This article contains spoilers.
In the understated words of Superintendent Ted Hastings: Jesus, Mary, Joseph and his wee donkey were Line of Duty fans treated to twists, turns and stomach churns in the penultimate episode on Sunday night (April 26th).
There was a Thelma and Louise-inspired car chase, with a James Bond-style tracker thrown in for good measure, a shocking familial revelation, and a seemingly bent copper singing like a canary (sort of) during an AC-12 interrogation peppered with unforgettable one-liners from an exasperated Ted Hastings. (A mountain, I said a MOUNTAIN of evidence!)
Episode 5 ended on a major cliffhanger which featured DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and OCG-member-turned-police officer Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) in a stand-off as both held one another at gun point.
As episode 6 kicked off, fans were relieved to discover that DI Fleming had delivered the fatal shots to Ryan's chest - she is a trained and qualified Authorised Firearms Officer, after all - with DI Steve Arnott arriving at the scene to formally declare: "He's well gone."
As DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) attempted to persuade Kate that she's not corrupt by sharing information into the Gail Vella murder investigation, she admitted that her father was a bent copper, but she didn't disclose his name.
Later on, while DCI Jo was being interrogated by AC-12's Arnott, Hastings and the slippery Detective Chief Superintendent Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin), she found out that her DNA detected runs of homozygosity, indicating a close blood relation between her mother and her father. Former OCG boss Tommy Hunter wasn't just her uncle, but her father too, after raping Jo's mother Samantha Davidson when she was a teenager. An inquest into Samantha's death in 1996, gave the finding of suicide.
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Jo confessed to AC-12 that she had been manipulated by Tommy Hunter ever since she was a child, and was forced to enrol as a police officer to be his eyes and ears in the force. But she continued to insist that she's not a bent copper.
She also informed AC-12 that corrupt officers were heavily involved in Tommy Hunter's murder, orchestrated by DI Matthew Cottan (Craig Parkinson). Hunter had felt betrayed by the bent coppers involved in his clandestine crime syndicate, and had threatened to expose their identities. Someone usurped his position at the top of the OCG and ordered his killing - but who? DCI Davidson claimed not to know.
And who did Joanne Davidson believe her actual father was? When AC-12 asked who she thought was her dad - who we know is/was a possibly a bent copper - Carmichael is seen giving her an intense glare, and she didn't reply.
Is he 'H', aka the fourth man? If the fourth corrupt officer is a man, and not a woman, or a police station.
We take a look at the likely suspects...
Is Jo Davidson's dad CS Patrick Fairbank?
Patrick Fairbank (George Costican) made a reappearance in series 6, episode 5, when DI Arnott and AC-12's new recruit Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin) visited him at HMP Blackthorn and presented him with fresh evidence into the murder of Gail Vella, after finding a link between him and the case. It turns out that Gail had planned to interview Fairbank but was murdered the night before their appointment...
Arnott and Bishop showed Fairbank an image of Marcus Thurwell, who initially led the inquiry into the Lawrence Christopher murder case - murdered by a gang including Tommy Hunter's son Darren Hunter in an unprovoked racist attack, and left to die by racist police officers while he was in custody in 2003. Gail Vella was investigating the link between organised crime and corrupt officers, and the links between the suppression of child sexual exploitation and the police failure of Lawrence Christopher.
Having been previously diagnosed with early on-set dementia, Fairbank seemed confused, and claimed he didn't recognise Thurwell, before wetting himself when Arnott tried to get him to acknowledge the sexual abuse he carried out at Sands View children's home.
We know that in the 1990s, a group of men including Tommy Hunter and Fairbank routinely sexually abused the boys at Sands View. In series 3, social worker Oliver Stephens-Lloyd was murdered by the OCG after he began investigating the allegations of abuse. The crime group staged it so it looked as though Stephens-Lloyd had taken his own life. Fairbank was investigated by the then DS Arnott and DI Fleming for being involved in the cover up of Stephens-Lloyd's murder, and was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison at HMP Blackthorn for sexual activity with a child, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.
Did Fairbank and Hunter conspire to kill Jo's mother Samantha too, and make it look like suicide? During DCI Jo Davidson's AC-12 interrogation, it's revealed that an inquest into Samantha's death in 1996 was confirmed as suicide, but Jo's reaction appeared to suggest that something even more sinister might have been at play.
Could it be Chief Constable Philip Osborne?
In episode six, we see Chloe Bishop removing the headshot of Chief Constable Philip Osborne (Owen Teale) from the Operation Lighthouse evidence - aka - the investigation into the murder of Gail Vella - on Carmichael's orders, and putting the photo through the shredder.
Going back to Line of Duty's very first series and episode, an innocent man - Kareem Ali - was mistakenly gunned down by members of the Strategic Firearms Command as part of a failed counter terrorism raid, which was loosely based on the real-life police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005.
Through intimidation and the abuse of power, Osborne demanded that officers covered up their mistake and claim that Ali was acting aggressively which prompted them to shoot in self-defence. Steve Arnott refused, and was then recruited by AC-12's Ted Hastings, due to his integrity and conducting himself to the letter of the law, the letter!
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Back to series six, and Philip Osborne is responsible for cutting back on AC-12, merging them with AC-3, AC-12 and AC-9 to form one unit, and appointing Carmichael to take over from Ted Hastings as he's forced into early retirement. He claims that AC-12 undermines daily policing and impact of public trust.
Osborne is also featured on video recordings being confronted outside of the headquarters of Central Police by Gail Vella, who questioned him about statements he had made about police recruitment, arguing that he gave inaccurate numbers and that Central Police is actually over 100 officers short of recruitment goals. When Osborne tried to dismiss her figures, Vella told him they came from police records themselves. He was very unhappy about that.
Chloe Bishop has also revealed that Osborne has links to corrupt former DCI Marcus Thurwell, and the death and subsequent coverup involving Lawrence Christopher, as he was an Inspector assigned to the case under Thurwell.
Is it former Detective Chief Inspector Marcus Thurwell?
AC-12 have discovered that Jo was communicating via text messages with the big bad (illiterate?) OCG boss from an IP address in Spain, which is where Thurwell (James Nesbitt) moved to after his early retirement from Central Police in 2005.
Thurwell was the SIO - Senior Investigating Officer - who initially led the inquiry into the murder of Lawrence Christopher in 2003. Through corruption and incompetence, he ensured that the perpetrators who attacked Christopher (including Darren Hunter) were not arrested until weeks after the crime, which allowed them to change their appearances, and evade justice. In addition to Thurwell, DC Ian Buckells, and Philip Osborne were also involved in the Lawrence murder enquiry
Back in series 1, Thurwell was one of the officers assigned to investigate the accusations of child sex abuse at Sands View children's home, which he attempted to cover up with Fairbank.
In series 6, episode 6, we discovered that Thurwell and his wife have met an unpleasant end, when their bodies are discovered by armed Spanish police officers at their home in Spain.
DCI Jo looked pained when AC-12 showed the image of Thurwell - but she refused to comment when they asked her to identify him. She also says no comment when she's asked what her relationship to Thurwell is. Is he her father?
The dots are joining up...
Line of Duty concludes next Sunday, April 26th at 9pm on BBC One.
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