Gah! Another cliffhanger means another agonising seven-day wait, this time to find out the fate of Kate Fleming, who finally came face-to-face – or gun-to-gun – with Ryan Pilkington, the most bent copper of them all.
But stop; rewind: first we need to discuss the revelation of who DCI Joanne Davidson’s blood relative was, as uncovered by Steve Arnott and Chloe Bishop. It’s...Tommy Hunter('s account)! We had to wait an interminable five minutes before the bombshell finally dropped, by which point it landed with a thud, rather than a bang. (For those who’ve forgotten, and fair enough it did happen almost a decade ago, Tommy Hunter was the leader of the OCG in series one, and was also a prolific paedophile at the Sands View children’s home. He was ultimately bumped off in hospital.) I just about made out what Steve mumbled quickly after, about there being an unusually high percentage match of “runs of homozygosity”, which, when put through Google translate for us non-scientists, means Tommy Hunter is probably Jo Davidson's dad. Yikes. Must be a bleak Christmas round her house.
Anyway, no time to dwell – AC-12 are trying to link together other cases that might have something to do with Gail Vella’s murder. Steve confirms that Jimmy Lakewell – the imprisoned lawyer who had his throat cut for being a rat in episode four – did indeed give up a name: Lawrence Christopher (more on exactly what that means later). “But that was 20 years ago!” says Kate. Correct, but it weaves in a new, posthumous plot line, to offer more motivation for current gang activity.
But there’s more pressing police activity, thanks to some stellar work from Kate, who’s managed to narrow down the weapons workshops to three warehouses (she’s also probably cursing the open-plan office set-up, which means Ryan can peer at whatever she’s got on her screen).
MIT are on for a bust and the cops are told to hand in their phones. They’re also confined to the station until the raid, in a move aimed at finding out where the leaks are coming from. Ryan, of course, has a burner phone stashed in his boot, and is caught by AC-12 surveillance in the act, tipping off two gang members to clear the workshop. But Steve and co are on it: they catch them before they can clear out, fatally shooting both of them, including the bearded dude who was last seen passing a burner phone to a very distressed Jo earlier on in the series.
“Now we’re sucking diesel!” crows Ted (strike that one off your Line of Duty slang bingo card), but he’s canny enough to know that hauling Ryan in means giving up his boss (“we’ll be left holding a sprat when we should have a mackerel”, quips Ted). Ted’s just been given a kick up the arse by PCC Rohan Sindwhani, who tells him that he’s resigning after being thrown under the bus by Chief Constable Philip Osborne. Does this mean that Rohan has *whisper it* morals? Maybe he’s not H after all, especially since he reveals he’s fought to keep AC-12 in action, and implores Ted to carry on in “whatever time you’ve got left”. Which isn’t long now, given the forced resignation letter that was sent to the gaffer earlier on.
It’s then time for the deep dive on the Lawrence Christopher case, which seems to have been inspired – even in name – by the racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, in which a young Black man was killed by a gang of five white men. In the real world, the subsequent mishandling of the case led to an inquiry, which concluded that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist. Something similar happens to the fictional Central Police, as we learn that Christopher died in police custody after being hit in the head by a lead pipe during a gang attack, and was mocked and racially abused by police. This was covered up, the attackers weren’t forensically investigated and were later released without charge, and Christopher was branded as being a gang member, when he was in fact an innocent architect. Then, a big photo of Jimmy Nesbitt shows up on screen: he’s senior investigating officer Marcus Thurwell, who somehow managed to sweep the whole mess under the carpet.
This is where you need to bring out Post-It notes, highlighters, pins and red string, as the gang explain the links between Vella, Christopher, Thurwell and even Chief Constable Philip Osborne, who’s back on the scene again (and looking even more likely to be a potential fit for the final member of ‘H’). So, deep breath: Marcus was involved in the series one investigation of child abuse in Sands View, which implicated Dale Roach and Patrick Fairbank. During that whole farrago, social worker Oliver Stephens Lloyd turned whistleblower, and then turned up dead. His death was written off as a suicide by Thurwell, but Thurwell’s scarpered to Spain and now no one knows where he is.
We find out that deceased journalist Gail Vella was investigating why there was no inquiry into the Sands View scandal. She’d requested interviews with Ros Huntley, Gill Biggeloe, Lisa McQueen and Lee Banks, who agreed to talk with her from prison. She completed that interview, but was murdered the night before she was due to speak with Fairbank. A quick visit to Banks from Steve not only confirms that the (now deceased) hitman Carl Banks was indeed Lee’s brother (as we predicted), but he lets slip that when Hastings visited him in jail in series five, he tipped him off that John Corbett was a UCO in the gang, which is why he was bumped off. Was it revenge for Corbett torturing Roisin, Ted’s ex-wife? Highly likely. It would certainly explain why Hastings gave a guilt-tinged £50k to Corbett’s widow, Steph. Knowing all this information puts Steve in a precarious situation; isn’t this precisely the sort of bent coppery that Ted claims to be fighting so valiantly?
But there’s more from Vella’s leads (it’s a shame she was killed, really, as she’s proving far more effective an investigator than AC-12, even from beyond the grave). Tommy Hunter’s son, Darren Hunter (who might be Jo Davidson’s sister) was the prime suspect in the Christopher case. Hunter Senior ordered Thurwell to obfuscate the investigation, getting him off the hook. Also on this case were Ian Buckells (him again) and Philip Osborne (him again, again), both of whom would benefit from the murder of Vella, as she had worked out the link between Christopher and Sands View. “Could one of them have given the order?” Steve wonders aloud. You reckon? My money’s on Osborne, and we’ll likely see more of him in the final two episodes, as well as a reappearance from Thurwell.
Jo’s late-night DMs from the OCG big boss still don’t look much fun. “I can handle AC-12,” she types, with shaky hands that don’t instil much confidence. “I can sort it”. Except, she can’t, and the response is chilling: “Time’s up. Get rid of her [Kate]”. Gulp.
Anyone still marvelling at the star turn from Anna Maxwell Martin in the last series was in luck, as our pass-agg queen returned. The bad news is she’s taking over from Hastings at AC-12, as part of its merger with AC-3. Still, who couldn’t fail to be infuriatingly amused by DCS Patricia Carmichael’s deadpan delivery and smug face, especially when she proffers the crushing news that she wants Buckells released and that all of the department’s surveillance is to be stopped immediately. That includes tracking Ryan and Jo, which puts Kate in a pickle, as she’s just agreed to meet up with Jo to talk about “personal stuff”.
Jo’s previously warned off Kate by telling her she’s going to have her transferred, which Kate defiantly refuses (Kate!) and Jo’s obviously distressed by this, even more so when she is forced to arrange to have Kate bumped off. Alarm bells should be ringing when Jo moves their date from a busy bar to a
romantic deserted lorry park, and Kate duly picks up on this and dials in Steve for back up.
But can Steve and his bad back move quickly enough? Ryan jumps out from the shadows of Jo’s car, as predicted. “Put your gun down!” Kate screams, pointing her own firearm at him. We hear two shots, then the screen goes blank. So who’s gone down? Tune in next week, folks, because Jed’s done it again.
H’s grammar still needs work; he or she still can’t spell definitely (“definately”). Well, it’s not like anyone would have the balls to point it out to them
Hastingsism of the week: “Go for a burton” – RAF slang that means to be ruined, destroyed or killed, and can be traced back to use in World War II, although no one knows exactly how it originated.
Most credible current conspiracy theory? Twitter user Eleanor Crossland has gone one better than Gail Vella, and worked out “the whole damn thing”.
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