Line of Duty season 6 spoilers follow.
One of the biggest talking points of Line of Duty so far is related to what exactly is going on with DI Kate Fleming.
In a breakup just as devastating as when Geri Halliwell left The Spice Girls, the season-six premiere revealed that Fleming was no longer working for AC-12. The precise circumstances around her exit remain unexplained, but it wouldn't be too much of a leap to surmise that the events of season five had a profound effect on our favourite anti-corruption trio.
But many don't quite buy that Fleming – who has a solid history of striving for the truth, even when it means investigating her own – has fully turned her back on her old ways. And one very subtle detail in Sunday night's episode (March 28) could point towards a big reveal for the fan-favourite character.
A uniformed Ryan Pilkington has returned, replacing Sergeant Farida Jatri on Operation Lighthouse as part of DCI Jo Davidson's team. Audiences at home are clued up about his previous dalliances in organised crime: most notably, he was responsible for the deaths of Police Constable Maneet Bindra and John Corbett. But for now his fellow officers seem none the wiser.
Ryan first appeared as a kid in series one, delivering burner phones for Tommy Hunter and the OCG. He also had a hand in torturing DS Steve Arnott, almost removing some of his fingers, and was formally interviewed by Kate at the station for his involvement in the crime group's activities.
Detective Superintendent Ian Buckells actually met him as a kid too, so it's a little bit suspect that he's now got him working as part of his team.
As a result of his past, Ryan is at risk of being identified. We'd already seen him hiding his face from Steve Arnott's view during AC-12's first visit to challenge Operation Lighthouse, and his new senior officer DI Kate Fleming has already started to question whether she recognises him.
"Did you come and give a talk at the training college, ma'am?" was his response, deflecting the true nature of their previous run-in.
Kate's too smart for that though, and it was clear from the look on her face that she was still trying to work out why he looked so familiar to her. But then DCI Davidson chimed in with some new evidence relating to Carl Banks' murder (convenient, no?) and the topic was swiftly glossed over.
Or so you might have thought.
Not too long after, AC-12 were given the order to descend on Operation Lighthouse and serve Davidson with a Reg 15 notice. While all this was going on, an eagle-eyed fan spotted a tiny detail on Kate's computer – one that looks very much like a file on Ryan Pilkington.
It's unlikely that this will include any details of his priors. The OCG were aware of his application to the police force, which strongly indicated that he was infiltrating in order to become a new 'caddy' from the inside. You would expect, then, that his record would have been dealt with by those that have the means to do so: high-ranking corrupt coppers.
But what it does show is that Kate isn't taking anything at face value and isn't afraid to do some digging of her own. This indicates that everything isn't quite as it seems, and that there could be a major Fleming-related twist on the horizon.
Perhaps she's launched an undercover operation of her very own, gaining Davidson's trust (by seemingly betraying her former AC-12 colleagues) and keeping a close eye on things from the inside? Or maybe she's following instruction from a much more senior place, that we're yet to discover?
Either way, this detail points to the fact that DI Kate Fleming is still seeking out the truth. And there may just be hope for an AC-12 reunion yet.
Line of Duty airs on BBC One and is available on BBC iPlayer. Line of Duty series six will continue next Sunday, April 4, on BBC One at 9pm.
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