‘Line of Duty’ Season 3 Episode 4 review: Denton’s going up in our estimation

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Here’s some not-so-wild speculation: Lindsay Denton’s going to be the heroine of Line of Duty 3.

And it is just speculation.

Line of Duty is so twisty-turny, and the Beeb have done such an admirably good job of keeping spoilers locked down, that that’s just a wild guess on my part. But she’s got to be the one to sort this Caddy/Sandsview mess out, hasn’t she? As we watch people we thought we could trust – notably Hastings and Arnott – fail on moral levels, and perhaps be implicated in greater conspiracies, Denton quickly rises back in our estimation. Already high in our estimation, Keeley Hawes continues to be ferociously splendid at every point in the hour.

Back out of prison she initially seems like a thorn in the side of justice: a well-prepped, pants-suit ice-queen, out for revenge on the good(?) guys at AC-12. But by now we’re used to seeing people we’ve thought of as villains quickly become something other, aren’t we? As circumstances plummet beyond her expectations and she endures the bedsit-living, floor-mopping misery of a post-prison life, we start to see just what Ms Denton is made of.

The worse things get for her, the more we respect her, so that by the time her corrupt social worker offers her a tenner for a blowjob and she almost snaps his todger off, you’re cheering on the woman who you were booing at the start of the hour. It’s certainly the first time I’ve ever yelled ‘Break his cock!’ at the TV. At least since the days of ITV’s Gladiators in the ’90s.

Line of Duty 3 2 Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES)

While Denton’s going up in our estimation, Steve Arnott is sinking lower. Did he sleep with Denton, as she insists? He says no, and we never saw it happen in Season 2, but what was on her phone that he didn’t want everyone to hear?

As if trying to drag his name out the mud and show he’s of the moral character that we know he is, he’s putting in some good old-fashioned detective work and trying to break open the Sandsview paedophile ring. In doing so he’s unwittingly getting closer to Cottan, aka ‘The Caddy’ who, when not running the inquiry into his own criminal alter-ego, is hovering in the background like a Topman vulture, hiding evidence and obfuscating the breadcrumb trail with new crumbs. Possibly deadly crumbs. I can’t be the only one who’s worried that Maneet didn’t turn up for work, right?

And that crumby obfuscation requires a trip through the paperwork forest to see his old confederate in crime, DC Nigel Morton.

Line of Duty 3 4 Nigel Morton (NEIL MORRISSEY)

Hooray! Neil Morrissey is back as policeman behaving badly. It’s a lovely surprise to see the curmudgeonly old bastard again, and another bewilderment for those who joined this show having not seen the previous season. I think his limp may have actually got worse since the last time we saw him. Thank goodness he retires in four months.

Morton’s the only one who knows what Cottan is, which gives us the first chance to get behind Cottan’s facade, see why he’s doing this, and understand that Craig Parkinson’s been putting in some really solid work for far longer than we appreciated. Perhaps longer than even Parkinson realised. Shame Cottan doesn’t realise can’t trust his cohort in criminal cover-ups.

Not surprising. You can’t trust anyone in this show. Not even Ted Hastings. And what kind of world is it when you can’t fully trust Ted?

Sure, he makes questionable meal choices at restaurants, but the man has always seemed like the pinnacle of hands-on-hips moral fortitude in AC-12, even if he wasn’t always in his home life. Yet his secret handshake with a retired Chief Superintendent who may have been part of a sex abuse ring is enough to raise suspicion. It’s no proof whatsoever, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a pinprick of doubt, and as we’ve seen in this show, a pinprick is all you need to bleed someone’s reputation dry.

One prick doing the pinning is Cottan, who uses the least subtle Powerpoint presentation in history to imply that Steve Arnott is ‘The Caddy’. The only way it could be more unsubtle is if he had ‘IT’S ARNOTT’ spelled out in ClipArt.

Line of Duty 3 4 Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR)

So Hastings suspects Arnott of one crime. Arnott suspects Hastings of another. AC-12 is chasing its tail while Cottan skirts the thin blue line between trusted copper and someone in danger of something like having his fingers chopped off with a bolt cutter (remember when that nearly happened to Arnott in Season 1?) by the people on the burner phones. Or worse.

If there’s one person who could sort this mess out and bring Cottan to justice, and make our Thursdays all nice and Masterchef again, it’s one of his previous victims, Lindsay Denton. I’d say I’d put money on her doing it, but after tonight’s episode I don’t want her to get the wrong idea.


Aired at 9pm on Thursday 14 April 2016 on BBC Two.

> Buy Season 3 on DVD on Amazon.

> Buy the complete Season 1-3 box set on Amazon.

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