SPOILER - SPOILER - SPOILER!!!! DON’T READ UNTIL YOU’VE WATCHED LINE OF DUTY EPISODE 6.
It’s done. We finally know the identity of Balaclava Man...
... or should we say, more accurately, Balaclava Men?
For that was the biggest kicker in a final 20 minutes packed with twists, surprises and double-bluffs as ‘Line of Duty’ skidded to an end after six enthralling weeks.
After six long weeks, Jed Mercurio’s enthralling police corruption drama reached its conclusion, and it was, all round, a pretty satisfying experience, especially for the much worn-down Nick Huntley. Cleared, and still married. Not something we expected when the final episode began. What else caught us on the hop?
1. When DS Sam Railston turned up, together with Lester Hargreaves, to interview Nick Huntley - remember them? Both members of Murder Squad with complicated relations with AC-12 from previous series, Sam’s history with Steve Arnott and her guilt over deserting him was the key to AC-12 getting back on the trail of Roz Huntley.
2. When the trail of Roz Huntley’s movements re Tim Ifield went dead - almost, until Steve Arnott suddenly had a brainwave regarding the tracksuit left in Tim Ifield’s flat - “it’s unisex.”
3. When ACC Hilton pulled the rug out from under Roz Huntley, telling her she should resign, and, despite his customary greasiness, she suddenly realised she couldn’t count on him any more. You could almost see the lightbulb go on in her head, particularly as his hand no longer accidentally landed on her knee: “I’m on my own here.”
4. In a Roz Huntley jaw-on-the-floor double bill, the bookend to this moment was when Jodie Taylor informed her beloved former boss that Jimmy Lakewell had been, in a previous life, Michael Farmer’s solicitor. Another lightbulb. Roz was positively glowing with new knowledge by now.
5. Despite all this, her continuing gall in framing her own husband - “there was just one item in the wash.” Outrageous. Followed by her equally cucumber-cool “I have to be strong for my children” when told her husband would, in fact, be charged.
6. When Jimmy Lakewell solemnly promised his friend and client Nick Huntley he’d get AC-12 on his case, and then just as swiftly rejected the same offer from the Murder Squad. This was the moment it was proved what we’d all guessed - Lakewell was a bad ‘un.
7. Once again, it seemed as though the chase for Roz Huntley went cold, after they spotted her car in the middle of nowhere. Until… Steve had another epiphany at the last moment… realising Roz would have picked a familiar spot to bury evidence. And they were off again…
8. The moment Roz inspected the telephone data she’d requested, and saw one extra name on the list - Jimmy Lakewell, who else?
9. The moment Roz Huntley chose her colours, and they were for the despised AC-12, the very same people she’d been dodging for the last five episodes.
10. After all Roz Huntley’s careful framing of Michael Farmer, Hana Resnikova and finally her husband, she finally felt bad, and confessed to responsibility for the death of Tim Ifield, much to everyone’s confusion.
11. And the AC-12 interrogation scene wasn’t even done. With Roz Huntley sitting next to her borrowed lawyer, Jimmy, in AC-12’s now iconic glass-walled setting, it was only a matter of time before her attack on him came out. But, oh, it was still glorious when it did. “I do trust you… AND so did Nick,” she said, wiping her eyes and preparing for the kill. Superb.
12. Equally pleasing, Superintendent Hastings’ reading of the moment. “Am I still a police officer?” she asked him, just after he’d charged her with murder. “Yes, for the moment,” he said, clearly as unsure as us what was coming, but certain he was going to enjoy it. And so he did, as did we.
13. The proffering of the telephone number that Roz had hunted down via her investigation of the burner phone activity. The call by Jimmy Lakewell to an intermediary, who then called ‘Balaclava Man’. The intermediary? None other than ACC Hilton. And the proof? That very same serviette he’d used to offer Roz his secret mobile number, in the hope of some extra-curricular action. Well, he got a little more than he bargained for.
14. The identity of Balaclava Man finally came out. And it was… some unknown dodgy criminal, eventually felled in crackshot style by Hastings. But the real point was that it really is BALACLAVA MEN PLURAL, a collection of anonymous blokes forced to do dirty work at the behest of an unknown power, men with connections in and beyond the police force, who use blackmail via DNA of bodies in storage (it helps if you’ve seen Series 1 to understand this lot - and we can expect to hear a lot more about it in future episodes).
15. Jamie Desford’s double-dealing, culminating in a clumsy hostage-taking situation and shoot-out. Basically, he backed the wrong horse, despite Roz Huntley’s kind warnings.
16. The discovery of the sorry state of ACC Hilton, “no sign of a struggle, no evidence anyone was here.” He probably was ‘H’ by the sounds of things. However, this was left open, ‘H’ may still be lurking out there still, ready to do more mischief for AC-12 to unravel. Roll on Series 5.
‘Line of Duty’ has concluded (sob). Catch up with BBCiPlayer.