Eammon Jacobs reviews the fifth episode of Line of Duty Series 5…
As the fifth series prepares for a feature length finale, all the evidence is pointing in one direction; Ted Hastings. It’s piling up so much in fact, that it’s too overwhelming – there’s no way he can be ‘H’. However, this episode keeps adding to the suspicions of AC-12 and the newly introduced AC-3. After using the faked IP address to impersonate H, Ted goes rogue for a meeting that he pre-arranged in front of everyone, it’s the perfect cover. While we finally get to see Hastings and the OCG onscreen together, it never quite feels like a massive reveal, but instead just a stepping stone to something bigger.
It’s a shame that after the death of John Corbett, we don’t have the unpredictable firecracker that is Stephen Graham onscreen anymore to keep the series full of energy. This latest episode was a slow-burn that took its time to build to a dramatic crescendo rather than revealing secrets or pulse-pounding action. And although that would usually work in the show’s favour, it’s being dragged out. Since there isn’t a secondary storyline here, some of the scenes don’t quite feel as powerful as they should do. Annoyingly, the multiple layers of evidence and clues come off a little bit self indulgent of Mercurio at times.
But once DCS Patricia Carmichael enters the episode, she saves the day. The intense interrogation scenes that the series excels at snap at Hastings’ heels, backing him into a corner. With her polite smiles and direct line of questions, Anna Maxwell Martin really hammers it all home. She’s easily the best thing about the penultimate episode in the series, whether she stays on for a future series isn’t clear – but after that introduction, it would be seriously disappointment not to. Adrian Dunbar’s performance is gripping as the audience’s opinion teeters in between denial or conviction at his guilt – he’s been the driving force of the series and it’s never been more clear.
Although this was initially one of the slowest episodes so far, it finally took the time to develop Fleming and Arnott, even if it was in the briefest of scenes. The toll the job is taking on Steve’s mental health is increasingly obvious, and suddenly it becomes clear that he’s not as fine as the cool front he puts on makes out. After an awkward sexual mishap with his ex, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the troubled officer. Could this be the start of the end for his career? And with Fleming’s marriage also starting to crack once again thanks to her promotion, it feels like a never ending circle that the good guys never quite catch a break – regardless of how many criminals they put behind bars.
While there’s so many red herrings flying about, the one element the show hasn’t explored too deeply is Gill’s involvement. And in this episode she almost seemed delighted that Ted was served with suspension and an interrogation. She has to be embroiled in the OCG somehow, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Ted is being framed from someone more senior than him. Although if it’s DCS Carmichael, it’ll feel like a cop-out by only just introducing her now. But after that dramatic ending of Hastings being held in custody, it’s going to be a long week waiting for the finale…