Line Of Duty has a reputation for moments of jaw-dropping, hard-hitting, drama – like throwing Jessica Raine off a tower block and amputating Thandie Newton’s hand.
But its fourth series had something even more shocking: a happy ending. Or several to be precise …
After an uncharacteristically mad, messy, opening episode, the finale of the BBC’s police corruption thriller was still stunningly ruthless and relentless but unexpectedly, positive.
When a hero comes along: Supt. Ted Hastings gunned down Balaclava Man in the series finale of Line Of Duty on Sunday night
All of the baddies were brought to justice (in one form or another) and (amazingly) none of the good guys from AC-12 were forced to resign or suffered a tragic demise.
On the contrary, ‘Balaclava Man’ was shot down by Supt. Ted Hastings who also cleared his name, remaining the hero of the show.
By the time we saw the innocently-imprisoned Michael Farmer had been re-united with his Nan and DS Arnott was walking again, writer Jed Mercurio had turned Line Of Duty into a cross between The Sweeney and The Waltons.
It’s all going on: ‘Balaclava Man’ was shot down by Supt. Ted Hastings who also cleared his name
He proved yet again that Duty was (easily) our best cop show and arguably the most intelligent, enthralling, drama on British television. Apart from Poldark obviously…
Where else would you find a case that revolved around a corrupt cop with an amputated hand and some fingertips she’d cut off with a chainsaw that proved to be her undoing?
Here are 30 highlights from Series Four’s brilliant finale.
1. DCI Roz Huntley and her children moved into a hotel after she had framed her husband for murder (a killing we suspected Roz had herself committed).
‘Why aren’t you helping him?!’ her daughter complained.
‘It’s complicated,’ the scheming DCI muttered.
Oh dear: DCI Roz Huntley and her children moved into a hotel after she had framed her husband for murder (a killing we suspected Roz had herself committed)
You could say that…
2. Supt. Ted Hastings lamented Nick Huntley was close to being charged by the Murder Squad, with AC-12 having been stood down by ACC Hilton.
‘She’s done it again !’ Hastings cried. ‘We had that case in the palm of our hands. She’s thrown everybody off the scent.’
The way DS Arnott rolled his eyes suggested even he agreed this hadn’t been difficult given AC-12’s disastrous investigation.
Now that’s unusual: The fourth series had something even more shocking: a happy ending. Or several to be precise
3. To compound Hastings’ humiliation, DC Desford was also now lording it over him, having transferred to AC-9 when Hastings accused Desford of being the mole/rat, and repeatedly called him ‘James’ instead of ‘Jamie’.
‘Hastings didn’t appreciate my ability,’ Desford purred. ‘Hilton does.’
4. ‘I’m sorry to hear about your accident,’ DS Steve Arnott’s ex-girlfriend Murder Squad DS Sam Railston commiserated, provoking Kate Fleming to step in. ‘You dumped him at the first sign of trouble. It’s a bit late for apologies!’
(Steve + Kate ! Can we call them State?)
Bloody: After an uncharacteristically mad, messy, opening episode, the finale of the BBC’s police corruption thriller was still stunningly ruthless and relentless but unexpectedly, positive
5. Thanks to Nick Huntley’s interview, AC-12 finally realise Roz had been covering up a cut on her arm and that it might have been infected during her fatal fight with Tim Ifield.
‘The MRSA lives in the carrier’s nose,’ a doctor tells Kate Fleming. Great news.
6. ACC Hilton implored DCI Huntley to resign.
‘I’m not bent sir !’ she protested (optimistically). ‘I’m a diligent, dedicated, loyal officer. Why aren’t you backing me?!’
She was probably regretting making an enemy of Hilton by not sleeping with him before she had her stump.
7. Roz’s ludicrous lackey DC Jodie Taylor passed on the information that James Lakewell had been Michael Farmer’s solicitor and so had been aware of Farmer’s conviction for rape.
‘What does that mean exactly?’ Jodie asked.
Cliffhanger: A classic AC-12 interrogation saw DS Kate Fleming, DS Arnott and Supt Hastings presenting all the evidence discovered in the woodlands
We knew we were confused but she was supposed to be the detective. Although she didn’t look like one…
8. DS Arnott was frantically scanning CCTV footage for sightings of Roz Huntley’s car on the night Tim Ifield was murdered.
‘How you getting on son?’ Hastings asked in classic style, referring to the scheming DCI as ‘the wicked witch.’
9. Unfortunately (deliberately) Roz Huntley had headed into a huge area of woodlands where there were no traffic cameras. But Arnott deduced that at 3am the area would have been so dark that Huntley must have known where to dispose of the evidence from the killing. Ted Hastings heart swelled with pride as he watched his officers return to their desks. As did ours.
Phew! All of the baddies were brought to justice (in one form or another) and (amazingly) none of the good guys from AC-12 were forced to resign or suffered a tragic demise
10. ACC Hilton (and the dreaded Desford) turned up at the search and ordered Hastings to leave it to the Murder Squad. ‘Don’t expect the hearing to go well ‘H’,’ he snarled. Ted was either being set up or really was the head of the network of ruthless criminals and corrupt cops.
11. As a result of the search Roz Huntley was (finally) arrested, using Jodie to trick solicitor James Lakewell into representing her for the questioning.
‘You’re the only person I trust right now,’ the steely-eyed glamourpuss purred. Thandie Newton that is, not Jodie…
12. A classic AC-12 interrogation saw DS Kate Fleming, DS Arnott and Supt Hastings presenting all the evidence discovered in the woodlands: Ifield’s rucksack stuffed with the tracksuit stolen from his flat worn by the killer to escape and female clothing stained with his blood that (Ted Hastings mused) ‘has deposits matching an individual whose DNA profile is held on the police database’, Who could it be?!
Shady: Roz’s ludicrous lackey DC Jodie Taylor passed on the information that James Lakewell (pictured) had been Michael Farmer’s solicitor and so had been aware of Farmer’s conviction for rape
‘No comment,’ said Roz.
13. The bag also contained Tim Ifield’s mobile phone and his fingertips, which had been cut off and used by the killer to text Hana Reznikova and stop her from interrupting the (extensive) clean-up operation. Gory but ingenious to be fair.
14. Keeping the fingernails proved Huntley’s undoing. As Hastings pointed out: ‘Tim Ifield’s dying act was to claw at the murderer’s hand to capture their DNA under his fingernails. So not only do we have the murderer’s DNA. We have the exact strain of bacteria that was grown in the wound that he inflicted on his killer.’
An expert forensic scientist, truly Tim was a dedicated professional to the last.
15. Finally Roz Huntley announced: ‘I confess to accidentally killing Tim Ifield. Our children will need a parent. My husband took no part. My witness testimony was false. The evidence was planted by me a few minutes after my husband’s arrest’ (thanks to Kate Fleming). Not exactly ‘doing the decent thing’ but still…
Fuming: ‘I’m sorry to hear about your accident,’ DS Steve Arnott’s ex-girlfriend Murder Squad DS Sam Railston commiserated, provoking Kate Fleming to step in. ‘You dumped him at the first sign of trouble. It’s a bit late for apologies!’
16. Roz described the fight in Ifield’s kitchen and how after she had been knocked unconsciousness Ifield had gone to buy a chainsaw.
‘Are you telling me that one of our most experienced Forensic Investigators didn’t know that you weren’t dead?!’ scoffed Ted. At least Jed Mercurio acknowledged it was unlikely !
17. Roz revealed she had been trying to wrestle the chainsaw off him when it nicked his neck. Like Ifield she had (improbably) decided against simply calling the police and report the accident.
‘I know how hard it is to prove self-defence,’ she justified. ‘I couldn’t save his life but I could try to save mine.’ Perhaps not as noble as she thought.
Been through the mill: Roz described the fight in Ifield’s kitchen and how after she had been knocked unconsciousness Ifield had gone to buy a chainsaw
18. At this point James Lakewell declared ‘a conflict of interest.’ His client Nick Huntley had been charged with the murder Roz Huntley obviously committed. ‘Am I still a police officer?’ Roz asked Hastings before then reading her solicitor his rights. Certainly unusual for a murderer…
19. ‘I think I should leave,’ gulped Lakewell hurriedly.
‘I think you should sit down fella. Or I will handcuff you to that desk.’
Ted was back in the game !
20. Just as the murder of Tim Ifield had effectively been cracked by Nick Huntley it was Jodie Taylor whose policework showed who had attacked Steve Arnott. She had traced three ‘burner phones’ from The Wire showing that just before Arnott’s arrival, Nick Huntley had called his solicitor Lakewell who then phoned ACC Hilton. Hilton then deployed Balaclava Man. Jodie had nailed Hilton, Lakewell, and ‘Balaclava Man’ !
‘Jesus Christ !’ cried Jamie Desford upstairs, reaching for his own phone.
21. Hastings informed Lakewell he was under arrest for Perverting the Course of Justice – depriving Arnott of the chance to exact revenge on the smarmy solicitor for mocking him as ‘Ironside.’
22. Lakewell revealed there were in fact several Balaclava Men, who used the threat of incriminating body parts to manipulate corrupt police officers and men like him. Lakewell doubted ACC Hilton was the ‘Top Dog’ (‘H’) mentioned in The Caddy’s dying declaration.
All over: DCI Roz Huntley was eventually jailed (for ten years), as was Lakewell who refused to co-operate for fear of reprisals from the ‘Top Dog’
‘If he is, how come he bricks it every time a new body’s found?’ he asked not unreasonably.
23. Armed police found ACC Hilton had fled. He had been tipped off by DC Desford who then tried to smuggle Lakewell out of AC-12’s clutches by claiming he was taking him to a safe house. This chaos escalated with the arrival of (you’ve guessed it) Balaclava Man !
24. Just when you thought Hastings couldn’t get any more heroic, in the ensuing shoot out he took out Balaclava Man.
‘You got him sir !’ cooed Steve adoringly.
‘I got one of them,’ Hastings corrected him laconically like Sheriff from a Western. When Arnott made the mistake of referring to ‘the real criminals’, Hastings teased: ‘are bent coppers not criminal enough for you son?’ Classic AC-12 banter.
25. In a series of post-scripts, Line Of Duty briefly went all Waltons as we saw Steve Arnott was walking again and Michael Farmer was escorted out of prison by his grandma.
Madness: Supt. Ted Hastings lamented Nick Huntley was close to being charged by the Murder Squad, with AC-12 having been stood down by ACC Hilton
26. The dead Balaclava Man was identified as a long-term associate of Tommy Hunter – the violent criminal/sex trafficker from Line Of Duty’s first series and the golfer who had groomed Cottan to be ‘The Caddy.’
27. DCI Roz Huntley was eventually jailed (for ten years), as was Lakewell who refused to co-operate for fear of reprisals from the ‘Top Dog.’
28. Supt. Hastings said he was “satisfied ACC Hilton was H” but we weren’t so sure. He certainly wasn’t ‘H’ anymore, having been found dead having (seemingly) shot himself.
29. Ted Hastings ordered his photo to be taken down from senior officers whose names began with ‘H.’
30. Rows of pictures linked all the great characters in Line of Duty’s four superb series: from DCI Tony Gates, Lindsay Denton and DI ‘Dot’ Cottan to Huntley and Hilton. Not categorically identifying ‘H’ had been the only failure of the night but even this was good news in a way.
‘This is beginning to feel like a life’s work,’ Supt. Ted Hastings muttered looking over the huge board of faces – confirming he and AC-12 should be around for a few more series yet.
Hard: ‘This is beginning to feel like a life’s work,’ Supt. Ted Hastings muttered looking over the huge board of faces – confirming he and AC-12 should be around for a few more series yet