Since the beginning of Line of Duty, Gates’ career has been nearing ruins, but last week’s episode is where things truly turned sour for him. In a rather gruesome end, Gates’ desperation resulted in DS Arnott being tied to a chair as a group of masked men and a child prepared to cut his fingers off.
It was a horrific, but fantastically compelling set-up for the final instalment, which you’d imagine would be the big pay off, where everything neatly concludes. After four episodes of twists and suspense and loose ends, I could scarcely wait to watch this one. I wanted that vile kid to get his comeuppance and I wanted Gates to get what’s coming to him.
But if there’s something Line of Duty does well, it’s changing the audience’s perceptions of how they view the characters. Just when you’re sure that you like or loathe a character something happens that makes you feel completely differently.
I thought Gates was utterly reprehensible at the end of last week’s episode, but by the time the series finale came to a close, things weren’t quite so clear. In the end, he kind of did the right thing, and I genuinely felt sympathetic towards him.
The same, however, can’t be said for Ryan, the little brat who tried to cut DS Arnott’s fingers off. Although the final episode tried to make viewers take pity on him—with his uncaring mother and his parents’ divorce—it’s still too difficult to feel sorry for the little shit.
An on-going theme throughout Line of Duty has been the ludicrousness of police bureaucracy, how it often hinders rather than helps the police with their investigations. Episode five continues to explore this idea with some success.
We see, in Ryan’s case, that the system in place favours him because he’s young. He’s treated not as a criminal, but as a child who doesn’t know any better. He’s surrounded by people who protect him during his interrogation, and he even demands a Big Mac at the end of it all.
The final instalment goes even further in criticising police protocol. Justice is repeatedly prevented throughout the episode and the officers only solve the case because they themselves break the law.
The series might, and probably does, have a point, but I can’t help thinking that Line of Duty is just a bit too far fetched to be taken seriously as respectable commentary on the inner workings of the police force.
Even so, that didn’t stop the last episode from being any less gripping. The series started off quite unspectacularly, but has been improving more and more each week, with the finale topping them all.
For me, the highlight of the episode was meeting Tommy, an odious shit of a man, who has given more even more reason to be suspicious of people who play golf. To be more specific, my favourite moment was when he was repeatedly punched in the stomach.
It’s a shame, however, that the series had to end the way that it did, with American Graffiti-style captions. It seemed like a bit of an easy way of tying things up, and because it’s such a cliché in American coming of age movies I was half expecting, “DS Arnott graduated and is moving in with two sexy ladies!“ to appear on the screen. Unfortunately it didn’t.
I can’t finish the blog on a negative note, however. Episode five was a fantastic end to the series and it also opens things up for a second series, which I’m sure would be just as compelling, although surely very different.