WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.
For anyone yet to watch this fourth episode, there is – unsurprisingly – quite a big shock hidden away at the end. Can shocks be unsurprising and yet still shocking? Not technically, no. Yet Line of Duty somehow regularly manages the feat. It’s clever like that.
We won’t reveal what the shock is on the off chance that you’ve not seen it yet and have somehow been able to avoid hearing what happened (if so, well done – how did you manage that?!). What we will say though, is this – we face the prospect of our last two instalments of the series without one of its main hitters. Fans of Line of Duty and writer Jed Mercurio in general won’t exactly be gobsmacked by this news. He killed off Keeley Hawes’ main character at the halfway point of Bodyguard, remember?
The writing here in this fourth outing is, as you’d expect, entirely on point. Tightly-scripted and full of all the excitement we all associate with the show, we can’t fault the words on the page. Even when it’s clear what’s being said is mostly just exposition or for the benefit of the audience’s understanding, it always rings true. What we can critique, however, is how some of that script is interpreted.
Now, it goes with saying that the principal cast here are – as ever – excellent. Vicky McClure is one of this country’s finest actresses, Stephen Graham is Hollywood-grade and Martin Compston practically is Line of Duty. Plus, Adrian Dunbar is a revelation here as Hastings in this series. He’s a fan favourite, of course, but he’s really being given a chance to exercise his acting chops in series 5. The scene here in which Ted tries to console his heavily-beaten estranged wife Róisín was especially moving.
It’s the lesser and peripheral characters that come close to letting Line of Duty down. One particular scene here saw the mighty Stephen Graham snarling at some gangsters who were playing their parts like they were in a low-rent music video destined never to hit more than a thousand views on YouTube.
That’s our only grumble here. Well, that and the fact that – the last minute aside – this week had something of a slower pace to it. Then again – it’s been pretty frenetic up until this point, so perhaps there’s something to be said for easing off the pedal a wee bit.
As for this fifth run’s main arc – who the ruddy hell ‘H’ is – we’re still being very much led to believe than our old pal Superintendent Ted Hastings is the top brass pulling the strings for the OCG (organised crime group). With all the already quite heavily stacked-up circumstantial evidence against him, we can now add to that his order to DS Arnott to shoot Corbett, as well as his insistence on take over typing duties when the team had hacked the line into Corbett and Lisa Armstrong’s gang.
Not to mention his misspelling of ‘definitely’. Spelling pedants across the internet were quick to point out the word ‘definately’ used by H in a previous episode. Was that a clue or a red herring? Or something else?
Ted signed off the conversation by saying, “I need you to bring all this to a close.” It was a message that seemed to confuse Corbett, but unsettle McQueen. Given what was to happen at the climax, it’s a phrase which casts further shadow on the AC-12 boss and his involvement in the OCG.
The reality is, no one knows how the big finish of this Line of Duty is going to play out. Next week’s penultimate chapter is certain to bring more thrills, chills n’ spills and set us up nicely for the extended 90 minute finale the Sunday after.
Before we go, we’ll leave you with a final thought. Does it feel odd to you that Kate’s operating in the margins so much here? We suggested her as an outside shout for H a few weeks ago and we’re yet to be convinced otherwise. Her sidelining here feels intentional…
Maybe we’ve just become paranoid. Line of Duty will definately do that to you.
Did you tune in for Line of Duty series 5 episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!