LINE Of Duty viewers were last night blown away by the BBC1 cop thriller’s most explosive episode yet.
After a subtle start to series six, the action really kicked off with creator Jed Mercurio delivering some dumbfounding plot twists.
Line Of Duty viewers were last night blown away by the BBC1 cop thriller’s most explosive episode yetCredit: BBC
Fans were left wondering if this was the beginning of the end for the show itself as fortunes took a dramatic turn for AC-12 and its heroes.
And the police procedural thriller moved firmly from the interview room to the streets, which were transformed into a war zone.
With Line Of Duty stalwarts still reeling, Rod McPhee assesses the storylines and where the drama goes from here.
After pushing his luck once too often as boss of anti-corruption unit AC-12, Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) was pushed out.
His arrest of dodgy Det Supt Ian Buckells (Nigel Boyle) sparked another fiery clash with fishy Police & Crime Commissioner Rohan Sindwhani (Ace Bhatti).
Boss Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) is shown the doorCredit: BBC
But it was left to Deputy Chief Constable Andrea Wise (Elizabeth Rider) to do the deed, telling Hastings it was time to retire.
She warned him that if he didn’t do the decent thing, he would face the potential humiliation of being disciplined and sacked.
The big question now is whether this really is the final act for Ted . . . or if he can rescue his career by solving the mystery over the Gail Vella murder.
In a double whammy, Wise tells Hastings his departure will spell the end for AC-12 too.
Once Hastings has been ushered through the exit, his team will be merged with fellow anti-corruption units AC-3 and AC-9 – but with 90 per cent of the staff being booted out.
Wise tells Hastings his departure will spell the end for AC-12 tooCredit: BBC
Dumbfounded by the news, Hastings rails at her, saying: “This is a capitulation to criminality and corruption.”
Then, in a moment that left fans fighting back tears, he asks: “What has happened to us? When did we stop caring about honesty and integrity?”
But could AC-12 yet save its bacon? Uncovering the criminal rats’ nest hiding within Central Police might just secure the team’s future.
Corrupt lawyer Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi) was briefly brought back, as it emerged he had been interviewed by TV journalist Gail Vella before her murder.
He was jailed in series four after AC-12 discovered he was in league with mobsters.
Corrupt lawyer Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi) was briefly brought backCredit: BBC
But DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) had to get him talking again.
After much persuasion – effectively handing him a “get out of jail free” agreement – it looked like the dodgy brief was going to spill the beans. But Lakewell bottled it at the last minute.
After all that, he was still seen as such a threat that he was garotted in his prison cell by fellow inmate and series-five mobster Lee Banks (Alastair Natkiel).
Will AC-12 discover by other means what Lakewell knew about the mob’s connections to police?
It was a spectacular action sequence to rival the assassination scenes in Jed Mercurio’s other smash-hit cop thriller, Bodyguard.
After getting Lakewell out of prison, the armed police convoy transporting him came under attack and a shoot-out ensued between cops and criminals.
The action sequence rivals the assassination scenes in BodyguardCredit: BBC
Arnott took out the sniper with a handgun and some seriously sharp shootingCredit: BBC
The van in which Lakewell and Arnott were riding was overturned. And as one cop tried to rescue them, she was killed by a sniper.
But in a brilliant “gotcha!” moment, Arnott took out the sniper with a handgun and some seriously sharp shooting.
Despite Lakewell being scared out of talking by the incident, could the identity of the criminal casualties and some new forensic clues now provide key leads?
Just as we were fighting to catch our breath, there was another gasp-inducing moment.
Baby-faced PC Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) looked like he was about to assassinate his police boss DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald).
DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) gets a gun to her headCredit: BBC
She had tried to push back on the criminals who were controlling her by transferring undercover mobster Pilkington out of her department, which is probing Gail’s murder.
But after arriving on her doorstep late at night, he pressed the unloaded gun to the back of her head and after pulling the trigger, announced: “It’s as easy as that, Jo.”
The next day, Davidson does a U-turn. But will she take it lying down or find another way to wrest back control?
We thought suspicions around Buckells were classic “Jed herrings” – a ruse by creator Jed Mercurio to leave us bewildered about who really is a baddie.
Viewers noted the golfing images on the walls of his office and the clubs behind his desk, pointing out the golf link in previous series between the cops and mobsters.
We thought suspicions around Buckells were classic ‘Jed herrings’Credit: BBC
But was it all a bit TOO obvious? It turns out . . . it wasn’t. And we found out in spectacular style as the jailed Buckells played his part in the killing of Lakewell.
Clearly working with the criminals, the quivering cop lured the dodgy lawyer into his cell, where he was bumped off by Banks, who warned: “Watch what happens to a rat.”
With Arnott still not convinced of Buckells’ guilt, will he finally realise Buckells is bent before he wreaks further havoc as the ultimate inside man?
There was no let-up – right until the last scene, as Arnott dropped the final bombshell of the night.
After analysing DNA samples from Davidson and comparing them to the existing database of profiles, it emerged she has a significant relation.
The episode ended with a mystery cliffhanger
The episode ended before their identity could be revealed.
But there was a telling response from a visibly shocked Hastings, who uttered his catchphrase: “Mother of God!” Perhaps that relative is Anne-Marie McGillis, the police informant in Northern Ireland with whom Hastings once had a relationship.
Their fling may have led to the birth of series five’s crooked DS John Corbett (Stephen Graham).
Or could it show their relationship led to the birth of Davidson herself?
It is a gargantuan plot twist that would blow the series wide open.
- Line Of Duty continues on BBC1 on Sunday at 9pm.