What is your absolute favourite thing about Line Of Duty?
Is it the Tedisms? Kate’s foul-mouthed putdowns? Steve’s waistcoat collection, vast enough to make a professional snooker player envious? The endless acronyms and police jargon?
Marvellous as all of those are, for me, the best thing about the BBC drama is that each character goes all-in whatever the situation or consequences.
In a show about undercover cops and criminals, it is quite remarkable how no one is capable of keeping their cards to their chest.
Read more: 'Line Of Duty' series 6 episode 2 recap
Read more: ‘Line Of Duty’ series 6 episode 1 recap
Whenever a lead or problem comes up, each character chases it down immediately until it is exhausted, then they move on to the next one.
It may sometimes detract from any semblance of realism, but it makes for fantastic drama.
By Line Of Duty’s own shock-inducing standards, series 6 has been holding back a little, but all that has changed with episode 3, when we were treated to our first genuinely jaw-dropping moment.
Here are the major talking points from Line Of Duty series 6 episode 3.
*WARNING: spoilers below*
1. Ryan at the reservoir
In episode 3, the character who goes completely all-in is PC Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper), everyone’s favourite bolt-cutting teen turned cop shop infiltrator.
We’ve seen him try to chop off DI Steve Arnott’s (Martin Compston) fingers, we’ve seen him slit DC John Corbett’s (Stephen Graham) throat, now he shows his propensity for further violence.
While accompanying cuckooing victim Terry Boyle (Tommy Jessop), a suspect with Down’s syndrome in connection with the murder of journalist Gail Vella, on a police escort back to his safe house, Pilkington grabs the wheel from fellow PC, Lisa Patel (Tara Divina), and steers it into a reservoir.
As the car sinks into the river, Pilkington makes his escape from his opened rear window, so it’s a bit of a shock for him when Patel manages to swim to the surface.
The exasperated “s**t” he utters upon seeing she’s alive is one of a man whose doorbell has rung while he’s on the toilet - murdering police officers is pretty standard activity for Pilkington.
Then he gets his hands properly dirty, forcing Patel back under until she really is dead.
But just when you thought it was safe to go back out of the water… another twist! Boyle has broken free from the car too!
This time, Pilkington, seeing headlights approaching, pretends to be his rescuer, not his attempted murderer, dragging him out of the reservoir.
Those headlights belong to a car driven by DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), who had been tailing the transport after seeing Boyle’s life was in danger.
It’s an absolutely breathless sequence, almost designed for Gogglebox, and it takes place barely 15 minutes into the episode.
My only complaint is we didn’t get to know Patel a little in a previous episode - it would have made her demise all the more shocking.
2. Welcome back, Kate
It isn’t long before Kate is back in the office of her old stomping ground, AC-12, to tell Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) something is rotten in the Murder Investigation Team (MIT) that includes Pilkington and is run by DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald).
It doesn’t sound like Davidson was too pleased Kate intervened at the reservoir (“Thank God you were passing.” - “Yeah, pure coincidence.”), but for now the focus is on Pilkington.
“I’m sure I’ve met him before,” Kate tells Steve, who recognises him instantly. ‘Little bastard damned near cut off my fingers.’ Yeah, you don’t tend to forget that kind of thing.
Our two bent copper catchers tease a future Line Of Duty/Deliveroo tie-in (“Shame, was feeling a takeaway coming on.”) before it’s back to work, and Kate has a one-on-one with the unflappable Pilkington.
“Sorry Ma’am, I’ve racked my brains,” he tells her, without flinching, as the audience prays this babyfaced assassin will get the full AC-12 interview treatment later in the series.
3. Buckells buckling
Eagle-eyed viewers (not me, I must admit) of earlier episodes of this series spotted that DSU Ian Buckells (Nigel Boyle) keeps a set of golf clubs in his office (The Caddy vibes, anyone?) but surely we can rule him out as being “H” or “The Fourth Man”, given he waves his 8 or 9 iron (sorry, I’ve not played for a while) directly in front of the camera this week.
He’s just announced he’s putting Pilkington forward for a commendation (*insert face palm emoji here*), but the plot thickens later when Davidson claims it was Buckells who installed the PC on the MIT on the QT. Sorry, got carried away there.
Then Kate tells Davidson that Buckells is connected to a rather shady witness who tried to finger Boyle for Vella’s murder, meaning AC-12 is soon calling on his office door.
“This is b*****ks. Total b*****d b*****ks.” That’s how Buckells puts it anyway, as he’s wheeled into AC-12.
His phrasing may be coarse, but he could be right...
4. Ted and Steph and Steve
Remember at the end of the last series when it was not so subtly hinted that Ted had given half of the OCG’s £100,000 blood money to Corbett’s widow, Steph?
Well, you’ve got a better memory than me if you did.
Line Of Duty writer/creator Jed Mercurio was obviously a fan of another BBC show, the sadly axed Cash In The Attic, given that Steve finds Steph’s stash of notes in her roof space.
Steve has his own issues to deal with, however, as he has been not-so-randomly selected for a drugs test (pesky AC-9!) just as his painkillers addiction is escalating, while Hastings joins DCC Andrea Wise (Elizabeth Rider) and PCC Rohan Sindwhani (Ace Bhatti) for their weekly meeting, apparently only written into the plot to allow him to go Full Ted.
“The name’s Hastings, Ma’am. I’m the epitome of an old battle.”
Now where did I put that face palm emoji?
5. Dodgy Davidson
Those who had any lingering doubts that Davidson is a Bent Copper TM can surely dispel them after this episode.
In a subtle blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene towards the end, she returns home to her spotless apartment (does anyone in Line Of Duty ever cook in their glistening kitchens?!) and looks at a laptop on her table.
She may appear to be perturbed by the thought of some late-night WFH, but everything becomes clear in the episode’s denouement at the same location later.
It isn’t her laptop, but has been placed in her flat while she was out - how did they get past her 17 door locks?
In the episode’s last seconds, she uses it to contact the OCG head honcho ("H"?), whose typed instant messages were a feature of series 5.
“All under control now,” she writes, as she has seemingly hoodwinked Kate and delivered Buckells to AC-12. His interrogation there next week should make for interesting listening. "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!"
Episode 3 verdict: While Pilkington's spot of nightswimming (DESERVES A QUIET NIGHT!!) will grab the headlines, this was a finely crafted episode that highlighted why Davidson is such a formidable opponent for AC-12.
Although we can't forget her frantic car-window thumping from last week, in front of other officers she is measured, calm, always appears to play by the rules and generally follows the letter of the law... the letter! - which is probably why she's got Kate in her back pocket for now.
How on Earth are they going to catch her out?
Watch: Line Of Duty series 6 teaser