Becky Kukla reviews the latest episode of Line of Duty series five.
So it’s farewell John Corbett, it seems. It was nice getting to know him, though by the end it turned out we knew almost next to nothing about the man he truly was. Killing off a main character prematurely is second nature to Jed Mercurio (Danny Waldron, Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard), so it isn’t really surprising that Corbett only made it to episode four. It does mean that we are robbed of what would have been the interview scene to end all interview scenes with Ted and Corbett – just think of the fireworks that could have exploded after the beep! Alas, it is not to be. However, episode four has thrown some pretty bizarre curve-balls which have changed the tone of the series quite dramatically.
Last week’s episode left the life of Roisin Hastings, Ted’s long suffering soon-to-be-ex wife in limbo after Corbett breaks into her house after pretending to be Steve. Any hopes that she got away unscathed are quickly demolished as she is shown up to her neck in casts after being tortured by Corbett for information. Ted, naturally, is fuming. It seems that Ted might be taken off the case too, as he now has a personal connection to it, but a quick chat with Jill smooths it over – Ted can continue to work the case. Also, did you know Mrs Hastings is old? Jill really knows how to kick a man when he’s down doesn’t she?
Steve and Corbett are still in contact, but this time AC-12 are ready with a team to track Corbett’s whereabouts. Things turn nasty pretty quickly when Kate and Steve learn that the beef between Corbett and Hastings might go back further than catching bent coppers. They dig further into Corbett’s background and discover that Corbett was actually born in Belfast and the way in which Roisin was tortured is eerily similar to paramilitary tactics during the 1980s.
Perhaps the focus on H as the head of the OCG has been a red (or Jed) herring all along. The series seems to have taken a very sharp U-turn away from the OCG almost completely. Did Ted order Steve to shoot Corbett because of the rage over his wife’s assault? Was it Ted who ratted out Corbett to the OCG via Lee Banks, threatening Corbett’s life? It may be understandable given the destruction and death that Corbett has caused, but it lines Ted up to look very guilty indeed.
If Ted wasn’t bent before, then it certainly looks like he’s become culpable now. One of the best lines this episode is Corbett’s response to Steve holding a gun on him. As Ted gives the order to fire, Corbett asks Steve if he cares about orders or justice. This harks way back to when Steve was initially recruited for AC-12 for his refusal to lie in court over a botched terrorist operation. Corbett knows how Steve’s mind works, quite possible because they are one and the same.
Of course, there is still the distinct and very real possibility that Lisa McQueen is embedded and under the control of someone within AC-12 (the most likely handler is probably Ted at this point). One of the most jaw dropping scenes saw Ted take over the communications system at HQ and type out messages to Lisa and Corbett as he pretended to be H. Last week, we saw H spell definitely as ‘definately’, and this week Ted does the very same. It’s a tricky detail to spot but the Twitter and Reddit theorists have already jumped all over it. There’s also the phrasing Ted uses, telling Lisa to ‘bring this to a close’ – is he telling Lisa to put an end to Corbett?
Sunday’s episode also showed the much darker side of the OCG than perhaps we are used to – raiding depots and trading guns is nothing in comparison to the idea of livestock. The final scene was harrowing and deeply disturbing, only made more so by Lisa’s double (or is that triple) deception. Rochenda Sandall is pulling out all the stops as a woman who wears several different faces. Just when you think you have reached the truth, Lisa reveals another side which clouds everything else in confusion. We’ve seen some excellent performances of this ilk in Line of Duty before (Keeley Hawes, Thandie Newton) and Sandall is right up there with the best.
There were also some interesting throwbacks to season one which are almost certainly not by accident. Lisa and Ryan (yes, the very same BMX Ryan from the first season) go round to Terry’s flat – a location used by Ryan, Carly and the OCG in season one. We also get a good look into Terry’s freezer which is still home to Jackie Laverty’s frozen remains. Knowing Line of Duty this is unlikely to be by chance – are there serious links to the Tony Gates story of season one that have yet to appear? A popular theory currently links Gates as Lisa McQueen’s father, but this feels a bit disingenuous – there’s something very eyebrow-raising about having two of the only black characters on a predominantly white show being related.
Special mention this episode goes to Tatleen, of course, who did the greatest impression of anyone who’s ever been watched a colleague getting a talking down in an open plan office. Actor Taj Atwal has also had to contend with the most technical dialogue throughout the series so far, which deserves a round of applause on that basis alone. Another special mention has to go to Ted who has given us the greatest excuse not to continue having an affair with someone – divine intervention. Playing the God card is very Catholic but he does raise an interesting point; Ted was kept very busy at the exact same time which Roisin was attacked – coincidence, or is Jill involved in some way too?
Also revealed this week – the series finale is going to clock in at 90 minutes. As we know there is already going to be a sixth season, we won’t be expecting everything to be neatly tied up but the prospect of an hour and half of Line of Duty in one go is something quite exciting indeed.
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