Explaining the Line Of Duty series 2 finale

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:

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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?

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“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.”

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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?

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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.”

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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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