These days there is so much content coming at us that I tend to confine my Reviews to a season’s first run. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to review Season 7 of Offspring or Season 5 of Veep (for the record, it doesn’t mean I skip them).
But I’ve never reviewed Line of Duty, in fact I’ve never actually seen Line of Duty (it happens, from time to time, critics just don’t like to admit it). So after several readers raved about Season 4 of the UK procedural I thought I had better take a look.
They were right. I’ve been missing out.
Line of Duty S3 is currently screening on ABC but S4 begins next week on 13th Street on Pay TV. For the uninitiated, like me, the show centres around AC-12, a unit within the British force that centres on police corruption amongst its own. That instantly sets it apart from cookie cutter cop shows.
Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) answer to Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar). Whilst previous seasons have focussed on coppers played by Keeley Hawes, Daniel Mays and Lennie James, S4 turns its attention to Thandie Newton as Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley. The good news is that I was able to parachute into a show without feeling the need to experience its preceding seasons.
Make no mistake, Line of Duty hits the ground running and where it leads is really something to behold. Roz Huntley is under pressure to solve the case of a serial murderer and gets her best shot at apprehending him after a young woman is kidnapped. When police rescue her they find enough clues for Huntley to finger a young working class man, Michael Farmer (Scott Reid) named on a sex offenders list.
“We need a breakthrough,” Asst. Chief Constable Derek Hilton (Paul Higgins) tells Roz. “They’ve been killing us on Twitter.”
Roz is meticulous to ensure procedures are followed and avoid any case being thrown out by savvy lawyers. But when Forensics Co-ordinator Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins) tells her there are anomalies in the evidence, she flinches, not ready to let a killer back into the community.
When Tim takes his concerns to Steve Arnott, AC-12 decides to take a closer look. But policing the police requires everyone to manoeuvre surreptitiously.
“Let’s turn the screws,” Superintendent Hastings quietly orders.
DS Kate Flynn is embedded within Roz’s unit, but despite the curt smiles and outward civility, the subtext screams seething resentment.
Writer Jed Mercurio deftly blurs the lines of trust, suspicion and accountability so the viewer’s loyalties repeatedly somersault. The tug of war between justice and corruption never lets up.
Martin Compston is solid as the suspicious DS Steve Arnott but Thandie Newton is just outstanding as Roz, with tunnel vision in her quest to convict a killer. Vicky McClure as DS Kate Fleming shadows her like a hawk.
“We’re both on the same side,” she tells her. You won’t believe a word of it.
Nobody ever upstages, or resorts to flashy, indulgent performances. This ensemble works with a singular vision towards Mercurio’s endgame.
By the time this surged to a dynamite final scene, my head was spinning.
Best of its kind since Happy Valley. Unmissable.
Line of Duty premieres 8:30pm Wednesday on 13th Street.