Director: Jennie Darnell
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar
When it comes to excitement, the expectation was incredibly high – and, given that over half the viewing audience of all programming was commanded by the drama, the stakes were set. Line Of Duty was set for an epic finale of finales, with the promise that big questions would finally be answered, after almost a decade of the series being in production and on-screen. Coupled with flashy branding – Lies Cost Lives – and fearsome trailers, a lot was on the line for the final episode of Line Of Duty, Episode 7 of Season 6. This is Line Of Duty Season 6’s finale.
Except, if Twitter is anything to go by, the episode was something of, well, a letdown. As per usual, there are spoilers past this point – so be warned if you have not watched all previous episodes, there are some spoilers beyond this point. And yes, this does include the identity of H.
Expectation Being High May Have Been A Problem
The expectation was at an all-time high, with some recording-breaking viewing figures to match this. However, it may have been an issue of if there would be another series that played a part in this final episode being a bit of a letdown. A seventh series has not been agreed officially yet – meaning several questions have been left open. Episode seven of series six left many questions alongside answers – such as what happened to the corrupt prison guards, if Carmichael would even get her comeuppance, and so much more.
The shooting of the episode was also somewhat fragmentary, and there was a lot of impact from the pandemic – such as with social distancing being all to evident. The episode was somewhat anti-climatic as a result.
The Thurwell Twist
The greatest irony of this series is perhaps that of Marcus Thurwell. It was also all too obvious that ‘H’ – also known as the fourth man – was not Thurwell. James Nesbitt made an appearance as Thurwell for about thirty seconds, prior to his body being discovered in an international raid.
All the while ‘H’ was actually in the UK – and the technology was actually more complex than initially thought. Because of course!
Taking Down An Abduction Was Perhaps The Most Dramatic Moment
Episode seven lacked a lot of dramatic tension that previous series’ have had – which created something of an anti-climatic ending. We know that the prison guards have been corrupt for a while now – even since Lindsay Denton (played by Keeley Hawes) was burnt with hot, boiling water over her hands. The guards were corrupt and were set to hand over Jo Davidson to be murdered. An interception is staged, and Davidson’s life is saved – enough so she gave up who she thought was her father by name; Patrick Fairbank.
The use of balaclavas, guns, vans, heavy ‘attack’ vehicles – all made for a typical Line Of Duty takedown. But even this was somewhat rather anti-climatic; no shots happened, and the interception was rather successful. Guns were pointed, but a surrender was fairly quick. The tension was quickly dissipated, somewhat tellingly.
The most shocking moments was that the order to move Davidson was a forgery – with Kate Fleming’s signature, as well as another officer. We don’t find out what happened to the prison guards, or the other officer with the forged signature. That is beyond disappointing – because rings of corruption in the prison have been left to fester. What was the point in all this without a clearing out of a house, at least?
Confronting Abuse And The Aftermath
The one thing that has underlined this series is the theme of abuse – and how it was somewhat systematic in children’s homes in the UK previously. Line of Duty links back to Sandsview Boys Home, a source for a lot of the major corruption that is exposed in the episodes. Police officers who were corrupt dealt in trafficking and abuse – and some of the factions of the original gang also dealt in these activities. But is this really appropriate – to effectively take a scandal from our own history, and appropriate it for the screen? Yet another interview with one of the abusers – who has a memory issue, possibly Dementia – is conducted. Nothing will be achieved as this man can literally recall nothing – so why on Earth was this even aired on screen? Not to mention it should be given a trigger warning.
The ‘Realistic’ Way To End Things
An argument on Twitter is this; that the episode was a ‘realistic’ way to end the series with. This misses the point completely, as the series has not been realistic for a long time. Corruption is not just one person, bound by one place, one time – it is an infection, a disease. Unchecked it is allowed to fester. But this undermined the series because the series has been after one last member for a long time; Ian Buckells is finally outed as H, but is not the big, bad man we were lead to believe. Even with the elements of the Jill Dando murder, or the murder of a Maltese journalist, this was a little disappointing.
Too many questions instead of answers! What frustration.
Series seven has not been confirmed, and this has ostensibly been complicated by the ongoing (ugh) pandemic. The production of TV and other on-screen media will gradually have to become innovative to adapt in the face of Covid 19.
There is a need for a wrap up of all the potential endings; after all, Buckells is never fully confirmed a ‘H’. There is evidence, but this is also a loose end. Interviews are ongoing, and AC-12 has been left weak in terms of investigative powers. Hastings steals the spotlight one last time, in being finally fully honest about his role in the death of officer John Corbett. And it makes for a great metaphor, given the political rows that have gone on lately – especially because of the questioning of whether we share truth and accountability as public values any more.
What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcasts, Small Screen Stories and Small Screen Film Club wherever you get your podcasts!