SPOILER ALERT: Do not read the review unless you have watched Line of Duty – Series Two: Episode Six
It may not have had the mouth-gaping dramatic turns of previous episodes and most of the bad guys may have failed to get their comeuppance, but the finale of BBC2’s Line of Duty was immensely satisfying and subtly gripping in a way not seen sine Broadchurch entranced audiences last spring.
In the end it was revealed that Denton was a part of the ambush. A moment of weakness brought about by a chance encounter with Carly Kirke persuaded her to agree to Akers’s plan to ambush Tommy as punishment for continuing his nefarious ways while under witness protection.
Of course, such a neatly defined resolution would be at odds with a show that has revelled in the subtle way it makes the audience doubt everyone. It’s therefore unsurprising that the overriding emotion when Denton is handed a life sentence is one of pity.
Denton was never a bad cop, never enticed by the lure of money even as her crippling debts mounted; in fact, Denton spent most of her life toeing the party line and all it got her was a miserable affair and a regrettable forced abortion.
Her one mistake was choosing to bend the law to save Carly Kirke, with whom she felt a motherly-connection, which only left her scrambling to cover her tracks as events spiralled out of her control.
Though some may dislike an ending that never attempts to wrap things up neatly by catching up with the real bad guys, such a resolution would have felt misplaced, especially as we all know that sometimes only the really bad get to win.
It therefore seems fitting that the one character who gets to come out on top is the perennially dodgy Dot Cotton who not only keeps his role as orchestrator of the ambush hidden but is also rewarded with a promotion to AC12. The only solace is that we will surely get to enjoy Craig Parkinson’s bent copper weaselling his way through a third series.
While much of the debate focused on the motivations of the bad guys, it was the airing of Hastings, Fleming and Arnott’s individual flaws that I found most intriguing.
For a time it looked like Hastings would choose to ignore Dryden’s crimes in the hope of securing a promotion to save his failing marriage, but in this episode he reaffirmed his sense of moral obligation by insisting he wanted to throw the book at Dryden.
Arnott showcased a mind-boggling ability to seduce a witness and two of his colleagues into bed, a talent he eventually put to good use to find the evidence to finally incriminate Denton.
However, it was Fleming’s mounting personal troubles that proved most surprising. In an unusual storyline for a female character, Fleming was reduced to living in her car after cheating on her husband, later turning up drunk at her family home demanding to see her son. The guilt she felt for having an affair with Akers’s husband ultimately drove her to solve the case, a determination that became more pronounced as her personal life collapsed.
The finale of Line of Duty may have felt a tad subdued without a showy final twist and with far less action than previous episodes, but it is an excellent example of subtle, long-form storytelling that can rival any TV show in the world right now.
Click here to watch the trailer for Line of Duty – Series Two