Line of Duty series 4, episode 5: Go down fighting

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 5 tightens the frame.

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 5. 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 5. If you missed the prior episode, you can catch up with Precinct TV’s commentary here.

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End of the line in sight

“Lying Nest” is the penultimate episode of Line of Duty series 4, so the audience gets what we expect when a TV crime drama is coming to the end of a season—people turning on each other in an increasingly more desperate bid to save themselves.

There’s Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), who continues to sound like a broken record repeating the same theory of the crime even when confronted with evidence that disproves it. Roz ultimately passes out from septic shock related to that wound she’s been carrying all series, and winds up with an amputated hand. But even that doesn’t stop her from leaving the hospital and trying to save what’s left of her career.

Roz’s husband Nick (Lee Ingleby) is so over her by this point and freely insists that his wife is a liar, Ian Buckells (Nigel Boyle) proves just as useless as he was in series 1 when he’s caught out, and Nick’s buddy Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi, Marcella) is searching for immunity.

Meanwhile, Maneet (Maya Sondhi), having framed Jamie Desford as the AC-12 mole, runs away by claiming she needs to start her maternity leave early—but we still don’t know why she’s providing stuff to Hilton (Paul Higgins) in the first place. Also, we don’t know why Hilton carries a Windows Phone. Not only is he evil, the man is technologically a dinosaur.

In all of this self-preservation and backstabbing, viewers are no closer to finding out who the real serial killer is.  Instead, the biggest takeaway from “Lying Nest” is the conspiracy that continues to haunt the show into the future: Who is H?

While the human bulldozer Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) connects the case back to the Jackie Laverty murder from series 1, and therefore to the ongoing plot that’s been throughout the entire program, Hilton finally sees Matthew “Dot” Cottan’s dying declaration—which includes naming a mysterious corrupt cop known only as “H.”

He thinks it’s Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar). But, um, Hilton starts with an H too, you know. And only one of you has precedent for being a shady, grossly inappropriate human being.

The human cost

From a character development standpoint, Line of Duty has two important things happen in this episode. The first is that someone on Roz’s team finally calls bullshit after all of her attempts to pin the murders on Michael Farmer, and Neil Twyler (Mark Stobbart) gives Kate the piece of new information that allows Steve to make the critical connection. You go, Neil.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Steve gets the news early on that he may not be able to walk again, and proceeds to lie about that to Kate and Hastings, until Kate insists on coming into his (new) apartment and realizes the truth. “Michael Farmer doesn’t have weeks,” he says when she asks why he didn’t wait to come back to AC-12. There is another reason to admire Steve Arnott: even when he’s at his worst, he’s still in the fight because he doesn’t give up on anyone else.

But it’s great to see that Line of Duty doesn’t brush over the severity of Steve’s injury or all of the potential aftereffects. In general, we’re almost desensitized to major bodily harm to TV characters now, because unless they’re leaving a show (which is nearly certain to be spoiled by a website in advance), we know they’re going to be okay. And they’re usually okay pretty quickly because the writers can’t or won’t leave a character down for long.

We don’t see much of Steve’s struggle in “Lying Nest” but we see enough for there to be an impact. Jed Mercurio gives us a couple of poignant scenes and Martin Compston says so much with very little. There’s a bittersweet contrast between Steve’s story and all of the back and forth of the investigation, and if you’ve been in a similar situation, those brief moments hit home.

Steve’s a great character because he’s relentless, but being relentless usually means that you get hurt. Given all the little injuries he’s had it wasn’t a real shocker that the show dropped a huge one on him. But watching him pick himself up again, and not be immediately successful, but still be in the fight is a wonderful lesson all its own. It says that no matter what happens, you can’t let that keep you down. Steve and Kate are pushing forward, and even an injured Steve is more together than everyone else is right now.

But will anyone be able to save themselves or will the end of the series just be a mess of people clawing at each other and grasping at straws? And how many more clues will we get to the new “H” mystery? There’s only one more episode to answer those questions.

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

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