The golden trio is back together again (almost) and all is well in the world.
It’s taken three episodes of this series of Line of Duty to reunite Hastings, Arnott and Fleming in the same room, but good things come to those who wait.
To recap, DI Kate Fleming ‘cooked her goose’ after tipping off her new boss, DCI Joanne Davidson, that AC-12 were on her trail and planning a raid. Superintendent Ted Hastings, already feeling bitterly let down by Fleming’s decision to quit his team and move to murder, announces that he’s through with her, when he learns she has sided with Davidson.
Of course we, the viewers, don’t want to believe this. We hope that Fleming will find her way back into the fold. When her suspicions are aroused that PC Ryan Pilkington is involved in an attempt on Terry Boyle’s life, (he tries to drown him in a lake after causing the police car they are travelling in to veer off the road), she alerts newly promoted DI Steve Arnott.
It’s not the warmest of reunions when Fleming and Hastings come face-to-face for the first time.
“DI Arnott, you told me we had a new source, but you did not tell me who,” he says frostily.
Fleming tells the gaffer that the attempted murder of Boyle could not have happened without leaks and/or collusion from Davidson’s team. During a second interview, Boyle had been about to reveal the identity of a man seen arguing with the now deceased CHIS, until Davidson stepped in and called a halt to the interrogation.
“My first duty as a police officer is preservation of life sir, that’s why I’m here,” Fleming tells her former boss.
“In that case, DI Fleming, this department is grateful for your co-operation,” he replies, followed later by a subtle, little nod of acknowledgement between the two.
Doesn’t it give you a warm, fuzzy glow?
When Arnott looks up Pilkington’s file, he’s shocked to recognise the murder team’s latest recruit. He reminds Fleming of the officer’s youthful links with the OCG. The penny drops; Fleming remembers interviewing him as a juvenile offender while Arnott points out that he tried to chop his fingers off. The pair are onto him now and not before time.
Pilkington, meanwhile, is being lauded as a hero for ‘rescuing’ Boyle, even though another officer drowned in the lake. Fleming knows he’s behind the accident though and quizzes him – why take a different route than planned? Why open his window? Why did the dead officer have broken finger nails and bruising to the back of her neck? Pilkington looks nervous, as well he might.
We also hear about the mysterious H for the first time this series when Hastings is called for a meeting with Deputy Chief Constable Andrea Wise and Police and Crime Commissioner Rohan Sindwhani. Prior to the meeting, AC-12 are shown unaired footage of murdered journalist Gail Vella, in which she grills Sindwhani about police failure to pursue officers who colluded in child sex exploitation. She says instead, they went after celebrities and VIPS, including an unnamed elderly popstar, with no charges ever brought. The lines between fact and fiction blur here and if it feels like a social commentary about the BBC-filmed police search of Cliff Richard’s home, that’s because it probably is.
Hastings gets to resurrect one of his most famous lines when he tells Wise that he and his officers conduct themselves ‘to the letter of the law’. Wise later tells him to stop chasing phantoms and to give up on the notion of ‘H’.
“Your inquiry into ‘H’ should close,” she says. “This isn’t about old battles.”
Hastings replies: “The name is Hastings, mam. I’m the epitome of an old battle.” That’s the quote of the night.
Elsewhere, Arnott’s problems worsen when AC-9 turn up to carry out random drug testing. But he manages to bed Steph Corbett, even if his back pain means sex is off the cards. Still, it gives him a chance to poke around her home and unearth a large wad of cash. Does he suspect his boss is the generous donor?
Once again Davidson manages to deflect attention away from herself and lines up DS Buckells as the latest fall guy. With Farida Jatri in prison and intimidated out of talking to AC-12 again, there’ll soon be no one left in MIT, save for Davidson, Pilkington and Fleming.
Now that AC12 has discovered that the dumped fridge from Boyle’s flat was used to store Jackie Laverty’s dead body for seven years, they know there’s a link between the OCG, Laverty and Vella’s murders. That’s the impetus to spur them on. Everything is linking back to series one and Hastings is on a mission; to get justice for the dead and to finally bring down the elusive last ‘H’.