Line Of Duty: Series 3, Episode 2 – Review

Steely Keeley is BACK!

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© Steffan Hill/BBC/World Productions

Written by Michael Lee.

If there was a graph to register the jaw-dropping moments in the second episode of Line Of Duty, then it would have recorded four extremely high, off the scale readings. It is notable that the severed head in a coolbox didn’t even even come close to episode two’s sensational peaks. Where do we start?

It has to be with the death of Danny Waldron in the opening minutes. Or ‘peak one’ as it’s otherwise known. Not only is it wonderful that this wasn’t another of those fake, quickly resolved cliffhangers but the sheer bravado of killing off the person everyone thought was the new lead this early on is beyond stunning. The way it was handled adds to the gravitas. There was no soaring music just a view of DC Arnott’s face from the ambulance as the bleeping stops and a voice says “Life extinct. 08.34”. It was so softly done yet had an impact capable of breaking Twitter. Was Danny a bluff by Jed Mercurio? To some extent, maybe but the bigger picture of his story might already be etched back in series one.

Just when it seemed to be going all Broadchurch 2 with two separate stories (a current case and a trial) the cat is let out of the bag and suddenly a volte face towards the camera finds steely Keeley (Hawes) is back in the house. Or in this case prison cell.  That’s right, Lindsay Denton is back (‘peak two!’) to mess with our collective consciousness again. It is frankly extraordinary that with all the hype nowadays they kept the whole thing such a closely guarded secret, serving as a reminder in this spoiler obsessed world that the element of surprise must never be taken for granted. It turns out we are at her retrial with Arnott’s methods in question, as is every bloody thing in this show.  To be critical, the court case literally came out of nowhere and its introduction felt clunky but the element of surprise in the Denton reveal made it worth it. She’s soon playing the jury just as she did us, the audience two years ago, Hawes revelling in her all-consuming shiftiness. Welcome back, Lindsay you wonderfully problematic creature you.

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‘Peak three’ is the apparent suicide of Rod after his late night meeting with Hari. Could the family man really be on a murder spree? His world is unravelling as he seems to be paying for the “one mistake” he made. We don’t know what that mistake is yet? Or do we? Don’t worry if you’re not keeping up, there’s a lot to take in and the things we are supposed to take in usually serve as a red herring. Some lines that seem throwaway are essential with regard to the plot. A facial expression is also worth its weight in gold. Take Dot’s wry smile as he’s told the Ronan Murphy file is a dead-end. It’s wry for reasons we don’t know yet. Feck it. We don’t know anything. There’s plenty to ponder on Cottan alone. Why did he take the list from the envelope? What is his connection to Danny? Was he in the same football team as him? Was that Dot on the phone to Hari at the end? Will he finally be found out for the villain he is? How disrespectful is it to waste a good cup of tea?

Then there’s the rest. Is there a paedophile ring connection going on?  What is Hari’s dark secret? And not just the one about him killing Waldron. Is he all set to be the main player this series? Did he kill Rod or was it really suicide? Is Kate’s line of questioning the most unsubtle ever undertaken by a plant? Will Denton find freedom? Is Arnott’s job on the line? Murphy’s dog turned out to be alive but whose going to look after it now? Has anyone else got a headache?

For ‘peak four’ it is fitting that in this massive circle of deceit we end on Lindsay Denton alone in the cell rehearsing her lines as if she were an actor about to go on stage: “I had no prior knowledge of the operation to remove Tommy Hunter” Yes, Tommy Hunter. We are back there again. The camera closes in on that name as Dot burns the list. An unexpected full circle it may be, but Line Of Duty isn’t treading old ground, it’s heading in a straight line to classic TV status. 9/10