'Line Of Duty' series 6 episode 6 recap: Standoff outcome and more details of Davidson's past revealed
How strange it is to bite our nails through a sixth episode of Line Of Duty that isn't a series finale.
Writer/creator Jed Mercurio's BBC police drama has had a six-episode run ever since its first series, when just five were needed to introduce viewers to the world of Anti-Corruption Unit 12.
Fast forward nine years to the sixth series, and here we have an episode 6 that isn't a conclusion but a taster of what's coming next week.
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Stretching Line Of Duty to seven episodes this time round has changed the show slightly - there was no season opener jaw-dropper, for one, while the action rained down in episodes 4 and 5 in contrast to the first three instalments.
There are more questions than answers in this week's episode 6... and most of those answers are "No comment".
*WARNING: this article contains spoilers for episode 6 of series 6 of Line Of Duty*
1. Goodbye Ryan
Last week’s episode ended on the monumental cliffhanger of DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) facing off against babyfaced cop killer PC Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) in a lorry park that definitely wasn’t the cosy bar DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) initially pretended she wanted to visit.
Two shots were fired as the screen went black last week before the credits rolled, and we find out pretty quickly they both went into Pilkington’s chest.
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He lies dead on the ground when AC-12’s Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), DC Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin) and (don’t forget, she’s the new boss) DCS Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) arrive on the scene.
RIP Ryan, from dropping off burner phones and struggling with bolt-cutters as a child to murdering officers as an organised crime gang (OCG) - and police - graduate, it’s been one hell of a ride.
Should he have just murdered Kate as planned instead of engaging in a big chat with her? Probably. Will his character be missed? Most definitely. He's gone to that great big OCG in the sky.
2. Hey Jo, where you going with Kate’s gun in your hand?
I write the phrase “even by Line Of Duty standards” in these recaps a lot, and I can’t resist another bite after watching what follows the reveal that Pilkington is dead.
Even by Line Of Duty standards, I hadn’t a flipping clue what the heck was going on.
Quiz: How much do you know about ‘Line Of Duty’?
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Let me get this right: Kate was lured to the dodgy lorry park by Davidson to be executed by Pilkington - Kate knows this, the audience knows this, anyone with a Twitter account knows this - but after Ryan ends up dead, Kate’s first instinct is to… run off with Davidson?
While this doesn’t make much sense, it does raise the prospect that Kate might get killed again (every officer with an itchy trigger finger wants to point a gun at her these days), when she and Davidson are stopped by armed police after a quick joyride in Steve’s motor.
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While going for a speedy spin with someone who tried to have you executed just minutes earlier isn’t everyone’s idea of a night out, at least Kate lets Davidson prove her new trust, as the latter puts her handprint on the former’s gun.
This gives Kate a way out after she shot Pilkington dead, but why would she need that - or why would she go on the run? - if she just told AC-12 a pair of bent coppers had arranged to murder her and she was acting in self-defence? Like I said, it makes no sense.
As Steve says at one point, "I don’t know what the hell is going on either.”
3. Jo comment
And so we come to the second set-piece of this episode, Davidson’s return to AC-12 for another grilling.
But this one is very different from earlier in the series, when she was falling over herself to be helpful to her inquisitors, knowing she’d framed her ex, PS Farida Jatri (Anneika Rose) by ditching some burner phones at her house.
The other thing found at Jatri’s, Jo’s DNA, led to the revelation last week that Davidson is related to murdered crime boss and paedophile Tommy Hunter (Brian McCardie), and we get a little more information about their connection here.
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While on the run, Davidson tells Kate that Hunter was her uncle and that her father was a bent copper, leaving her no choice but to follow in the family business.
“They control me… I’m not bent,” says Davidson, submitting a new picture for the Oxford English Dictionary under “oxymoron”.
But during Davidson’s questioning at AC-12, it emerges that Hunter was both her uncle AND her father, something which drove her mother Samantha to take her own life. Davidson’s look of shock at this incest in her family could be genuine, or she could be pulling off an amazing magic trick.
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“If you’re not bent, this is your chance to prove it,” Steve tells her, but she opts to go the “No comment” route for much of the interview, apart from admitting her role in thwarting the Murder Investigation Team's probe into the murder of journalist Gail Vella (Andi Osho) and dropping the whopping lie that she killed Pilkington.
It’s quite remarkable that Davidson is still alive so deep into a Line Of Duty series, given what happened to her predecessors - could she be the mysterious “H” or Fourth Man/Woman?
4. Thur today, gone tomorrow?
No sooner has James Nesbitt turned up in your cop series than he’s out of it again, without even muttering a word in that lovely accent of his.
Last week, Northern Ireland’s finest TV acting export since, well, Adrian Dunbar, popped up on Steve’s computer as former DCI Marcus Thurwell, who now looks to be very former indeed.
Thurwell is suspected of hampering the investigation into child sexual abuse in Sands View Boys Home (the main story thread of series 3) and that of murdered Black architect Lawrence Christopher, who died in police custody.
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AC-12 gather around a computer screen to watch Spanish police try to catch up to Thurwell at his last known whereabouts, but the officers find his and his wife’s bodies in the raid.
“It’s another kick in the teeth,” Ted shouts. “There’s only so much a man can take!”
But surely Nesbitt wasn't hired just to play a guy in a couple of photographs?
Episode 6 verdict: After the blistering two episodes that preceded it, both genuine contenders for the LOD Hall of Fame, this instalment is a deliberate change of pace, filled with potential leads and red herrings - and that's just for the audience.
Will all of those questions be answered in the seventh and final episode? Not a chance, but then not having a bloody clue what's going on is one of the reasons we love Line Of Duty so much.
Save some of those nails for biting next week.
Watch: Line Of Duty series 6 teaser