**UPDATED for Line of Duty series five episode four **
For three series, five episodes and 55 minutes, Ted Hastings was the morally upstanding spearhead of AC-12. But Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio turned the tables in the closing moments of series four, and doubt has been growing in our minds ever since.
Does Ted really care about one thing and one thing only – “bent coppers”? Or is he complicit in – or worse, in control of – the fatty layer of corruption at the top of this fictional police force?
With four episodes of series five now under our belt and the clues stacking up, here we examine the evidence against Ted Hastings…
Item 1 – “definately”
The strongest clue yet that Ted might be the mysterious ‘H’ came in episode four. Remember, the previous instalment had seen Lisa and John in conversation with the corrupt copper via an instant messenger chat, and ‘H’ had made a conspicuous spelling mistake, typing “definately” with an “a” instead of an “i”. Fast-forward to episode four, and Ted hijacked a conversation AC-12 were attempting to simulate with the OCG via the same messenger system.
“I can definately pull the right strings,” he wrote, in ‘disguise’ as H. Now, “definitely” is not the easiest word to spell – but in the realm of TV drama, the error feels like too much of a coincidence.
Then there is Ted’s mysterious final sentence before he ends the discussion: “I need you to bring all this to a close”.
At the time, it felt a little like an order, a suspicion backed up by the dramatic events of the episode’s final few minutes when Lisa tricked John into revealing his true colours before ordering Ryan to slit his throat. As his body was dragged away, we saw her overcome by emotion – it clearly wasn’t an execution she’d wanted to carry out. So, who ordered her to do it? Was Ted’s message a veiled order?
Item 2 – the wounds inflicted on Mrs Hastings
Before his grisly death, John broke into the home of Ted’s ex-wife, Roisin Hastings, and tortured her for information. The injuries he inflicted on her wrists, knees and ankles bore a resemblance to paramilitary punishment wounds, popular during the Troubles, and – according to Mrs Hastings – her attacker spoke in a Belfast accent and “said you’d know why he’d done it. He said you’d know what you’ve cost him”.
We also learnt in episode four that John he has Northern Irish roots – his mother Anne-Marie and father Anthony died, leading to his adoption by a relative in Liverpool at the age of 10.
You know who else is from Northern Ireland? That fella Ted. As Steve suggested, the attack might be a reminder by the OCG that they’ve got him in their pocket. (It would also explain why Ted drew no verbal connection between the nature of the attack and his Northern Irish birthplace.)
But there’s another possible explanation. The attack might hint at a connection between the AC-12 boss and the wayward undercover officer – a vendetta Corbett is trying to settle, perhaps?
We also know something significant happened to John’s mum, who passed away in 1989. During a secret phone call with his wife earlier in the episode, she asked, “do they know about Anne-Marie”? Could it be possible that John and Ted crossed paths back in Belfast, and the latter somehow had a hand in her death?
If so, that might explain why Ted is acting so fishy, and at the same time disprove the theory that Ted is H.
Item 3 – Ted’s financial difficulties and THAT wad of £50 notes
Ted’s been struggling financially since Line of Duty’s second series, thanks to an ill-advised property investment in Ireland (which he took part in behind his wife’s back). It led to the end of his marriage, the loss of his home, and is the reason he’s currently racking up an unpaid hotel bill.
His money worries don’t directly link to the balaclava gang but we do know that they prey on coppers in need of cash (remember Lisa McQueen first approached Vihan Malhotra to assist with his gambling debts?) And in series five, we’ve seen Ted courted by retired copper Mark Moffatt, now ‘representing’ the very same property complex, known as Kettle Bell.
In episode four, Mark paid Ted a visit at his hotel and handed over an envelope which turned out to be filled with £50 notes. Instead of leaping backwards, aghast, as we’d expect Ted to react at the first sign of bribery, he opens the money while sipping from a glass of whiskey before gazing at it contemplatively. At no point do we see him report it or turn it down.
With his finances in dire straits, might Ted have been tempted by some money on the side just to stay afloat? Although, if that were the case, surely he’d be living in a more luxurious setting by now?
Item 4 – Ted’s irregular AC-12 orders
With the seed of doubt planted in our minds by John, we’ve spent the last few episodes wondering if there’s a hidden motive to Ted’s professional decision-making, particularly his attempt to order the assassination of the undercover cop.
In episode four, John revealed to Steve (and, via his secret microphone, Ted) that he had assaulted Roisin Hastings. The gaffer lost his cool, ordered Steve to apprehend him and went on to issue a “Fahrenheit Order” – authorising armed officers to shoot to kill.
Steve refused to carry it out, and allowed John to escape (after he passed on details of his face-to-face meeting with H) before questioning the lawfulness of Ted’s actions. Kate, meanwhile, was baffled by Ted’s “irregular” need to shoot John rather than allow him to lead them to H. “Sir, we’ll lose all of Corbett’s intel,” she argued.
He may not have achieved it, but Ted seemed awfully keen to silence the balaclava leader before he uncovered the top level of police corruption.
Week three gave us not one but TWO suspicious orders from Ted, both of which echoed John’s exasperation at feeling directed towards small fry.
Made aware of the existence of the OCG’s brothel, Ted was faced with a decision – raid it and rescue the trafficked girls working there or use it as bait to reel in a big (corrupt) fish. Now, there’s plenty to be said for preserving human life and putting an end to the balaclava gang’s exploitation, but Ted’s decision to storm the property frustrated AC-12’s attempts to apprehend “H”.
Then, later in the episode, with the force surveilling the depot and John waiting on Lisa’s bent cop, a “Status Zero” was called in. Ted jumped on the radio and – despite Kate’s warnings it could be a trap – ordered Steve to investigate, redirecting him towards the traffic incident, a crash that turned out to be orchestrated by Hargreaves himself. It meant that Steve and his AFOs were absent at the moment Kate needed them to charge in and arrest Hargreaves; he would have got away, had John not shot and (accidentally – or so he claims) killed him.
Ted was technically playing by the book – but if it wasn’t for his call, Hargreaves would be in police custody rather than lying in a morgue.
Item 5 – Ted’s visit to see Lee Banks
Balaclava gang member Lee Banks was arrested in episode two when he was found inside the home of PS Jane Cafferty – and he’s popped up again in episode four, thanks to a mysterious visit Ted paid him.
Now behind bars in Blackthorn Prison – the same place where Maneet went to see her cousin, Vihan – Lee looked none too pleased to see the gaffer once he realised who he was. “I ain’t saying a word to this b***ard,” he told the guard, but Ted replied, “Sit down, fella. This b***ard’s got a thing or two to say to you,” adding with an eerily smooth voice: “Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.”
What did he tell him? Ted looked deep in thought as he was driven away from the prison. But it’s worth noting, he made the trip in full police uniform and, while we didn’t see it, possibly used a police car for transportation. If he was doing something underhand, why would he make the visit so conspicuous? Unless he plans to continue hiding in plain sight…
Item 6 – THAT laptop
We get closer to “H” than ever before in series five. That doesn’t mean we’ve clapped eyes on them yet – instead, the mysterious copper has popped up twice via an instant message conversation with John.
It’s significant because we’ve seen Ted behaving suspiciously around a laptop a number of times. There was that moment in episode two when we witnessed him sitting in his hotel room studying his divorce papers before gazing wistfully at a brochure for the housing development that caused all his financial woes. The camera then panned out to show an open laptop which pinged with a new instant message. We never saw what it said – or who it was from – but it seems like a pretty major link given that instant messenger is also “H’s” chosen method of communication…
And then in episode three, “H” got back in contact – “it’s on,” they told John Corbett, giving him the go-ahead to raid Eastfield Depot. John and Lisa headed off to set up the operation, meanwhile the camera switched to a stressed Ted shutting his laptop and pacing round his hotel room. Again, no proven connection – but surely too significant to be a coincidence?
Fast-forward to later in the episode and Steve ‘fessed up, telling Kate about his contact with John who in turn informed the “gaffer”. Ted endorsed their plan to surveil the depot heist, but his next move was to rush back to his hotel room, wrap his laptop in bubble wrap and trot off to an electronic disposal centre.
What evidence was he in such a hurry to get rid of?
Item 7 – THAT phone call
In episode one of series five we were shown Lisa McQueen driving as her phone started ringing. It was an unknown number and, while she didn’t answer it, the look on her face suggested she knew the identity of the caller.
The next shot we saw was of Ted and – guess what? – he was on the PHONE. Whoever he was ringing didn’t pick up, but it was pretty clear what was being insinuated… Could Ted and the OCG operative be in direct contact? And, if so, why?
Item 8 – Ted’s anxiety
In the final moments of episode two, we saw Jane Cafferty in an AC-12 interview room identifying to Kate and Steve the policeman who had recruited her into the balaclava gang’s network of bent coppers. We now know it was Matthew “Dot” Cottan, prompting resigned looks between Steve and Kate who are fed up with the corrupt AC-12 officer being used as a stick to beat them with.
But while Jane was shown pictures of possible suspects, we witnessed a VERY anxious Ted shooting nervous glances in her direction. We lost count of the number of times he was seen hovering by the door to his office.
The suspects Jane was presented with were taken from an investigation board sitting in AC-12’s office. Also among them were known colluders ACC Hilton (from series four), DS Jeremy Cole and Manish Prasad (both series two) and CS Patrick Fairbank (series three).
But there was an addition to the list Kate assembled – an image we didn’t see but presumably came from the board investigating the identity of “H”. Could it have been Hastings’ photo? And if so, why was he so nervous?
Item 9 – Ted’s secrets
It was in series three that we first discovered Ted was a Mason. Steve observed his boss’s handshake (above) with retired copper Patrick Fairbank and identified it as Masonic.
Fairbank was eventually found to be a paedophile and heavily involved in a ring of child sex abusers, convicted on the evidence of DI Matthew “Dot” Cottan’s dying declaration.
Ted was never shown to have any prior knowledge or link to the crimes, but it raised the suspicion of his colleagues for the first time. And the AC-12 boss’s Masonic connections seem at odds with the character we’ve knew over the first four series – a man who claims to go after anyone he believes to be corrupt, no matter who they know or how important they are.
Item 10 – the dead balaclava man
When we first witnessed Ted take out a balaclava man holding a policeman hostage in the dramatic conclusion to series four, we heaped praise on him – Super Ted to the rescue hitting his mark with chilling precision.
But John Corbett has since put his new spin on Ted’s deadly aim. Why did the Superintendent take out the criminal when he was surrounded by Armed Firearms Officers who could have done the job for him? Was he worried he might be taken into custody and blab?
Item 11 – THAT look at the end of series four
The end of series four saw Ted, DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and DS Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) assemble an investigation board setting out the far reaches of the balaclava gang – and looking into the identity of “H”.
With the surname Hastings, Ted was included on their list of suspects before he sharply instructed Kate to take down his picture.
BUT we now know that Jed Mercurio came on set to direct those final scenes of the series, and specifically instructed Kate and Ted to throw suspicious looks at each other. At that point, it was the biggest hint so far that Ted might not be as above the law as he seemed…
After four episodes of series five, that’s all the evidence we have so far – but we’re pretty confident there’s more to come.
Check back on this article after each episode for any more updates…