REVIEW Line Of Duty (S6 E4/7)

I copped a bit of flak last week for my summation that episode three of Line Of Duty was a bit a lacklustre and edging into too-ridiculous-to-take-seriously territory.

I still stand by that, but I’m pleased to say that this week’s instalment was bang on, back-to-form and did what Line Of Duty does best and like no other show on British TV – provide 100mph action and absolutely no extraneous, personal stuff. And in this episode, we had two deaths, more returning characters and an absolute thrill ride.

Last week, we saw a set piece when Ryan Pilkington made PC Linda Patel’s car go off the road, making an attempt on Terry Boyle’s life. This week saw another, even bigger set piece and more spectacular, edge-of-the-seat action than the week before.

Before we get to that set piece, the story continued to bubble along nicely.

We began with one of the series’ patented interview scenes, this time featuring DCI Ian Buckells. He’s had previous with AC-12, so the question was why it took this long to properly bring him to heel. His catastrophic handling of Operation Lighthouse finally led him into the AC-12 interrogation room, and Steve, Hastings and Chloe gave him a good going over. Especially Ted, who was on fine Ted Hastings form (we’re talking ‘letter of the law’ and ‘fella’ in the same sentence kind of form).

It was revealed that he had indeed known dodgy witness Deborah Deveroux, had kept a number of female names (initialised, of course, this is Line Of Duty after all) in his phone and had links with Ryan Pilkington. Buckells looked completely at sea, and this very much wasn’t one of Line Of Duty’s best interview scenes – there was just no comeback from Buckells, where the very best ones have an ambiguous interviewee who twist and turns like an eel. To me the scene existed purely to get Buckells out of the way, because he was clogging up valuable air time.

I’ve always wondered whether Buckells was too much of an obvious red herring. At least later in the episode it was revealed that he was part of the OCG, if only a particularly feckless, cowardly one.

And so we continued.

Davidson – disgusted with herself for her own links to the OCG- was intent on removing herself not only from the conspiracy, but also Ryan Pilkington from her team. However, Ryan was having none of it – threatening Davidson with extreme harm if she even thought about trying to get herself out of the situation.

Hastings, meanwhile, was given a dressing down by Wise and Sindhwani for arresting Buckells, with Wise then telling him that his days were numbered – he was being forced into early retirement and some serious budget cuts would mean that AC-12 would merge with AC-3 and AC-9. He had one month before an announcement was made.

Quite apart from the impending end of Ted Hastings and AC-12 (that was a lot to deal with), it reinforced my sentiment that Hastings is a modern-day sheriff in a kind of western – he’s the relentless good guy, sanctimonious to some, and how many times have we seen in westerns where the sheriff is on his way out and has to solve a case or an unresolved issue in a certain amount of time.

Time to pull on those boots for perhaps the last time, Ted.

Elsewhere, a new recording of the Gail Vella was found and the voice on it was dodgy, incarcerated lawyer from series four, Jimmy Lakewell (he of the Roz Huntey case), was indeed the man being interviewed (some fans already had guessed this on social media). He mentioned the case of the botched counter terrorism raid and death of innocent Karim Ali right at the start of series one, insinuating there had been an almighty cover-up.

For 40 minutes things built and built and built – Davidson tried to get Ryan Pilkington off the team, Kate and Chris investigated the source of weapons used in both the armed robbery on the bookies and the Gail Vella murder, and Kate was pretty sure Buckells was the rotten apple.

However, with 20 minutes to go, this episode (literally) exploded.

And, just like a western again, there was a jailbreak – Steve had a plan to spring Lakewell from jail and provide him with a new identity, all so he could talk about the Gail Vella interview. However, on their journey from the jail to the station, they were ambushed and an absolutely thrilling shoot-out ensued. A police officer was killed, and it ended with Steve delivering a pretty incredible headshot to a sniper.

It was just utterly thrilling – bonkers and ridiculous, but edge-of-your seat stuff. Brilliantly choreographed, too.

Lakewell was murdered by Lee Banks when he got back to his cell (Buckells looked on, shitting himself), and if that wasn’t enough there was even time for a terrific cliffhanger – the extended forensics work on Farida Jatri’s house revealed, yes, Jo Davidson’s DNA was there, but someone else’s too… a blood relative of Jo Davidson.

Mother of, indeed, God.

The perfect end to a perfectly constructed episode. Brilliantly tense, pared back, action-packed and obviously quite insane.

For your consideration:

• The Ian Buckells interview scene was hilarious on a few different levels, but seeing his sexts to Deborah Deveroux (ahem, ‘trunshon’) was just laugh-out-loud funny.
• Also during that interview scene, Chloe revealed that Buckells had other initialised names in his phone – FAF, NA and BJL. Could these be significant?
• Lost in among all the excitement of the shoot-out, it seems to me the source of the ‘workshopped’ weapons will crack this case. Especially after said shoot-out and forensics finding that the weapons used were also ‘workshopped’. If Kate and co find the source of the weapons, they’ll find who’s behind all this.
• Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi) looked awfully good for a man who’s been in prison for several years. Did he have access to a sunbed in there?
• During the shoot-out, was it just me or did anyone else for Steve’s back during all the grunting and the flying around?
• Post-shoot-out, Jimmy and Steve shared a bit of a moment. “They’ll know I didn’t talk, so yes I hope [I’ll be safer in prison]. That’s right, isn’t it DI Arnott? I didn’t talk.” As Lakewell got up to leave, Arnott gave him a little nod. Did Lakewell share intel in the van that we weren’t privy to?
• Lakewell back, Buckells back, Pilkington back… Ted put out to pasture… this really does feel like Jed Mercurio is tying things up and this is the last series. I’d like to be proved wrong, but that’s the vibe I’m getting.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 5 out of 5.

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Simmons says:

    I think you have got the DNA in the flat wrong, Paul – the other DNA was not in the flat, it’s just that Jo’s DNA shows a link to another person of interest? What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Hmmm, I’ll have to check again, but that’s what it seemed like to me. As for theories, I have no idea!

      Like

  2. Stuart says:

    Buckell’s phone acronyms:
    FAF= Fit As F*ck
    NA= Nice Arse
    RGT= Really Great Tits
    BJL= Blow Job Lips
    He’s definitely a sleazeball

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Paul Hirons says:

      That would fit in with the whole ‘trunshon’ convo

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Alan says:

      They found another person’s DNA and ran it against the full database. It matched with Jo, identifying her, but also was a partial match against another person, likely a criminal, the partial meaning a close relative.

      Like

  3. Keith says:

    Can’t help thinking that Sindhwani has a dodgy hand in this somewhere – or else his career will be over once the truth is out.

    Of course the big question is who shares familial DNA with Jo? Is it someone from the past or could it be Ryan? Mother of God indeed…

    Like

    1. Sarah says:

      I thought about Ryan as well for a second but then remembered his mother was played by that actress from Drifters. I think Jo’s relative is some unknown OCG person which is why her home has loads of locks on the door.

      Like

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m starting to think Hastings is H in some quadruple bluff sort of way. I’d like to be wrong!

    Like

  5. simwood says:

    I may be wrong but to me those initialisms Buckells gave to his female contacts look to me to be both an in-joke for LOD writers having a laff with respect to all the others (OCG, CHIS) and also an indication of the type of man Buckells is. Take a look on any “youth speak” website (e.g. Urban Dictionary) and you’d get the following

    RTG = ready to go
    FAF = fit as fuck
    NA = possibly not available but also a referral to a game where it means bad play
    BJL = blow job lips

    Buckells is just the type of man to label women this way for his reference system plus it takes a very amusing dig at those viewers who think all the letters stuff is “confusing”

    Like

  6. simwood says:

    Ha OK it was only after I posted my comment was I then able to see all the others – Michael Simmons was there too. I feel vindicated now :)

    Like

  7. Elaine says:

    Great review Paul, thanks. Certainly think that Jimmy said something to Steve-it can’t be used in evidence but it may point Steve in the right direction. Thank you guys for the explanation of the initials-I did wonder if it was something like that. Buckells is either a useful idiot to the OCG or they think he knows about Jo and Ryan and don’t want him to talk. As for the DNA my take on it was that they analysed Jo’s DNA (which they don’t routinely do for police officers merely keep it on the system) and it showed that she was blood relative to…have a guess, because I have no idea! Paul, like you I was thinking this is ending for a wrap up, but my daughter texted me and said she thought they are setting it up for the next series!

    Like

  8. Dan says:

    Went and screenshotted the brief second Hastings shows the photo because this is apparently who I am now. It’s definitely a female character, possibly Alison Powell, but it’s not really a clear enough shot to be sure. Then I was also thinking, maybe there’s a connection to Dryden being Scots and all, although it’s been a while since I’ve watched series 2 and don’t remember if Mark Bonnar is playing in his usual voice or not.

    Like

    1. justtoadd says:

      I paused the shot to examine the papers in front of Hastings, too (I thought I was the only nutter who did that sort of thing!) I am pretty sure the photo is just of Jo Davidson, presumably as the match. Also, Arnott refers to the person they’ve found a match to Davidson with as “he”.

      Like

  9. Keith says:

    Good detective work Dan, but it got me wondering if the character is not Alison Powell but Lisa McQueen.

    Then again, knowing LOD it could just as easily be Kate…

    Like

  10. Andy D says:

    This OCG really puts the Organised into their name – multiple car loads of crack shots, snipers and stinger deployers, all mobilised at the drop of a hat (or inmate move order), an endless supply of disposable baddies it seems! It’s not ‘Bodyguard’ level silly yet, but it’s sure getting close!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Keith says:

    News from the BBC Press Office:

    Anna Maxwell Martin to return to Line Of Duty as Detective Chief Superintendent Patricia Carmichael this Sunday!

    Now then…in what context? Is she the mysterious DNA link?

    And as someone on Twitter suggested, could she turn out to be H – as in ‘Hoagy’ (H) Carmichael?

    Like

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