Line of Duty series 2, episode 5: How much will you bleed?

From left: Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure from Line of Duty. Photo Credit: Des Willie/Courtesy of Acorn TV.
From left: Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure from Line of Duty. Photo Credit: Des Willie/Courtesy of Acorn TV. /

Line of Duty series 2, episode 5 draws a brutal line in the sand.

In honor of Line of Duty series 1 having re-aired on BBC One this summer, we’re looking back at the best TV crime drama in any country—likewise, from the very beginning. With series 1 in the books, now we move on to series 2.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for and discussion about Line of Duty series 2, episode 1. You can stream the episode on Acorn TV, Amazon Video, and BritBox now.

Line of Duty follows the casework of Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12), a team of police investigators who are solely dedicated to stopping corruption, no matter what the cost. Created and written by Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard), it’s the definitive crime drama for the modern era.

This week, we continue the second season with Line of Duty series 2, episode 5. If you missed our commentary on episode 4, you can catch up here.

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Denton gets her revenge

Lindsay Denton’s (Keeley Hawes) kidnapping is short-lived, as Denton turns the tables. Manish Prasad (Sacha Dhawan) kills his accomplice Jeremy Cole (Henry Pettigrew) for becoming “a liability,” as many bad guys often do. But then Prasad makes a stupid mistake—after forcing Denton into their car, he then leaves her in it alone. And she promptly hits him with it. Repeatedly.

It’s cringe-inducing to see Denton pin Prasad between the car and the wall of a parking garage, taking out all of her rage about the entirety of Line of Duty series 2 on this guy in this moment. She then forces Prasad to record a dying declaration admitting that he and Cole were behind the ambush (hence why this episode is entitled “Last Words”), but doesn’t realize that Prasad isn’t actually dead.

Instead, Denton sends the confession to Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and then waits for him to track her down in her late mother’s former hospital room. Suddenly, the investigation’s former prime suspect has become its biggest cooperator—but don’t get too excited. She still has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Steve continues to walk a dangerous line

There are a lot of great qualities about Steve Arnott, one of them being his empathy for others. It’s also his biggest problem: he seemingly has empathy for everyone. He had it for Tony Gates (Lennie James) in series 1 and now he’s gotten far too close to Denton in series 2.

Steve has completely forgotten this is the woman who took compromising photos of him and pulled his financial records not so long ago. Instead, he accompanies Denton to the hospital, where he overhears that she’s been there before. He also helps her secure a second application for bail and, once she’s released, drives her home and winds up socializing with her. At which time he tells her what Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) explicitly didn’t want her to know—that Prasad is alive.

Way to go, Steve! There was absolutely no reason to bring that up, and you did it.

At least we found out that Denton’s cat was adopted in her absence.

But still, Steve’s judgment around women continues to be questionable, particularly with Denton. It’s obvious that he has empathy for her as someone who’s been not just wrongly accused but has intentionally had her life turned upside down; Steve’s moral code means that he’s particularly irked about miscarriages of justice in either direction.

But as Michael Dryden (Mark Bonnar) points out later in this Line of Duty episode, Denton is also manipulative. And she’s doing a fair job of manipulating Steve Arnott.

First she tried to put the screws to him when they were enemies. Now she’s playing on that empathy, saying that she thinks she knows Steve and not-so-subtly reminding him how annoying it is that AC-12 isn’t going harder after Dryden. Denton has figured out what drives Steve and she’s pushing on it. She’s still trying to play him, just in a nicer way instead of destroying him.

Dryden takes the fall

The best part of “Last Words,” though, is that Line of Duty fully spells out all of Dryden’s sordid backstory and the boss finally gets what’s coming to him. Carly Kirk, the missing 15-year-old girl Denton was looking for, was in fact groomed by Prasad—who has photos of her and Dryden in an inappropriate position, as well as images of what appear to be Kirk’s dead body.

Although Prasad immediately walks back his confession and refuses to say anything further unless he gets immunity, AC-12 don’t necessarily need to play ball. Their attempt to bring Dryden in for questioning turns into a formal arrest when he refuses to leave his house like a petulant child. At that point, Steve and Kate present him with the entire pile of evidence that they’ve been sitting on against him, and the tough guy finally cracks like a cheap KitchenAid bowl while we get Martin Compston’s amazing look of patent disapproval.

It’s clear that Dryden had no idea Carly Kirk was underage, nor that she was killed after the two of them had their encounter. He’s horrified, but that horror turns to anger (as it does with many), and he begins raging about how he’s the victim of a conspiracy. No one cares, and we see Denton find out about his arrest on the news.

Line of Duty still has one more episode to go, though, and there must be all kinds of fallout from the arrest of a high-ranking police official. So “Last Words” drops a few more bombshells for the audience to think about along the way.

The first is Matthew “Dot” Cottan, whom the audience already knows is bent, reconnecting with his former TO-20 colleague Nigel Morton (Neil Morrissey). It’s Morton who originally leaked that information about Dryden’s driving issues to the media—issues that are now connected to Carly Kirk’s murder and the ambush. Dot tells Morton that he won’t reveal Morton’s name to Dryden if Morton tells the press that Cole is The Caddy. How convenient, scapegoating a dead man.

Meanwhile, Steve follows up on his hunch from earlier and gets a copy of Lindsay Denton’s hospital records. He learns that the last time she was there, she had a pregnancy terminated; the natural question being was it Dryden’s baby?

You can’t say there’s not enough going on in this series, with two affairs, an abortion and sex crimes before we get into murder, conspiracy and all the police corruption. Was Dryden really so desperate to save his skin that he was willing to kill (or at least get someone else to)? Denton is so desperate to preserve her life, if not her career, that she thinks she’s killed someone. This is all amounting to a string of people who weren’t that great in the first place, who made terrible choices, and couldn’t live with the repercussions.

Normally, we’d say that Steve Arnott’s moral compass would cleave through the madness, but he seems just as confused as the rest of us. So how is this all going to finish? And will Line of Duty be able to see more justice done in this series than it did at the end of the last?

Next. Martin Compston talks Line of Duty and The Nest. dark

Line of Duty series 2 is now streaming on Amazon Video, Acorn TV (with a 7-day free trial) and BritBox. For our complete Line of Duty coverage, visit Precinct TV.