Line Of Duty: a salute to PC Maneet Bindra
There’s much to admire about Maya Sondhi’s Line Of Duty character. Major spoilers ahead in our salute to Maneet…
Warning: contains spoilers for Line Of Duty series 5 episode 1
The tale of PC Maneet Bindra is a tragedy in the classic sense. She wasn’t a bad person, far from it. She just made a gods-defying mistake and it led to her inescapable downfall.
One of the gods Maneet defied was of course, Supt. Ted Hastings, the god of truth, side partings, and being above reproach when it comes to the law. Ted is a man who sticks to the rules and regs like gum to a shoe sole. No moral relativism or sob stories for him, fella. After all, he didn’t come up the Lagan in a bubble, whatever that means.
Ted’s inflexibility is his own fatal flaw, and one that might be given pause by Maneet’s sad story. When he vented his hurt and anger at her in that final interview, Ted made Maneet want to put things right. She agreed to help her cousin a second time and put herself at great risk by contacting the OCG and attempting to bring AC-12 evidence they badly need. You could say she did both, as she told Lisa in the series five premiere, for family.
As we lay PC Bindra to rest, here’s why she’ll be greatly missed…
She was good police
When Steve told newcomer Tatleen in the series five opener that Maneet knows what she’s doing, he wasn’t wrong. PC Bindra was good at her job. So good that in series three, she put the willies up Dot Cottan whenever she was tasked with investigating something that could expose his corruption.
Finding one car in thousands scrolling through traffic camera footage, triangulating mobile phone signals, rifling through hard drives, tracing owners, documenting evidence, following up with forensics. Maneet did it all and did it well.
Respect for the chain of command being key to the police service (unnatural as it may seem to us, note Steve calling Kate “ma’am” after her promotion to Inspector in the series five opener), when Maneet, a police constable, was asked by Derek Hilton, an assistant chief constable, to perform a duty, she naturally obeyed. The same thing happened when DI Cottan, another corrupt officer, ordered her to keep quiet about forensics findings in series three. Despite her misgivings, Maneet followed orders.
And yet, she wasn’t a total pushover, indicating that she had the makings of a good AC-12 officer. She confided her fears about Dot to Kate, was part of the panel that interviewed a powerfully connected former officer, Chief Superintendent Fairbanks, about his involvement in historic child abuse cases, and was the one to take DCI Huntley’s mobile phone from her in series four.
She contributed to just about every major AC-12 case breakthrough
In series three, Maneet was the one who made the connection between Sergeant Danny Waldron and Sands View children’s home. She also came up with the idea of tracking down Joseph Nash, one of Danny’s peers at the children’s home, enabling them to identify child-abuser Councillor Dale Roach.
In series four, Maneet discovered that Roz Huntley’s phone had been switched off for a suspiciously long time on the night of Tim Ifield’s murder, which raised suspicion about Huntley’s alibi. Maneet also spotted Nick Huntley’s car hanging suspiciously around Tim Ifield’s flat on the night of Tim’s murder, and when she traced its owner, tried her best to warn Steve off going to meet Huntley, but alas, was too late to stop him from being attacked. Maneet later found the CCTV image of the Balaclava Man who attacked Steve.
Finally, Maneet was the one who discovered that the lawyer who had defended a sixteen-year-old Michael Farmer (framed for murder) was none other than corrupt solicitor Jimmy Lakewell, a key factor in exonerating Michael.
She was instrumental in bringing down The Caddy
In series three, Maneet was behind the breakthroughs that led Kate to suspect Cottan was in fact The Caddy, exonerating Steve.
In the finale, Maneet came in to the office on her time off (baby in arms – she was a mother of two when she died) and identified using traffic cameras that Steve’s car had been fitted with fake license plates when it followed Lindsay Denton, later found dead in said car. This helped to incriminate Dot Cottan, who was actually driving Steve’s vehicle and had murdered Denton.
Previously in the series, Dot had put pressure on Maneet to suppress forensics results relating to the list Danny Waldron left of the Sands View child abusers, because it contained the name Tommy Hunter, and could therefore have linked Sands View to the criminal gang. She followed the chain of command but her conscience didn’t lie easy. Eventually, Maneet spoke up and told Kate that Dot had been pressurising her to conceal things. That was the nudge Kate needed to step up her investigation of Dot and identify the true Caddy.
She was funny
The first time we meet Maneet is in series three episode two when she answers the phone to Steve, who’s searching a crime scene and trying to trace the owner of a dog. Quick as a flash, Maneet quips, “If you give me the number Sarge, I’ll try and get you a lead” Boom! Steve rolled his eyes, in no mood for shenanigans, but Maneet immediately gained a place in our hearts.
When, heavily pregnant in series four, Maneet first met DC Jamie Desford, he asked her when the baby’s due. For a laugh, Maneet acted offended and pretended that she wasn’t pregnant before letting Jamie off the hook.
She also stood up for herself. When Steve was throwing his weight around in series four, getting angry at the team’s lack of progress, he told Maneet, “Every piece of evidence that Roz Huntley’s got on Tim Ifield’s murder we go through it. Every piece no matter how small.” Maneet, being excellent and justified, replied “Funnily enough, that’s what we’ve all been doing, Sarge.”
She loved AC-12 like family
When Dot pressured Maneet to keep the forensics evidence from Steve in series three, she took the next day off work sick with a stomach bug. She used the same excuse the day after she attempted to put Tatleen off the scent of her good-for-nothing cousin. Lying to AC-12 literally made Maneet sick.
When, after refusing to help ACC Hilton further, she took early maternity leave in series four to extricate herself from an awful situation, Maneet told Hastings, “The last thing I want to do is let you and the department down.” Look at the tears streaming down her face in the lift on the way out, and it’s clear she meant it. “I’d appreciate if you don’t say too much to the team. I don’t want anyone making a fuss” she told Hastings, knowing that her conscience wouldn’t cope with any kindness from the colleagues she knew she’d betrayed.
After giving those files to Hilton, whenever Maneet was praised by Kate, Steve or Hastings, she looked uncomfortable and upset. She saw AC-12 as family, even participating in Kate and Steve’s surprise for him in series four by announcing “Someone to see you in your office with Kate, sir. He wanted to introduce himself, sir,” and then it turning out to be an out-of-hospital Steve.
Yes, she betrayed AC-12 and lied to cover it up. As Hastings said exasperatedly in the series five premiere, she could have come to him about Hilton and her cousin, but given the way Hastings reacted to her confession, it’s not hard to see why she didn’t want to face him. Especially because…
She looked up to Ted Hastings
Maneet many have described Hastings (accurately) as harder to turn than an oil tanker but she respected the gaffer. She put up with his “good girls” and (before ACC Hilton ruined it all for her) beamed under his praise. When she lied to him about giving those files to ACC Hilton, you can bet she didn’t do it lightly.
Finally, and this is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but when AC-12 is at Polk Avenue copying documents from Roz’s team in series four, an officer handed Maneet a box. What did she say in return? “On you go,” a favoured idiom of Ted’s.
Yes she did wrong, but she was done wrong. On you go, Maneet. You and Maya Sondhi will be missed.