***WARNING: This review contains multiple spoilers about Line of Duty series 4 episode 3***
Just when DS Steve Arnott looks like he is getting somewhere with this case – he has a run in with a man in a balaclava…
..and is toppled over a staircase and left bleeding and possibly lifeless.
It was a shocking end to a gripping episode which opened with Steve making all the right moves and appearing to inch closer to the truth.
He had deduced that Tim Ifield could not be balaclava man (who may or may not be Steve’s assailant) and had honed in on Roz Huntley’s husband Nick, the creepy lawyer played by Lee Ingleby.
But in scenes of unbearable tension, just as he was paying a visit to Nick, frantic members of AC-12 were unable to tell him he was in grave danger; Steve was busy on the phone and poor Maneet and Hastings kept getting his voicemail.
The second he finally heard the messages from HQ indicating that Nick’s car was seen outside Tim’s house on the night of his murder, the lift doors opened prematurely (on floor three, Steve was headed to floor five) and bam – the balaclava-wearing assailant smashed him in the face with a baseball bat and threw him over the staircase.
Will Steve survive? Surely he won’t be his usual active self if he does?
Still, we can marvel at Jed Mercurio’s brilliant plotting which had been laying the ground for his reckoning for a while. He clearly wanted to prove something to Hastings and Kate who had been making progress on the case with her undercover work. Steve persuaded Hastings to continue with a full throttle investigation – hence his doorstepping of Nick.
“Wanker,” Kate called Steve in a bid to ingratiate herself with the Operation Trapdoor team. It was an act, of course, but you couldn’t help but feel that part of her meant it given their professional rivalry.
Steve looked a little piqued. He was also a bit put out by the arrival of DC Jamie Desford (Royce Pierreson), the smooth-talking handsome young copper who charms witnesses and is clearly ruffling the feathers of a man who fancies himself as something of a ladies’ man.
Roz herself continues to slither around – and it looks like she has her suspicions of Kate, unbeknownst to the anti-corruption cop herself. Her annoying sidekick, the unctuous and creepy Jodie (Claudia Jessie), had spied Kate checking up on the doctored forensics evidence, giving Roz both a headache but also the upper hand. If that forms part of AC-12’s investigations, Kate’s cover will likely be blown.
Plus there was the note left to Roz warning her that she was being watched. Who left that? Was it Ian Buckells, who knows what Kate’s up to? Or someone else?
Later in the episode, Roz showed what a viper she is by attempting to frame kidnap victim Hana (Gaitse Jansen) for Tim’s murder, digging up her work as a prostitute and framing a case where she killed him in self defence. What a piece of work she is.
But is she in league with her husband? Already Mercurio has offered visual comparisons to Lady Macbeth’s hand wringing attempt to get the blood of murder off her hands with Roz’s clasping of her bloodied wrist. Could this be a Shakespearean allusion to our main suspect? If so, let’s not forget that the crimes in the Bard’s great tragedy were committed by a husband and wife in league with each other – although Roz and Nick’s conversations at home suggest he is unaware of her involvement in Tim’s murder.
And they aren’t the only questions. Was Nick the assailant? Did Nick come down from floor five to intercept Steve on floor three, donning a bomber jacket and balaclava at breakneck speed? Did Nick help his wife kill Tim? Or did he kill him alone? Is Roz framing Michael Farmer to protect her husband?
And, most importantly, will Steve survive?
So many questions. Such great drama. I hope he pulls through…
This article was originally published in April 2017