Explaining the Line Of Duty series 2 finale

Feature Louisa Mellor 20 Mar 2014 - 09:55

Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio has kindly answered some viewer questions about the finale to his superlative second series…

Warning: contains enormous spoilers, as you might expect.

One of Line Of Duty’s many praiseworthy aspects is its respect for an audience’s ability to make connections, pick up on inferences and draw conclusions without being beaten over the head with exposition. We salute its makers for that, just as we salute them for creating another utterly gripping and emotional six hours of television.

Saluting done with, in flagrant opposition to the esteem in which Line Of Duty holds its audience we’ve prepared the below. It’s a handy guide to lingering doubts about what happened in the series two finale, using definitive answers from a BBC post-finale online Q&A with creator Jed Mercurio, which can be read in full, here.

Straight from the horse's mouth then, here's what Mercurio says:

1. Who planned the ambush?

“To answer a common question: the ambush was set up by Cottan, acting as an intermediary between Tommy's criminal associates and corrupt officers Akers, Prasad and Cole."

"The plan was to kill Tommy and anyone who knew about the conspiracy to kill him. Denton was spared because she was ignorant of who was behind it all.”

2. Why was Akers killed in the ambush?

“Prasad in his testimony at the start said that Akers was killed because she knew too much about the plotting of the ambush.”

3. Why wasn’t Denton killed in the ambush?

“Cottan asked Akers if Denton wanted to know details, and was satisfied that she didn't.”

“In the end, we felt that it was credible that the conspirators didn't kill Lindsay. Even if she was investigated, she knew nothing about who was really behind the ambush. After all, her best guess was that it was Mike Dryden, which was completely wrong. And, having taking Akers' bribe, Lindsay had a lot to lose by coming clean to AC-12.”

4. Why did Akers involve Denton in the ‘handover’?

“In the scene between Akers and Lindsay, Akers said Tommy would be handed over to the criminals who wanted him silenced. Obviously something bad would befall him but Akers and Lindsay would have to live with that. Akers had no idea she would be targeted, due to her knowledge of the conspiracy. Akers could have made up any story to make Tommy move to somewhere he'd be vulnerable to an ambush, but she chose to involve Lindsay, having caught Lindsay questioning Tommy about Carly's disappearance. Akers took the chance that Lindsay would cooperate due to Lindsay's desire to help find Carly.”

5. Why did Mike Dryden call Lindsay ‘Linda’ on the phone on the night of the ambush?

“In case his wife overheard him taking a call from his ex.”

6. Was Mike Dryden being blackmailed by Tommy?

“Dryden was unaware of the blackmail effort. But he was aware that Lindsay Denton had seen him in the car with Carly. So he was worried that Lindsay might try to use that against him in some way. Hence the need for an alibi. His wife's speeding offence seemed to him like the perfect opportunity to create one.”

“Dryden denied any knowledge of the blackmail. If he was telling the truth, that means he never saw the photos of Carly. Certainly that would appear to be how he reacted in the interview at the end of Episode 5. As Prasad said, at a point in Tommy's blackmail effort against Dryden, a decision was taken to turn on Tommy and silence him instead.”

7. Why was Carly Kirk’s murder faked?

“As explained by Prasad, they did this to increase their leverage over Dryden -- he would be more susceptible to blackmail if he feared he could be connected to a murder.”

8. Why did Prasad and Cole abduct Denton from custody?

Prasad and Cole were the Range Rover drivers watching Denton in the exercise yard and who drove the prison van off the road. They’d had enough of her blabbing to AC12 and had come to finish her off. Cole killed Tommy because the criminal underworld wanted Tommy dead. Prasad killed Cole because he was considered to be a liability. (NB: Not Mercurio’s words, but confirmed by him to be true).

9. What did Akers phone Fleming to say on the day of the ambush?

“This was one of two phone calls (the other being Dryden's call to Lindsay on the night of Carly's disappearance) that we had planned to explain if they became very important to the overall conspiracy, but in the end we decided not to include these scenes in the series. We shot the scene of Dryden's call to Lindsay but it didn't make the final cut. Something similar happened in Series 1 - we shot the scene of Gina McKee's body being found but dropped it from the final cut of the last episode. There are strict rules on the running times of episodes and sometimes scenes have to be left out in order to abide by the broadcasting regulations.”

10. How did the ambushers find the convoy after Lindsay changed routes?

“They were tracking the vehicles via the tracking device on Lindsay's car.”

“In constructing the logic of the ambush, we never specified the location where the ambush would have taken place if Lindsay hadn't taken the detour. This was deliberate. It provides the flexibility to place the ambush vehicles on a parallel road at the time of the detour. Seeing the tracker signal deviate, they were able to choose a route to intercept the police convoy, and this happened to lead to a head-on convergence of the vehicles. We actually mapped all this out at the location where we filmed the sequence in case we needed to shoot scenes to explain it in detail later in the series. As it turned out, none of the editorial team felt this was necessary, but I respect the fact that you may disagree.”

11. What did Denton’s “fuck it” and direction change on the night of the ambush signify?

“She was changing her mind about going along with the plan, and trying to prevent the handover/ambush of the witness”

“Lindsay got cold feet about going along with Akers' plan. We always felt there was a danger this particular story point might not be clear to everyone, but it was very important to understand how much she regretted the ambush, and why she fought so hard to conceal her complicity.”

With massive thanks to BBC Blogs.

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I know he's the writer, but this is totally wrong!

Alright, but I still don't get why Denton was originally spared, but then the crooks decide to kill her after shes been talking to AC12. What did they expect to happen? That she'd be given a medal and early retirement?

I saw that as being because they had initially underestimated her skills as a detective. She was beginning to piece things together regarding Carly and in effect she was leading the investigation in some ways, or at least she was forcing AC12 to look in areas that they hadn't as yet looked at.

I suppose as well, although it wasn't mentioned at all, at the ambush Tommy survived and Cole was seen, or his eyes were at the hospital. With Cottan becoming aware of how the investigation was going and elements such as The Caddy being brought into things it didn't strike me as odd that the tactics would change. Especially if Denton's death could be covered up as an escape from custody.

In what way, made sense to me?

Why did Denton log out of the copper's computer (can't remember his name), thus letting him know she'd been snooping on it? Surely it would have been better if e hadn't known?

They had history of winding each other up prior to that. Also, presumably logging out would not allow him to see what she had been looking at.

I think she was spared because she didn't really have any information of who was behind it, save Akers. She was also a handy scapegoat.

I can't remember at what point the Caddy came in to things, and what Cottan was trying to persuade Morton to do in connection with the Caddy's identity.

Thanks Vader :)

I hope in the 3rd series Denton gets released - and Cottan gets sent down!

The character of Cottan is difficult to resolve. Is he a vigilante within the WP group or he just a bent cop who cares nothing about anyone? How could a conscience allow Lindsay to be tried and convicted to prison? Prison denies humanity (even in Britain). How could her misgivings about the plan be so serious that she remains the only one deprived of her freedom? It seems to me that Cottan- now secure in a position of power in anti-corruption-is evil personified.

Sorry to be so late, but Season 2 is just starting, here in Asia.

My thoughts:
DI Denton got the "raw end of the deal" pardon my Americanese. Her troubles began when she did the 'right thing', that is when she decided to turn away from the ambush area. I guess it is a bit similar to Hastings losing his chance of promotion due to doing the 'right thing.' But perhaps she received a life sentence due to pleading "Not Guilty." If she had plead "guilty' then perhaps she could've received a lighter sentence.

DC Fleming is not a very good detective. She is too sure of things to be able to explore other ideas and other suspects. And she is too easily confused to the difference between 'facts' and 'opinions.' In the prison interview with Denton, she said that Denton has consistently lied to her. That was incorrect. the correct, factual thing was that Fleming thinks that Denton lied. Fleming was of the opinion that Denton lied. That werent' the facts, those were her opinions. She formed an opinion, then stuck to it, regardless of, and oblivious to, further data and information.

Of course, she's one of the 'good guys', so we get to see her crying in the loo, as if regretting her mistakes. But in the next scene, we get her giving Denton the Evil Eye, resolute in her suspicion of Denton.

Also of course, Denton was guilty, just not of the crime Fleming thought she was guilty of.

DS Arnott is practically a womanizer. Will that come around and "bite him in the ass" in the next series?

Adrian Dunbar is a national treasure :-)

Actually we already know Cottan was the Caddy, the camera showed him with a certain look as Tommy's video mentioned the Caddy. The series practically shouted "It's him! It's him!" with large arrow neon lights blinking "Here's the Caddy! It's him!" flashing around him. :-)

My thoughts continued…
Will we see more of Dryden next season? Would he hold a grudge against Hastings and/ or Dryden?

Will the series delve further into the criminal group responsible for Tommy’s death?

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Keeley Hawes’ performance.

Wow! That. Woman. Can. Act!

What a performance. She delivered volumes of emotion and information simply through a lifted eyebrow or a certain look. I think it’s safe to say that the success of season 2 is a large part due to her performance. Bravo!

All in all, good performances, good writing, good directing, good job done by one and all. Congratulations

The thing is none of AC 12 are likeable people, even in the remotest , the only likeable person was denton , and she goes to jail for life! The AC 12 are just horrible people, they distrust everyone, use anyone for their own personal and career gains, and live in shades of grey them selfs, cold and emotionless. They all sound like most government workers!

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