With just one episode left of series six, Line of Duty could theoretically go anywhere. After all, who had sweepstakes at the end of the last series on Kate Fleming finding old camera footage of Dot Cottan tapping out morse code signals with his fingers on his deathbed to reveal more about the arch-villain H? Exactly: absolutely no one.
While wild theories are always flying around online – which is half the fun of watching it, really – there are always a couple of out-there ideas as to where the plot will go, or the real life cases that inspired storylines, enabling us to predict the outcome of AC-12’s latest investigations.
Over on the Reddit Line of Duty group, one commenter believes he’s cracked this particular case, all thanks to the 1949 Orson Welles-starring film, The Third Man. Stick with us; it’s not as tinfoil hat as it sounds.
For those unfamiliar with the plot: Harry Lime is hit and killed by a truck, and he’s pulled from the road by two other men. But when Lime’s friend, Holly Martins, arrives to investigate, he hears from eye-witnesses that there was a third man on the scene of the crime. Spoiler alert – I think we’re safe, 72 years on since its release – the eponymous man was in fact Lime, who faked his own death to escape police prosecution from his crimes.
What on earth’s this got to do with series six of LoD? Well, it appears the parallels are being set up quite nicely. In episode six, all eyes were on the former DI Marcus Thurwell, last seen in a loud shirt on a marina in Spain, and all evidence pointed to his previous cover-ups for the OCG meaning that he could be the missing final person who makes up H – who has consistently been referred to as “The Fourth Man” in this series – and that he was in charge of orchestrating all the evil goings-on in the fictional land of Central Police.
As well as possibly being the final piece in the quartet, there’s the potential that he could be the person coercively controlling DCI Jo “No Comment” Davidson, and that he could be her bent copper stepdad, as revealed in episode six. At the end of this episode, there was a Spanish police raid on his villa, where he was allegedly found dead alongside his wife, but it appeared to be too dark to properly identify them, leading some viewers to question if Thurwell had faked his own death.
Reddit user curtisdanks22 goes one step further, though, and thinks it’s the paedophile ganglord Tommy Hunter – who was declared dead in series two – who actually faked his death, and that he’s in cahoots with Thurwell. Please turn to document 74a in your evidence folder.
The Fourth Man will refer to a suspect who is believed to be dead. Tommy Hunter is a prime candidate for H.
Hark back to the ambush of Season 2. The police were shot, the witness too. Why did the OCG set the car on fire? [There was] mutilation of the witness. The burns to his face left him disfigured. Note that Hunter was only identified by witness protection records, not by DNA analysis or dental records of the victim.
He then posits that Tommy Hunter may have controlled policemen in the force, but he needed a high-ranking officer to pull off all his other demands: Marcus Thurwell – or should we say, Marcus Hunter.
[In the] interview with acting DSU Davidson sees her shocked at her alleged parentage. But her mother had told her the truth. Her real father is indeed a former officer. None other than Marcus Thurwell. Samantha Davidson was raped by her brother, her other brother. Marcus Thurwell is really Marcus Hunter.
That would explain why Thurwell threw the investigation of Lawrence Christopher (to prevent his nephew, Darren Hunter, from conviction), and covered up evidence in the Sands View scandal.
The LoD superfan continues.
When Jo was sixteen, Tommy incited her to join the police. A continuation of a winning formula. The OCG grew in strength with “Thurwell” planted in the police force. This recipe was replicated with DI Cotton and DCI Davidson. Pilkington was the next iteration. Head of the Hunter Crime family, this would explain why the OCG refers to Marcus Thurwell as “H”. Misdirection was offered by the frequency of the initial in the surnames of officers. Hilton, Hargreaves, Hastings etc. Identity of “H” was never likely to be guessed by viewers given his alias. And Jo Davidson has already set the precedent for a name change allowing Hunters to hide in plain sight.
Wow. A lot of time has been spent on this theory. As for what this all means for the end of this series, he suggests that Thurwell is not dead, and he will return to the UK – and perhaps it was actually Tommy's body found in the Spanish villa.
It could be that he assumed control after the arrest of his brother. Or more likely he was the head all along. And Tommy did his bidding. Thurwell was the brains. He was pulling strings from overseas. Killing his own brother would help cement Thurwell as the most cut-throat villain of the series.
Who knows if he's got it right, but Jed, maybe offer him a gig on the writing staff for series seven.
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