And breathe. I don’t know about you lot, but I found the final third of that episode – the raid on the Eastfield Depot, DS Corbett’s meltdown and his subsequent arrival at Mrs Hastings’ house, Arnott’s badge in hand – almost unbearably tense. As the series heads for its final three episodes, I’d say the foot will be firmly on the pedal.
The good guys
Oh Ted. Just when I was beginning to laugh at all the ways the good Superintendent was beginning to resemble a cheap pantomime villain – and thus clearly not the bad guy – he goes and bubblewraps the computer before hiding it in a repair shop. While I still doubt he’s the guy giving the instructions to the gang, I am curious as to what exactly he’s hiding.
Has he done a dodgy deal with the former cop? Or is there something even more nefarious going on here? Or – and I’m definitely reaching now – is Lisa McQueen AC-12 undercover (there would be a vacancy, now that Kate is DI) and is Ted communicating with her through the laptop, having kept it quiet from everyone except those who need to know?
If Ted’s work life isn’t exactly looking rosy, his personal life is even more problematic – and not only because Corbett has probably taken his wife hostage. The poisonous dinner with Gill Bigelow was a cleverly scripted dance in which Bigelow (the excellent Polly Walker) repeatedly stuck the stiletto in while poor Ted looked completely bamboozled, before going on to have her very wicked way with him.
If we know one thing about Hastings it’s that he’s not a political animal (another reason why he’s low on my list of suspects for kingpin). Bigelow, on the other hand, very much is and she’s clearly manoeuvring Ted round to the position where AC-12, and him in particular, will end up carrying the can.
Superintendent Hastings wasn’t the only one having problems tonight, as Steve began to realise that DS Corbett might not be the guy you want on your side when clear heads are needed. I was amused by Kate’s ‘oh Steve’ head-shake when she found out what he’d done (she was this close to sending him to the naughty step). But in truth, it’s a miracle that Mr Dive Into a Dodgy Relationship With The Suspect First, Ask Questions Later is still in a job. “For Christ’s sake son, you’ve broken every rule in the book” is putting it mildly. Tipping someone off about a police raid, even if you are covertly working with them, is not the done thing.
The bad guys
What’s interesting about Corbett is that he clearly had an image of himself as a righter of wrongs and dispenser of justice. Now that image has been punctured by the decision to fire on Hargreaves, and with everything slipping out of his control, he’s increasingly unstable.
At its heart, Line of Duty has always been about how split-second decisions can derail a life. Thus Tony Gates covered up his lover’s hit-and-run. Lindsay Denton chose to protect Carly after a chance meeting. Danny Waldron pulled the trigger when faced with a ghost from his past. Roz Huntley faced Tim’s death and chose not to come clean.
And Corbett shot Hargreaves. The interesting question becomes did he do so because he’s a bad cop and wanted to make sure Hargreaves didn’t reveal it – or did he simply lose control and fire in rage?
I lean towards the latter, and not just because Stephen Graham does bewildered anger so well. It seems more logical that Corbett was an undercover cop in too deep and convinced that he alone could solve everything, only to find that he couldn’t, than that he’s playing everyone off against each other in some complicated con.
That said, whether or not he was a bad cop before, he certainly is one now – and was from the moment he put on a police uniform, impersonated Steve and turned up at Mrs Hastings’ door. Again, one of the things I like about this series is that, in contrast to the last where Roz’s motivation was always opaque, it’s quite easy to feel sympathy for Corbett even as his paranoia rages out of control.
It’s obvious that, right or wrong, he thinks Hastings is responsible for all his woes, and equally obvious that he’s no longer thinking with a clear head. Can he get out of this mess? I’ll be interested to see him try.
• So Hargreaves was a wrong ‘un, as has been widely called on this blog. I admire Jed Mercurio for getting another H out of the way early, and thought the episode played well on the superficial similarity between Adrian Dunbar and Tony Pitts.
• Nice line about the accent too. Obviously my first thought was ‘Oh Ted no’ but Hargreaves, as we all remember, was a proud Yorkshireman.
• As for the picture – it could be Hargreaves. It could equally be Ted. What we do know is that whoever it was met with Lisa McQueen in private. Yet she told Corbett that she had no idea what the criminal overlord looked like.
• The file about McQueen and social services was also interesting – I wonder if we’re going to find links back to previous characters such as Danny Waldron. This being Line of Duty I would also say that just because the woman we know as Lisa McQueen says that’s who she is, it doesn’t mean we should take it at face value.
• I initially thought they over-egged the pudding with all the references to the Eastfield Police Depot, but the raid was so fantastically tense that I’ll allow it.
• Being Detective Inspector suits Kate. Not only does she keep a clear head under pressure but I think she made the right call. I could see her ending up in charge of the whole shebang at the end.
• I applaud Mrs Hastings’ decision to check with Ted before letting Corbett in to the house … but I really do wonder at her carelessly leaving the door on the latch.
• I’m not sure I’ll be signing up to the Steve Arnott School for Relationship Advice any time soon. Poor Sam.
• Raise a glass everyone who had ‘now we’re sucking diesel’ in Ted Hastings bingo.
Weasel of the week
Corbett might have gone rogue, Steve might have tipped off the OCG, Ted is certainly up to something with that laptop and Gill is so poisonous she could wipe out a battlefield but tonight’s weasel can only be Les Hargreaves, professional Yorkshireman and bent copper. Alas, Les, we barely knew you.
Quote of the week
“Some say it’s just you that’s failing … I’m not one of them obviously.” Remind me never to go to Gill Bigelow for any kind of motivational advice.
So what did you think? What was Ted doing with the laptop? Is there a way back for Corbett? And if you were going to write a children’s book called “OCGs in the Trees” what line would you write next? As always, all speculation and no spoilers below.