Line of Duty series four, episode one: a rollercoaster ride

Thandie.jpgNB Spoilers within for series 1-3

WOW! What an opening episode. I hardly know where to begin.

DCI Huntley surely can’t die, since the apparent star of the previous series was bumped off by the end of episode one and it would be daft to repeat the same con trick again. Her eyes definitely opened at the end, albeit I had to rewind to check (I imagine a few viewers were watching from between their fingers by that point).

Given the depth of the conspiracy that spanned the first three series, I’m interested in the notion of police corruption as nothing more than a personal survival tactic. It certainly seems possible that Huntley is merely responding to the entirely unsubtle suggestion that her career – put on hold for years while she raised children – will be toast if she doesn’t crack this case soon. It’s like The Replacement meets The Departed.

The chaos of the crime scene was very well conveyed by the frantic opening scenes. Could Huntley or someone else have planted evidence? Possibly. Will it have been enough to successfully fit Michael Farmer up for the crimes? Possibly not. After all, framing a suspect isn’t just about getting him charged – it’s about getting him prosecuted too. This guy clearly isn’t the full shilling, and even if his lawyer appears to be nodding off on the job this isn’t Making a Murderer (my bet: he isn’t nodding off at all and will turn out to be a star in court).

There were hints at a potential broader conspiracy, such as Huntley’s refusal to make more of the victims’ involvement in prostitution, but this must surely be a red herring given that sexual exploitation was at the heart of the previous plot. Everything else was similarly ambiguous. Did Huntley accompany Kate to interview the suspect because she wanted to keep him quiet, or because she wanted to make the interview process scrupulously fair?

I have to say, I’m not massively impressed with Kate’s efforts. If memory serves the last time we saw her she was in full GI Jane mode, tearing about the streets in pursuit of the bad guys. Now she’s been promoted to DS but her day-to-day duties still involve ingenious disguises (ie parting her hair very slightly differently) and super-subtle chat with those she’s infiltrating (if you have to say “we’re both on the same side”, I reckon there’s a chance you’ve already raised suspicions to the contrary). She smugly tells Steve she knows what she’s doing (getting in a little dig about him botching his undercover job back in series one), but I had exactly the same questions he had. Can the suspect even drive? Does he own a car?

It’s odd how seriously the pair of them take their interactions with “the gaffer” Ted, given that he treats them like his own slightly over-indulged niece and nephew. “A young lad might go to prison for a crime he didn’t commit!” Ted exclaims. “If police wrongdoing was part of it, I want to know.” And if Steve keeps his bedroom tidy and washes the car every Saturday morning, he might get a boost to his pocket money.

Most importantly, I’m not sure how we should interpret the resourcefulness and apparent confidence of Tim as he tackled an impromptu dismembering job. Why did he have all those evidence bags at home, and was that balaclava in his bag because he is “balaclava man”? If so, why would he of all people be trying to persuade Huntley – and indeed AC-12 – that Farmer is not said man?

Either way, that was a cliffhanger worthy of Breaking Bad. Waiting until next Sunday will be torture!

Published by Shona Craven

Writer, editor, talking head

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