Maybe the real line of duty was the friends we made along the way.
Season 6 of the hit BBC One’s Jed Mercurio drama reached an unexpectedly restricted end tonight (May 2), moving away from the “Mystery Box” formula and toward a broader commentary on institutional corruption within the police.
The spoilers follow the season 6 finale episode of Line of Duty …
That’s not to say the episode was without different flips and projectiles – including the revelation that Ian Buckels appears to be the notorious “fourth guy” in the OCG, formerly known as “H”.
That might be a frustrating conclusion for those hoping to reveal Keyser Söze in full, but it makes sense in the end – and leaves enough room for doubt to keep fan speculation flowing.
There is a sense of the ending for most of the episode, and some unexpectedly happy endings – for Joe Davidson (Kelly MacDonald) and Terry Boyle (Tommy Jessop) in particular.
But others ended the episode in limbo, with the AC-12 receiver itself still in the air.
Here’s a breakdown of the biggest talking points from Duty line Season Six Episode Seven …
After digging the floor in the OCG warehouse, AC-12 discovered a powerful chest containing evidence to solve a number of unsolved murders, including those of John Corbett and Jill Villa. There were no fingerprints on the knife that killed Villa, but there was a glove inside of Karl Banks’ DNA – just enough to finally put the box to bed.
It might be a little nifty, but it’s reasonably clear enough: This was the OCG blackmail box, which has leverage used to keep people under its control. Whether this was a satisfactory end to the Villa realization is up for debate. We’ve known for weeks that Carl Banks is the one pulling the trigger. The only question that remained was who told him to do so.
The bill saved her
Watch Duty line, You’ll tend to think that armed police convoys are among the most dangerous places on Earth. Episode Seven sees another one in the firing line, as Davidson is taken out of prison and transported across town into an ambush. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to happen – but someone smart from Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) saves the day, dropping multiple arrests from the OCG.
With Davidson secured, Fleming told her that witness protection could be entered into, and that her reports consistently indicated that Davidson was forced to assist the Comptroller General’s office against her will. This leaves the mystery of her father, the man her biological uncle convinced her that he was her father.
All indications are that Patrick Fairbank (George Costigan) was the character of Davidson’s ex-father, setting her up for the OCG from within the police ranks. Upon approaching him again for questioning, the AC-12 gets a loud and confusing denial (and rather an exaggeration) from Fairbank, who claims not to remember the details.
Who is the fourth man?
And it was also finally revealed who was sending those sinister instructions to Davidson, the same guy who couldn’t spell “sure” correctly: No one but Ian Buckels (Nigel Boyle). Spelling analysis in Buckles ‘historical police reports, along with forensic analysis of the condemned computer, means the “H” lands puzzle, finally, at Buckells’ feet.
After a long interrogation where Buckles repeated “no comment” like a tug-of-war doll, he finally capsized – telling them that he was the main man in the various OCGs, which operate within the police force. Under a veneer of pesky incompetence, Buckels was escaping the corruption of the ranks.
“I made so many mugs for you,” he said gloomily, assuming arrogantly that he would get witness protection in order to cover up the extent of institutional corruption in the police. However, by lobbying about Police Chief Philip Osborne’s involvement, Arnott and his colleagues were able to pressure him into Catch-22, ending the episode closed.
It’s a slightly disappointing revelation – although the Buckells mix of greed and incompetence is perhaps more life-honored than any more impressive mastermind the show could possibly pop.
As for the mysterious Marcus Thorwell by James Nesbitt, Mercury seems to have thrown us. It is confirmed that the bodies found in the house at the end of the sixth episode are Thorwell and his wife; It was a red herring (now dead). Unless Spanish authorities feed faulty AC-12 information (it’s not like you’ve seen his body’s face before), Nesbitt will never return – and he can consider this the easiest daily act of his life.
Ted Hastings is disowned
The star of the episode was undoubtedly Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), who enjoys the closest thing to a full-on character arc we’ve seen in this so-so-laden TV season. While fans have long assumed that Hastings was quirky the whole time, the final sixth series offered a blanket refutation of the idea, and re-established it as a bastion of virtue for AC-12.
When Arnott and Kate Fleming confront him (Vicky McClure), Hastings opens up about the money given to Steve Corbett, and about the apparent warning to Lee Banks that cost John Corbett his life. Dunbar really strains for BAFTA in this scene, injecting remorse and guilt into Hastings’ veins.
His shouting to Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) at the end of the episode is an interesting sight, and forms the core of what Line of Duty is trying to say with a touch of “H”. Corruption like this never happens once, and is only allowed to thrive due to institutional failures throughout the police as a whole. After he disowned himself, he admitted to his transgressions, leaving the ball at Carmichael’s court regarding punishment. As the elevator descends with Arnott and Fleming, his fate is still stuck in the air – but his head is raised.
Arnott faces the music
It’s been the ticking time bomb at the heart of Steve Arnott’s arc this season: his struggles with the use of painkillers. We watched last episode that he is facing disciplinary action to avoid meeting with a health professional after his drug test result; Finally, reluctantly, he confronts his demons.
The result is not so bad. Like Hastings, Arnott is still in limbo as the season ends, but he is now getting professional help to solve his problem. His acceptance of Hastings – and his supervisor’s wonderful sympathetic, almost fatherly, response – is the sweetest note in an episode with an astonishing number of them. Another emotional mainstay for this episode, and the season as a whole, is Arnott’s friendship with Fleming, and the finale with them ended as strong as ever.
Is this the end?
On the one hand, there was a real sense of end to this episode: for Davidson, for Hastings, to achieve the Villa generation. With “H” obscure (mostly), and six seasons behind now, Duty line It should be nearing the end of its natural life.
However, there are still leads to be answered, and the episode’s final snapshot – stating that “AC-12’s powers to curb irregularities in public office has never been weaker” – will be a particularly downbeat approach to the series. My money is on another run, but it might have a completely different look than it did before ….