Line of Duty: 5.02
Line of Duty rules. That's all you really need to know. It's the best thing on telly, whether you're talking about writing, acting, directing or anything else to do with making this behemoth the thing of beauty and drama that it is. Anyhow, you're here for a review, not acres of lavish praise. You want to know why it is so great. Spoilers immediately ahead though, so beware...
The second episode of the fifth series had all the Line of Duty staples, with the interrogation scene left right up until the last and expertly played. Stringing the audience along on the ride is the big mystery; 'is Ted Hastings, actually H?' There was a straightforward five minutes where Arnott and Fleming grilled, then broken a bent copper. Nothing out of the usual there, apart from the fact that said bent copper was recruited by another bent copper, one that we’ve seen before. A rogues gallery of dodgy police from series 1-4 was taken from their whiteboard, and another was added. A finger was pointed and... fade to black. An obvious but masterful cliff-hanger.
Before all that though we had callbacks to pretty much every series of the show so far, from the death “in the line of duty” line for Maneet that echoed Tony Gates from the first series, through Tommy (big bad of the early series), to DCC Hilton’s suicide - or was it? - of series five. That’s one of the impressive things about the show, Jed Mercurio always makes you think he genuinely has planned this entire arc out from the beginning. If he hasn’t it’s damn impressive continuity writing!
It turns out rogue undercover copper DS John Corbett might not be rogue after all; he’s just maverick. The police that were killed in the heist in the first episode were all on the take so it’s okay he killed them to keep his cover. To prove to Arnott - who he’s chosen to confide in - that he’s still undercover, just really deep, he hands him his troublesome righthand man and another bent cop. This all helps to sow an extra seed of doubt in the place that Mercurio keeps coming back to, the triangle of Hastings, Fleming, and Arnott. Just as you think they’re all good, something happens to pick their scab of trust.
At its best the most enjoyable thing about Line Of Duty is that it really does pull the wool over your eyes; you’re never sure if what you’re watching is the truth, or just that characters' version of the truth. In just two episodes a huge shadow of doubt has been thrown on the previously indisputably stoic Ted - he’s involved in some dodgy property scheme as well - and his little attack dog Arnott is being pulled into Corbett’s world, not able to tell his friend and boss, but also not fully trusting Corbett. It’s made possible not only by the quality of the writing but by the nuanced performances by the entire cast. The central trio is great as always and Stephen Graham is acting his heart out so far, the scene on the phone to his wife is excellent.
As always, hurry up Sunday!