Jo.
And we haven’t mentioned Steve yet. He was battling his prescription painkiller addiction and took steps to pack it in after Hastings (who was told by Steph) insinuated he knew about his problem – he tipped him off that AC-9 were in the building doing some random drugs tests. How did Steve repay him? He slept with Steph (bad back and all) and then, when she went to work, hunted for the money he suspected his boss had given her. He found it in the loft.
So where is this going? I do have a prediction at this almost half-way stage: I think Ted will end up in jail, Steve will leave AC-12 and settle down with Steph and I think Kate will be killed. Book it.
However, although the intrigue is still high and it moves along at a fair-old lick, I’m reminded of the same pattern that happens every year with me and Line Of Duty. I start off super-excited and then get bogged down by the heavy exposition, the sheer ridiculousness of it all and the fast-convoluting of the plot. To me Line Of Duty always, always, always takes a dip around this point in the series, and it’s done it again. I just feel it’s teetering on the edge of collapse as the story becomes dafter, and it begins to almost eat itself.
And yet, I can’t stay away.
For your consideration:
• There was another parallel to a real-life case tonight, when Ted and co reviewed more of Gail Vella’s found footage. In it, Gail was seen questioning Sindwhani about why his force went after ‘ageing pop stars and colluded with the BBC’. Cliff Richard, anyone?
• I’m still not entirely sure whether I like these links with real-life cases – they still feel crude and jarring and, ultimately, pointless to me unless Mercurio is trying to make a grand statement here.
• Ted came up with a zinger tonight when he was admonished by Sindwhani and DCC Wise. When Wise told him to stop his investigation into H and not to focus on “old battles” he sneered: “The name’s Hastings, m’am, and I’m the epitome of an old battle.”
• As Steve was battling his pill-popping habit, the sheer array of his waistcoats was staggering. He surely has a sponsorship deal with M&S if he ever does leave AC-12.
• Did you recognise the prison officer he assaulted Farida in her cell? Alison Merchant was the same officer who beat up and scolded Lindsay Denton’s hands in series two.
• Some fans have asked whether the presence of a set of gold clubs in Buckells’ office means that he’s another caddy. Not a bit of it. In this episode he was actually waving the glof clubs around his office as if to say: “LOOK HERE ARE SOME GOLF CLUBS AND I’M A BIG RED HERRING”.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW