Line of Duty series four, episode two: That escalated quickly

Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1What most impressed me about the opening episode of this series was the ambiguity of DCI Huntley’s actions. Was she deliberately ignoring evidence, or just headstrong? Was she trying to silence suspect Michael Farmer, or just trying to ensure a vulnerable man got a fair trial? And if she was acting against her own better judgements, was that due to pressure from her superior or some other, more sinister motive?

But when she breezed into work, cool as a cucumber, having bumped off the guy who put AC-12 on her trail, a lot of that ambiguity seem to go out the window. The late-night visit to Tim’s flat showed she was willing to bend rules and apply pressure, but murder? (OK, maybe technically manslaughter given she woke to find him coming at her face with a power saw).

I suppose we could view this as further evidence of her dedication to her career. She could, surely, have told everyone exactly what happened (Tim’s tool purchases, disguise-wearing and donning of a forensic suit would have gone some way to back up her far-fetched story), but in doing so she would have had to fess up to professional misconduct. So perhaps she’s willing to risk everything if it means there’s a chance of keeping her job.

Swapping blood samples is all very well (another nod to Making a Murderer perhaps) but surely the investigation into Tim’s death will lead to the discovery of his late-night trip to B&Q? Surely her car will have been caught on CCTV pulling up to his building? I can’t help but think honesty would have been the best policy here. Unless, of course, the corruption Tim had sniffed out involved greater crimes than cutting someone’s throat…

Huntley’s interview with Hastings and Arnott was a gripping reminder of what Line of Duty does best – for all that this series is stretching credibility to the max, these scenes always ring somewhat true thanks to the little details (we’ve seen the good-cop-bad-cop flow interrupted before by a union rep pointing out the squirming suspect’s right to be questioned by an officer of senior rank). But this time around the pair were on even stronger bamboozling form than usual. Huntley’s cool exterior started to melt when Hastings pointed out that an “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence”.

Regular viewers will remember Hastings as a bit of a dinosaur traditionalist, but I noted his “wee girl” references a bit before Huntley called him on his use of gendered (and infantalising) language. There are echoes of The Fall both here and in the decision of the new male CIO to start referring to the Operation Trapdoor victims as “prostitutes”.

Speaking of DCI Buckells – are we supposed to remember him from a previous series? What is his past connection to Kate? Please don’t tell me the key to this story will lie in details from episodes shown many years ago. A “previously on” reminder wouldn’t go amiss if so.

Published by Shona Craven

Writer, editor, talking head

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