Friday 19 April 2019

Line of Duty review: 'The plot is thickening, like soup that’s been left sitting on a hot stove for too long'

5 stars

Line of Duty - John Corbett (Stephen Graham) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aiden Monaghan
Line of Duty - John Corbett (Stephen Graham) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aiden Monaghan

Pat Stacey

**WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF LINE OF DUTY**

Phew! So, the photo of the corrupt cop teased in last week’s Line of Duty cliffhanger wasn’t Ted Hastings after all.

It was the late, unlamented Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan (Craig Parkinson), aka The Caddy, who recruited vulnerable Sgt Jane Cafferty (Sian Reese-Williams) to the dark side.

Come on: you didn’t really think it was going to be Ted, did you? Writer Jed Mercurio was never going to blow the gaff by revealing the identity of H, the puppet master pulling all the strings, with three episodes still to go and a sixth season already greenlit.

Definitely not. Or should I say “definately”? Did you cop that this was how H misspelled it in his (or her) text replies to undercover officer John Corbett (Stephen Graham) last night?

Read more: Line Of Duty viewers spot spelling blunder in latest episode 

Make a mental note of that. It might be hugely important later on. Then again, it might not. It could well be just another bit of mischievous misdirection by Mercurio, who loves wrong-footing the audience.

Anyway, this means – heave a big collective sigh of relief – that our Ted is in the clear, doesn’t it? You must be joking! As Ted himself might say: “I didn’t float up the Lagan on a bubble, fella.”

Line of Duty has been going out of its way to point the finger of guilt at Ted by having him act suspiciously. Last week, we saw balaclava woman Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall) calling someone on her mobile. They didn’t answer.

Quick cut to Ted in his hotel room, holding his phone. He has a laptop too, with the same messaging service onscreen that H is using to communicate with the gang.

Then there was all that shifty hovering around, peering through the glass while Kate (Vicky McClure) and Steve (Martin Compston) were showing Cafferty the photos. At one point, Ted drifted to the door and looked about two seconds away from bolting out through it.

The whiff of sulphur was even more overpowering last night. We saw Ted frantically wrapping his laptop in bubble wrap and getting rid of it at a computer recycling shop.

If he really is H, though, surely he wouldn’t risk letting a laptop full of incriminating evidence fall into someone else’s hands? Surely he’d just smash it to pieces or dump it in the nearest river?

Ted seems to be guilty of something, possibly some bad choices or financial impropriety (his nose for business investment is just lousy), but I don’t think it’s being H.

Everything about his dire personal circumstances – he has lost his money, his house and his wife, and can’t even pay the bill for his grubby hotel room – points away from it, even as everything about the brilliantly clever editing, which is as crucial to the success of Line of Duty as the writing, points to it.

Episode by episode, the plot is thickening, like soup that’s been left sitting on a hot stove for too long.

One H that we know for sure is corrupt is DCS Hargreaves (Tony Pitts), who was unmasked (literally) after last night’s raid on the storage facility.

Unfortunately, Hargreaves, who tipped the gang off that the police were waiting for them, won’t be ’fessing anything up, since he was shot dead by Corbett.

A furious Corbett, who claims he aimed low, intending to only wound Hargreaves (mmm . . . iffy), blames Steve for the cock-up, claiming once again that Hastings is up to his neck in it.

“You’ve crossed the line!” he tells Steve. “You crossed the line a long time ago,” Steve snaps back. This season of Line of Duty is all about crossing lines and walking tightropes.

Corbett appears to be unravelling, pointing his gun at Steve one second and at his own head the next. It’s still difficult to tell which is the real Corbett, though, and which side he’s on.

Whatever the truth, it’s a scorching performance by Graham.

Herald

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