I often believe that the measure of a good TV drama is how much you think about the events of an episode after the credits have rolled. A lot of times I’ll forget about the episode long before I have to write about it or discuss it, but occasionally they’ll be a show that dominates my thoughts throughout the week. That’s definitely a trait I can apply to pretty much every instalment of Line of Duty and particularly the fourth episode that aired tonight. I’m not quite sure why it’s stayed with me but I believe that it was primarily caused by the tone of uncertainty that ran throughout episode four.
Part of that uncertainty was caused by the fact that Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) was hospitalised for the entire episode and only really appeared in one scene. After the events of last week’s episode, it appeared as if Nick Huntley (Lee Ingleby) was complicit in his wife’s crimes and that he may even be the balaclava man who attacked Steve, leaving him for dead. Nick instinctively rang wife Roz (Thandie Newton) who agreed to help clear up his mess after he revealed he followed her on the night of Tim’s murder believing she was having an affair. This explained why his car was in the vicinity of Tim’s flat and may well clear him of being anything more than a paranoid husband. One thing we did learn was that Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi) was indeed a criminal lawyer associate of Nick’s who helped him during his rather brief interview at AC-12. I have to admit that, after watching this week’s episode, I’m not sure that Nick did attack Steve and he appears to be another person who’s taking the fall for the ultimate villain of the series.
Whilst Steve’s absence in this episode was explained by his catalogue of internal injuries, Kate (Vicky McClure) had very little dialogue in an episode where she was finally exposed as an undercover officer. Obviously, suspicions were raised when Kate started asking questions about the incriminating blood spatter that was found at Tim’s flat and swapped by Roz in an attempt to cover her tracks. I felt that when AC-12 decided to have the blood spatter retested that Roz’s underhanded tactics would start to be exposed especially when it was revealed that there was an anomaly found that had gone undetected during previous tests. One thing I did know was that Roz’s second official interview at AC-12 would be a lot more intense than her first and I wasn’t wrong.
An element I really appreciated about both Nick and Roz’s interviews in this episode were the mistakes made by Steve’s replacement Jamie (Royce Pierreson) who was visibly nervous throughout. These small details are what I love about Line of Duty and Jamie’s inability to find evidence as quick as his predecessor is believable due to the pressure he’s under. It also grounds a character who I thought I’d find annoying after his quick debut last week.
However, the main interview was a brilliant back-and-forth between Roz and Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) both of whom were keeping their cards close to their chest. This interview felt the climax of a lot of what had happened up to this point as Hastings and Jamie used the evidence that they’d built up to try to discredit Roz. However, she fired back with accusations of misogyny against Hastings and attempted to discredit the AC-12 organisation as a whole. Although we’ve seen characters take AC-12 to task in the past, most memorably Lindsey Denton, this is the first time that I feel that we’ve seen Ted Hastings brought to task in such a brutal fashion.
Credit must go to all involved for creating such a brilliant scene with both those in front and behind the camera deserving equal praise. I love all the minor details during these interview scenes down to the noise the tape recorder makes and the preparations being made before the main players take their seats. Adrian Dunbar brought vulnerability into the part of the interview were Hastings was being berated by Roz and it was interesting to see his character trying to defend his treatment of women. However, this scene, and the episode as a whole belonged to Thandie Newton. Newton shone throughout the interview scene, especially playing the aggressor as Roz appeared to thrive in being the person in the driving seat. But I felt the more powerful scenes were between Newton and Lee Ingleby as we saw Roz play the aggressor over her weaker husband. The scenes in which Roz started slapping Nick were difficult to watch and were perfectly played by both Newton and Ingleby.
Although that interview scene and the snapshot of the state of the Huntley’s marriage were memorable sequences, the part of the episode that’s stayed with me since I watched it earlier in the week is quite surprising. It was the one which saw AC-12 stalwart Maneet (Maya Sondhi) nervously handing a file to ACC Hilton (Paul Higgins) when the two met in a darkened alley. As we’d seen throughout the episode, it was Hilton who’d seemingly been feeding information to Roz in the hope that he’d be able to persuade her to engage in an illicit affair. Although the scene with Maneet could have just been her giving more information to use against AC-12, I personally believe that it’s something bigger than that. My theory is that Hilton is working with AC-12 and pretending to aide Roz in her AC-12 investigation whilst at the same time trying to expose her corruption. I just feel his verbal attacks on AC-12 were a little too over-the-top to be believable especially when he told Roz that he felt the organisation should be completely shut down. This would of course mean that Hastings anger at being embarrassed by Roz was manufactured but it wouldn’t be the first time that Line of Duty had fooled its audience.
At the end of the day it’s futile to try and second-guess where Jed Mercurio is going to take us next. My overall state of unease has been brought on by the fact that I’m not sure where the plot can go from here. Roz has pretty much trashed her case against AC-12, Kate’s been exposed as an undercover officer and Nick appears to be innocent of being balaclava man. However, there are still a lot of questions to be answered and even more that having been asked yet, but I’m certain I’ll still be thinking about every little detail of this instalment until I’ve watched episode five.