Series 2 of Line of Duty didn’t just come to a satisfying conclusion, it drew a big line in the sand and dared the rest of TV drama to cross it.
Quite right too: good TV should leave a mark, just as it should also leave us speechless. And what is there to say about Line of Duty that hasn’t already been said over the past 5 weeks, either here or by anyone else? The dictionary has been wrung dry of effusive adjectives. There comes a point where we’re all just laundering superlatives. Brilliant. Gripping. Emotional. Hungry. That last one may just be me.
So here’s the chance to ad-lib in your own, with the world’s first interactive review. Fill in the gaps with your own adjectives:
This has been ________ television: a ________ script constructed by Jed Mercurio – a man who has never wasted a word (did you catch the answer to ‘What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?’?) – and executed by a _________ cast who not only have the smarts to understand a gripping story when they see one, but who possess the talent to know how to do it justice with ________ performances.
Keeley Hawes has been ________. Actually, I’ll take it from here: Keeley Hawes has been stupendous (don’t think that one’s been squeezed from the dictionary yet). Knowing all you now know about Denton, go back and re-watch Series 2 from the start and you’ll see just how slyly Hawes interpreted every nuance in a script so densely and deliciously layered that you could have served it in a dish and called it a pavlova.
Yes, she was guilty, just not as guilty as we might have thought. Guilty of being part of a massive conspiracy to bring a criminal to a certain brand of justice, yes, but not of orchestrating that conspiracy. Her guilt comes from her collusion rather than the intent behind it, given her cocktail of motivations.
As Line of Duty has always been at pains to demonstrate, guilt isn’t the binary status we think it is. This is a show that has, over 6 episodes, shifted our own moral lines until we find ourselves involved; equivocating each judgement. We’re all invited to be the next ‘bent copper’.
As was the case with Series 1, the real villain is the ultimate bent copper; ‘Dot’ Cottan, aka ‘The Caddy’ (nice touch abandoning him on a golf course). Craig Parkinson has, across two series, become the masthead for corruption. That he not only escapes detection for his own crimes, but gets a promotion, is a sign of how broken the word of Line of Duty is; and how many new adjective-hungry stories can spring from its fractures of justice.
Because with Morton and Cottan still polluting the waters of legality, Fleming’s family life on the rocks, Arnott getting his jollies from ‘Jolly’ Rogerson, and Dunbar’s personal life still a wreck, there’s plenty of room for a third, fourth, fifth series. Jed Mercurio said he hopes the show will “run and run”. You’d have to be mad to get in his way.
So, knowing that, answering only yes or no, do you want Line of Duty to return?
Like we even need to ask…
Aired at 9pm on Wednesday 19 March 2014 on BBC Two.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know below…