**WARNING: SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN LINE OF DUTY SERIES 4 EPISODE 6**
In the end AC-12 got Roz Huntley. And they also got Jimmy Lakewell and one of the balaclava men (yes, there are probably more of them).
Those unfairly tarnished by the conspiracy – Ted Hastings, Michael Farmer and Hana Reznikova – were exonerated in a satisfying episode that contained some of the same derring-do that we got in last season’s finale, with shootouts and attempted escapes galore.
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Once again our heroes Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) got there in the end, all overseen by “Super” Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), the big daddy of AC-12 who got the chance to prove what a hot shot gunman he could be (more on that later).
But in the end, this episode, like the series, was about catching “bent coppers” (© Super Ted) foremost of which was Assistant Chief Constable Derek Hilton.
Hilton – who Ted is now convinced is the ‘H’ at the top of the police tree but in the employ of the criminal conspirators that wield so much power – was unmasked for playing a central part in the series’ conspiracy. And by the end he was dead.
Whether he was shot by his own hand or by the criminals is not clear, though the latter looks likely. He was found in the same spot – a boating marina – that Oliver Stephens-Lloyd (the social worker who had tried to expose child exploitation) was discovered dead in the last series. Chances are Hilton didn’t commit suicide and that a message was being sent from the criminals who we learned have been harvesting dead corpses to use for blackmail.
“If you don’t do their bidding a body gets taken out of cold storage with your DNA all over it,” said Lakewell.
At least all this meant that Michael Farmer was freed in a brief and touching scene where his lovely nana was seen helping him into a taxi, reminding us of the suffering that is inflicted when dodgy coppers have free reign.
But while AC-12 have swept up a few nasty conspirators, this could only be the tip of the iceberg.
Because what they discovered was that the Huntley conspiracy involved Hilton and lawyer Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi) who fed her the name of Farmer as a suspect. The framing of the young man – the fake trophies from his victims, etc. – was arranged by the criminal network that has been a constant presence since series one.
Roz was a baddie of sorts. She was perfectly happy to land Hana Reznikova and Michael Farmer in jail in order to close her case, no matter how many misgivings she might have had. She’ll have a long time to think about that during her ten-year sentence for manslaughter and perverting the course of justice.
But in a sense she was a victim as well. The extent to which Roz colluded in the framing is not fully clear, but she appears to have been more of a venal cop happy to overlook evidence of innocence to please her boss and climb the professional ladder.
It is now clear she wasn’t the person who planted the Farmer evidence – her crime was to push for a conviction of a man she must have had her doubts about. Also the killing of Ifield wasn’t entirely her fault. As she says, he was about to saw her into bits when she wrestled with him, the blade nicked his neck and he bled out.
“I’m not a bad person,” she says. Not sure about that. Perhaps she is not the “wee witch” that Hastings called her, but Arnott’s verdict seemed the most sensible. “I’d have stopped sooner. I’d have been able to walk and you’d have two hands,” he said when she suggested he would have done the same as her. Another thing for her reflect on while behind bars.
Jamie Desford was another rotten apple, albeit a fairly hapless one. He was Hilton’s plant, seeking to transport Lakewell on Hilton’s instructions, no doubt to face a bloody end at the hands of the super criminal network. He was clearly a bit dumb, holding Lakewell hostage as armed police swarmed AC-12. His fate was the only one we weren’t told about but you’d imagine he would get prosecuted and his police career would be over.
Balaclava man was also nabbed. The man who seemed to have been sent to spring Lakewell (and probably kill him) was dispatched by Hastings with a brilliantly aimed bullet to the head after he took a policeman hostage. But there are probably other Balaclava men as Lakewell said.
“There are some people there’s no immunity from,” added Lakewell, later taking the hit of a ten-year sentence rather than risking getting bumped off in the way Tommy Hunter was at the beginning of series two.
The best thing about tonight was seeing AC-12 in place for series five, though chances are we may have to wait a long while for that.
In the end we left with the words of Super Ted in our ears. “It feels like a life’s work,” he said of the job ahead. But there was a crumb of comfort. The final line of writing on the screen – “He remains in charge of Anti-Corruption Unit 12” – would have been greeted with cheers across the country.
This article was originally published in April 2017