“We’re all in this together. Best way”
The first two series of Line of Duty have been an unqualified success for BBC2 and Jed Mercurio and so this third series has definitely been much anticipated chez Clowns, even if I’m not Daniel Mays’ biggest fan, he being trailed as the actor to take on the Lennie James/Keeley Hawes role as the Big Bad for this series. I should warn you now that spoilers will abound in this review of the first episode!
First off, I loved it. Resisting the temptation to feckle too much, Mercurio presents a very smart spin on the familiar world of AC-12 and its attempts to snuff out corruption in the police force. This time round, we’re left in no doubt as to whether the cop did it, the taut opening sequence sees May’s Sergeant Danny Waldron lead his armed response unit on an op which ends with him shooting the suspect in the head three times execution-style and then coercing his colleagues into a cover-up.
From then, the anti-corruption team – complete with Craig Parkinson’s beautifully played snake-in-paradise Dot – click into gear as they ever have, but shifted up a gear, the stakes feeling higher. Adrian Dunbar’s Hastings spitting through a vituperative interview with Waldron, animosity springing off the screen and Vicky McClure’s Fleming slipping back undercover but out of her depth in the brutal weapon-heavy world of Waldon’s squad with near-tragic consequences.
There’s clearly a lot building up in the vengeance that Mays’ officer is wreaking on those who have wronged him (suggestions of sexual abuse when he was a boy would seem to be likely at this stage) but also in the charged atmosphere he carries around with him, infecting his team with an almost unbearable tension and culminating into the brilliant final twist, Waldon being shot dead in a raid with his three colleagues looking guilty around him. So the rug has definitely been pulled out from under us and I for one cannot wait to see how the rest of the show plays out.