A stand-off, money changing hands, trafficking, a key character killed and nothing solved but how we’re spending the next two Sunday nights.
This Line of Duty Season 5 Episode 4 recap contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Every episode in Line of Duty Season 5 so far has been consistently high quality, and with a fairly consistent style: fast-moving plot full of dialogue and action-driven scenes, interspersed with shifty looks and casually dropped remarks which could be either red herrings or clues… but to what? In the latest episode, we have a stand-off, money changing hands, trafficking, a key character killed and nothing solved.
So I was wrong about Mrs. Hastings: she wasn’t simply held until Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) complied in some way, but tortured and terrorized through the night; resulting in “paramilitary-style” injuries to her wrists, ankles, and knees, and the person who did it (Corbett, at the end of the previous episode) spoke with a Belfast accent. Why it was done like this we cannot say, but Roisin Hastings reports to Ted from her hospital bed “He said you’d know why he’d done it. He said you’d know what you’ve cost him.” It only served to make Hastings extra angry: he appears to try to stay professional, letting Serious Crimes look into his wife’s assault, but it does get to him, especially when he hears proof of who was responsible, later in the episode. Roisin is deeply resentful towards good old Ted.
PC Tatleen Sohotra is smarting from finding out that her boss Hargreaves is (belatedly and posthumously) under investigation and clearly wants to stay in the loop; is this why she pops up in nearly every police office scene? They do manage to work out a bit more about his involvement: forensic work at the brothel from last week’s episode reveals that Hargreaves had left “deposits” very recently, so likely to have been the subject of blackmail. The implication is this is why he was at Eastfield Depot, rather than actually being the mysterious H, or boss of the Undercover Gang.
John Corbett and Lisa McQueen confer with their Unknown boss on the laptop again, but the dialogue is cut short before it gets very far; was he (she?) interrupted, I wonder? They argue about who the boss is and how to make more of that communication channel, but Lisa is cautious and comfortable in her ignorance about who the Unknown boss is. She won’t even confirm to Corbett that it’s a senior police officer. Whoever it is, they might be duped next time contact is made: Cyber Crime analyzed evidence found at Kingsgate Printing Services and worked out the communications channel, so Fleming has the smart idea to impersonate the remote Unknown user, once there is enough data to get it right.
Gill Biggeloe is still a conundrum: bitchy (specifically about Hastings’ injured wife) and getting on people’s nerves one minute and standing up for Hastings as a man of integrity the next… and this integrity leads him to put her flirting on hold: good man… or is he just trying to appear like a good man? It seemed to confuse her too!
Hastings’ integrity is tested some more when Moffatt pops by with an envelope; Hastings assumes it relates to the property scheme, and Moffatt says it’s “just a bit of background on the proposal” to look over when Hastings has a moment. But when he does finally open the envelope, later that evening, it’s full of fifty-pound notes, not paperwork.
Now Lisa McQueen has contacts in the police but others in the OCG have assets in the community, including a young Terry who lives opposite the print shop. Terry has trouble remembering details… so he takes photos, and the photos in his phone clearly identify Steve Arnott as a key investigator, involved since long before Hargreaves, who didn’t even know about the print shop. If Arnott knew about it, McQueen deduces, they must have a leak… interesting that she didn’t take Corbett on this outing.
Corbett himself is feeling wary too, and rightly so: on his way to give something to Steve Arnott he notices a new CCTV camera in their usual spot, and calls him out on it; but by phone, rather than meeting. But Arnott’s prepared, with colleagues listening in. Arnott tries to get Corbett to come into the office, but Corbett’s more interested in playing back a recording of Roisin’s torment and the things she said (about divorce, money problems, etc.), but he refuses to explain why he’s got it in for Hastings. Arnott and Fleming meet privately to discuss the implications with Hastings but feel they need to understand more before talking to him, so go to Corbett’s wife. They don’t find out anything new and still don’t realize she’s pretending to be estranged from him: Steph and Corbett speak by phone later, and she tells him about their visit. They mention a new name on the phone, “our Marie”, and the conversation goes very sentimental, with foreshadowing music…
The gang is having trouble selling on the Eastfield Depot haul and meet with their usual merchants. This other gang says their goods are still too hot, but they can do other business: a place for their trafficked girls to operate. McQueen overrides Corbett in this: she’s happy to talk business. There’s an interesting chat between the two after this deal is made: McQueen doesn’t always like their business. “I’m in, I just do what’s expected,” she says; and I’m wondering again if she’s an undercover officer herself, from some other team, not as much in her element as she seems to be on the surface. She talks to him like their rapport is growing, mentions she’s set up a meet with the Unknown Top Bent Copper; but if it is growing, it’s slow: she didn’t mention that until he raised the idea.
In the AC-12 office next day, they plan to catch Corbett having identified his location from last night’s phone call home, and Hastings seems more interested in catching him than anyone else higher up Corbett could lead them to. He’s not even fussed if Corbett doesn’t survive and insists Arnott has his gun with him when they meet. Corbett tells him the “Top Man who pulls all the strings” is going to meet them today and it would pay to wait, not arrest him yet. He also mentions something I nearly didn’t catch at first: “Lisa McQueen might turn too”… is he implying she’s an undercover cop about to turn bad or a baddie about to turn straight?
And here’s where the tension cranks up: Hastings, via a wire, nags Arnott to arrest Corbett, but Arnott is more interested in the intelligence Corbett might have than the quick win. In a slip, Corbett explicitly says he assaulted Hastings’ wife, not realizing Arnott is wired; but Hastings hears, and is even more insistent on an immediate arrest which Fleming tries to talk him out of: she is keen to see where things might lead. Arnott takes the order to arrest Corbett, but has to raise his gun to get him to listen; and Corbett points one back, so Hastings authorizes “lethal force”, with Fleming still arguing about Corbett as a source of intelligence.
More tension: “What kind of copper are you? One who cares about orders or one who cares about justice?” This has been Corbett’s angle since we first met him. It’s only now that Corbett realizes Arnott is wearing a wire and promises him information about the meeting if he takes it off. We can see the dilemma on his face. He goes against Hastings’ order and takes it off, so Corbett tells him the time and place of the planned meeting with a strong warning: “Be careful who you tell. If it doesn’t go ahead, you know you’ve got a leak.”
Bloody good point. So when Hastings yells the information out of Arnott back at the office later, we have to wonder if the planned gang meeting is destined to be a flop. Hastings clearly isn’t himself, and Fleming diplomatically asks him to explain his decision to authorize lethal force. He explains it away with letter-of-the-law reasons and she bites her tongue. I admire the assertiveness in both Arnott and Fleming in this scene, and Arnott particularly tried to keep the intelligence to himself, but he had to give it up to his boss: there was no choice without accusing him of being the potential source of a leak to a criminal gang.
Inevitably, the Top Man doesn’t show up, and no arrests are made – again – as it is assessed the gang is likely to be armed. Disappointment all around.
A strange little scene next: Superintendent Hastings goes to visit Lee Banks in prison. Banks was the one who killed PC Maneet Bindra at the end of episode one and was arrested after the raid on PC Cafferty’s house in episode three. We don’t know what they talked about, but Hastings introduced himself like they were on the same side… did he perhaps tell Banks that Corbett was an undercover police officer? Is that what the envelope of money was for, or was this chat (whatever the content) his own idea?
In the meantime, via DNA fingerprints, AC-12 have found out that Corbett was born and adopted in Northern Ireland. What impact that has on his loyalties, or why it should influence how he gets information out of people remains to be seen, but our heroes treat it as significant. PC Sohotra is asked to look into the adoptive family and keep this angle confidential.
McQueen and Corbett have an online meeting with the Unknown top man (Top Bent Copper?), but of course, it’s Cyber Crime impersonating them. Hastings steps in, not convinced by the pre-prepared responses… he seems very comfortable with the messaging app, but sharp-eyed viewers will have noticed the same typing error as was on the screen a couple of episodes ago: was it Hastings using that app all along? If so, was it for real or pretense? His final line, “I need you to bring all this to a close”, seems unclear, to Corbett at least, but McQueen seems to understand.
Tension again when the gang bring their new batch of trafficked girls to a trade location. Nasty place, nasty people and Corbett can see how distasteful McQueen finds it: he tries to persuade her to turn to the light side, and it looks like she’s agreeing… but after a particularly horrible ploy with the gang pretending to abuse the girls, Corbett goes to defend them and his throat is cut. Had McQueen worked out Corbett was the gang’s rat or did Lee Banks pass on the information?
Yes, the scene was hinted at earlier, but no less shocking. Corbett has a slow and bloody death, cut with images of his wife reading Chicken Licken to their daughters (a little over-sentimental). McQueen is visibly very shaken – away from the others, and I suspect that she was told to arrange this death, and felt unable to refuse.
So… we still don’t know who is at the top of this gang, inside the police or not. But my bet is that it is someone in the police (possibly higher than Hastings) who has been handling McQueen in an undercover sense for a long time, since long before he became corrupt. I’d be perfectly happy to be wrong, by the way: I prefer my entertainment to be clever and written by people (like Jed Mercurio) who are more intelligent than me. Tune in next week.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.