Line of Duty: 5.03

Line of Duty: 5.03

After last week’s cliff-hanger ending (whose photo was it?), Line of Duty dives straight back into the thick of the action in this Sunday’s jam-packed episode. It’s always quite impressive just how much plot Mercurio and the writing team manage to fit into an hour, and episode three is a top contender for most twists and turns per episode.

The majority of this week’s episode centred on a high stakes raid at the Eastfield Police Depot, planned and carried out by the OCG. Undercover police officer Corbett finally gets the go ahead from the anonymous crime boss/’H’, whilst Steve lets on to Kate about his secret meetings with Corbett in that dimly lit graffiti tunnel.  Kate frogmarching Steve into Ted’s office is a source of some joy in what is otherwise an hour of quite grim television, but something feels off – and it’s not just Steve’s new beard. The two of them are working together again, though it seems they both might be keeping something from Ted. The identity of Jane Cafferty’s recruiter is revealed to be Dot Cotton, but if this is the case then it’s a dead end for the investigation. Steve has already has his suspicious about Ted aroused by Corbett and now that Steve and Kate are firmly on the same side, maybe it’s too soon to give the game up about who Cafferty really identified as her recruiter.

The raid itself is the main event, and plays out in close to real time. Kate and the obs team keep watch whilst an emergency in a nearby area orders all firearms officers to leave the raid. Kate, like everyone, smells a rat and ignores protocol to keep watch. It’s the second time Kate’s pulled rank over Steve within this episode and the power really suits her. She’s cool, calm and collected in the face of serious pressure and proves that her promotion to DI was not in vain. McClure shines even brighter than usual here, taking Kate’s new found leadership skills in her stride.

As usual, nothing really goes to plan – the raid results in the OCG escaping with truckloads of stolen goods and a masked ‘H’ bleeding out after being shot by Corbett, seemingly in a moment of panic. Cleverly, the low angle camera shot and focus on the walkie-talkie lean towards the man being Hastings himself, but (in an about-turn that might give you whiplash), the man is revealed to be DCC Hargreaves. You’d be forgiven for not immediately recognising him (Hargreaves hasn’t featured too prominently as of late) but the Detective Chief Superintendent was listed as one of the potential ‘H’s and has had several run-ins with AC-12 over the years. He worked extensively with Dryden, and in Series four it was heavily implied that Hargreaves and his team intentionally hid evidence from AC-12. So far, so Line of Duty. Whilst Hargreaves’ involvement makes a lot of narrative sense, his death means another dead end for the AC-12 team.

One of Line of Duty’s greatest achievements is that the plot moves at an eye-wateringly fast pace – one must keep up with the narrative as no dialogue is spared for exposition. Rattling through at breakneck speed, episode three had me reaching for the remote to pause or rewind at several points, just in-case I’d missed something vital. This is far from a problem – Line of Duty treats its audience like adults and refuses to hand-hold.

In light of this, the implication that Ted might be ‘H’ is a tricky guessing game to play. Red herrings are at full capacity right now, but we do have to remember how much Line of Duty enjoys a good double bluff. A few clever edits have implied a connection between Ted and Lisa McQueen – it’s worth remembering that McQueen seemed to be having serious doubts about the OCG’s activities in episode one. Clearly, both Ted and McQueen are hiding something but, knowing Mercurio’s love of plot-twists, it probably isn’t whatever we are suspecting.

The biggest credit this episode has to go to Stephen Graham for his multi-layered performance as Corbett. In many ways, Corbett is far more likeable than the Roz Huntleys or Lindsey Dentons of the world. Corbett is panicked, emotional and very, very human. Huntley and Denton kept their cards close to their chest and both seemed completely unflappable even in the face of life imprisonment. Corbett, on the other hand, is a hurricane of passion. Or it could all be an act. Either way, if Corbett wasn’t bent before, he definitely is now.

So, a few key questions. What is Lisa McQueen playing at? If DCC Hargreaves was bent, does this also implicate Sam (Steve's ex girlfriend and fellow officer) and potentially implicate Steve with the information she's been passing him? And, perhaps the most important one, has Ted's toilet been fixed?

If we’ve learnt anything from Line of Duty, though, it’s to never count your bent coppers before the final episode.

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