This Line of Duty review contains spoilers.
Adiós Marcus. So much for Jimmy Nesbitt’s starring role. Those of us looking forward to a Hastings v Thurwell Northern Irish grudge match next week will have to go without. Unless the finale features an interview between AC-12 and a fly-buzzing body bag, that’s Nesbitt’s character done with. The Jed giveth, and the Jed taketh away.
Who giveth the order to kill Señor and Señora Thurwell? (Some time ago by the looks of those decomposing corpses. Certainly longer ago than the few days between their discovery and ‘Unknown User’ ordering Jo to get rid of Kate.) It would have to have been the real ‘H’ covering his tracks – surely CC Osborne rerouting his IP address via Spain with a VPN? Osborne’s guilt was decided the second he put trackers on AC-12’s cars. What possible reason, other than needing to know when they were coming for him, could he have had to do that? He’d already closed down the unit and forced Ted to retire. The trackers were one precaution too many from that nervous little piggy.
Credit where it’s due, without Osborne’s trackers, Jo and Kate might have successfully gone to ground, checked into a Travelodge, split a Jalfrezi and had all this out. We’ve him to thank for the exhilaration of watching Kate Bullitt around the streets in Steve’s little Mazda, her finest action sequence since the season three finale.
Kate survived the shoot-out, as if there were ever any doubt. After all, this is DI Fleming we’re talking about, the auburn-haired, steel-eyed ma’am of calm. After a night in which she was lured to her death, held at gunpoint, killed a man, participated in a city-wide car chase that ended in an armed police barricade plus helicopter, got arrested, and performed a masterful emergency stop that saved Steve’s tyres from a spike strip, Kate let only a single tear fall down her album-cover cheekbones. What a woman. I’ve melted down in grander style about an over-long queue at Morrison’s. Fleming then spent a night in a cell (all three of AC-12’s major players now having had their turn at wearing the sweatshirt of shame) and the next day was back in the roll neck jumper of justice, having assumed command of the rapidly depleting MIT.
Let’s hope that whatever they dig up from under that White Rock cement floor is incriminating enough to put CC Philip Osborne on the other side of the table in the finale interview scene – a Line of Duty tradition as faithfully observed as mince pies at Christmas. Unless, that is, we’ve already had our extra-long interview in this week’s Jo Davidson marathon. If so, weighing in at 29-plus minutes, nobody could complain about being short-changed.
That was an acting masterclass from Kelly Macdonald, who executed perfect control over every emotional valve. Information flowed, and was cut off, flowed again, and was stopped dead. The different inflections Macdonald gave to each side of Jo: the bewildered victim, the noble repentant, the ultra-capable cop who breathes out lies like CO2… were all captivating. This was the pivot point when our sympathies moved firmly in Jo’s direction. She exonerated Terry and Farida, and admitted to manipulating Buckells (“It wasn’t hard.” You don’t say. There are lamp posts with more wile.) Also, Jo clearly loves Kate as much as we do, which is only going to endear her to the nation.
The interview scene was also a writing masterclass in precision. The ‘No Comments’ told their own story, one that showed Jo as surprisingly virtuous. She admitted to everything she could personally take the blame for (and more, in the case of Ryan’s death) but expertly dodged anything that would incriminate the OCG or their police counterparts. No fool, Jo knows that her choice is to stay quiet or be killed. There’s nowhere they can’t get to her, as her final scene being menaced by those cartoony HMP Brentiss goons showed.
On the subject of cartoon evil, Pat ‘the Guvnor’ Carmichael couldn’t have looked more bent if she’d tried – which, on this drama, probably means that she isn’t and that for her, it’s just all about her next promotion. Pat’s only an anti-corruption officer insofar as she’s anti any suggestion that corruption exists, unless it hurts AC-12. She powered down for much of this episode, only activating her malfunctioning theme park robot smile whenever the conversation approached Osborne, whom she treats with the veneration afforded to one of the starrier popes.
It was generous, this penultimate instalment, giving us a lot. With an hour still to go, the case is more or less solved. We know who killed Vella, we know why, and we know how. We know what steps were taken to suppress the investigation and by whom. We know Jo Davidson’s terrible family secret (and now so does she), and that she’d been coerced into a life of corruption. We firmly suspect that CC Osborne has been pulling the strings since day one. What we don’t yet know is whether poor, poor Ted will run out of time before he can be brought down. Things were left with Jo in danger, Steve in trouble, the gaffer in bits, and Kate in charge. With one episode of this ludicrously diverting series remaining, can AC-12 get this job done? For the sake of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey, let’s hope so.
Line of Duty series 6 concludes on Sunday the 2nd of May at 9pm on BBC One.