Line Of Duty: 2.05
Spoilers are present below. Don't read on if you've not seen episode five.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way; this is far and away the best thing on television right now. Almost certainly the best thing on television this year, and will be come December. And likely one of the best things on television ever.
There's no time to talk about the slight return of DC Nigel Morton, the deadpan Neil Morrissey, the continuing uncertainty about Dot Cottan's allegiance, Fleming's continuing misery, Arnott not sleeping with anyone.
Usually DI Lindsay Denton is the focus of any discussion about this series, Keeley Hawes has played an absolute blinder throughout and this week was no different. The scene in the care home with just her, an empty bed, and briefly, DS Steve Arnott was heartbreaking. Coming so soon after she pinned a man to a wall with a car it summed up the brilliance of her performance in just two scenes. In a nutshell that’s also why we’re still not sure of her guilt or innocence, or degrees of either, despite five weeks of carefully plotted events, and the reveal of her terminated pregnancy. Surely, surely, she’s more involved than she wants AC12 to think.
But this week isn’t about Denton, it’s a chance for the rest of the cast to shine but in particular two actors. Mark Bonnar’s performance as DCC Mike Dryden has so far flown under the radar, he’s been slimy, slippery, and manipulative but on the periphery of the investigation. This week we get to see a different aspect of him, the broken man. In a fantastic scene that takes over the last quarter of the episode we see Dryden aggressive and demeaning towards Fleming and Arnott, then cocky and dismissive of them, before his attitude and confidence slowly slips away in the face of wave after wave of evidence, documents, photos, and revelations. The whole scene crackles with aggression, anger, shock, and an unfolding realisation from Dryden that he’s deep in it. Nods go to Martin Compston, as Arnott, and Vicky McClure, as Fleming, for the intensity they bring to this scene, but it is stolen by Bonnar, the release of the previous five weeks building of evidence and character.
“What does the girl say?” may be the key line to the whole episode. The way it was delivered and the reaction to the subsequent revelation that she’s really not OK suggests that Dryden had no idea she was dead. Throughout the final interview there are cutaways to the other standout performance this week, Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings. Until last week Hastings was the moral centre of the show, but like all great men he’s been tested in recent weeks, the tantalising carrot of a promotion, more money, winning his estranged wife back, and his old life, have meant Hastings was wavering. Until the evidence became too much. The flicker in the eye, and the flick of the eyebrow were the subtlest of things but in those two movements you saw an man’s dreams and future collapse in on itself. Each subsequent cutaway during the interrogation of the man with the key to those dreams further whittled away Ted’s hope. This is a man on the edge of losing everything. Again. Emotionally draining, so touching, fantastic acting and writing in one scene.
The second series of Line Of Duty is the best show that’s been on TV since the first series. Period.