Line of Duty Series-Blog: Episode 4

LINE OF DUTY – EP4: Tuesday 17th July, BBC2, 9pm

*Read last week’s blog here*

Regardless of what Peep Show might have you believe, sometimes long lingering notes in a programme’s musical score doesn’t automatically equal in more dread. Over the past few weeks, Line of Duty has grown considerably on me, but this still irks me about it. I get it. It’s dramatic. It’s tense. I know!

But I can’t complain too much, as episode four might be the best one yet. It’s absolutely full of dread—as full as it could possibly be without it being simply dreadful. It’s an episode that left me perched on the edge of my seat, wincing as I watched easily the most horrific scene since Jackie had her throat cut open in episode two. In fact, I’m struggling not to wince as I write this now.

This week we see Fleming attempt to salvage the anti-corruption investigation by cosying up to Gates, who, tortured by Jackie’s recent death, is only too happy to have to somebody listen to his problems. However, Gates is smart enough not to say too much. After all, he’s a master at covering up incriminating evidence.

When things blew up spectacularly for Gates last week, his colleagues, his bosses and his wife came dangerously close to finding out about his corrupt doings. This week sees the bent copper attempting to play down those suspicions.

Since the first episode of Line of Duty I’ve enjoyed the character of Nige Morton (Neil Morrissey), Gates’ best mate, and fortunately this week he appears more prominently, concerned that the increasingly troubled protagonist has stopped confiding in him. Nige’s down to earth qualities over the past four episodes have made it much easier to sympathise with Gates, who, admittedly, can be downright despicable.

The two have a history together to the point where Nige clearly knows Gates’ wife and children, and thanks in large to Morrissey and Lennie James’ terrific performances, this relationship is completely believable. You don’t for one-second doubt Nige’s devotion to his buddy, even when he comes under fierce interrogation from the anti-corruption unit.

My favourite moment from this scene is when Superintendent Ted Hastings tells Nige that his unit has built a very damning case against Gates and Nige replies very calmly with, “Then you won’t need to turn me, sir.â€?

In previous episodes, victories for the anti-corruption unit have been bittersweet. Gates deserves to get his comeuppance and yet I’ve felt myself sympathising with him, perhaps inexplicably. I had attributed these mixed emotions to DS Arnott, the weasel-like ten-year-old in charge of bringing him down. I thought of Gates as the flawed protagonist and Arnott as his flawed nemesis: a massively unlikable good guy.

This week my thoughts have changed completely. After Nige attacked Fleming with his walking stick, I swung complete in favour of the anti-corruption unit. And despite passionately loathing DS Arnott, I struggled to watch what happened to him at the end of episode four.

It makes for a fantastically unsettling ending, and once again, I can’t possibly predict where Line of Duty is going to go next. What started off quite spectacularly has become increasingly more compelling and disturbing. The final scene of episode four was a horrible struggle to watch, but it was the good kind of struggle, one that is sure to have been tuning in next week for the series’ finale.