sun 21/04/2019

Line of Duty, Series Finale, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Line of Duty, Series Finale, BBC Two

Line of Duty, Series Finale, BBC Two

Was bent cop saga just a mockumentary all along?

Lennie James as DCI Tony Gates, the best of a bad bunch

At the end of episode four, we left ferret-faced copper Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) seemingly having his fingers hacked off with a bolt-cutter by a gang of hooded thugs and their poisonous little child-sidekick, Ryan. Boringly, the glum and dislikeable Arnott was rescued in this finale when the supposedly corrupt DCI Gates organised a police rescue, and got away with all his fingers mostly intact.

It seemed to symbolise Line of Duty's annoying habit of setting up ever-murkier scenarios, then wriggling its way out of delivering a real punchline. It really, really wanted us to believe that it was drilling down into a horrifying heart of darkness, but it never managed to take us there, unless you count the way that Gina McKee's body was being trundled around from freezer to freezer in a couple of wheelie-suitcases. And you probably don't (Martin Compston and Vicky McClure, pictured below).

We've sat through five hours of TV in which a variety of police officers - younger, older, male and female, but none of them remotely sympathetic - have tried to put Gates through the wringer and have him convicted of murder and corruption, yet ultimately we had to settle for the fact that he might have been a bit dodgy but not in a really serious way. Which felt kind of feeble, since after shows like The Shield and The Wire, and not forgetting GF Newman's prophetic Law and Order from 1977, we've grown accustomed to the idea that the police force is more likely to be a whole barrelful of rotten apples than just the odd one, and it isn't a question of who's bent so much as the degree of bentness and in which direction. "Every cop is a criminal," as the philosopher Jagger has pointed out. The recent real-life case of PC Harwood did very little to buff up the image of the constabulary.

Still, even snide, malevolent policemen on the payroll of organised criminals probably have a drink and a laugh from time to time, but the cast of Line of Duty were almost unfailingly morose, bitter, angry and disillusioned. Lennie James' performance as Gates has been critically hailed, but his style was severely cramped by the way writer Jed Mercurio had constricted him to a narrow emotional band that oscillated between rage and desperation. Adrian Dunbar's anti-corruption cop, Hastings, made you wish somebody would throw him out of a high window (along with the rest of the cast, if truth be told), though he did manage to smuggle in a few traces of malignant irony.

Actually I did warm - only very slightly, I must stress - to Neil Morrissey's Morton, who eventually displayed some true loyalty to his put-upon boss. Better still, he ungallantly but extremely satisfyingly punched Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) in the face, for her cynical attempts to schmooze up to Gates in order to destroy his career (Neil Morrissey and Craig Parkinson, pictured above).

But in the end, what did we get? A bunch of captions telling us how the various strands of the story panned out, as if this chunk of hyperactive but self-deluding melodrama had suddenly decided it wanted to be a documentary. It was all doom and despair. The corruption case against Gates was declared not proven and closed... no policemen were prosecuted for the killing of an innocent man in episode one... the smirking Scottish bad guy called Tommy got away with murder... and the viewers got another cleverly-shot cop show with a vacuum where its soul should have been. Bring back the Scandis with their subtitles.

Adrian Dunbar's anti-corruption cop made you wish somebody would throw him out of a high window (along with the rest of the cast, if truth be told)

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Comments

Seems that you basically missed the point. Personally thought it was excellent and probably the best BBC original since Luther. Maybe stick to watching shows with characters that you 'like'.....

Can't belive I watched the whole series for such a ludicrous ending. So we're meant to believe: 1) The body of the mistress never gets found even though it's a permanent item in a poor Downs syndrome man's freezer? 2) The bad guy gets off scot free, ALL the senior officers are bent and destroy the evidence of him confessing to the murders on tape? 3) The quiet police officer has all along worked for the bad guy. When did this happen? 4) None of the masked baddies get caught even though at least one was run over by a police car. 5) The investigation into Gates is shelved completely after he died. 6) The officer with the limp doesn't get suspended or sacked for striking the female anti-corruption officer ...the list goes on. I've never seen such a hotchpotch of an ending. Clearly the writer wanted to upset the viewer by making the bad guys win but it was a complete mess. Very dissapointing.

I couldn't agree more. Mystification is easy as a crime writer friend once said. Clarification is more difficult but absolutely necessary in a good crime book or drama. 2 out of 10 for this and I'm being generous!

Exactly. I was horrified that the BBC allowed that poor down's syndrome man to be left with a freezer of dead woman. Absolutely terrible to not get a resolution for this!!!!!

I agree with you; I thought this was really good, a lot more engaging than Blackout on BBC 1, which I thought was very disappointing.

I love the reality in the characters...If you've ever been boxed into a corner like most of the characters, you should know its not a drama of smiley faces. I Love Line of Duty....However, I feel the last episode was rushed to end the story. It could have been divided into two episodes. Overall it was a perfect series and hope to get more dramas with such quality from BBC

Line of Duty was enthralling viewing and will be greatly missed. This reviewer and last comment posted missing the point - (1) this existed to entertain - did it engage and entertain - absolutely yes it did (2) the very thing that causes their feeling of emptiness is if anything the point that is being made - that life is not black and white with a beginning a middle and a nice neat ending and 'good guys' who come out on top and 'bad guys' who get what they deserve - but a whole lot more complicated than that!

Excellent edge of the seat drama, best one on TV I can remember, all the actors especially Lennie Jones were amazing shame they killed him off he could have had he own series, well done BBC

Absolutely gripping series! I agree that certain folk here missed the point and if they need 'perfect' endings they need to just keep watching soap operas. I for one was glad that 1) At last we had intelligent drama by some fine actors and 2) Everything wasn't tied up neatly at the end for those dumb enough not to accept the world doesn't exist like that. Enthralling - hope there is another series.

I half agree with this review. I thought the program was the best british drama I've seen in years but I was quite disappointed and underwhelmed by the finale. Hopefully the second series will put this right!

Some of the most important lines to understanding the resolution of the story were vaguely mumbled in the police van at the end - apparently druglord Tommy is simply going to be allowed to play along with the Terrorist theory favoured by the senior officers - and he will settle for immunity!? Surely you have to have something relevant to bargain with to get immunity and in the plot so far I just cannot understand what Tommy can give regarding Terrorism ..... unless this particular angle is to be further developed in the follow-up series. But then again that's not really fair is it on the viewer who has paid close attention to the present episodes ..... Oh - as an aside - would Dot have really been permitted un-monitored access to the newly-arrested villain in the back of the police van like that? Whatever.

I thought this was such a pile of pants I had to follow it through as a guilty pleasure. Utterly unconvincing. A couple of good actors, but a terrible script, totally cardboard characters. The actor who plays Arnott - how did he get the job?

it needed to be longer say 8 episodes, each show tried to pack too much into it and the ending was awful to suddenly turn it into a documantary! The disabled man ended up with a large corps ein his frdge, now hes would very likely have a care worker social worker or some form of support to help with his shopping budgetting etc so what would happen when they next take him to iceland and return to fill his freezer with essentials!!

I find it concerning that Adam Sweeting can use adjectives such as ‘ungallentky but extremely satisfyingly’ about violence towards the female police officer by a colleague... why does he find it ‘satisfying’ to see a woman punched? Punching a woman is more than ‘ungallant’.

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