Line of Duty series 4, episode 2: Survival is a relative term

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 4, episode 2 reveals who survived—for now.

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 1-3 in the books, now we move on to series 4.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for and discussion about Line of Duty series 4, episode 2. 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 fourth season with Line of Duty series 4, episode 2. If you missed the previous episode, you can catch up on Precinct TV’s commentary here.

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Who’s the real killer?

This episode, “Who Sows The Wind,” picks up where the premiere cliffhanger left off—though in a cunning move Line of Duty takes its sweet time telling us who lived and who died.

Instead of going right back to that exact moment, as most other TV crime dramas would do, the script spends a few good minutes looking for Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton). It’s only when she shows up late to work—strolling in like absolutely nothing is wrong—that we know she escaped Tim Ifield’s (Jason Watkins) attack and therefore, Tim must be dead. After all, if someone tries to dismember you, you’re not going to leave them alive.

Just because Roz is alive, though, doesn’t mean she’s survived because the metaphorical noose is tightening round her neck.

While she’s been MIA, another young woman has been found dismembered, meaning that Michael Farmer (Scott Reid) must be innocent, because he’s in lockup. Not only that, but he also can’t have committed the first murder, because he was in a hospital at the time. Roz’s overzealousness is on full display at this point.

So is her vaguely creepy relationship with Assistant Chief Constable Derek Hilton (Paul Higgins), who reminds her that “they’re in this together.” Do these two have a past, similar to what we saw with Mike Dryden and his cronies in series 2? Or has Paul Higgins finally found a role allowing him to be even more unhinged than he was in The Thick of It?

AC-12 goes on the offensive

With all the exposition and new character introductions done last week, this is the Line of Duty episode where the characters get to take their claws out. When Roz sits down for her formal chat with AC-12, Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) goes for the jugular fairly early on. For every point she makes, he’s got a counterpoint, including this really fun sentence: “Absence of evidence isn’t the same as evidence of absence.”

It’s vastly entertaining to see Steve step his interrogation game up another notch in this series. He wasn’t a newbie when he got here, or even when we first met him, but after three-plus rounds of working for AC-12, you can tell that he’s wiser to the specific games accused cops play and how this particular system works. One would expect that since he’s years on as an anti-corruption cop now, but it still matters that Line of Duty is actually showing us that character growth and not just implying it.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed is Steve still can’t get any respect. Take a drink every time someone feeds him that “questioned by an officer one rank superior” line. He can’t get promoted, he keeps getting slighted in interviews, no wonder why he’s getting a little bit testy.

There’s an interesting scene where Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) arrives at AC-12 to find out that she passed the exam to make Detective Inspector, but won’t be getting promoted. Not only do we see Steve sulking at his desk, which is a little bit immature, but he and Kate don’t even speak to one another the whole time she’s there. Aren’t these two supposed to be partners? We had so much acrimony between them last season that it’s disappointing to see they’re not quite back on solid ground.

Steve, however, continues to be one step ahead in the game. He’s the first person to posit that Roz killed Tim, and you have to love how he shows up at her office to press her as such. It doesn’t take a genius to realize it’s a show of ego, a sort of “you know I know” thing, and it works because she leaves less than a minute after he does.

Watching a back-and-forth hasn’t been this much fun since Tony Gates (the superlative Lennie James) was around.

Is Roz her own worst enemy?

Thandie Newton gives a gangbusters performance in this episode, as Roz goes to pieces trying to save herself. All of Line of Duty‘s antagonists have a certain arrogance about them, but they’re more fun—and more impactful—when the audience can catch them out, as was the case with Gates in series 1. We saw him cracking, and Newton’s Roz doesn’t take long to crack at all.

“Who Sows The Wind” reveals that Roz stole Tim Ifield’s computer and mobile phone, and she becomes quite a control freak in trying to cover up his murder. She pulls rank on Steve to take over the murder scene, attempts to falsify forensic evidence, and when she realizes Tim was AC-12’s source, realizes she can kill two birds with one stone (pun intended). If she makes him look bad, she can discredit the case against herself, on top of getting away with his murder.

Of course, Tim certainly had something to do with the abductions, so she’s not entirely off book here. But it’s amazing how far Roz is willing to go this fast—and again calls into question what her connection is to Hilton. Their last scene together at the end of the episode, with her meeting him in his office, leaves open the possibility that she may be playing him too. He’s clearly using her, leaning on her to close this case (five bucks says he’s complicit like Dryden and Patrick Fairbank before him), but does she know that and she’s also twisting the knife on him to save her career?

And if so, why is she this desperate? With Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes), her ruthlessness made sense because being a cop was all she had. An attack on her job was an attack on her identity. But Roz Huntley has an outside life and her only complaint has been that her career stalled a bit at one point. Is she that ambitious, or does she have some deeper, darker motive that’s tied her to Hilton, similar to Dot?

Whatever the reason, she seems to be on both sides of the line, which opens up Line of Duty series 4 for additional avenues of storytelling. Newton has certainly interjected a new energy into an already great series, even if her character is getting away with an awful lot so far. You want to know what happens to Roz, not just whether or not AC-12 will catch her.

She might be alive, but she’s not free. She might escape this case, but it won’t come without a high price. And how many more high-ranking officers can Line of Duty take down before the whole police organization collapses? Could this be the season of reckoning? “Who Sows The Wind” puts all sorts of wild ideas on the table, and that’s exactly what you want at the start of a new season. Everything is in play.

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

Line of Duty series 4 is now streaming on Amazon Video, Acorn TV (with a 7-day free trial) and BritBox.