Line of Duty series 5, episode 2 review: Jed Mercurio’s zigzagging plot can leave you feeling dim


A blizzard of acronyms continues to swirl and rage as Line of Duty (BBC1) plunges deeper into Jed Mercurio’s nightmare world of paranoia, betrayal and indecipherable police jargon. The (principally) upstanding detectives from the AC-12 anti-corruption unit are on the tail of the OCG that liberated the contraband ED905 – and generally it’s complicated as all HELL.

But amid the alphabetti spaghetti of excellent guys, crooks and MacGuffins are a number of heart-thumping reveals and far satisfying murkiness as sequence 5 of the BBC’s conspiracy juggernaut stretches its legs. The most recent in a distinguished parade of Line of Obligation anti-heroes is confirmed to be UCO John Corbett (Stephen Graham). He’s an undercover operative apparently gone over to the darkish facet infiltrating an particularly ruthless OCG (“organised crime group”, clearly). 

That’s till he reveals to AC-12’s Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), whom he quickly cuffs to his automotive, that he’s really simply pretending to have jumped off the deep finish in an effort to evade the corrupt higher-ups decided to see him fail. By this level, Arnott and the remainder of AC-12 have already cracked open the juicy particulars of Corbett’s secret posting and interrogated his apparently disillusioned spouse (hilariously the mission has the Partridge-ian designation Operation Pear Tree). 

However there’s only one letter that basically issues and that’s “H” – the alias of the evil copper behind the legal plot squatting like a black coronary heart on the centre of the power. Such is Corbett’s principle, anyway, as he confesses to Arnott. He warns the AC-12 man to belief none of his superiors – not even his seemingly upstanding commanding officer Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar). 

Even the slowest of us – and Mercurio’s zigzagging plot can depart you feeling mightily dim – can have labored out that “H” is the primary letter of Hastings. That isn’t the one clue the stoic superintendent may be as much as no good. 

His marriage has disintegrated after a property funding turned bitter. And did you see the look Hastings threw as Arnott and DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) requested compromised policewoman Jane Cafferty (Sian Reese-Williams) to establish the police bigwig who introduced her into the conspiracy? If Hastings had a moustache it could be twirling so furiously that he’d be levitating inches above the ground.   

Fleming and Arnott are additionally coping with the fallout from the gangland execution of their turncoat colleague PC Maneet Bindra (Maya Sondhi). She has been got rid of by Corbett’s crew, having tried to make amends for her low-level betrayal of her fellow officers by spying on the criminals. Did Hastings and firm by accident push her too far? Or is AC-12’s senior detective a puppet grasp manipulating the psychological levers in order that the naive Bindra would place herself in a hazardous place (and wouldn’t it assist if I drew a diagram?) 

As with Mercurio’s 2018 mega-hit Bodyguard, that is dense, pacy enjoyable. And, once more like Bodyguard, the very last thing you need to do is take a second and coldly scrutinise the storyline. Everyone seems to be betraying everybody else and crooked coppers are sprouting like mushrooms in a landfill. Even the survivor from episode one’s drive-by raid, the aforementioned Cafferty, is on the take – blackmailed over an extramarital assignation in a parking lot (the grubby trivialities are one other Mercurio contact). 

No, Line of Obligation has all the time been finest loved by going with the circulation and pretending you’ll be able to’t see the plot holes. As an illustration, it could be preposterous to all of the sudden make Hastings the unhealthy man 5 seasons in. And it certainly pushes credulity to painting Corbett as an trustworthy cop killing and stealing in an effort to full his final mission of unmasking high-level corruption.

However what a romp it’s. And, with Hastings within the body as potential uber-villain and Arnott protecting his affiliation with Corbett from Fleming, there are clearly many additional bends within the highway forward. Line of Obligation has by no means walked straight and this 12 months is proving as thrillingly wonky as ever. 


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