Tuesday 15 October 2019

Line of Duty season 5 finale review: 'Gripping, gruelling, nerve-shredding 85-minute finale'

5 stars

Ted (Adrian Dunbar), Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) and Tranter (Natalie Gavin). PIC: BBC/World Productions
Ted (Adrian Dunbar), Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) and Tranter (Natalie Gavin). PIC: BBC/World Productions

Pat Stacey

The truth always comes out in the wash eventually in Line of Duty, but never has the process been as gripping or gruelling as in last night’s nerve-shredding 85-minute finale.


The centrepiece was a classic Line of Duty interrogation scene: a tense, 17-minute duel of wits between Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and the ice-cold DCS Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin, this season’s secret weapon), who appeared to have an overwhelming amount of evidence proving Ted was H.

This was Hastings as we’ve never seen him before: broken and on the ropes, his dignity denuded and the evidence piling up against him as Carmichael twisted the knife again and again, springing one damning surprise after another.

Scientific analysis of the £50,000 found in Ted’s hotel room – which the slimy Mark Moffatt (Patrick FitzSymons) denied giving him – showed it came from the same stash of money the criminal gang used to pay Malhotra and Cafferty.



CCTV footage showed Ted taking his laptop to a disposal shop. Humiliatingly, he said he had got rid of it not because it connected him to the criminal gang, but because he didn’t want anyone knowing he had been watching pornography.

Knowing Ted the way we do, as a pillar of moral rectitude, this simple explanation made perfect sense.

Equally convincing was his claim that he’d spotted the misspelling “definately” in the computer comm-

unications between H and the gang and replicated it in his own messages. It should have been obvious that this is just the kind of thing a stickler for detail like Ted would pick up on.

However, the real gut punch came when Carmichael revealed that the late John Corbett (Stephen Graham) was the son of Anne-Marie Gillis, the informant who Ted had cultivated but failed to protect during his time as a young RUC officer in Northern Ireland.

Ted, riven with guilt for decades over Anne-Marie’s murder by the IRA, simply crumbled to dust before our eyes. It was an astonishing piece of acting by Dunbar.

There was one more bombshell: Ted’s DNA had been found on Corbett’s body. The charge had just been upped from corruption to murder.

Luckily, Kate (Vicky McClure) and Steve (Martin Compston) rode to the rescue. While Ted had been going through his ordeal, they had put the squeeze on the shifty DSU Powell (Susan Vidler) and learned that none other than smug, slippery police legal counsel Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker) – finally unmasked as a bad ’un – had recommended Corbett for the undercover job. They had even unearthed a recording, secretly made by Corbett of Biggeloe poisoning his mind against Ted.

The perfect pawn was chosen to set up the perfect fall guy.

Biggeloe, who had been present throughout Ted’s grilling, sent an emergency text to her masters requesting to be pulled out of there, but Kate and Steve had locked down the building. “The cavalry isn’t riding over the hill,” sneered Kate.

Maybe having another bent cop, a young female sergeant from Carmichael’s unit, trying to kill Biggeloe in the toilets before being shot by Steve was a flourish too far, but it was a tiny, forgive-

able blip in a thrilling finale that ended with yet another teasing twist.

Steve spotted something in the video of the dying ‘Dot’ Cottan (Craig Parkinson) that had been missed. Before Cottan lost consciousness, he used his finger and thumb to tap out a Morse code signal: four dots, which stands for H. “H is not a person, it’s a clue,” said Steve.

A clue signifying that there were four rotten apples, not just one, at the top of the corrupt chain, and one of them is still very much alive.


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