Every crime fan’s favourite British police procedural has returned to our screens after a two-year hiatus. For millions of fans of Line of Duty, it’s been a long ol’ two years indeed.
The show’s creator Jed Mercurio put the corrupt cop thriller on hold while he made a show you might just have heard of called Bodyguard, which was recently nominated for a raft of BAFTAs, of course. The man’s on a roll…
Mercurio’s winning streak is showing no sign of stopping, either. If this opening episode of Line of Duty’s fifth series is an indicator – and in all likelihood it is – we’re in for another gripping few weeks of heartstopping action and jaw-dropping reveals.
The premise here is familiar: a network of ‘bent coppers’ is in cahoots with organised crime and it’s anti-corruption unit AC-12’s job to smoke them out and make arrests. The tentacles of that network, as we discovered at the end of series 4, reach further than anyone in the team dared previously imagine. They could even slither all the way to the top of the force.
Last time out it was all about the identity of the shady ‘Balaclava Man’. This year the question on everyone’s lips looks set to be ‘who is ‘H’?’
Balaclava Man turned out to be Balaclava Men, of course – several violent criminals who are only too pleased to do things like putting a Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott in a wheelchair for sniffing around them.
We open here with a well-drilled gang of ski mask-wearing sorts expertly hijacking an unsuspecting police convoy and the £10m on heroin onboard, with the ambush ending up in bloodshed when three police officers are shot and killed. It’s an exhilarating – if rather grisly – start to proceedings.
The gang, we learn, is run by none other than the meanest-looking British actor working today – the incomparable powderkeg of a man that is Stephen Graham. As John Corbett, the Boardwalk Empire, This is England and Save Me actor is every bit as menacing and unsettling as you’d hope he’d be.
Joining Corbett in the ‘OCG’ (organised crime group) is Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall), his number two and – it appears to AC-12 – a potential ‘UCO’ (undercover officer). Given that she failed to finish off an armed officer played by Hidden’s Sian Reese-Williams, it was a pretty fair assumption. Albeit one we discover at the end of the hour that’s wide of the mark.
AC-12, OCG, UCO, ECO, ED905… The acronyms came thick and fast in this fast-paced opener. But, hey, this is Line of Duty, after all.
As you can imagine, when word of the murderous ambuscade hits Hastings’ office, it’s all systems go. DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and the newly-bearded DS Arnott (Martin Compston) have a brand new case to investigate.
Their sleuthing soon has them attempting to access the hidden files of Operation Peartree, a deep cover setup that has an officer embedded in a criminal gang. Despite the rather heavy hinting that Lisa was the mole, the series’ first big reveal unveils the true identity of the UCO and, well, let’s just say that it isn’t Lisa…
Ah, Line of Duty – it’s good to have you back. With all your twists, turns, epic edge-of-your-seat interrogation scenes, explosive action set pieces, secrets, lies, betrayals, shocking murders and heavily-quotable catchphrases from Superintendent Hastings (“I didn’t float up the Lagan on a bubble!”).
This opening hour looks to have set up the next five Sunday nights of unmissable AC-12 action perfectly…
Looks like we’re sucking on diesel again.
Did you tune in for Line of Duty series 5 episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!