The interview room, the best location in Line of Duty (BBC1, Sunday). On one side of the table: AC-12, or what’s left of it. Ted is under a Regulation 15, suspected of being Dot Cottan’s dying H (for Hastings), his career in serious jeopardy. Steve’s in a wheelchair, of course, may never walk again, also hit by the return of his ex. Only Kate is (relatively) unscathed from this brutal fourth series.
But, after finding the hidden rucksack – the one containing all the blood-stained clothes, DNA to die for, three of Tim Ifield’s fingers, the power saw, Occam’s razor etc – they’ve finally got DCI Roz Huntley. Arrested in connection with Ifield’s death. Hastings will be asking the crown prosecutor to charge her with both Ifield’s murder and perverting the course of justice.
She – Roz – is on the other side of the table, with her counsel, Jimmy Lakewell. Yes, Jimmy Lakewell who is acting for her husband Nick, too, who was also recently arrested, of course – by her! – and who has now been charged with the murder of Tim. It’s an incestuous orgy of finger-pointing and cautioning: you do not have to say anything, no you do not have to say anything …
Then, in yet another fisherman’s bend of a twist, Roz turns things not around this time but to the side, to Jimmy. She and Ted, arch enemies throughout though suddenly acting together, arrest Jimmy – her lawyer, her husband’s lawyer and friend – in connection with the attack on Steve, and for also perverting the course of justice.
What!? Has LoD reached peak bonkers, beyond even last week’s hand severing? Jed Mercurio, you do not have to say anything etc, but I am arresting you not just in connection with crossing the threshold of credibility but for actually jumping the Sherlock …
Except – plot twist! – I’m not. Because it’s so utterly brilliant. The bonkersness is such genius, brazen bonkersness. And it’s offset by understated, cool performances (Thandie Newton is a revelation; Adrian Dunbar’s Superintendent Hastings is still the best cop on TV). And by intriguing but believable characters who do normal things such as get jealous of each other at work, get exposed to normal behaviour and emotions such as prejudice and loneliness, and speak like real people do. Great acting, great writing.
Also, there’s no time for another arrest – hardly time to breathe even because now it is galloping inexorably towards its climax. This is less like watching TV, more like being abducted by it, cuffed then dragged along. It doesn’t go quite as Jack Bauer as the previous series finale, but still there’s a lot of weaponry about the place, mainly pointed at DC Jamie Desford whose decision-making is looking more and more questionable. With little red laser dots to show where the bullets are going to hit (in Jamie’s chest, mainly).
Balaclava Man! In the house! Got him, good shot, Ted, sir. Are they going to unmask him, Scooby Doo style? It’s … Michael Farmer’s granny after all, I knew it. And is she Mrs A as well…? Sorry, my mistake, it was MRSA not Mrs A, that did for Roz’s hand.
Actually, there’s no on-screen debalaclava-ing. And he turns out to be a long-term violent criminal with associations going back to Tommy Hunter from series one. Almost certainly just one of many Balaclava Men, too. Roz is a bent cop, a cold fish, motivated by greed and ambition, and by pressure from above. While Hilton is an even benter cop. (I knew it, really this time!) Now also a dead one. Suicide, the coroner says (yeah, right). But he’s not Mr Big either, the rot goes deeper still, and higher; there are darker forces out there, but no one’s saying where, or who – they’re too scared. “There are some people there is no immunity from,” says Jimmy, ominously.
A satisfactory conclusion? Yes, although it flew past – I would have liked a feature-length finale. But the series strings are tied up neatly, mostly. Big picture unfinished though, there is scope for more – with Hastings in charge. And Steve walking! Well, just about. Hobbling, but still, that’s nice.
I have a few questions remaining. Like how long can a fingerprint-enabled phone be operated by a finger that is no longer attached to its owner? Would freezing help, or not? And will this mean a spike in real-life digit removal? But mainly just what the hell am I going to do with the huge void that has opened up with Line of Duty’s ending? What is there to lie awake worrying about now? Real life. I guess.