Warning: contains spoilers for Line Of Duty series one to four.
AC-12 is back, to sniff out bent coppers, dish out Reg 15s and regard each other suspiciously through glazed internal office walls. The BBC has debuted the first thrilling trailer for series five, which you can find here, along with a host of other information about the new episodes.
Here’s what caught our eye in the trailer…
From the makers of Bodyguard
This is the first Line Of Duty series to air post-Bodyguard, the Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes-starring political thriller that had us all rocking in our seats whispering the words ‘kompromat’ and ‘briefcase’ to ourselves between episodes last summer. Bodyguard was a hit. A phenomenon. A total smash. According to official BBC iPlayer figures, it was bigger than the Beatles, Jesus and sliced bread put together, in a sandwich. A success sandwich. This trailer aims to capitalise on that by tempting Bodyguard fans over to Jed Mercurio and World Production’s other gripping show.
The Balaclava Men, an organised crime syndicate, have been operating in the background of every Line Of Duty series so far. They’ve dealt drugs, committed murders, robberies, kidnappings, cover-ups, defenestrations and baseball bat-based violence for years in and around the city where AC-12 operates. Using blackmail and bribery, the gangs pulls the strings of corrupt police officers to smooth their passage through the criminal underground.
In series five, with the aid of a ‘man on the inside’, the Balaclava Men have hijacked a police transport convoy and murdered three officers in the process. What was being transported? A witness a la series two? Weapons? Cash? Evidence? Something contained in these boxes that they all seem pretty pleased about?
“I’ve got a plan. It’s something big,” Stephen Graham’s character John Corbett tells a gang colleague in the trailer. In a twist to the usual proceedings, guest star Graham isn’t playing a police officer under investigation, but a character described as a key figure in the organised crime syndicate. He’s seen here congratulating the ‘lads’ on a good job jobbed.
They’re not all lads though. Rochenda Sandall plays Lisa McQueen, glimpsed here as part of the Balaclava gang. Is she a true crim, an undercover officer, the real mastermind behind it all?
More links back to series one?
In series one, property developer Jackie Laverty (Gina McKee) was discovered to have been laundering money for the organised crime syndicate using a series of small businesses owned by her holdings company – hair salons, market units and so on. This police cordon investigating a Kingsgate printing business and launderette suggests that AC-12 could be following the money to track the gang once again.
The investigation also takes AC-12 to the riverside, which may be the same site as two murders we know to have been committed by the Balaclava Men in series past. Both were murders disguised as suicides, the first in the 1980s, to silence a social worker making a complaint about child sexual abuse at Sands View Children’s Home, and the second in 2017, to silence corrupt police officer ACC Hilton, who’d been working with the criminal syndicate for years and who was potentially identified in DI Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan’s dying declaration.
“There’s a code name. Didn’t think it was real. H?”
There are difficult times ahead for fans of Supt. Ted Hastings. Like Job, our faith is about to be tested. Whether it was planned from the start or simply a joyfully seized-upon accident, the corrupt and now dead ACC Hilton, DCS Hargreaves and Ted Hastings all sharing the same initial* – the same initial as the corrupt officer rumoured to be leading the Balaclava Men – is going to cause trouble for our man. Prepare for plenty of ‘is he or isn’t he?’ shots of Ted looking shady behind venetian blinds. He isn’t shady. Of course he isn’t. He’s Ted Hastings, son. You’d do well to remember that.
*Also series four’s DCI Roz Huntley.
Secrets in AC-12?
“There’s no secrets in AC-12,” says Hastings, but this trailer would beg to differ. It’s been cut to show a simmering conflict between Ted and his colleagues Kate and Steve. Can they really suspect that bossman Ted is the ‘H’ behind the Balaclava Men? The corrupt officer who ordered a baseball bat and a short dive down a long flight of stairs for his protegee Steve? Surely not.
Tough times ahead for Steve
We see not one, but two guns pulled on Arnott in the one-minute-long trailer, both looking as though they’re in the hands of Stephen Graham’s character John.
Remembering that Steve is something of a punching bag for this show (he’s been kidnapped, had his fingers in a vice and almost amputated, tossed down a set of stairs…), his life doesn’t look as though it’s getting any easier.
Here, Arnott looks pained. Seeing as series four’s attack cast doubt as to whether he’d even walk again before he made a swift recovery, could series five see Steve hiding the continuing effects of his injuries from his colleagues? Or, you know, has he just been putting it about and sleeping over at witnesses’ houses again, necessitating a quick submariner’s freshen-up in the work toilets before returning to his desk?
Blasts from the past
Speaking of Steve’s love life, standing in the mid-ground in this forensic junkyard scene appears to be Aiysha Hart, who plays Murder Squad’s DS Sam Railston, his on-off girlfriend, last glimpsed in the series four finale. Railston works with Tony Pitt’s DCS Hargreaves, another ‘H’ for series five to play with.
This blurry face in a window though, seen watching Kate and Steve walk away, doesn’t look like Sam. It could be Claudia Jessie’s series four character DS Jodie Taylor, the officer who unwittingly aided DCI Roz Huntley to commit a criminal cover-up because of her unerring loyalty to her boss. Or it could just be a nosy cleaner. Time will tell.
Also (we hope) an unwitting aider of a corrupt officer in series four is WPC Maneet Bindra (Maya Sondhi), seen here looking mightily uncomfortable about something. Maneet was the bright spark of series three, making proper coppering connections and making life difficult for bent insider DI Cottan. In series four, she surprised us all when she was seen passing delicate information about AC-12 to another wrong’un ACC Hilton, before disappearing off on maternity leave. The hope is that she was simply following orders and isn’t part of the web of corruption. Now she’s back in uniform, is Maneet on the side of the angels?
To sum up then – a high-stakes hijacking, familial AC-12 tensions, the return of old favourites, a killer of a guest star, and a brand new angle on a story we’ve been gripped by since 2012. In the words of Steve Arnott, i’m in.
But before it starts, let’s get one thing straight. Ted Hastings is true blue. True. Blue. Fella. I’ll have no aspersions cast on the man on my watch.
Line Of Duty series 5 is coming soon to BBC One.