'Balaclava men - plural'
Line of Duty ended in spectacular style last night with a brilliantly pacey season finale that posed as many fresh questions as it answered. The biggest of those questions: how the hell are we supposed to wait an entire year to find out what happens next?
Let’s recap some of the best bits – along with some questions that still need answering.
Roz’s final confession to AC12
For all the times you’ve watched a police drama and shouted at the TV, ‘just bloody tell the police what you’ve done!’ then Roz’s final confession about the accidental murder of Tim Ifield might have felt like a satisfying conclusion to the mad, mud-slinging cover-up she’d been attempting to pull off for the previous five episodes. Though as Steve pointed out, it would have been helpful for everyone if she’d done it earlier.
As we suspected a few weeks ago, Roz’s arm ended up being her downfall, as Kate successfully matched the MRSA infection with MRSA detected in Tim Ifield’s nose, found using DNA on the balaclava he was wearing. The final nail in the coffin for Roz came when AC12 located the blood-stained clothing she’d dumped in the woods. It was clear she wasn’t going to be able to wriggle out of this one. But, as it turned out, she did have one final trump card to play…
The burner phone twist!
It takes serious minerals to place your own solicitor under arrest minutes after you’ve been charged with murder. ‘Am I still a police officer?’ Roz asked Ted Hastings, before turning to James Lakewell and placing him under arrest. Loyal Jodie, who seemed little more than a gullible lackey for most of the series, ended up being the one to uncover the most explosive piece of evidence in the entire series: the burner phones that confirmed the guilt of James Lakewell and ACC Hilton.
If you struggled to digest Roz’s explanation, here’s a summary of what we learned: on 6th April (just before Steve was assaulted by Balaclava Man) Nick Huntley made a call to James Lakewell seeking legal advice. Minutes later a second unregistered phone in the vicinity of Lakewell’s office, Burner Phone 1 (owned by James Lakewell) made a call to Burner Phone 2 (owned by ACC Hilton) who then called Burner Phone 3 (Balaclava Man), who rushed to the office to attack Steve.
Roz was able to identify Hilton as the owner of Burner Phone 2 thanks to a mobile number he’d written on a napkin at the Kingsgate Hotel, when he and Roz snuck off for their clandestine drink a few episodes earlier. What Roz thought was just an affair phone turned out to be a crucial link connecting Hilton with Balaclava Man. We learned that Hilton and Lakewell had set out to frame Michael Farmer. Roz, under increasing pressure to solve the case, had simply been a pawn. As Steve put it, ‘Hilton counted on you putting your career ahead of the truth.’
The Balaclava Men bombshell
‘So who’s Balaclava Man?’ says Steve. ‘Balaclava men – plural’ James corrects him, ‘if you don’t do their bidding, a body gets taken out of cold storage with your DNA all over it. If you think Hilton’s top dog then how come he bricks it whenever a new body’s found?’
The trail that Line of Duty’s Jed Mecurio laid down in season one with the murder of Jackie Laverty has now, four seasons later, set AC12 on a path to uncover a network of police officers and career criminals under the control of a shady overlord. ‘This is beginning to feel like a life’s work’, says Ted (translation: lots more seasons to come, hooray!)
The Jamie-not-James twist
In yet another high drama twist in the plot, moments after AC12 ascertain Hilton’s guilt, Jamie – who it would seem had been working for Hilton all along – calls to tip him off, after which Hilton escapes arrest and ‘commits suicide.’* In the nick of time Steve shuts down the station lifts to prevent Jamie’s attempt to take Lakewell into ‘protective custody’ (i.e. have him knocked off by one of the Balaclava Men to stop him talking), an echo of what we’d seen happen to a protective witness in season two.
(This little sequence also showed what a great shot Ted is, as he coolly took down the Balaclava Man who appeared in the foyer with a dead-on hit. Did anyone else find themselves weirdly attracted to the policeman-on-a-mission Ted we saw in the last ten minutes? Just us? OK).
*though, as Kate points out later, it’s perfectly possible that Hilton’s death was simply made to look like a suicide.
Questions that still need answering:
What’s going to happen with Maneet?
Maneet didn’t appear in the finale as she’d already slipped off on maternity leave, and now Jamie has been exposed as a Hilton mole AC12 will surely assume all leaks came from him. The question of why Maneet was passing files to Hilton still needs to be answered – most likely she was being blackmailed, but with what? Hilton might now be dead, but he wasn’t acting alone, and we predict this pressure to be a double agent will continue to be applied to Maneet when she returns to work.
Is there still a question mark over Ted?
Ted’s Regulation 15 notice was withdrawn at the end of the episode and we watched him ask Kate to remove his face from the baord. ‘I’m satisfied H was Hilton’ he says of Dot’s dying declaration. But the niggling question remains: is Ted still hiding something? It’s hard to believe the morally crusading ‘bent copper’ catcher isn’t all he seems…. but it would certainly make one HELLUVA twist.
How can Nick Huntley stay married to Roz?
We know the closing titles made it clear the pair were still just ‘legally’ married (e.g not exactly on cosy terms), but the clip of him visiting her in jail with the kids suggests he might be willing to try and forgive her. Surely no amount of marriage counselling can heal attempting to frame your husband for murder – can it?!
Are Kate and Steve ever going to get together?
Or would that actually be a disappointingly clichéd plot development for a show that consistently manages to be so much smarter than that?