Honestly? Is it even worth writing reviews for Line Of Duty anymore?
Things are happening so quickly, the revelations coming so thick and fast, and the amount of callbacks and returning characters so dizzying and so manifest that’s it difficult to really know where you are.
But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The sheer amount of information to process, and the sheer amount of centrifugal force the series is producing as it enters its final furlong has the affect of being on a rollercoaster.
You’re constantly sitting on the edge of your seat and in a constant state of terror. And it’s just wonderful.
Last week’s episode dropped an almighty cliffhanger for us to lose our collective minds over – who was Jo Davidson’s blood relative? It got the whole nation talking in a way that no other series can do or has done in the past. Perhaps the proliferation of social media means that talking about it, speculating and generally playing detective is now at levels not seen before.
Some, if not most, crime dramas would have drawn this cliffhanger out for as long as it could.
Not Line Of Duty. Not when there was so much more to evidently fit into this fifth episode.
No, as DC Chloe Bishop and DI Steve Arnott surveyed the cell where Jimmy Lakewell was taken out, Arnott told her that Lakewell had told him in the van (as I had suspected) about the interview with Gail Vella. He had discussed with her the murder of a man called Lawrence Christopher.
Then, almost in the blink of an eye, it was revealed that Jo Davidson’s blood relative match was indeed Tommy Hunter (as many fans had speculated), the gangland boss from series one. [UPDATE: Although how Davidson is related to Hunter is now up for discussion.]
Just as you were processing that information and what it meant, Bishop briefed Hastings and Arnott on the case of Lawrence Christopher. A young black man, he was murdered by a gang of young white males. The subsequent investigation was botched to say the least, to the extent that the gang got off Scott-free. Because of this there were accusations of institutional racism.
And one of the members of the gang who literally got away with the murder? Tommy Hunter’s son, Darren.
Just as you were chuckling at the sheer bravado, the sheer interconnectedness of it all, there was more. Much, much more.
Part of the investigative team on the Christopher case was none other than Chief Constable Philip Osborne and Ian Bloody Buckells. Osborne is interesting. He’s been appearing more and more in this series – admittedly via clips on the TV – and he appeared in this episode too, denouncing PPC Sindhwani live on national TV. This caused Sindhwani – always an ambiguous figure – to resign his post and pledge allegiance to Ted and AC-12.
Another member of the team investigating the murder of Lawrence Christopher was the SIO – Marcus Thurwell.
This was one of the big shocks of the episode – a new character in which to sink our teeth into. And played by James Nesbitt, no less. After Arnott did a cursory search of the database, he found that Thurwell was connected to everything. Sands View, Fairbanks, Roach and Danny Waldron, Tommy Hunter, Osborne, Buckells… I mean, if this dude isn’t ‘H’ I’ll suck my own diesel.
We haven’t even mentioned what was happening on The Hill yet.
Kate found the workshop in which the OCG produced their re-constituted weapons, and staged a lovely double-bluff to try and catch out Ryan Pilkington. It worked like a dream: while she sent Davidson and her own team to a false location, AC-12 went to the real workshop and biffed up the bad guys. And, while Davidson et al were left floundering at the false location, Chloe and a surveillance team handily snapped Pilkington sneak outside, produce a burner phone and telephone his OCG chums to tell them what had happened.
One thing was clear – Kate was getting close. Too close.
In an utterly terrific finale, DCS Patricia Carmichael made a fantastically disruptive return, more or less shutting down AC-12. At the same time, somewhere in a deserted lorry park there was an almighty armed stand-off between Kate and Pilkington. Shots were fired, and the credits rolled.
(Although we haven’t even mentioned Arnott’s visit to Lee Banks in jail or the fact he now knows for certain that the money he found in Steph Corbett’s loft did indeed come from Hastings’ stash.)
I cannot recall a series that bombards its viewers with so much information and so many shifting dynamics. Of course it’s ridiculous, but – mother of God – it has the courage of its convictions like no other.
And we have another cliffhanger to ponder for the next seven days.
For your consideration:
• In this episode, we had another parallel to a real-life case – this time for Lawrence Christopher, read Stephen Lawrence.
• As Hastings and Arnott walked into the incident room to be briefed by Chloe, the whole room was filled with pretty much every character Line Of Duty has ever produced: Tony Gates, Dot Cottan, Jackie Laverty, Danny Waldron, Philip Osborne, Jane Cafferty, Lisa McQueen, Lindsay Denton, Gill Biggeloe, Derek Hilton,Terry Boyle, Ryan Pilkington, Tommy Hunter, Roz Huntley… Honestly? If this isn’t tying everything up and bringing everything and everyone back to end the story I don’t know what is.
• Really liking DC Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin). Steadfast, brave and meticulous – she’s actually better than Kate was at all the AC-12 stuff.
• Chloe’s reaction to the Lawrence Christopher case was really touching – she did her job but was also heartbroken and outraged by the outcome.
• As much as Thurwell and Osborne are firmly in the frame as ‘H’, I can’t help thinking that the finger is also being pointed at Ted again. Lee Banks told Arnott that Hastings had given up John Corbett as a rat, Arnott rang Kate and told her he knew the real reason why his boss gave Steph the money, and Hastings also told to move on Ryan Pilkington and keep him close. Deliberate delay tactics?
• Also, there was a moment where Hastings wistfully looked at an old police photograph from his Belfast days. The fact that Thurwell is also from Northern Ireland… does this mean they have a shared history?
• With time running out and one of his team potentially dead and Carmichael making her move and shutting everything down, I also wouldn’t put it past Ted to go completely rogue and full Jack Bauer in the final two episodes.
• Speaking of Terry Boyle, why haven’t AC-12 interviewed him yet?
• Wasn’t Anna Maxwell Martin absolutely brilliant as Carmichael?
• If Kate Fleming is going to go to a lorry park, at night, on her own… then I don’t know what to tell you.
• And we had the ‘definately’ spelling on the messenger! Hurrah!
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE FOUR REVIEW