Line Of Duty: Series 3, Episode 5 – Review

“Denton will rightly become known as a classic character of our time.”

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(C) World Productions

Written by Michael Lee.

Click for previous episode reviews.

Breathing is the most natural thing on earth, so much so that we don’t know we’re doing it most of the time. Tonight’s penultimate episode was such a masterclass in tense wonder that many times I realised I was not breathing at all such was the quality of drama on offer. Not breathing is a dangerous thing to do which is apt because pretty much everything in Line Of Duty is dangerous too.

Performance wise, everyone brought their A game here. Adrian Dunbar’s face sold a million words, cutting all around to size. From his upset at having to suspend Arnott and his shock at the Fairbank revelations to the venom in which he accused Gill (Polly Walker). Though flawed he may be, Ted stands above everyone else in the show as the high point of morality even if there’s not much competition in that area. Then we have Martin Compston‘s paranoia seeping into upset as Arnott sheds tears in the meeting room. Meanwhile, Craig Parkinson plays his dodgiest cards yet as Dot holds it together by spreading idle gossip while squirming as his cover is quickly slipping. Then of course there’s Keeley Hawes, once again cutting through the atmosphere with belligerence and cunning. There’s so much to admire.

In true LOD style it was the showdowns that formed the most spectacular set pieces. Arnott’s disbelief and anger at being served a ‘Regulation 15’ and hitting out at Cottan who shrugs and smirks his way out of the room was the masterful moment Steve finally clicked that Dot was a wrong ‘un. Then our recently suspended hero soon meets up with his recently freed-from-prison nemesis. Lindsay spits “I want justice and I don’t care how unjustly I get it.” She is using Arnott to prove her innocence and he is using her to solve his case. As ever, there’s more agendas going on than a twenty-four hour-long episode of Question Time. Back in the offices, Fairbank was a stuttering blind man leading himself a pack of lies during a less than fruitful interview. It was another mesmerising scene. He feigned complete ignorance and forgetfulness to the growing frustration of Fleming and Hastings, but one senses his selective non memory might get a lightbulb hovering above it soon. Ted was incredulous and we couldn’t take our eyes off him during his diatribe against bent politicians and celebrities with loose morals.

Speaking of which, paedophile rings are not a new subject mater in TV dramas but never has a story cut so raw to the bone or so uncomfortably close to reality. Not only content with referencing members of parliament, there is a surprise moment where an image surfaces of Roach and Fairbank posing with Jimmy Saville. Fiction has been photoshopped into reality to make a very brave statement – especially so considering this is a BBC programme. It is a jaw dropping moment and may prove controversial to some. If it was done simply for shock-value in the name of entertainment then it would be questionable, but this is about the wider picture and that is being sensitively handled. We’ve seen the effects of the abuse on Danny Waldron and we see it again in episode five as another victim throws up at just the sight of Fairbank in a photo. It’s highlighting the wheels within wheels behind those who abuse their power and the suffering of people who get dragged into its slipstream. There is also the direct comparison to the workings of AC-12 itself at play here. The villains are hiding in plain sight. The politicians and celebrities were working from inside the system just as Dot is doing, and of course there’s the not very small matter that he’s the major linchpin between it all.

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The closing stages ratchet up the unbearable sense of impending doom further and from the moment Dot took it on himself to follow Denton’s footsteps it felt like the grim reaper was lurking in her shadows – and so it proved. No matter how much we will miss the mad adventures of Lindsay (and we really will), we must not forget that she went out a hero of sorts. In not accepting another bribe and forwarding ‘the list’ to AC-12 with her last text (and testament) she proved all her cynics wrong. She said she’d never go to jail again and sadly that’s beyond doubt now. We bid farewell but don’t be sad her story’s over – be happy that the mighty combination of Mercurio’s writing and Hawes’ portrayal happened. Denton will rightly become known as a classic character of our time. As for Dot, he may have swapped some registration plates over but there’s the small issue of his fingerprints all over the car. And the issue of the envelope. And the… oh you get the idea. Surely he’s cornered himself into oblivion now? Come out with your slippery hands up.

For next week’s finale we have an extra thirty minutes because obviously our nerves aren’t shredded enough are they? We already know series four has been commissioned so its guaranteed there will be plenty of loose ends left dangling seductively for the next two years. We are all rooting for Arnott to be vindicated and for Dot to get the comeuppance that has been three series in the making but will he get away with it again? If so, surely we will have to rename the show ‘Carry On Caddy’?  Whatever is in store expect shocks by the gun-barrel load.  You’ve got a week to calm you nerves and stock up on inhalers. Exhilarating, gripping and many more words ending with ing, Line Of Duty continues to astound without resorting to cheap tricks.  This is event television at its creative best. 10/10

REDACTED FILES

  • Kate pulling back from Dot’s “affections” suggest she might be on to him. Is she investigating both Cottan and Arnott with much more grace than she did the firing squad?
  • So all that was on the audio was “a little fumble?” Disappointing!
  • Maneet was back. Thank goodness. Just a stomach bug. Nothing to worry about everybody. False alarm.
  • Will Dot get to the email before anyone else? Let’s hope not.
  • Hopefully after being told of the Fairbank information, Hasting understands Arnott isn’t the bad guy after all and if the Superintendent follows last week’s character profile his gaze should now turn to the real villian.Worst case scenario: Steve goes down for Dot’s transgressions.
  • Who else thought for a fleeting moment that Dot was going to shoot himself?
  • Would it be weird to hold a candlelight vigil in honour of Lindsay Denton? Asking for a friend.