Every new series of Line of Duty, we promise ourselves we’re not going to fall down the same rabbit hole. Not going to start a splinter WhatsApp group to do a running commentary as each episode airs. No rewatching previous series for new hints and tips. And definitely no getting into deep AC-12 theories on Reddit into the early hours of the morning.
So, here we are, bleary-eyed and wondering whether it's time to plaster the dining room walls in whiteboards and red string. After last week’s bombshell episode – prison breaks! Murders! Blackmail! – we were left with the ultimate cliffhanger: DCI Joanne Davidson is revealed to be related to somebody on The Hill’s DNA database. Who could it be? And does it offer any clues about who H is? Time to get our tinfoil hats on.
Theory 1: DCI Jo Davidson is related to...
Newcomer Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) has clearly been shady from the very start and is being controlled by the OCG to act against her will: disrupting a police raid, planting evidence on her former lover, PC Farida Jatri, and in cahoots with gangster-turned-police-infiltrator Ryan Pilkington. The cliffhanger at the end of episode four showed Steve Arnott and Chloe Bishop presenting the gaffer Ted Hastings with evidence that Jo’s DNA matched with somebody else’s also currently on their files. There’s a big clue in the wording though, as Steve says of the document revealing the secret: “He’s identified over the page”. So we have the gender of Jo’s dodgy relative, for starters. Here are the prime suspects.
Currently the favourite for many viewers, but is it too obvious? Hunter, you might recall, was the leader of the OCG in series one, a paedophile who abused boys at the Sands View children’s home and who was eventually killed in hospital. Is Jo Tommy’s daughter, hence why she told Farida that she had “no family?” And is “being Scottish” really enough of a link?
In a series-stealing turn from Stephen Graham, UCO John Corbett not only infiltrated the gang as a mole (and was killed by Ryan when they discovered he was the rat), but it was revealed that he had links with Ted Hastings. Hastings, while serving in the RUC, is believed to have had an affair with Corbett’s mum, Anne-Marie McGillis, who was later mistakenly killed for being an informant.
Several viewers have pointed out that the picture Jo has of her mum looked a lot like Anne-Marie, so could Jo be John’s secret sister? To take the theory even further, could Hastings be her dad?
Danny was a central storyline in series three, when it was revealed the police officer had suffered horrific sexual abuse while he was in care at Sands View. His mum died when he was 11 and things didn’t work out while he was living with his dad . Could he also have had a sister who was also sent into care?
Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan
Dot Cottan is definitely one of the members of arch-villain H – which is made up of four people, as he revealed in some mad morse code hand twitching on his deathbed. He was the one who ordered Tommy Hunter to be killed after he discovered he was in witness protection, and giving to the police. If Jo is related to Dot in some way – sister, maybe? – is that why she’s being forced to carry out the work of the OCG against her will?
We’ve never gotten to the bottom of how Lee and Carl Banks are related, but Carl was bumped off for boasting that he was the hitman who killed off Gail Vella, while Lee made a slight return in e4; killing Jimmy Lakewell in prison. What could be the other reason for bringing Lee back from s5? And why did Hastings visit him in prison in the last series? Could Jo be part of the Banks crime dynasty?
The curveball, as suggested by a viewer: is Jo Ryan’s mum? A woman claiming to be his mum appeared in earlier series, but this could be a set up, and maybe Jo is Ryan’s biological mother – with Hunter his father? Perhaps he never realises, and ends up killing her, in an Orestes complex twist? A longshot, but no more absurd than a dying man signalling out secret codes with his hands.
Theory 2: Ted Hastings is the Gail Vella informant
According to Reddit user barbarian_days:
“Maybe Ted was whistle-blowing/communicating anonymously to Gail Vella last season via his computer, hence why he disposed of it (he might also have been looking at porn, but who were those phone calls and blurred chat messages with?). They were discussing the OCG, and perhaps Vella fed information to Ted about Hillside Lane being a nest of corrupt officers, so he sent Kate in undercover there before the Davidson stuff happened and didn’t disclose anything to Steve.”
Theory 3: Gail Vella discovered that the OCG and police are grooming children in foster care and planting them in the police force
Twitter user Eleanor Crossland has the whole damn thing worked out – and it’s pretty convincing in its detail.
“The police and the OCG were working together to exploit vulnerable children in foster care systems. Jo Davidson was one of these foster kids...she is following OCG commands because she has been doing it her whole life and knows what they are capable of and their full reach in the police.” She adds: “She is feeding Kate information to put her on track to reveal a bigger conspiracy...and maybe Davidson is trying to save current foster kids from reaching the same fate as herself and being trapped in a system (represented by her crying in the car)”.
A commendation and a handshake from Buckells if she’s right.
Theory 4: The final H is not a person, but a place
Following on from this expansive theory, that would make sense of another idea doing the rounds at the moment, that the final ‘H' of the quartet is actually The Hill, AKA Hillside Police Force, and that Dot was revealing a whole system of corruption running through the station. This one's looking more credible as this series progresses.
Theory 5: PCC Rohan Sindwhani is the fourth member of H
We’ve gone into this theory in depth here, but ultimately, Sindwhani appears to be the highest-ranking bent copper of them all: covering up and lying about police corruption, shutting down Ted and AC-12 (can’t be accused of corruption if there’s no anti-corruption unit). Plus there's the smoking gun: footage of him talking to Gail Vella, but storming out halfway through when he didn’t like her questioning.
Theory 5: DC Chloe Bishop is Tony Gates’ daughter
It seems too much of a coincidence that Chloe has the same name as the late Tony Gates’ daughter, who was about 10 years old when he died a decade ago. He was having an affair with Jackie Laverty, which ultimately got both of them killed in the end. Could Chloe have followed him into the force to finish some business? Or is she another mole from the OCG sent to do their dirty work? One fan on Twitter is even looking for clues on a sartorial level:
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