And so it comes to this (I always say that when it comes to series finales).
To say this sixth series of Line Of Duty has captured the imagination has been an understatement. The whole nation has been talking about it – on news programmes, on chatshows and in newspapers. Not since Broadchurch has a crime series transcended its genre and caught fire like this. Social media has been going nuts, and it always interests me why it does that with certain series and not for others (but that’s for another conversation another time).
But Line of Duty has very ‘definately’ been one of those shows.
The big question was coming into this series finale was: would it reveal who ‘H’ or ‘The Fourth Man’ is or would it keep us guessing for another series, as it has before?
The good news is that the show very much did, but in such an almost mundane way it went against all the sensational, over-the-top stuff that had gone before.
There was a lot to wrap up in this episode, and it was sometimes breathless in its revelations. And yet the whole episode left me curiously unsatisfied.
Some theories were confirmed to be nothing more than that. Marcus Thurwell was indeed dead. Chloe Bishop was not Tony Gates’ daughter. Chris Lomax was nothing more than a hard-working copper.
But let’s get to what actually happened.
A strong box was found beneath the OCG workshop and was a useful device to tie a lot of things up. The gun that killed Gail Vella was inside, with Carl Banks’ fingerprints all over it. Two knives were found – one that killed Maneet Bindra, the other to kill Jackie Laverty.
Tying things up.
In fact, this series has always been about devices. Clever, clever devices. Gail Vella was nothing more than a device to link all the past series together, while Marcus Thurwell was nothing more than a device (as well as a red herring) to link Osborne and Buckells. Chloe Bishop and her evidence, in effect, was only a device to keep the plot moving.
This is clever, fun writing.
We also got some poignant, low-tempo moments. Steve being interviewed by the Occupational Health department was one such moment. It’s often easy to forget that these characters have been through a hell of a lot during these past six series, and I fully approve that it takes time out to examine the toll events have taken, even if it’s during the series finale.
Even Hastings, who has been coming apart at the seams in the past few episodes, showed signs of pressure and combustion as he confessed all about the money he gave to Steph Corbett.
However, I’ve always thought that Line Of Duty is at its absolute best when this peripheral character nuance is actually left out. No messing – just get on the ride and go nuts with the twists and the turns and the pace and the tempo. Here, in this finale, there were moments when things began to drag.
But there was more, of course.
Davidson was saved from her OCG fate during a tense AC-12 ambush, and she finally revealed who she thought her father was. This was the episode’s first big reveal – it was Fairbanks.
But he was not The Man.
And then the big twist, around 35 minutes in.
The spelling of ‘definately’ really came into it and proved to be the evidence that revealed the identity of ‘H’. The idiosyncratic spelling was cross-referenced with the database, and some ‘new files’ that had become available (a bit too convenient that one). It turned out that the spelling ‘definately’ had been used during the Lawrence Christopher investigation, during the correspondences between Corbett, McQueen and Davidson, and, crucially, Operation Lighthouse.
The actual reveal of ‘H’ was a thing of beauty, and brilliantly staged. We saw shots of Arnott, Hastings and Fleming actually preparing for their interrogation. I loved this because these scenes in real life would take days if not weeks to prepare for – slides, evidence, tactics, the works.
And as shots showing the trio preparing were intercut with shots of unseen figure walking through the AC-12 office, handcuffed and accompanied by an armed guard.
They really strung it out until the very last minute, until he (it was a he) sat down in the interrogation room.
His name was Ian Buckells.
Yes, the man who has popped up in series one and and series four, and now series six, was the fourth ‘H’.
And it was Line Of Duty’s Keyser Söze moment – someone right under their noses and someone so unlikely that it was a surprise Jed Mercurio went for him. But then you look at his backstory, and his past appearances, and it all kind of makes sense.
Everyone thought he was just incompetent, but he was actually pulling the strings.
However, during the interview – Buckells now dropping the stupid act – it was revealed that although he was ‘The Fourth Man’ he also revealed that he was nothing more than a fixer. Tommy Hunter was the ringleader, but since he died disparate OCGs were operating things.
There was no ‘Top Man’.
And this disappointed me a little because I felt a reveal of this nature surely warranted a top man, a big bad boss baddie.
Instead we got Ian bloody Buckells.
This may have been the most realistic outcome, but in a series that has provided high theatre throughout, not only the reveal of Buckells but also the fact that there is no big boss was a little bit of a let down.
After this was determined, the pace dropped considerably again. Steve and Kate ruminated their position within AC-12, and Ted told Carmichael that he was going to appeal against his forced retirement.
And that’s where we more or less left it – the trio in a lift looking out into the middle distance.
It was a strange episode – full of reveals, tense, action-packed moments and everything you love about Line of Duty. But just bursts of them, nothing sustained.
In the end there was probably too much to fit in, and too much of a need to show how much these cases have taken their toll on the characters. As such, the bursts of the high-octane action didn’t satisfy as they should have done.
I came away a little flat from this finale.
And yet, I’ve loved this series. Kelly Macdonald was deceptively superb as Jo Davidson, and Adrian Dunbar – always a fabulous actor – really flexed his muscles in this series. His capitulation was very well played, almost Lear-like in its tragedy; his moral fortitude that he has built his life on crumbling around him.
This series simmered nicely until it absolutely exploded – stunning cliffhangers, amazing twists, it’s had it all.
And in a year that has seen so much upheaval and anxiety, tuning into Line Of Duty each week has been magical escapism – a real rollercoaster for an hour each week.
As Kate Fleming said: “You don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone”.
Let’s hope we get more.
For your consideration:
• Honestly, imagine getting nailed because you spelled ‘definately’ wrong! • The absence of Carmichael in this episode was perplexing – she stormed back into the series, but was completely left out in this episode. Strange. Perhaps she felt a bit silly when Buckells was found guilty. • Some of the dialogue in the chat between Arnott and Fleming was just cringeworthy: “I’ve got you mate.” • Seeing Ted Hastings in civvies is like seeing your parents naked. Wrong. • There’s definite (or should that be definate?) room for more. Osborne is definitely dodge, and the new amalgamated anti-corruption ops are now full of Osborne’s men and women. • Hates off to Jed Mercurio and the cast and crew for battling through the COVID maelstrom and producing something pretty spectacular, despite restrictions. • Promotion for Chloe Bishop please – she’s been the one who has pretty much solved everything. • “No one makes mugs out of AC-12” *punches the air*
If it was any other series of Line Of Duty, episode six would signify the end of the series.
However, with an extra episode tacked on to season six, and an almighty cliffhanger (another one!) to resolve, it’s just as well there was an episode seven.
Last week, we saw Kate Fleming in a stand-off with bentest of all bent cops Ryan Pilkington. As the credits rolled we heard two shots, but didn’t know who fired them. Or indeed who copped them.
Thankfully the cliffhanger was resolved almost immediately.
As AC-12 (and Carmichael) descended on to the lorry park, there lay Ryan Pilkington – two very neat holes in his thorax – and Kate and Jo Davidson not to be seen.
It was a fairly ignominious end to a character who had been in the series since the very first season, and I did wonder if Pilkington deserved more. I know that sounds slightly insane because he’s been a character that has attracted almost pantomime baddie levels of ire, but he’s been there since the beginning. Yes, the stand-off was extremely tense, but the way his death was glossed over was slightly… meh.
As for Kate, she went to Steve’s apartment complex, took his car and off she and Jo sped. My initial reaction was… why? Why not hang around and face the consequences? She was lawfully issued with a firearm and Pilkington and Davidson were known associates of the OCG, so surely she would have been in the clear.
She only got a sense that she was being set up when the police appeared.
Aaaanyway, Jo was keen to prove she wasn’t bent, so she suggested going by the print shop, which sat across the road from Terry Boyle’s flat. Why this proved she wasn’t bent I wasn’t entirely sure – if anything it proved she knew the OCG’s cover businesses and the framing of Terry Boyle.
No matter. After a chase through the streets of Midlands City (Kate in full action movie mode here) the cops had caught up with them. At the scene of the shoot-out, Carmichael had issued arrest warrants for the both of them, and when they were finally cornered Kate knew something wasn’t quite right – how did the cops and AC-12 know where they were?
What happened next could have been a disappointment to some. Such has been the pace, the levels of information bombarding us, and the twists and the turns during episodes four and five, episode six began to resemble getting off a fairground ride you didn’t want to end.
For the next 40 minutes Jo Davidson was interrogated by Arnott, Hastings and Carmichael in one of the show’s longest interview scenes in recent times.
And I understood the need for a pause. As I’ve mentioned before, these interrogation scenes work on different levels – they’re riveting and intimate, but they also serve a purpose in terms of recapping a case. Exposition-heavy, yes, but necessarily so.
This interrogation scene in particular went on for a loooong time, and those 40 minutes went by in a flash. It was yet another bold move by Mercurio after all the excitement and breakneck speed of the last two episodes, and you have to take your hat off to messrs Dunbar, Maxwell Martin, Compston and Macdonald for performing such a long scene. However, there was no real pay-off – no huge twist, no huge piece of new information, or no Dentonesque table-turn. The nearest we got was when Davidson saved Kate’s bacon and took the rap for Ryan Pilkington’s death.
Back to the interview.
Everything was laid out – Davidson’s family and her connection to Tommy Hunter, how she was groomed by him from a young age to become a policewoman, how the OCG turned against him.
And yet questions remained (mostly after the ones she answered ‘no comment’ to).
Are we any closer to finding out who ‘H’ or ‘The Fourth Man’ is?
A little. Marcus Thurwell turned up dead in Spain so he’s off the list. Everything points to CC Philip Osborne, which would make sense – throughout this series we’ve had callbacks galore to past series, and another huge one calling back to series one would fit with this general theme. Osborne was right in the thick of it right at the start of that first series, so if Mercurio is tying things up a villain from series one would represent some serious symmetry.
As for this episode, it felt like the calm before the storm – a pause and a deep breath to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
And in a series like Line Of Duty, you need it sometimes.
For your consideration:
• Kate’s full-on action movie moment harked back to the end of series three, when she captured Dot Cottan. • Kate and Jo on the run = Thelma and Louise vibes. • Jo’s face during her interrogation scene when she found out that Tommy Hunter was pretty heartbreaking. She genuinely didn’t know this information. • Kelly Macdonald = very good actress. • If she didn’t know that Tommy was her father and believed someone else was, who was it? She mentioned he was also a bent copper, so could it be that he has something to do with the overall conspiracy? • Also, if Davidson knew pretty much everything about the OCG and their attempts to sabotage everything, why didn’t she know about Gail Vella’s investigation into the Lawrence Christopher murder? • Ted is not completely off the hook either. He was seen losing his marbles by the episode’s end, but he looked incredibly sheepish when Lee Banks was mentioned in the interview. • And Carmichael… is she just so obviously into power and willing to shut down Ted and co at any opportunity, or is she deliberately sabotaging interviews because she’s part of it all? She often mentioned Osborne in this episode… • Osborne is really looming over this series like a spectre. We’ve only ever seen him in video news footage form, but surely we’re all steeling for an enormo confrontation in next week’s finale. What are the odds on Arnott bringing down his old boss? • The bent prison officers’ faces when they realised they couldn’t lay a hand on Jo Davidson as her prison cell shut were priceless. • Kate and Steve, reunited: “Alright mate, cheers mate… I’LL DRIVE!” • What are they going to find beneath that workshop floor?
Line Of Duty really is going like the clappers, sucking diesel or whatever other Tedsim you can think of.
With two consecutive cliffhangers and only two episodes left to go in what could be its final series, it’s only right we take a closer look at a series that is now attracted 15million viewers per episode.
So what are the latest fan theories?
Kate Fleming survives
An eagle-eyed fan spotted something in the series six trailer, which contains random scenes spliced together to make up am enticing whole.
The viewers posted a screengrab from the trailer, and a scene which hasn’t been seen before. It shows Kate Fleming – who, the last we saw, was locked in a deadly armed shoot-out with confirmed wrong ‘un Ryan Pilkington – and Jo Davidson, who were wearing the same clothes from that scene.
Could this be a scene immediately after the shoot-out? We had another look at the series six trailer and there was indeed a scene that showed Kate and Davidson emerging from a car (again wearing the same clothes from the shoot-out), bathed in the light of a police spotlight. Davidson had her hands in the air.
Does this prove Kate survives?
Ted Hastings is a wrong ‘un
Quite apart from other clues or red herrings (or sprats or mackerels, according to Ted and his fishy talk from series five), there was the ‘definately’ moment.
Davidson was using the same encrypted messenger service John Corbett and Lisa McQueen used in series five to communicate with ‘H’. During their chats, the OCG bigwig tellingly spelled definitely wrong (‘definately’). Later we saw the Ted Hastings also mispelled the same word, drawing suspision.
And now, ‘definately’ is back. But with only one H left to find, has this put Ted Hastings back in the frame?
How is Jo Davidson related to Tommy Hunter exactly?
It’s pretty obvious that Jo Davidson has been blackmailed by the OCG to carry out their work, and she’s been torn apart because if it.
We also know that she is a blood relative of Tommy Hunter, the original gangsta.
But a semi-hidden clue in last Sunday’s episode five, spelled out a potentially horrifying source of DNA – incest.
Arnott mumbled the word ‘homozygosity’ in the briefing, which, from a cursory Google, means “Homozygous describes the genetic condition or the genetic state where an individual has inherited the same DNA sequence for a particular gene from both their biological mother and their biological father.”
Jo is not only hiding the fact that she is Hunter’s blood relative, but also the fact there may be something even more sinister. Could this be the reason the OCG has her under their thumb?
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!
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.
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”.
The all-new sixth series of Line Of Duty kicked off last week not with its customary bang, but more of an intriguing simmerer of a set-up that promised more explosive moments down the line.
And in this second episode, you could say the same – there were callbacks aplenty, and also the first appearance of the series’ patented long and utterly engrossing interrogation scenes.
A lot of viewers were rather taken back by the proliferation of the word CHIS last week (an informant, basically), which, in turn, led to Terry Boyle, which in turn led to Carl Banks.
However, Banks was found dead in this episode, which absolutely suggests that someone higher up is pulling the strings.
Was it Jo Davidson, leader of Operation Lighthouse? Was it Farida Jatri, who was bitter at the break up of their relationship? Or… was it PCC Rohan Sindwhani?
The Commish appeared in series five, and also appeared in some of the TV reports Arnott, Bishop and Hastings looked into. In fact, these archive reports – and indeed the character of Gail Vella herself – provided a through line right from Arnott’s early days in anti-terrorism, right through to series three’s storyline of Fairbank and the paedophile ring that abused Danny Waldron and other boys at the Sands View home. Vella had investigated them all, and Sindwhani had denied systemic corruption within the force on the steps of the courthouse.
We got to find out more about Vella’s own investigative journalism tonight. To Arnott and Bishop’s surprise, her producer told them that she had been working on a podcast before she was murdered, and that her flat had been burgled around the same time.
Why was the burglary not mentioned in Operation Lighthouse’s report?
That was enough for AC-12 to spring into action.
Arnott (who had been promoted by Hastings to DI) tipped off Kate (in that underpass, no less) that they were about to move and offered her one last chance to help with the investigation on an undercover basis.
Kate not only refused but, in turn, tipped off Davidson and her team. They found a legal loophole and applied to Sindwhani for a delay on the raid.
Hastings was not happy.
So did Sindwhani delay the raid on purpose, giving time to whoever might be a bent copper within the team to bury what they needed to bury?
Another callback was the re-emergence of Ryan Pilkington.
A teenage member of Tommy Hunter’s gang in series one (and yes, Kate did interview him), we saw him as a grown-up slitting the throat of John Corbett in series five and then, sensationally, become a police officer.
And here he was, now in uniform taking the place of Farida Jatri after she was transferred.
Kate half-recognised him. What’s the betting at some point down the line when things get hot it’ll all come back to her?
And so we come to series six’s first interrogation scene.
I don’t mind telling you that I cannot wait for these scenes every time Line Of Duty comes around again. They’re extraordinarily well acted, choreographed, directed and edited, and have provided the show with some of the stand-out moments from the past decade of crime drama.
They’re almost like episodes within an episode, and are helpful when it comes to recapping the often complicated storylines.
Episode six of series five was a pretty good one, as was Lindsay Denton’s fantastic table-turning in series two, so how did this opener rate with Jo Davidson?
For sure, she gave as good as she good, and there was an about turn, of sorts. Seemingly on the ropes, she had to admit that Hastings’ theory that only an inside man or woman could have known Carl Banks whereabouts was correct. Not necessarily a stunner, but a nice little twist in the scene.
She then recommended to AC-12 they it searches the homes of the other officers who knew about Carl Banks in the same timeframe she did – Farida Jatri, Chris Lomax (he of the deep, golden voice) and Ian Buckells (he of the not so deep, golden voice).
And of course, they found a hole cache of burner phones at Farida’s place. She tearfully claimed that Jo had set her up.
The closing scene?
Jo Davidson was released from custody after Jatri was arrested, and drove straight to a deserted car park, where she picked up a package containing a (new) burner. Upon taking the phone, she burst into tears and hammered on the windows of her car in despair.
Oooo, she’s a wrong ‘un alright. But is she? This is Line Of Duty after all. And she’s obviously been blackmailed, but by who, and why?
Another very good episode, which provided plenty to sink our teeth into. Jed Mercurio is just so good at threading lines through from one series to the next and beyond, and you just know hardcore fans will adore all the re-emerging characters.
We’re still waiting for that really big bang, but this is beautifully constructed so far and absolutely thrilling.
For your consideration:
Another familiar face reappeared – Steph Corbett, wife of John. Ted helped her out with some of the cash that was used to set him up at the end of series five, so what was/is she doing back in this series? She met with Ted, and then Steve, suspicious of his boss, drove to Liverpool to have a chat with her.
Speaking of Steve, he’s not a happy bunny, is he? He’s popping the painkillers like Skittles and he wasn’t exactly overjoyed when Hastings gave him his promotion. The lad needs a holiday, especially when he can’t sit down without wincing in pain.
Are Steve and Steph going to get it on? They seemed close and Steve is not exactly averse to shagging witnesses, colleagues, suspects and basically anything that moves.
Kate and Jo continue to get closer, and agree to go on a date, of sorts. But I’m still not convinced – I think Hastings (despite his antipathy towards Kate) placed her as a secret plant and that she is undercover at The Hill.
I’m still a bit iffy about the inclusion of Jimmy Savile in Line Of Duty. I know Mercurio made sound arguments for his inclusion the first time in series three, but for me, when it comes to something fictional, the appearance of a real-life character feels jarring. And when it comes to someone as heinous as Savile, slightly nauseating.
There was another real-life reference in Gail Vella’s investigations – the Untold Murders podcast and Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who was murdered in South London in 1987. He was said to be close to exposing police corruption. Again, not sure about this…
Liking new AC-12 member Chloe Bishop, and her adorable little faux pas when it comes to office and disciplinary etiquette.
During the Davidson interview scene, how nice was it to see a competent lawyer sitting in for a change? We’ve had some real clunkers in the past.