Written by Hannah Dunleavy


Duty Calls

Line of Duty episode five gave us graveyard Scooby Doo-ing, half-arsed woo-ing and balcony-staring aplenty, says Hannah Dunleavy. Contains SPOILERS.

Suspicious minds: DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure). Photo: Mark Bourdillon/World Productions.

Suspicious minds: DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure). Photo: Mark Bourdillon/World Productions.

The S bomb

We might as well start here because, despite some pretty excellent stuff elsewhere, the sight of that celebrity serial child-abuser (they didn’t use his name, so I won’t either) does rather scream for attention.

I previously talked about my reservations about this storyline. It’s crucial to do it well and sensitively and believably. Were this made by HBO, we’d get a 10-week series, which means there’d be more time to put the flesh on the bones which is lacking here. If we don’t have time to dwell too much on victims, why should time be found to include him?

That said, it’s also important to place a storyline like this contextually in the real world. If Operation Yewtree exists in this universe, someone needs to say the words Operation Yewtree pretty sharpish. And this week they did, which meant it all worked a bit better for me.

Arguably, the same case can be made for the inclusion of that prolific celebrity predator, although his inclusion is obviously more potentially contentious. Indeed, a social media storm may be brewing as I type. Me? I’m undecided. Let’s move onto the other real kick of the episode…

It takes a thief…

While it was clear that Lindsay Denton’s life would be threatened by Dot at some point, I was also armed with the knowledge she would fight ’til her very last breath. So, this could’ve gone either way, until it didn’t.

Short-lived though Steve & Lindsay’s off-the-force cop spin-off was, it was a lot of fun. It also gave us that great shot as Steve walked away from the storage facility, where the perspective made Denton twice his size, underlining beautifully how completely out of his depth he is with this woman.

“Steve gets a kicking from all sides here. Still, he did manage to check ‘Go to a funeral where you are the only mourner’ off his Police Experience Bingo card.”

She also pushed Dot out of his comfort zone, literally eyeballing his gun and fighting, as predicted, to the bitter end. Albeit for her job, not her life. I wrote something here about how hard it is to create a decent female antagonist* and what a great job Hawes and the writers have done with Denton. I say it again now. So long Denton, you magnificent pain in the balls.

* I also mention Denton’s closeness to The Wire‘s extraordinary Frank Sobotka, so it was fitting she met her end among shipping containers.

All hail Steve

Appreciative nod to Martin Compston, who had to run the full range of emotions within a character who doesn’t really do emotions.

Steve gets a kicking from all sides here; including the worst of all: a “you’ve let me down, you’ve left yourself down” from Fatherly Ted. Still, he did manage to check ‘Go to a funeral where you are the only mourner’ off his Police Experience Bingo card.

His girlfriend coming home to find the woman he honey-trapped browsing the internet did nothing to improve that relationship, but Stroppy McEyebrows did undergo a tiny bit of shading in that we know she uses petrol and eats chocolate.

Dot’s suggestion that Steve could be The Caddy doesn’t really bear any scrutiny, so it’s clearly disappointing that no one’s given it that. Steve’s most entitled to be pissed at Kate, bearing in mind that Dot’s an undercover bad bastard and this sort of thing should probably be expected of him. In fact…

Wherefore art thou Kate?

The increased role of Dot and the return of Denton puts screentime at a premium and this year Vicky McClure’s suffered from a lack of anything much to do. Which might explain why Fleming’s house is unbelievably tidy.

Kate’s got the common sense to turn Dot down, at least temporarily, but elsewhere she has the decision making skills of a Donald Trump supporter. She doesn’t ask Dot for any details of the apparent damning evidence that Steve planted the money. Which, bearing in mind their past working relationships, and comparing it to her and Dot’s past working relationship, is frankly insane.

Maybe she was driven over the edge by the Denton sexy times antics claim; maybe it was Dot’s bow-tie. The third possibility is that, in true Line of Duty fashion, she is really working on her own thing. In which case she should probably tell Steve to stop wandering around graveyards at night, she’s got it covered.

Thoughts and questions

Hooray for local newspapers. Helping solve crimes one cheque presentation at a time.

So much going on this week that I’ve barely time to mention Fatherly Ted and Gill of the Julii. What an excellent game of something (still unsure what) that was in that stairwell scene.

An hour and a half next week. Exciting?

Read all of Hannah’s Line of Duty blogs here and catch up on previous episodes via BBC iPlayer here.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.