Line Of Duty: 2.02
After the burst of action, tension, and shock ending of last week, this weeks Line Of Duty is much more slow burning as the AC-12 team build a case against prime suspect DI Denton.
There’s a subdued start as we deal with the aftermath of the first episodes shocking final scene. Filmed in a kind of punch-drunk haze the first fifteen minutes deal with informing the family, some police pressure on a less cocky DS Arnott, and some politicking with DCC Dryden in an obvious parallel of the recent(ish) Chris Huhne case. After a bit of actual police work, some very inappropriate visits to a witness from Arnott, and some not so subtle undercover work from DC Fleming we arrive at the final fifteen minutes. But first Keeley Hawes.
Trying to explain just how great she is proves to be very difficult. She’s excellent, and the fact that two hours in we’re still not sure who or what DI Denton is is testament to her acting. The character is moving between the lines, touching on menacing, particularly in two scenes with an undercover Fleming ("What's the worst thing you've ever done to someone?... No, you've done worse than that."), and completely vulnerable, with the parents of a missing girl and in the face of aggression from her ASBO-bating neighbour. Her transformation isn’t about the lack of make-up, there’s something physically different about her. Simply put this is as strong a performance as television has been for a long time.
Her strong performance continued in the final scenes; we were back in that room, with the same protagonists (plus Fleming), with the same questions, only this time flipped on it's head with Denton the suspect rather than merely a witness. The tension is palpable, oozing out of the TV screen. It’s three against one - Denton’s rep doesn’t count he’s useless, aren’t all reps or bit part solicitors in TV shows? The AC-12 team completely underestimate her ("people have underestimated me all my life") thinking they have her cornered. They start with the escape route, Denton kind of bats that away, what about the assault on her neighbour, no proof she says, she’s crazy she says, 0-2, they move onto the phone call to the hospital, Denton admits a call but they can’t prove where in the hospital her call went, that’s 0-3, game over surely?
But no, Hastings isn’t having it and charges her, there’s some flinging of police regulations at each other, but then the pièce de résistance… “I would like to say something; you can leave the tape running.”. Hastings dodgy financial state and his statement on officers duty to report such things are thrown back at him, Arnott’s illicit night time ‘interrogation’ of the witness is illustrated with some photos, and Flemings ongoing affair is brought into the light. Brilliantly bringing together all of the personal lives of the AC-12 officers like this shows the strength of Jed Mercurio’s writing.
This is a carefully constructed plot, so far most actions have had a consequence, the majority of them for the good guys. Although that line is so blurred it’s difficult to tell who they actually are at the moment.
The final scenes, the reveal of the person in witness protection, add to the mystery of the series and leave you wanting so much more than the weeks wait that you’re left with.